Nikon Coolpix S3600 Review

June 6, 2014 | Matt Grayson | Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


The Nikon Coolpix S3600 is a slim digital compact camera hosting an array of features, such as an 8x optical zoom, Hybrid VR system, EXPEED C2 processor and Target Finder AF. It's also designed to be incredibly easy to use. In this review, we'll discover exactly how easy it is and if it's worth the price. Available in a range of colours, the Nikon Coolpix S3600 costs around £130 / $140.

Ease of Use

Large cameras can be great if you're going to big events or looking to take your photography more serious. Sometimes, it's more convenient to take a something smaller. The Coolpix S3600 from Nikon is just that. It's a thin camera – only 19.9mm from front to back – yet holds an 8x optical zoom without any bulge around the lens area. Joining the lens on the front of the camera is the tiny AF emitter and a slim flash which has a reach of 0.5 – 3.5m at wide-angle and 1.5-2m at full zoom and that's in ISO Auto, so it shouldn't change regardless of the sensitivity setting the camera is in.

Because small seems to be the key word when designing the Nikon Coolpix S3600, the top plate has a teeny power button that can prove difficult to operate if you have big hands. The power button is located in the usual place and a compact zoom switch is hidden beneath it to preserve space. On the back, the 2.7 inch screen takes up the majority of the available space with the operational buttons lining the right side. The formation is a standard navigation pad with four buttons surrounding it. The green camera accesses the modes you can shoot in such as Auto, Smart portrait, Digital effects, Scenes and Easy auto. The latter being the mode that will simply do absolutely everything for you.

The only thing you get to adjust in the Main menu is the resolution of the Nikon Coolpix S3600. The Digital effects are interesting if you enjoy playing around with the overall look of the pictures. You can choose from popular effects such as Sepia, Black & white, Toy camera and  Vivid colour as well as some lesser known ones such as High key, Low key and Cross process. The latter harks back to the days of film whereby developing a colour print film in colour slide processing liquid (or vice versa) produced some interesting results in colour reproduction. It's interesting that in our sprint to move away from film, we now want to replicate it as much as possible.

Nikon Coolpix S3600 Nikon Coolpix S3600
Front Rear

Should you need to alter any in depth features of the Nikon Coolpix S3600, this can be done in the Main menu by pressing the Menu button towards the bottom of the camera. The automatic modes on the Mode menu will only open up basic options on the Main menu. It's not until you use the Auto mode that you'll see the benefit of the menu system. In there you can alter the resolution, white-balance, ISO, drive modes and focus areas. Pressing left will take you out of the Shooting menu and you'll find that it's split into three sections.

The second section is dedicated to video and is quite sparse by comparison. It allows you to change the resolution, focus and image stabiliser modes as well as adjusting the wind reduction feature. Finally, the Set-up menu is more intense and has options to change in-depth features such as the Motion detection, time & date and Language to the more obscure such as the welcome screen, date stamp and blink warning. The S3600 is compatible with the Eye-Fi memory cards which uses WiFi to transfer images to a computer.

The menu is clear and concise. There are no sub-menus aside from the multiple options within a category. The colour coding is dark grey framing with a light grey centre panel and yellow highlight over the black lettering. It's simple if a little uninspiring. It gets the job done, though.

Nikon Coolpix S3600 Nikon Coolpix S3600
Front Top

Start up time from cold is relatively slow at 2.4sec. Given recent advancements across the board, we expected to see around 2sec at least. Many cameras are coming out these days with start up times of under 2sec, so to see a camera at over 2sec is disappointing. In continuous mode, the S3600 has three modes to choose from (aside from the Single shot default setting). Continuous shooting fires a succession of images at around 1.1fps (frames per second) to a maximum of six shots, according to the Nikon website. We managed to get seven pictures in a ten second period, which is an average of 0.7fps. We couldn't emulate the frame rate that Nikon have stated on their website even at the start of the ten second test when the frame rate is typically faster.

To access the pictures you've already taken, you simply press the blue arrow on the back of the camera. You can do this even when the camera is off, you just have to hold the button down a bit longer. The most recently taken image will show up full size on the screen with some basic image information such as date & time, resolution and file number. You can press the Ok button which takes you into the Quick effects menu system. This is pretty cool because it means that you don't have to worry about applying the effect at the time of shooting. The camera will save the edited image as a new file too.

