Nikon Coolpix S5200 Review

April 10, 2013 | Matt Grayson | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star


Sheltering under the Style banner of Nikon's digital camera range is the new Coolpix S5200. It's an affordable, smooth, slim digital compact camera with a back-illuminated 16 megapixel sensor, 6x optical zoom lens, 3 inch LCD screen, wi-fi transfer built-in and Full HD video capability. That's just a few of the impressive selection of features on the S5200. In this review, we'll put them to the test and see if the back-illuminated sensor is worth its salt. Available in silver, red, black, blue and plum the Nikon Coolpix S5200 costs £179.99 / $179.95.

Ease of Use

If you've never unpacked a Nikon digital compact camera, it can be a little disconcerting. You see, the first thing you find is what looks like the instruction manual which is a thick book full of text. However, look closer and you'll see that it's a quick start guide and is in several languages. The full manual is on the enclosed CD which will be underneath the guide. Also on the CD is ViewNX 2, a basic editing software suite which is powered by ArcSoft.

Fold out the box and the Nikon Coolpix S5200 is joined by a lithium ion battery, wrist strap and video cable. The USB cable doubles up as a charger which plugs into the mains adapter and directly into the camera. This is great if you're off travelling because it means there's less to carry.

The S5200 is a good looking camera. It's shiny and curved at the front with a glossy coating. The 6x optical zoom is off-set slightly from the centre of the body. A small flash sits just under the shutter release button, which is on the top plate. Joining it is the power button and the zoom ring which is wrapped around the shutter release. The power button is flush to the body so you don't mistake it for the shutter.

On the back, the large 3 inch LCD screen takes up a huge amount of space with the rest of the buttons cramming into around a quarter of the entire back section. Nikon have been creative to keep the buttons at a decent size by overlapping them. It jazzes up an other-wise standard design and bolsters the camera's personality. A large dedicated video button sits at the right shoulder. You can use this record button at any time, not just in video mode.

Nikon Coolpix S5200 Nikon Coolpix S5200
Front Rear

The Nikon Coolpix S5200's sensor is a 16 megapixel back-illuminated type. If you're unfamiliar with that term, it describes the way the sensor is designed. Traditional sensors have rows of pixels on the front and they're all surrounded by circuitry. This imposes on the pixel's ability to collect light and makes them less efficient. A back-illuminated sensor has the circuitry on the reverse of the sensor which opens up the entire pixel to the available light. This means lower ISO in lower light situations and smoother images. With all the circuitry on the back, the sensor looks as though it's been fitted backwards, so the back would be getting all the light when exposing – back-illuminated.

For the travelling photographer, storage of the pictures can be problematic. Do you get several smaller cards in case of card corruption, or get just one big card in case you lose one? The S5200 has built-in wifi, so you don't need to worry.  Once you're in a free wifi zone, the camera will send your pictures to a place of your choosing such as your computer or social media. The camera also works with Eye-Fi memory cards.

The Nikon S5200 uses an EXPEED C2 processor to get the pictures onto the memory card from the sensor. It's difficult to get any technical data on processors as they're manufacturer's most treasured intellectual property, so they're kept secret. C2 processors are found on smaller Nikon digital compact cameras.

While the camera doesn't feel flimsy, we couldn't help but handle it with kid gloves. Maybe it was the slippy covering or maybe it was the bright colouring. Whatever it was, we found ourselves gripping onto it tighter than other cameras. The battery lid is a slide-to-open type with no lock. Despite this, it's not easy to open, so shouldn't present any problems. It does have a bit of flex in it when manipulated.

Nikon Coolpix S5200 Nikon Coolpix S5200
Front Top

The screen on the S5200 is a 3 inch TFT LCD with 460,000 dots. Now there's been a bit of a mix up in the past with dots and pixels. You see technically, there's three dots to a pixel, so the 460,000 dot screen should be 153,333 pixels – which isn't much. However, CIPA guidelines a few years ago changed the rules to state that both dots and pixels meant the same thing. So now, the 460,000 dot screen is in fact 460,000 pixels. Much better. It's very nice and clean with bright colours and sharp edges. It suffers no motion blur or purple banding when put in front of a light.

There are two menus on the Nikon Coolpix S5200. The Scene menu is a straightforward, easy-to-use system that has nice, large icons so they can be navigated quickly for different shooting scenarios. Press the green camera button and the Scene menu opens up on screen. You're then faced with four options: Auto, Scenes, Digital filters and Smart portrait. For everyday shooting, it's likely that you'll keep the camera in Auto mode as it will be able to cope with pretty much every scenario you find yourself in. Should you need a specific response from the camera, for example you may be shooting in a museum or on the beach, then the Scenes option will be able to deal with up to 20 situations.

