Nikon Coolpix S33 Review

November 5, 2015 | Matt Grayson | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star


There are times in life when you simply want to kick back, relax and not have to worry about a thing. Holidays are the perfect opportunity and the Nikon Coolpix S33, with its 13 megapixel sensor, tough exterior and easy-to-use menu systems, is an ideal fit. Attractively priced at around £90 / $139, the Nikon Coolpix S33 is available in blue, white, pink and yellow.

Ease of Use

Being the obvious successor to the Coolpix S32, it's worth taking a look at the predecessor and seeing where the improvements – if any – have been made. Are they cosmetic? Menu based? Hardware based? Luckily, when we received the S32, it was also the white model and we can see that the band that circles the circumference of the camera is a glossier silver finish on the S33. While this looks nicer, we feel that in difficult lighting conditions, it was easier to see the contrasting white buttons against the darker band on the S32.

It's easy to use a metaphor and say that looking for the differences between the two cameras is like looking for a needle in a haystack, but because the cameras are so similar in specification, it's more akin to looking for a needle in a stack of pins.

There appears to be two main differences in the Nikon Coolpix S33. The focusing system has been upgraded now to include a Targeting AF system which will find the subject with greater precision and success. The other major change is outside the camera. The battery charger has been upgraded from the EH-70P to the EH-71P. This may not sound a lot but it means the charging time has been cut quite substantially from 2h 35m to 1h 40m. Battery life is unchanged as the battery is the same lithium ion EN-EL19 as the S32.

These tough range of cameras have been designed with simplicity in mind. You don't want always be on the go looking for that unique heart stopping image. Nikon have designed the S33 with that in mind. Also, by making it as simple as possible, it's more appealing to children as well as other members of the family who are less technologically savvy.

Nikon Coolpix S33
Front of the Nikon Coolpix S33

The Nikon Coolpix S33 is laid out the same way as the S32, but for those of you who aren't acquainted with the predecessor, we'll run through the camera and what the various buttons do. The top plate has three buttons for powering the camera on, taking pictures and recording video. The direct video record button sits on the left shoulder with a red dot so that you can differentiate between that and the identically sized shutter release button on the right shoulder. The power button is a different shape, lights up and is indented so that you don't press it accidentally.

On the back, the amount of buttons has been constricted to reduce the chances of bamboozling the user who doesn't like new technology. The right side of the camera is usually reserved for the bulk of the buttons available for accessing various areas of the camera, but the S33 is bereft by contrast. This is down to the simple-to-use ethic of the design. The right side buttons simply operate the zoom (up and down on the directional pad), and go into the Playback system. The real functional buttons are situated to the left of the screen. There are four to choose from and they closely resemble the buttons found down the side of the screens on the Nikon DSLRs, thanks to their location and shape.

When the Nikon Coolpix S33 is switched on, an option for the corresponding button will appear next to it on the screen for a few moments before it disappears. The top button is for camera operations while the second makes changes to the flash and self-timer. The third button down accesses the various Scene modes that are available on the camera and the fourth is for the Set-up menu system.

Nikon Coolpix S33
Rear of the Nikon Coolpix S33

The Menu systems are so easy to use that a child can do it and that's entirely the point. The top button, identified by the green camera icon, has little actual function in everyday terms. It simply takes you back into Auto mode after you've been shooting in a Scene mode. The rest of the menus are very easy to work out, simply by looking at them. Usual names of features have actually been changed so that they explain what they do to someone who may not know. For example, under the Change colours option in the Set-up menu, exposure compensation is now simply called Brighter/Darker. Saturation is More vivid/Less vivid. For anyone already accustomed to the way a menu system works, the S33 does it slightly different. Generally, a menu button is pressed, then the navigation pad is used to select the appropriate option within that menu. On the S33, you have to use the left side buttons to make your selection and it can get some getting used to.