Nikon Coolpix S3600 Nikon Coolpix S3600
Memory Card Slot Battery Compartment

If you remember, pressing the camera button during recording brings up a Mode menu. Well, pressing the arrow button in Playback brings up a similar menu. You can choose various ways to display the pictures you have such as Favourites, Chronologically, Auto and straight forward playback. In the Playback menu – which is accessed via the Menu button – you can perform simple edits to your pictures using the Quick retouch, D-lighting or Glamour retouch options. You can also remove red-eye, set the order to print pictures, produce a slide-show, protect and rotate images as well as copy them and add a voice recording.

In the top of the box, there's a Quick Start Guide, which looks huge but is in multiple languages. It's only a simple guide to get you started. The full manual is found on the CD also enclosed in the box. Below these are the camera, wrist strap, lithium ion battery and a USB cable which attaches the camera to the charging unit. There is a setting in the Main menu whereby the camera will charge off the computer by using the USB cable. You don't have to set anything, the option in the menu is to switch it off.

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.


Noise levels at low ISO settings are great on the S3600. There's no indication of noise in dark areas or otherwise. The changes begin to appear at ISO 200, which is expected given that the difference between ISO 80 and ISO 100 is only around a third of a stop. Small amounts of colour noise can be seen at ISO 200, though.

The noise exacerbates throughout the range with bright blue spots starting to appear at ISO 400 and edge definition taking a direct hit. ISO 800 sees the blue spots turn purple and spread out over the image. Mid-tones and highlights are still untouched at this point but salt & pepper noise also begins to be troublesome.

At ISO 1600, noise reduction ramps up production to stamp out the problems, even at the expense of image detail. Darker areas merge and the images take on the painted look of smudged images. ISO 3200 gets so bad that Nikon have set the resolution to 3.8 megapixels. By knocking down the resolution and deactivating some pixels, certain types of noise are eradicated because they're created by noise from neighbouring pixels. There is still a little present on our test image, but it's not bad overall.

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

The focal length of the Nikon Coolpix S3600 is 25-200mm in 35mm terms. That's an 8x optical zoom, which is very handy in such a small body.



focal_range1.jpg focal_range2.jpg

File Quality

There are two settings at 20 megapixels to select when shooting. The normal setting is defaulted on the camera and you have to change it in the Main menu to have the star next to it if you want a higher compression to record larger files. 20M* images record around 7.5Mb while dropping to 20M with no star records images around 4.2Mb.

16M High (7.55Mb) (100% Crop) 16M Normal (4.27Mb) (100% Crop)
quality_fine.jpg quality_normal.jpg


Adding some sharpening in does work in some scenarios, but if the camera has been steadied and a low ISO used, the difference it makes is negligible.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

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

Chromatic Aberrations

The S3600 lens is high quality and we found difficulty finding any chromatic aberrations. There are one or two when a dark foreground is over a bright background.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

chromatic1.jpg chromatic2.jpg


The closest focusing distance of the s3600 is 2cm and that's pretty good. Centre sharpness is also good. Image quality drops off fairly early, though.


Macro (100% Crop)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg


The camera does get vignetting at wide-angle and the definition at the corners of the frame is increased when flash is used. The vignette remains throughout the zoom range regardless of whether the flash is on or off.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (25mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (25mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Flash Off - Telephoto (200mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (200mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

The flash didn't produce any red-eye in the photographs whether the red-eye reduction feature was on or off. There's also a red-eye removal feature in the Playback menu but we didn't need it on any of our pictures.

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 mode on the S3600 has two settings for hand-held night photography and for tripod based. We shot a test image in both settings as well as two shots in the Auto mode with auto ISO and ISO 80 settings.

The lighter images are the ones that were higher ISO which therefore let more light in. The two in Auto mode differ through the the ISO alone whereas the Night scene modes also adjusted the shutter speed.

Night Scene Handheld

Night Scene Handheld (100% Crop)

night_scene_handheld.jpg night_scene_handheld1.jpg

Night Scene Tripod

Night Scene Tripod (100% Crop)

night_scene_tripod.jpg night_scene_tripod1.jpg

Night Auto AutoISO

Night Auto AutoISO (100% Crop)

night_auto_isoauto.jpg night_auto_isoauto1.jpg

Night Auto ISO80

Night Auto ISO80 (100% Crop)

night_auto_iso80.jpg night_auto_iso801.jpg

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Nikon Coolpix S3600 camera, which were all taken using the 20 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 1280x720 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 33 second movie is 107Mb in size.

