Nikon Coolpix S3300 Review
The Nikon Coolpix S3300 is a slimline compact camera featuring a 6x optical zoom, 16 megapixel sensor, 720p HD video, Smartportrait system and Eye-Fi compatibility. Aimed at the user about town who wants a camera that can slip easily into the pocket but pack a funky punch when it's out, the Nikon S3300 is available in more colours than a rainbow including aqua, pink, purple, gold, red, black, silver and blue. It's priced at a comfortable £129.99 / $139.99.
Ease of Use
Cameras are used for many different end purposes. Some use them as workhorse tools, some for serious documentation. Others just want to have fun as they take pictures and that's where a camera such as the Coolpix S3300 comes in. It's a svelte, fun loving camera with a simple point and shoot principle and bright colours to make you stand out from the crowd. The pink version we were sent to test certainly made us stand out.
The front of the Nikon Coolpix S3300 plays host to the 6x optical zoom lens. The lens ranges from 26-156mm in 35mm terms. Because of the restraints put on the zoom length, the full lens can sit inside the body making it flush. The camera has two buttons on the top plate. The power button is flush with the body and has a small green light around it so you know when it's on. The LCD screen on the back is slightly smaller than its bigger brother the S4300. However, at 2.7inches it's still big enough for every day shooting. The typical layout of buttons has been used on the right of the screen: Four buttons surrounding a central navigation pad.
The Scene button allows you to choose the mode you'd like the camera to shoot in. There are four to choose from: Auto, Scenes, Picture Styles or Smart Portrait. The latter is useful for you in everyday situations taking pictures of friends and family. It incorporates four different features of the camera to ensure that you get the best picture. The camera isn't so intelligent that it can frame and shoot for you though. Well, that's not entirely accurate. A few years ago, Sony developed Smile Shutter. It's a system that will detect a smile of a certain strength then take a picture as soon as the subject reaches that level. You still have to aim it though. The S3300 also uses this technology along with Blink proofing. This system will analyse each photo you take and look for blinks. If it sees one, it alerts you with an on-screen message. As you take the picture the camera will decide if you need to use flash or not. Nikon flash systems are generally very good and will illuminate the subject to a degree it doesn't look as though it's been used. Once all the picture taking has been done, the camera will run the picture through a skin softening program as it saves to the memory card.
For the photographer on the go, the S3300 is Eye-Fi X2 compatible. The Eye-Fi cards are memory cards that have wifi built into them. In the menu system of the camera you can allocate which pictures you'd like to upload. When the camera hits a wifi spot that it can use legally, it will upload your pictures to a website of your choice.
The older brother of the S3300 - that we mentioned before - has a touch-screen which this camera is lacking. However, the cost is proportionately lower. Because of this, some buttons have a dual purpose. The buttons that navigate you around the menu systems are also used for flash options, self timer, exposure compensation and macro.
There are a number of ways to check the build quality of a digital camera such as the materials used on the outer casing. The front of the S3300 is metal while the back is plastic. Another way is to wiggle the lens when the camera is powered up at wide-angle. The S3300 has some play in it but not lots and it doesn't move simply by shaking the camera to simulate walking. The third way we tell the build quality is to look at the tripod bush. Plastic is standard, while metal means you've moved up into a different class of camera. If you're currently pretty keen on the S3300, don't let the plastic tripod bush put you off. You see it's not that black & white. After all, think about the amount of time you'll spend using the tripod. It needs to be metal if it's a high volume device which is unlikely on a camera of this specification. The buttons are firm and responsive enough and the screen is bright. It suffers from a little motion blur and there's purple banding when the lens hits a bright light.
The menu system has been simplified as much as possible. Pressing the menu button on the back of the Nikon Coolpix S3300 takes you into the main area. There's only three tabs available for shooting options, video and set-up. The S3300 doesn't have a quick access menu so all functions are found in the main menu. In the shooting section you can change modes such as ISO, resolution, white-balance and AF modes. In the video tab, you can change the resolution that the video records in, the focus mode and whether you want wind noise reduction on or not. If there's no wind, it's best to switch it off. The final tab has more concrete settings in it. These settings can change more in-depth features such as the date & time, the monitor (screen) settings, language and video mode (PAL or NTSC). There's also provision to format the card.
|Memory Card Slot
From a cold start, we managed to get the Nikon Coolpix S3300 switched on and taking a focused photograph in just over two seconds. An admirable time for a point and shooter. The standard time is around 2.5 seconds, so to beat that is great. It means you're less likely to miss that crucial candid shot where the kids do something funny or a friend embarrasses themselves on a night out. The continuous shooting mode took nine shots in a 10 second period. That's just under a picture per second which isn't too bad for a camera of this calibre. It did take up to 23 seconds to fully download and be ready for another shot though. That's not so hot.