The buttons are firm, though and the whole camera seems well made for the price point it's set at. The lens is set inside a waterproof tube for the 3x optical zoom to move backwards and forwards. A fully internal zoom could be used to reduce the bulge at the front of the camera, but that would raise the price and the sub-£100 bracket is one of the things that make this camera so appealing. The only opening on the camera is where the battery and memory card are placed. It has a switch to release the door which is then moved in a different direction to prevent accidental opening while underwater or in sand, for example. The door is lined with orange rubber, which will degrade over time, but in reality, you'll have likely upgraded your camera before that happens, so it isn't worth worrying over.

Start up time varies wildly depending on whether you have the welcome screen enabled on your camera. If so, the start up from pressing the power button to taking a picture can be up to 4.5sec. Turning it off in the Set-up menu will reduce that to a more impressive 1.6sec. There is a continuous shooting mode. In a ten second test period, the camera took 13 images, which averages out at 1.3fps (frames per second). However, it bursts five of those images in the first second, so is technically 5fps.

Nikon Coolpix S33
The Nikon Coolpix S33 In-hand

Playback on the Nikon Coolpix S33 can be accessed via the playback button on the back of the camera. This can be done regardless of whether the camera is on or off. However, when it's powered down, you need to hold the button down until it starts up. The information you're presented with is minimal. The camera will display the options of the side buttons, the battery level and amount of images taken. After a few seconds, all of them will disappear bar the battery level. You can press the buttons on the side to get the options back up. The options are colour coded for easier navigation. The green button is for “Having fun with your pictures”. This entails exchanging messages, Picture play and Grading. In Exchange messages, you can record dialogue to the picture. Picture play allows you to make cosmetic changes to your pictures, such as adding various effects, changing the colours or highlighting colours. Grading allows you to give the pictures certain status as a kind of priority tagging system.

The blue section allows you to view pictures based on the date they were taken. This is useful if you're using a large memory card and have multiple days of photographs on. You can also create a slide-show. The pink section is for deleting pictures and the orange section remains as the Set-up menu, but adds some retouching features such as copying, rotating or resizing pictures. There's still the original Camera settings found in the recording section of the Set-up menu available here.

Alongside the camera, in the box you'll receive a charger and USB cable for the lithium ion battery, a User Manual which is bigger than you need as it's in multiple languages, a wrist strap and a brush for cleaning dirt and sand from the nooks and crannies. For the full user manual and editing software, you need to go to the Nikon website and download them.

Image Quality

All images were taken at the full resolution which produces images around 5.8Mb. The Nikon Coolpix S33 has no option to reduce the image quality while retaining the same resolution.


The Nikon Coolpix S33 has no manual override for the ISO settings, so in order to get different performance readings, we had to manipulate the amount of light available to force the camera to up the ISO. It means that there's no set routine to the ISO test that we conducted on the camera. In fact, the test starts as high as ISO 450. That's with the studio light blasting onto the subject. Colours are good at this setting and the picture looks clear despite being around 2 stops darker than the lowest setting the camera can work at. Zoom in to full magnification and you can see the noise reduction and sharpening that are taking place, which is a shame. Even at this relatively low setting, noise is still starting to creep in.

Noise gradually gets worse through each image with more information being lost with every step we took. ISO 640 displays a loss of fine detail that was still visible at the lower setting. The shininess of the camera bellows at ISO 450 are no longer visible. We did have problem with the focusing system and that's because we were gradually reducing the light on the picture to get the ISO up. The camera struggled because of this even with the AF emitter switched to Auto in the Set up menu.

The Nikon Coolpix S33 continues to battle ISO and the small leap to ISO 800 doesn't show any loss of image quality from the previous setting. As we moved the lights away to get the subject darker, the camera brightened the image. The ISO 1000 test shot is a lot brighter than the previous settings. It's possible to see a mild blue cast on the black side of the camera bellows. These pictures were taken at night, so it's not any stray daylight. The final setting of ISO 1600 was taken in almost pitch black which is why the picture is out of focus. However, it's the amount of noise that we're mostly interested in. Given the purple cast covering most of the picture, it's unlikely that there would be much detail in the finer parts of the picture.