Product Images

Nikon Coolpix S3600

Front of the Nikon Coolpix S3600

Nikon Coolpix S3600

Front of the Nikon Coolpix S3600 / Turned On

Nikon Coolpix S3600

Side of the Nikon Coolpix S3600

Nikon Coolpix S3600

Side of the Nikon Coolpix S3600

Nikon Coolpix S3600

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix S3600

Nikon Coolpix S3600

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix S3600 / Image Displayed

Nikon Coolpix S3600

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix S3600 / Turned On

Nikon Coolpix S3600

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix S3600 / Shooting Modes

Nikon Coolpix S3600

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix S3600 / Camera Menu


Nikon Coolpix S3600

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix S3600 / Movie Menu

Nikon Coolpix S3600

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix S3600 / Settings Menu

Nikon Coolpix S3600

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix S3600 / Playback Menu

Nikon Coolpix S3600

Top of the Nikon Coolpix S3600

Nikon Coolpix S3600

Bottom of the Nikon Coolpix S3600

Nikon Coolpix S3600

Side of the Nikon Coolpix S3600

Nikon Coolpix S3600

Side of the Nikon Coolpix S3600

Nikon Coolpix S3600

Front of the Nikon Coolpix S3600

Nikon Coolpix S3600

Memory Card Slot

Nikon Coolpix S3600

Battery Compartment


If you're a typical point and shooter, using a camera on days out, nights on the town and holidays, then the Nikon Coolpix S3600 is great for those situations. Bright light or using with flash is good for the camera because you can use a low ISO and obviate the noise issues. For the price of the camera, the noise performance isn't too bad though. The screen on the back of the camera does the photographs no favours, though. We found them flat and uninspiring, but when they're on a computer screen, they're much better. That's good for the happy snapper and good for our ego.

The S3600 is built well for the price. It uses a lithium ion battery and they're generally kept in the bay6 with a latch, so we're not surprised to see the lack of a locking catch on the battery door. The 8x optical zoom in such a small body will attract a lot of people to a camera such as this. The zoom is fast enough as well. There are some slow focusing issues and if the camera is doing something, it has trouble moving to a different task.

For £130, the features you get on the Nikon Coolpix S3600 are good enough for pretty much everything you can care to throw at it. There's nothing new on the camera, but then it's not a vehicle for testing new tech. It's a camera for the point and shooter that wants to get pictures of the kids in the home, out at the park and on holiday. The slim body, wide-angle lens and large zoom will also make it an attractive possibility to anyone going on their travels. Couple that with the SDXC memory card compatibility for ultra large file sizes, Eye-Fi upload and the USB cable charge capability and you have a camera that doesn't need a computer or mains socket. If this sounds like the type of camera you need in your life, then take a look at the Coolpix S3600 from Nikon.

3.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4
Features 3.5
Ease-of-use 4
Image quality 3.5
Value for money 4

Main Rivals

Listed below are some of the rivals of the Nikon Coolpix S3600.

Canon IXUS 140

The Canon IXUS 140 (also known as the PowerShot ELPH 130 IS) is a stylish new point-and-shoot compact camera that won't break the bank. Stand-out features include a 16 megapixel sensor, built-in wi-fi connectivity, a 3 inch LCD screen, 8x wide-angle zoom lens and a metal body. Read our in-depth Canon IXUS 140 review to find out if it offers a winning combination of style and substance...

Canon PowerShot A3500 IS

The Canon PowerShot A3500 IS compact camera is one of the cheapest wi-fi enabled cameras on the market. The Canon A3500 also offers a 3 inch screen, 16 megapixel sensor, 5x wide-angle zoom lens, 720p movies and an attractive price tag of less than £110. Read our Canon PowerShot A3500 IS review now...

Fujifilm FinePix T400

The Fujifilm FinePix T400 compact camera offers a 10x zoom, 16 megapixel sensor, 3 inch LCD screen and 720p movies, all for a street price of just £70 / $90. Read our Fujifilm FinePix T400 review to find out if it's a genuine bargain or one to avoid...

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ9

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ9 is a brand new travel-zoom compact camera. The stylish Panasonic SZ9 offers 16 megapixels, a 10x zoom lens (25-250mm), 3 inch LCD screen, built-in wi-fi connectivity, 10fps burst shooting and 1080p HD movies. Read our expert Panasonic DMC-SZ9 review now...

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX200

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX200 is a slim and stylish compact camera with built-in wi-fi. The WX200 also features a 10x zoom lens, 18 megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor, 10fps continuous shooting and Full HD movie recording. Priced at around £199, read our Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX200 review to find out if it's worth checking out...

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX60

Entry level cameras don't have to be big and ugly, and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX60 is a case in point. This stylish compact packs an 8x zoom lens, 16 megapixel sensor, 2.7 inch screen and a wealth of beginner-friendly features into its svelte frame. Priced at around £150, read our Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX60 review to find out if its performance matches its good looks...