For those of you that have a zany side, the Digital filters will be right up your street. You can choose from 12 filter effects such as Soft focus, Vivid colour, High key, Painting, two Toy camera effects and – arguably the best – Cross process. The latter will not only apply a colour to the image to give it the feeling it's been cross processed (in the days of film, cross processing involved developing a colour negative film in slide film chemicals or vice versa. It would produce interesting and random colours), but you can also choose from four colours.

In the Main menu, the options are split into three sections and where you go depends on the action you wish to perform. To change settings to the way the camera records pictures, you need the first tab you're on when you open the menu up. For Video, you need the next tab down and the final tab holds the Setup pages. The latter being the more core features of the camera such as the languages, date&time, wifi and formatting options.

Nikon Coolpix S5200 Nikon Coolpix S5200
Memory Card Slot Battery Compartment

Start up time from cold is pretty good, shaving off around a third of a second from the standard average of 2.5 seconds. There are several continuous shooting modes on the Nikon Coolpix S5200. Continuous Hi takes seven images in around half a second. It then takes 10 seconds to download them onto the card. Great for that skateboard grind down the hand rail, but not if there's more than one person doing it in succession. There's also a Continuous Lo will take a full size images at a fast rate of around 2.2fps. We managed to get 22 shots in just outside a 10 second time period (it was less than half a second outside, so taking reflexes into account we gave the camera the benefit of the doubt). If you want super fast images, you can choose the 120fps or 60fps options, but the resolution is dropped to VGA (approx. 300,000 pixels) and 1 megapixel respective.

Switch the Nikon Coolpix S5200 into playback mode by pressing the arrow button on the back either when the camera is on or off. When powered down, it'll need to be held down to confirm it's not an accidental push while in a bag or pocket. Images are displayed full size as default with a simple information layout that will disappear after a few seconds. Pressing the OK button in the centre of the navigation pad and you can alter the look of the picture by adding any of the digital filters. That's great news if you take a picture and wish you'd added a filter or if you simply didn't have the time to get it initiated in the menu.

The other good news is that the Nikon Coolpix S5200 shows a really small thumbnail preview, but for some reason pressing down doesn't navigate through the list, you can only go left or right. If you change your mind, press the Menu button and confirm you'd like to leave. The Playback menu is a little over two pages long. It offers options such as D-Lighting (a dynamic range boost to increase detail in shadows and cap burn out on highlights), Quick retouch, Slide-show, Rotate, Copy or add a Voice memo. The Setup menu is also available should you need it.

Image Quality

All images were taken at the maximum resolution setting which produced images around 7.6Mb in size. There's a 16 megapixel setting that has a lower compression rating and will record images at around 3.72Mb. This could be useful if you're struggling for space, but runs the danger of losing fine detail in the pictures.


We had our suspicions from previous reviews and from the sample pictures we took throughout the test, that the ISO test wasn't going to be good. Even at ISO 125 there's evidence of salt and pepper noise. Granted, it's at 100% magnification and arguably won't be noticed at normal viewing distance. Edge definition is also a little dicey but the good news is that at ISO 200, the quality doesn't get any worse.

By ISO 400 we can see that noise reduction software is doing some work by smudging out what would be sharp lines and the beginnings of the “painted” look are appearing. ISO 800 shows large black spots appear in the mid-tones and shadow areas. It's interesting to note at this stage that there's a distinct lack of colour noise on these pictures. That's not to say it's not there, but by ISO 1600, it's normally a lot more evident.

The final setting on the ISO scale is ISO 3200. Now, while edge definition has broken down and there's black spots all over the picture and colour noise has even decided to turn up; after a decidedly shaky start, the end result of the S5200 ISO test is very good indeed, when you compare it to other digital compact cameras in a similar price bracket.

ISO 125 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)


ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)


ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

Focal Range

The Nikon Coolpix has a 6x optical zoom. On the camera, that works out at 4.6-27.6mm, but we tend to compare it to 35mm which would be 26-156mm. By today's standards, that's a modest zoom. The zoom on the S5200 wobbles on the screen when operated.




Normally we discover on Nikon digital compacts that adding a simple sharpen using an editing suite such as Adobe Photoshop does nothing except maybe exacerbate the noise. However, on the S5200 we found that adding some sharpening increased the quality of the shots.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)


Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberrations aren't that much of a problem on the S5200. We found evidence of it in high contrast areas and at the edges of the frame, but it's a lot lower than on other cameras in this class.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)


Close focusing on the Nikon Coolpix S5200 is 5cm at wide-angle setting. That's pretty standard for a camera at this price point. Images are sharp, though but barrel distortion is certainly noticeable.