ISO 450 (100% Crop)

ISO 640 (100% Crop)

iso450.jpg iso640.jpg

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 1000 (100% Crop)

iso800.jpg iso1000.jpg

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)


Focal Range

The Nikon Coolpix S33 has a modest 3x optical zoom which is an equivalent 30-90mm in 35mm terms. 



focal_range1.jpg focal_range2.jpg


The Nikon Coolpix S33 produces sharp results straight from the camera. It is possible to increase the sharpness using an editing suite such as Adobe Photoshop. One thing that drops the quality of the image is the higher resolution that the camera chooses to get an image with no blur.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg
sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

Chromatic Aberrations

For the price of the Nikon Coolpix S33, chromatic aberration is controlled marvellously. In fact, we had trouble finding any and what we did find was minimal. We've seen worse results than this on cameras more expensive.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

chromatic1.jpg chromatic2.jpg


Close focusing on the Nikon Coolpix S33 is 5cm. It's perfect for underwater photography where you need to get close to a subject such as an Anemone, but can't get perfectly still to be 1cm away. The sweet spot is quite wide and softly degrades towards the edges of the frame. Again it's a better result than some that we've seen on more expensive cameras.


Macro (100% Crop)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg


There's no vignetting with the flash turned off and this is the same at full zoom and wide-angle. Any variances in natural light are stabilised and balanced with the flash in use and it's very intelligent for a camera at this price point.  Light is balanced, stable and the same exposure as the ambient light.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (30mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (30mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Flash Off - Telephoto (90mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (90mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

The Nikon Coolpix S33 has no red-eye reduction feature and in our tests we did get red-eye on the pictures. The main cause of this is arguably the flash being located so close to the lens.

Flash On

Red Eye Reduction (100% Crop)

flash_redeye.jpg flash_redeye1.jpg


In the Scene menu which is accessed by pressing the button with the pink icon on the screen, the first option is for Night landscapes. We took a photograph at night in that mode and in Auto to see what the differences were. We used a tripod on both images and a 10 second self timer. We discovered that the Nikon Coolpix S33 actually used a lower ISO and produced a brighter image in Auto mode. It's entirely possible that the camera – being a tough type – will have to assume that you're off on some adventure and you don't have the luxury of a support for the photograph. It therefore has to raise the ISO in order to not have a slow shutter speed and ruin the shot. That being said, on both images, the noise ruins a lot of the detail and the noise reduction does the rest.

Night Auto

Night Auto (100% Crop)

night_auto.jpg night_auto_crop.jpg

Night Scene

Night Scene (100% Crop)

night_scene.jpg night_scene_crop.jpg

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Nikon Coolpix S33 camera, which were all taken using the 13.2 megapixel Fine JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample Movie & Video

This is a sample movie at the highest quality setting of 1920x1080 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 34 second movie is 81.4Mb in size.

Product Images

Nikon Coolpix S33

Front of the Nikon Coolpix S33

Nikon Coolpix S33

Side of the Nikon Coolpix S33

Nikon Coolpix S33

Side of the Nikon Coolpix S33

Nikon Coolpix S33

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix S33

Nikon Coolpix S33

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix S33 / Image Displayed

Nikon Coolpix S33

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix S33 / Turned On

Nikon Coolpix S33

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix S33 / Shooting Mode Menu

Nikon Coolpix S33

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix S33 / Main Menu

Nikon Coolpix S33

Bottom of the Nikon Coolpix S33


Nikon Coolpix S33

Side of the Nikon Coolpix S33

Nikon Coolpix S33

Side of the Nikon Coolpix S33

Nikon Coolpix S33

Front of the Nikon Coolpix S33


Previous versions of this camera have been criticised for the image quality not being up to standard, for the low build quality and the “dumbing down” of controls. It's easy to do, but just for a moment step back and take a look at what you have here. Thie Nikon Coolpix S33 is a sub £100 camera that can go underwater without a casing. It looks pretty good and is so easy to use, all generations from young to old can use it.

Areas that Nikon are well known for have been compromised in order to keep costs down. You can't expect to get prosumer quality for this price and that's not what Nikon have set out to do. The sheer simplicity of the camera is a screaming “Hello” at what they set out to achieve with the oolpix S33. When we look at it from this point of view, the camera is actually very well thought out. Is it a simplistic menu system designed to take the thought process out of photography? Or is it an intuitive user interface that will make picking up a camera not such a scary thing for people who don't care what a pixel is and why it's so important?

