Nikon Coolpix S3500 Review

June 11, 2013 | Matt Grayson |

Image Quality

The pictures taken throughout the test were taken at full resolution and the finest compression rating unless otherwise stated. At full size, the pictures range from just under to just over 8Mb. Reduce the compression rating to lose more information and that's roughly halved. You can perform this action in the resolution menu by choosing the 20 megapixel option that doesn't have the star. It will use less information and thereby allow more pictures to be stored, but the image quality will suffer on fine detail subjects.


The low ISO performance on the Nikon Coolpix S3500 is very good. The image isn't as smooth as a high end compact, but we don't expect it to be. After all, this is a sub £100 camera. The sensitivity ranges from ISO 80 to ISO 3200. Image quality and edge definition remain good through until ISO 200 where, when viewing at full magnification, some colour noise starts to leak through. The overall image isn't really affected, it's just pockets of noise in the darker areas that are showing up. They're also not visible at full size at this stage.

At ISO 400, the green colour noise starts to interfere with the image more and at ISO 800, it gets worse. Salt and pepper noise also starts to poke through which disrupts edge definition. It has to be noted that although this is all going on, the quality of the image is still pretty good.

Loss of picture quality is to be expected at ISO 1600 and while a disappointing amount of noise is showing through the fact that this is such a high setting is great for a camera at this price point. In a bid to suppress the amount of noise invading the picture, the camera knocks the ISO 3200 images down to 3.8 megapixels. The lower amount of pixels used prevents a type of noise that's generated by the heat of neighbouring pixels as they're exposed on and start to work.

ISO 80 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

iso80.jpg iso100.jpg

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

iso200.jpg iso400.jpg

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

iso800.jpg iso1600.jpg

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)


Focal Range

In 35mm terms, the focal length of the 7x optical zoom fitted to the S3500 is 26-182mm. The lens that Nikon have put on this new run of digital compacts that includes the S3500 is great. We couldn't find any evidence of barrel distortions at wide-angle or pincushion at full zoom.



focal_range1.jpg focal_range2.jpg

File Quality

The Nikon Coolpix S3500 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 (7.55Mb) (100% Crop) 16M Normal (4.27Mb) (100% Crop)
quality_high.jpg quality_normal.jpg


We don't normally see an improvement in sharpening on Nikon compacts because the noise is exacerbated so much in the process. However, because the noise is suppressed so well on the S3500, you can see a mild improvement on the pictures.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

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

Chromatic Aberrations

We were really hard pressed to find any chroma on the pictures from the Nikon Coolpix S3500. We found very mild evidence of it on a couple of pictures, but not where we expected to see it. However, we did see a few examples of haloing around some high contrast areas which may be some chromatic aberration removal software at work.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

chromatic1.jpg chromatic2.jpg


The macro focusing is 5cm maximum which is sufficient for a camera of this classification. If you need any closer, then the S3500 won't be the best camera regardless of the macro facility.


Macro (100% Crop)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg


The Nikon Coolpix S3500 does get a little vignetting at the corners of the frame and the flash has been designed to replicate natural light, just a more stable version of it. This means that the vignetting seen without flash is also present when it fires. However, it disperses when the lens is zoomed in.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (26mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (26mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Flash Off - Telephoto (156mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (156mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

We didn't get any red-eye from the S3500, so we couldn't test the reduction facility effectively. It's unlikely that it will occur at all as flash are generally more intelligently positioned on cameras these days. However, should you need it you can switch it on in the flash options on the back of the camera.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)
flash_on.jpg flash_on1.jpg

Red Eye Reduction

Red Eye Reduction (100% Crop)

flash_redeye.jpg flash_redeye1.jpg


The night scene shot on the Nikon Coolpix S3500 has a dual option to set the camera up for hand held night photography or tripod based. Selecting the latter will slow the shutter speed and lower the ISO for smoother pictures. Selecting hand-held uses the opposite settings selected. We found that on the tripod selection, the image was under exposed because the camera doesn't have a long enough shutter speed to cope. The camera should – in this case – select a higher ISO to let more light in, but it didn't. The Auto setting picture came out more balanced because we could set the camera manually. We chose a higher ISO 800 setting to get a lighter image. We also pre-set the white-balance and while it looks less yellow, it's further away from the actual colour of the street lights.

Night Auto

Night Auto (100% Crop)

night_auto.jpg night_auto1.jpg

Night Scene

Night Scene (100% Crop)

night_scene.jpg night_scene1.jpg