In playback mode, the Nikon Coolpix S3300 will show you what you've already taken. In this mode, double tapping the OK button will open up a favourites box which you can then assign pictures to. If you press the menu button, the Main menu has changed and is dedicated to options for the Playback screen such as Quick retouch, D-Lighting, Filter effects, Print order, Protect and Rotate among others. The Set-up menu is still available if you decide to format or you want to read the menu in Cantonese. The screen will show you the time & date, image number resolution, and position on the memory card. This information will disappear after a few seconds. Zooming out on the zoom rocker will show more pictures on the screen as thumbnails. With each flick, you'll get four thumbnails, six, 16 and finally a calendar. Going the other way will reverse the previous actions before zooming into the picture.
In the box, the Nikon Coolpix S3300 comes with a lithium ion battery, wrist strap, USB cable and charger pack (the cable and pack link up to create a charging unit), video cable, a quick start guide and warranty card. The full manual is on a CD which is enclosed. If you don't have a decent editing suite to view the pictures on when browsing on the computer, the camera comes with Nikon's ViewNX2.
All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 16 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 6Mb.
It's a shame that the ISO 80 setting on the Nikon Coolpix S3300 is so unresponsive in anything other than very bright light. Image quality is great at this stage with no colour distortions or edge definition issues. The first step up from ISO 80 is ISO 100 which is around a third of a stop up so doesn't really that much of a difference. In fact, the camera doesn't really need ISO 80, but it looks better on the spec list. There's a slight decrease in image quality at ISO 200 with some salt and pepper noise intruding darker areas of the frame. Faint blue blotching is also visible when the picture is viewed at full magnification.
Yellow colouring invades mid tones at ISO 400 and edge definition begins to break down. The problems at this stage exacerbate through the next couple of stages with image quality becoming “bitty” at ISO 1600. In an attempt to reduce the problem, the camera reduces the resolution at ISO 3200 to 5 megapixels. The idea is that the less pixels are used, the less noise is created. You see, there's a type of noise that can start due to heat generated from pixels while exposing. This heat creates a type of noise on neighbouring pixels. If there's less pixels used, they can be spaced out and won't affect each other as much. That's the theory anyway. In our test, we found that colour noise was gone from the image but we think that the noise reduction software desaturated the image as colours that should be there are distinctly lacking.
ISO 80 (100% Crop)
ISO 100 (100% Crop)
ISO 200 (100% Crop)
ISO 400 (100% Crop)
ISO 800 (100% Crop)
ISO 1600 (100% Crop)
ISO 3200 (100% Crop)
The focal length of the Nikon Coolpix S3300 is 4.6 – 27.6mm or 26-156mm in 35mm terms. This does lead to some barrel distortion at the wide-angle setting, but that's to be expected.
The Nikon Coolpix S3300 has 2 different image quality settings available, with High being the highest quality option. Here are some 100% crops which show the quality of the various options, with the file size shown in brackets.
|16M High (6.14Mb) (100% Crop)
|16M Normal (3.26Mb) (100% Crop)
The pictures produced from the Nikon Coolpix S3300 are sharp enough to not need additional sharpening in an editing suite such as Adobe Photoshop. However, we found that they did improve slightly.
Original (100% Crop)
Sharpened (100% Crop)
We struggled to find traces of chromatic aberrations in the pictures we took with the Nikon Coolpix S3300. It usually happens on high contrast images such as white on black. We certainly found it on that but it was only faint. We did locate some on the side of a building, but you need to be careful with this because it could be lens flare sometimes. Not a bad result though.
Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)
Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)
The close focusing capability of the Nikon Coolpix S3300 is 5cm. It's not a bad distance, although it's by no means the best. It's likely that you'll only use the macro for a few beetles or flowers on holiday so it's not too much of an issue. The image is sharp in the centre and doesn't suffer from image fall off towards the edges of the frame; so that's good.
Macro (100% Crop)
With flash off, the Nikon Coolpix S3300 doesn't suffer from vignetting at either wide-angle or full zoom. The flash is intelligent enough to only add an amount of light that will compliment the subject and not bleach them out.