The image quality is low, but the pictures taken on the Nikon Coolpix S33 will likely be posted straight to social media which will squash most of the information out anyway. What is kept at home may be flicked through on the computer or printed to 6x4, maybe with the occasional enlargement. The important thing to keep in mind that users of this camera are more bothered about the people on the picture and the memory it preserves over the amount of focus points and noise reduction facility. That's a part of photography that a lot of people have forgotten and it actually takes using a camera like this to remind us.

If you're looking for a camera that the entire family can use without the fear of it breaking; that can be taken snorkelling by the kids and to a wedding by grandma, then the Nikon Coolpix S33 is a serious contender.

4 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4.5
Features 3.5
Ease-of-use 5
Image quality 3.5
Value for money 5

Main Rivals

Listed below are some of the rivals of the Nikon Coolpix S33.

Canon PowerShot D30

The Canon PowerShot D30 is an action compact camera that's waterproof to an impressive 25m, as well as being dust, freeze and shock proof. The Canon D30 also offers12 megapixels, a 5x zoom, 1080p HD video, built-in GPS and a 3-inch screen. Read our in-depth Canon PowerShot D30 review now...

Fujifilm FinePix XP80

The Fujifilm FinePix XP80 is a tough water, freeze, shock and dust proof compact camera. The XP80 offers a 16.4 million pixel 1/2.3 inch BSI-CMOS sensor, built-in wi-fi, 10fps burst shooting, 1080i HD movies, a 5x zoom lens and a 2.7 inch LCD screen. Read our Fujifilm FinePix XP80 review now...

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT25

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT25 is an affordable freeze, shock, water and dust proof camera. The Panasonic FT25 features a 5x zoom lens, 16 megapixel sensor and HD 720p video recording. Read our expert Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT25 review now...

Ricoh WG-30 Wi-fi

The Ricoh WG-30 Wi-fi is a shock, freeze, dust, water and crush proof compact camera with built-in wi-fi connectivity. The Ricoh WG-30 Wi-fi also offers a 16 megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor, a 5x zoom lens, Full HD movie recording and built-in macro lights. Read our in-depth Ricoh WG-30 Wi-fi review now...

Ricoh WG-5 GPS

The Ricoh WG-5 GPS is a new shock, freeze, dust, water and crush proof compact camera. The Ricoh WG-5 GPS offers a 16 megapixel Backside Illumination CMOS sensor, a 4x zoom lens with f/2 aperture, Full HD movie recording and built-in LED macro lights. Available for £259.99 / $379.95, read our in-depth Ricoh WG-5 GPS review now...

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Nikon Coolpix S33 from around the web. »

The Nikon Coolpix S33 replaces the S32 as Nikon’s entry-level, easy to use waterproof camera. It boasts very similar specs to its predecessor, with a 13.2MP sensor and 3x optical zoom lens. Toughness credentials also remain the same, as S33 is still waterproof to 10 metres (33ft) and shockproof to 1.5 metres (5ft).
Read the full review »


    • Type

    • Compact digital camera

    • Effective pixels

    • 13.2 million (Image processing may reduce the number of effective pixels.)

    • Image sensor

    • 1/3.1-in. type CMOS, Total pixels: approx. 14.17 million

    • Lens

    • NIKKOR lens with 3x optical zoom

    • Focal length

    • 4.1 – 12.3 mm (angle of view equivalent to that of 30 – 90 mm lens in 35 mm [135] format)

    • F-number

    • f/3.3 – 5.9

    • Lens construction

    • 6 elements in 5 groups

    • Magnification

    • Up to 4x (angle of view equivalent to that of approx. 360 mm lens in 35 mm [135] format)

    • Vibration reduction

    • Electronic VR (movies)

    • Motion blur reduction

    • Electronic VR (still images)