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Nikon Coolpix S3600 from around the web. »

The Nikon Coolpix S3600 was announced in January 2014 and is a compact camera with 8x optical zoom. It also has a 20.1 megapixel sensor, retouch menu and a range of digital filters which can be used on your pictures before and after shooting. It is available in blue, pink, red, black, silver and pink lineart for around £110.
Read the full review »


Number of effective pixels 20.1 million
Image sensor 1/2.3-in. type CCD; total pixels: approx. 20.48 million
Lens NIKKOR lens with 8x optical zoom
Focal length 4.5-36.0 mm (angle of view equivalent to that of 25-200 mm lens in 35mm [135] format)
f/-number f/3.7-6.6
Lens construction 8 elements in 7 groups
Digital zoom magnification Up to 4x (angle of view equivalent to that of approx. 800 mm lens in 35mm [135] format)
Vibration reduction Lens shift (still pictures). Lens shift and electronic VR (movies)
Motion blur reduction Motion detection (still pictures)
Autofocus (AF) Contrast-detect AF
Focus range [W]: Approx. 50 cm (1 ft 8 in.) to infinity, [T]: Approx. 1.5 m (5 ft) to infinity. Macro mode: Approx. 2 cm (0.8 in.) to infinity (wide-angle position). (All distances measured from center of front surface of lens)
Focus-area selection Face priority, center, manual with 99 focus areas, subject tracking, target finding AF
Monitor 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. 97% horizontal and 97% vertical (compared to actual image)
Frame coverage (playback mode) Approx. 99% horizontal and 99% vertical (compared to actual image)
Media Internal memory (approx. 25 MB), SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card
File system DCF, Exif 2.3, and DPOF compliant
File formats Still pictures: JPEG. Sound files (Voice Memo): WAV. Movies: AVI (Motion-JPEG compliant)
Image size (pixels) 20M (High) [5152 x 3864(fine)]. 20M [5152 x 3864]. 10M [3648 x 2736]. 4M [2272 x 1704]. 2M [1600 x 1200]. VGA [640 x 480]. 16:9 (14M) [5120 x 2880]. 1:1 [3864 x 3864]
Shooting Modes Scene auto selector, Scene (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, Auto
Continuous Shooting Single (default setting), Continuous (the frame rate for continuous shooting is about 1.1 fps and the maximum number of continuous shots is about 6), BSS (Best Shot Selector), Multi-shot 16
Movie 720/30p: 1280 x 720/16:9, 720/25p: 1280 x 720/16:9, 480/30p: 640 x 480/4:3, 480/25p: 640 x 480/4:3, 40/30p: 320 x 240/4:3, 240/25p: 320 x 240/4:3
ISO sensitivity (Standard output sensitivity) ISO 80-1600. ISO 3200 (available when using Auto mode)
Exposure metering mode 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 1/3 EV)
Shutter Mechanical and CCD electronic shutter
Shutter speed 1/1500-1 s. 4 s (when scene mode is set to Fireworks show)
Aperture Electronically-controlled ND filter (-3 AV) selection
Aperture range 2 steps (f/3.7 and f/10.5 [W])
Self-timer Can be selected from 10 s and 2 s
Flash range (approx.) (ISO sensitivity: Auto) [W]: 0.5-3.5 m (1 ft 8 in.-11 ft). [T]: 1.5-2.0 m (5 ft-6 ft 6 in.)
Flash control TTL auto flash with monitor preflashes
Interface Hi-Speed USB
Data Transfer Protocol MTP, PTP
Video output Can be selected from NTSC and PAL
I/O terminal Audio/video (A/V) output; digital I/O (USB)
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. 2 h 50 min (when using Charging AC Adapter EH-70P and when no charge remains)
Battery life¹ Approx. 230 shots when using EN-EL19
Movie recording (actual battery life for recording)² Approx. 45 min (720/30p) when using EN-EL19. Approx. 50 min (720/25p) when using EN-EL19
Tripod socket 1/4 in. (ISO 1222)
Dimensions (W x H x D) Approx. 97.1 x 57.9 x 19.9 mm (3.9 x 2.3 x 0.8 in.) (excluding projections)
Weight Approx. 125 g (4.5 oz) (with battery and SD memory card)
Temperature 0°C-40°C (32°F-104°F)
Humidity 85% or less (no condensation)
Supplied accessories Camera Strap, Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL19, Charging AC Adapter EH-70P, USB Cable UC-E6, ViewNX 2 CD

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