Macro (100% Crop)


Light collection through the lens is even whether you're at wide-angle or full zoom. There's a slight amount of vignetting at wide-angle which disappears when zoomed in. Using flash adds a little extra light to the centre of the frame and balances it out at full zoom.

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 couldn't get any red-eye even without switching on the red-eye reduction feature, so we couldn't test it properly.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)

Red-eye Reduction

Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)


For the night test, we took a picture using the camera's Night scene in the Mode menu as well as a picture using the Auto feature. In Auto, we could set the ISO to a lower setting for a smoother image. However, the downside is that the maximum shutter speed we can use is 1 second. In this scenario it caused an under exposed image. The Night scene image is exposed much better but has used an ISO 800 sensitivity setting, so it's a lot noisier.

Night Auto

Night Auto (100% Crop)


Night Scene

Night Scene (100% Crop)

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Nikon Coolpix S5200 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

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 74.8Mb in size.

Product Images

Nikon Coolpix S5200

Front of the Camera

Nikon Coolpix S5200

Front of the Camera / Turned On

Nikon Coolpix S5200

Isometric View

Nikon Coolpix S5200

Isometric View

Nikon Coolpix S5200

Rear of the Camera

Nikon Coolpix S5200

Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed

Nikon Coolpix S5200

Rear of the Camera / Turned On

Nikon Coolpix S5200

Rear of the Camera / Main Menu

Nikon Coolpix S5200

Rear of the Camera / Movie Menu


Nikon Coolpix S5200

Rear of the Camera / Shooting Mode Menu

Nikon Coolpix S5200
Rear of the Camera / Special Effects Menu
Nikon Coolpix S5200
Rear of the Camera / Scene Modes Menu
Nikon Coolpix S5200
Top of the Camera
Nikon Coolpix S5200
Bottom of the Camera
Nikon Coolpix S5200
Side of the Camera
Nikon Coolpix S5200
Side of the Camera
Nikon Coolpix S5200
Front of the Camera
Nikon Coolpix S5200
Memory Card Slot
Nikon Coolpix S5200
Battery Compartment


For anyone looking for a first digital compact camera, the Coolpix S5200 from Nikon isn't a bad place to start. It has a high resolution, decent zoom, looks nice and has some decent effects to make picture taking that little bit more fun. We spent a fair while adjusting the Cross process filters or trying the different Toy camera effects on each scene.

The S5200 has also been designed for the photographer with itchy feet. Look at the evidence such as the slim, pocketable design, slightly longer than standard zoom, fun filters, wifi connectivity, FullHD video and SDXC memory card compatibility. It's easy to see that the camera is designed to go long periods without being connected to a home computer to download pictures onto. The other features make the S5200 more of a pleasure to use. Build quality is decent – although we're uncertain about the wobbly zoom.

Picture quality isn't too bad, although don't be deceived by the screen on the back which shows much better results than what eventually comes up on the monitor at home. But that's the smaller screen working its wonders. In fact, we were faced with a few dreary days when we road tested the Coolpix S5200 S5200. We managed to get out in the sun for a bit, but the camera managed to respond well to the varying light and the lack of colour due to the winter gloom. When we did stumble across bright flowers, the camera recorded them brilliantly.

For the price, the Nikon Coolpix S5200 is a pretty good camera. It has it's failings, but then it's a camera that borders on the expendable line. It's a camera that would be a family investment, but could be replaced if anything bad happened to it.

Families looking for an unobtrusive camera to take on holiday will find the Coolpix S5200 more than suitable, as will travellers that aren't going too far out of the way. Travelling round Europe would be perfect for the S5200, so if you plan to do any of those things, or if you fall into that demographic, then you should definitely take a closer look at the Coolpix S5200.

4 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4
Features 4
Ease-of-use 4
Image quality 3.5
Value for money 4.5


*Based on CIPA Standards for measuring life of batteries.
**When recording a single movie.