Flash Off - Wide Angle (26mm)
Flash On - Wide Angle (26mm)
Flash Off - Telephoto (156mm)
Flash On - Telephoto (156mm)
We found that the Nikon Coolpix S3300 does suffer from red-eye and adding the red-eye reduction did reduce it, but only slightly.
|Flash On (100% Crop)
Red Eye Reduction
Red Eye Reduction (100% Crop)
The Nikon Coolpix S3300 does offer a Night scene mode. It drops out a lot of options available to you in Auto mode such as ISO and white-balance. The idea being that the camera will determine the appropriate ISO for the photograph to ensure a still image. However, for the dark with no flash, a tripod or steady surface will still be required. Our test shot in Night scene proved that the ISO was far too high considering we used a tripod. We could have turned the ISO right down to remove a lot of the noise that's accumulated on the shot. The colour cast from the street lights have also proved to strong for the AWB (Auto White-Balance) setting to cope with.
Night scene modes always provide a longer shutter speed than Auto modes, so imagine our surprise to discover the Night scene used a 1/2 second exposure while Auto used a 1 second exposure. In Auto, we got to select the ISO and chose the Incandescent (Tungsten) setting for the white-balance. It deals with strong orange colours, although it couldn't quite cope with street lights either.
Night Auto (100% Crop)
Night Scene (100% Crop)
This is a selection of sample images from the Nikon Coolpix S3300 camera, which were all taken using the 16 megapixel Fine JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.
Sample Movie & Video
Front of the Camera
Front of the Camera / Turned On
Rear of the Camera
Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed
Rear of the Camera / Turned On
Rear of the Camera / Shottoing Modes
Rear of the Camera / Main Menu
Rear of the Camera / Main Menu
Top of the Camera
Bottom of the Camera
Side of the Camera
Side of the Camera
Front of the Camera
Front of the Camera
Memory Card Slot
The Nikon Coolpix S3300 is a decent little camera suitable for the point and shooter. It's designed to do everything for you and that's exactly what it does. However, if you know how to use the ISO etc, then it's there for you. The camera is very easy to use and we had no problems shooting except in the dark because the icons on the back have no contrasting colours to them.
It's built to a standard befitting the price range that it sits in. That is, it's well built but don't expect waterproofing or magnesium alloy. It has a lot of polycarbonate to hold it together and keep the weight down, but the metal case should help with slight bumps and scratches. Talking of scratches, we caught the shutter release on the zip of the camera bag in a rush to shoot a Squirrel and it scratched the paint off the button.
The pictures that the Nikon Coolpix S3300 takes are pretty good for a camera such as this. That's not to say it should be bad, more that in many cases you get what you pay for. Not so these days where Nikon is concerned. They're pushing the boat out to try and coax in the camera phone users who are drifting away from cameras in favour of one complete unit. The only problem that Nikon seem to keep getting is the noise at low to mid-ISO.
One of the most appealing aspects of the Nikon Coolpix S3300 is the price. At an easily digested street price of just £85, it's suitable for all comers such as young families on a budget, happy snappers and even kids. If it gets dropped and needs replacing, it's not a camera that will break the bank if it has to be bought again.
If you're looking for a camera to aid you in your photography and accelerate your learning of the art then this isn't it. While it offers a few effects and over-rides, they're sparse in order to keep costs down. The Nikon Coolpix S3300 is a simple machine designed to record moments in time. If that's what you want a camera for then it will do you proud.
|Ratings (out of 5)
|Value for money
Reviews of the Nikon Coolpix S3300 from around the web.
The Nikon Coolpix S3300 was announced in February 2012 as a replacement of the S3200. It is a budget compact camera which has a 16 megapixel sensor, 6x optical zoom and is available in black, blue, purple, red, green pink and silver for £99.99. Its slim body and low price make it an ideal camera for the casual user who likes to take pictures when out with friends and family.
Read the full review »
Nikon’s S3300 is an affordable alternative to the rest of the company’s extensive Coolpix lineup. Debuting in February of this year as a replacement for the S3100, the S3300 has received upgrades to optical zoom, megapixel count, and image stabilization; all while retaining that coveted 140-dollar price point.
Read the full review »
Nikon's budget compacts are hard to tell apart. After a very "entry-level" S3100 the company has released the S3300, which is... well, basically the same thing. One of the only differences is that it now (finally!) has an image stabiliser. The S3300 is bound to be a hit—it hails from a long line of best-sellers that did very well in the first quarter of 2012—and came this close to being the first model in the series to get a third star from us...