    • Autofocus

    • Contrast-detect AF

    • Focus range

    • [W]: Approx. 5 cm (2 in.) to infinity, [T]: Approx. 50 cm (1 ft 8 in.) to infinity, Shoot close-ups, Photograph food, Shoot under water, Mirror, Add a bubble effect, Add a neon effect, Add a cartoon effect, Take soft pictures, Create a diorama effect, Shoot a movie miniature, Highlight colors: Approx. 5 cm (2 in.) (wide-angle position) to infinity (All distances measured from center of front surface of the protective glass)

    • AF-area mode

    • Center, face detection, target finding AF

    • Monitor

    • 6.7 cm (2.7-in.) diagonal, Approx. 230k-dot, TFT LCD with anti-reflection coating and 5-level brightness adjustment

    • Frame coverage

    • Approx. 96% horizontal and vertical (compared to actual picture)

    • Frame coverage (playback mode)

    • Approx. 100% horizontal and vertical (compared to actual picture)

    • Storage media

    • SD, SDHC, SDXC, Internal memory (approx. 25 MB)

    • File system

    • DCF and Exif 2.3 compliant

    • Storage file formats

    • Still images: JPEG, Voice messages: WAV, Movies: MOV (Video: H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, Audio: PCM stereo)

    • Image size (pixels)

    • 13 megapixels [4160 x 3120], 4 megapixels [2272 x 1704], 2 megapixels [1600 x 1200]

    • ISO sensitivity

    • ISO 125 – 1600

    • Exposure metering

    • Matrix, center-weighted (digital zoom less than 2x), spot (digital zoom 2x or more)

    • Exposure control

    • Programmed auto exposure and exposure compensation (–2.0 – +2.0 EV in steps of 1 EV)

    • Shutter type

    • Mechanical and CMOS electronic shutter

    • Shutter speed

    • 1/2000 – 1 s, 4 s (Choose a style is set to Photograph fireworks)

    • Self-timer

    • 10 s, smile timer

    • Aperture

    • Electronically-controlled ND filter (–2 AV) selection

    • Aperture range

    • 2 steps (f/3.3 and f/6.6 [W])

    • Built-in flash

    • Yes

    • Flash range (approx.)

    • [W]: 0.3 – 3.1 m (1 – 10 ft) [T]: 0.6 – 1.7 m (2 ft – 5 ft 6 in.)

    • Flash control

    • TTL auto flash with monitor preflashes

    • USB

    • Micro-USB connector, Hi-Speed USB, Do not use any USB cable other than the UC-E21 for Micro-USB connector. Supports Direct Print (PictBridge)

    • HDMI output

    • HDMI micro connector (Type D)

    • Waterproof

    • JIS/IEC protection class 8 (IPX8) equivalent (under our testing conditions), Capacity to shoot pictures underwater up to a depth of 10 m (33 ft) and for 60 minutes

    • Dustproof

    • JIS/IEC protection class 6 (IP6X) equivalent (under our testing conditions)

    • Shockproof 1

    • Cleared our testing conditions compliant with MILSTD 810F Method 516.5-Shock

    • Supported languages

    • Arabic, Bengali, Bulgarian, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Marathi, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese (European and Brazilian), Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Swedish, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese

    • Power sources

    • One Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL19 (included), AC Adapter EH-62G (available separately)

    • Charging time

    • Approx. 1 h 40 min (when using Charging AC Adapter EH-71P and when no charge remains)

    • Battery life 2

    • Approx. 220 shots when using EN-EL19

    • Actual battery life for movie recording 3

    • Approx. 1 h 25 min when using EN-EL19

    • Tripod socket

    • 1/4 (ISO 1222)

    • Dimensions (W x H x D)

    • Approx. 109.5 x 67.0 x 37.6 mm (4.4 x 2.7 x 1.5 in.) (excluding projections)

    • Weight

    • Approx. 180 g (6.3 oz) (including battery and memory card)

    • Operating environment - temperature

    • –10°C – +40°C (14°F – 104°F) (for land use), 0°C – 40°C (32°F – 104°F) (for underwater use)

    • Operating environment - humidity

    • 85% or less (no condensation)

    • Supplied accessories

    • Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL19, Charging AC Adapter EH-71P 4, USB Cable UC-E21, Camera Strap 5, Brush 6

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