Product name COOLPIX S5200
Type Compact digital camera
Number of effective pixels 16.0 million
Image sensor 1/2.3-in. type CMOS; approx. 16.79 million total pixels
Lens NIKKOR lens with 6x optical zoom
Focal length 4.6-27.6 mm (angle of view equivalent to that of 26-156 mm lens in 35 mm [135] format)
f/-number f/3.5-6.5
Construction 5 elements in 5 groups
Digital zoom magnification Up to 4x (angle of view equivalent to that of approx. 624 mm lens in 35mm [135] format)
Vibration reduction Lens shift
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 m (3 ft 4 in.) to infinity Macro mode: Approx. 5 cm (2 in.) to infinity (wide-angle position) (All distances measured from center of front surface of lens)
Focus-area selection Face priority, manual with 99 focus areas, center, subject tracking, target finding AF
Monitor 7.5 cm (3-in.), approx. 460k-dot, TFT LCD with anti-reflection coating and 5-level brightness adjustment
Frame coverage (shooting mode) Approx. 99% horizontal and 99% vertical (compared to actual picture)
Frame coverage (playback mode) Approx. 99% horizontal and 99% vertical (compared to actual picture)
Storage - Media Internal memory (approx. 25 MB), SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card
File system DCF, Exif 2.3, DPOF, and MPF compliant
File formats Still pictures: JPEG 3D images: MPO Sound files (Voice Memo): WAV Movies: MOV (Video: H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, Audio: AAC stereo)
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]
Shooting Modes 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, Easy panorama, Pet portrait, 3D photography), Special effects, Smart portrait
Continuous Shooting Single (default setting), Continuous H (images are captured continuously at a rate of about 10 fps), Continuous L (up to 6 images are captured continuously at a rate of up to about 2 fps), Pre-shooting cache (frame rate: up to 18 fps / number of frames: up to 5 frames), Continuous H:120 fps (50 frames are captured at a speed of about 1/125 s or faster), Continuous H:60 fps (25 frames are captured at a speed of about 1/60 s or faster), BSS (Best Shot Selector), Multi-shot 16
Movie 1080(fine)/30p (default setting): 1920 x 1080/16:9/approx. 30 fps, 1080/30p: 1920 x 1080/16:9/approx. 30 fps, 720/30p: 1280 x 720/16:9/approx. 30 fps, iFrame 540/30p: 960 x 540/16:9/approx. 30 fps, 480/30p: 640 x 480/4:3/approx. 30 fps, HS 480/4x: 640 x 480/4:3, HS 720/2x: 1280 x 720/16:9, HS 1080/0.5x: 1920 x 1080/16:9
ISO sensitivity (Standard output sensitivity) ISO 125-1600 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 CMOS electronic shutter
Speed 1/2000-1 s 1/4000 s (maximum speed during high-speed continuous shooting) 4 s (Fireworks show scene mode)
Aperture Electronically-controlled ND filter (-3.3 AV) selection
Range 2 steps (f/3.5 and f/11.5 [W])
Self-timer Can be selected from 10 s and 2 s
Flash - Range (approx.) (ISO sensitivity: Auto) [W]: 0.5-4.0 m (1 ft 8 in.-13 ft) [T]: 1.0-2.0 m (3 ft 4 in.-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
HDMI output Can be selected from Auto, 480p, 720p, and 1080i
I/O terminal Audio/video (A/V) output; digital I/O (USB) HDMI micro connector (Type D) (HDMI output)
Supported languages Arabic, Bengali, 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, 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. 3 h (when using Charging AC Adapter EH-70P and when no charge remains)
Battery life *1 - Still pictures Approx. 160 shots when using EN-EL19
Movies (actual battery life for recording) *2 Approx. 25 min when using EN-EL19
Tripod socket 1/4 in. (ISO 1222)
Dimensions (W x H x D) Approx. 97.7 x 58.4 x 21.3 mm (3.9 x 2.3 x 0.9 in.) (excluding projections)
Weight Approx. 146 g (5.2 oz) (including battery and SD memory card)
Operating environment - 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 (with battery case), Charging AC Adapter EH-70P, USB Cable UC-E6, Audio Video Cable EG-CP16, ViewNX 2 CD, Reference Manual CD
Optional accessories Battery Charger MH-66, AC Adapter EH-62G
Wi-Fi (Wireless LAN) - Standards IEEE 802.11b/g/n (standard wireless LAN protocol)
Communications protocols IEEE 802.11b: DBPSK/DQPSK/CCK IEEE 802.11g: OFDM IEEE 802.11n: OFDM
Range (line of sight) Approx. 10 m (11 yd)
Operating frequency 2412-2462 MHz (1-11 channels)
Data rates (actual measured values) IEEE 802.11b: 5 Mbps IEEE 802.11g: 20 Mbps IEEE 802.11n: 20 Mbps
Security WPA2
Access protocols Infrastructure

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