Read the full review »
|Compact digital camera
|1/2.3-in. type CCD; approx. 16.44 million total pixels
|6x optical zoom, NIKKOR lens
|4.6-27.6mm (angle of view equivalent to that of 26-156 mm lens in 35mm  format)
|5 elements in 5 groups
|Up to 4x (angle of view equivalent to that of approx. 624 mm lens in 35mm  format)
|Focus range (from lens)
|[W]: Approx. 50 cm (1 ft 8 in.) to infinity, [T]: Approx. 1.0m (3 ft 4 in.) to infinity Macro mode: Approx. 5 cm (2 in.) (wide-angle position) to infinity
|Face priority, auto (9-area automatic selection), center, manual with 99 focus areas, subject tracking
|6.7-cm (2.7-in.), approx. 230k-dot, TFT LCD with anti-reflection coating and 5-level brightness adjustment
|Frame coverage (shooting mode)
|Approx. 98% horizontal and 98% vertical (compared to actual picture)
|Frame coverage (playback mode)
|Approx. 100% horizontal and 100% vertical (compared to actual picture)
|Internal memory (approx. 42 MB), SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card
|DCF, Exif 2.3, and DPOF compliant
|Still pictures: JPEG Sound files (Voice Memo): WAV Movies: AVI (Motion-JPEG compliant)
|Image size (pixels)
|16M (High) [4608 x 3456(fine)] 16M [4608 x 3456] 8M [3264 x 2448] 4M [2272 x 1704] 2M [1600 x 1200] VGA [640 x 480] 16:9 [4608 x 2592]
|Auto, Scene (Scene auto selector, Portrait, Landscape, Sports, Night portrait, Party/indoor, Beach, Snow, Sunset, Dusk/dawn, Night landscape, Close-up, Food, Museum, Fireworks show, Black and white copy, Backlighting, Panorama assist, Pet portrait), Special effects, Smart portrait
|Single (default setting), Continuous (Up to 6 pictures at about 1.3 fps), BSS (Best Shot Selector), Multi-shot 16
|HD 720p (default setting): 1280 x 720/approx. 30 fps, VGA: 640 x 480/approx. 30 fps, QVGA: 320 x 240/approx. 30 fps
|ISO sensitivity (Standard output sensitivity)
|ISO 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200 Auto (auto gain from ISO 80 to 1600) Fixed range auto (ISO 80 to 400, 80 to 800)
|256-segment matrix, center-weighted (digital zoom less than 2x), spot (digital zoom 2x or more)
|Programmed auto exposure with motion detection and exposure compensation (-2.0 to +2.0 EV in steps of 1/3 EV)
|Mechanical and charge-coupled electronic shutter
|1/2000-1 s 4 s (Fireworks show scene mode)
|Electronically-controlled ND filter (-3.3 AV) selection
|2 steps (f/3.5 and f/11.5 [W])
|Can be selected from 10 s and 2 s
|Range (approx.) (ISO sensitivity: Auto)
|[W]: 0.5 to 4.5 m (1 ft 8 in. to 14 ft) [T]: 0.5 to 2.4 m (1 ft 8 in. to 7 ft 10 in.)
|TTL auto flash with monitor preflashes
|Data Transfer Protocol
|Can be selected from NTSC and PAL
|Audio/video (A/V) output; digital I/O (USB)
|Arabic, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (European and Brazilian), Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese
|One Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL19 (included) AC Adapter EH-62G (available separately)
|Approx. 2 h 30 min (when using Charging AC Adapter EH-69P and when no charge remains)
|Battery life (EN-EL19)
|Still pictures*: Approx. 210 shots Movies: Approx. 1 h 30 min (HD 720p (1280x720), the maximum file size for a single movie is 2 GB or the maximum recording time for a single movie is 29 minutes, even when there is sufficient free space on the memory card for longer recording.) * Unless otherwise stated, all figures are for a camera with a fully-charged Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL19 operated at an ambient temperature of 25°C (77°F).
|1/4 (ISO 1222)
|Dimensions (W x H x D)
|Approx. 94.8 x 57.8 x 19.5 mm (3.8 x 2.3 x 0.8 in.) (excluding projections)
|Approx. 128 g (4.6 oz) (including battery and SD memory card)
|0°C to 40°C (32°F to 104°F)
|Less than 85% (no condensation)
|Camera Strap, Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL19 (with battery case), Charging AC Adapter EH-69P, USB Cable UC-E6, Audio Video Cable EG-CP14, ViewNX 2 Installer CD, Reference Manual CD
|Battery Charger MH-66, AC Adapter EH-62G