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Nikon COOLPIX S3100 review
|DATE REVIEWED: 14th Apr 2011||Add Camera To Comparison Chart|
|Camera Type||Compact||Shutter Speeds||4 - 1/2000 sec|
|RRP||£129||ISO Range||80 - 3200|
|Megapixels||14||Focal Length||26 - 130mm|
|Weight||118g||Aperture||f3.2 - 6.5|
|Dimensions||93 x 57 x 18mm (WxHxD)||Focus Distance||10cm - inf|
|LCD Size||2.7 inches||Zoom (Opt)||5x|
|Zoom (Dig)||4x||Storage||SD / SDHC / SDXC|
|Max Resolution||4320 x 3240||Battery Type||Li-Ion|
T he S3100 is one from a line-up of spring releases by Nikon, and adds further depth to the company’s COOLPIX series. The camera’s sleek and rounded exterior comes in seven bright shades: black, silver, red, pink, yellow, blue and purple. It’s lightweight and slim, making it slip-in-your-pocket convenient.
Entering the shops at around £130, the S3100 comes without the touch-screen features of its more expensive brethren, the S4100 and S6100 (priced at £150 and £200 respectively). The decision not to go touch-screen will be down to preference and trust in the more traditional clicky format, but what the S3100 does offer is a 2.7-inch LCD screen, 720p HD movie recording, and a 5x optical zoom that starts at a wide focal length of 26mm. These traits, as well as a 14MP CCD sensor, justify the asking price nicely.
The camera is at its best in front of people, with the help of numerous Smart Portrait options. These involve a Smile Timer, Blink Proof, Skin Softening and an in-camera red-eye fix – even its flash has a night portrait setting. So when it comes to portraits the S3100 has the important technologies, and, combined with the wide-angle lens, you can be sure to fit everyone in the shot.
From a practical point of view, the S3100 is up and running in just a few seconds. The zoom moves smoothly as it shifts up and down focal lengths, and the capture time from shot to shot is quick for a compact of its price.
Finding your way around menus is simple, with the four most important modes separated from the main section as an individual button. These allow you to shoot in Auto mode, choose from a selection of 19 scene modes, enable Subject Tracking, and to go into the camera’s Smart Portrait mode. There’s also a dedicated record button for jumping into the camera’s 720p HD movie mode that rolls at 30fps. Nikon has kept it basic with the S3100, using a no-thrills electronic VR (Vibration Reduction) system to reduce blurry shots, which, if you’re not careful in low-light situations, can still catch you out if you’re not supported by a tripod.
But after these pleasant first impressions, we soon discovered its weaknesses, leaving us with a distinctly different impression to what we started out with.
When it comes to producing the goods, the stylish S3100 offers nothing more than bottom-end results. This issue of image quality stems from its inability to handle dynamic lighting scenarios, such as a sunsets. It’s rare to find a compact under £150 that will give you perfectly exposed highlights and shadows in one image, and the S3100 certainly doesn’t change that. It requires a lot of patience and experimentation with metering to get the right part of your image exposed. Noise is also an issue through its entire range of ISO settings, causing a big problem if you ever wish to crop, enlarge or edit post-capture.
The camera’s build quality is also not one of its stronger points, and however much it looks the part, the key features and buttons have an overriding plasticky feel. Nikon, being one of the DSLR heavyweights, certainly knows how to put together a reliable camera, and although it runs as smooth as its looks, money doesn’t buy you materials with the S3100.
It won’t win any awards, and even if you’re taken by the looks of the S range of COOLPIX compacts, we’d still suggest looking further for a better-performing compact.
With few thrills and below-average images, the S3100 is only appealing on the outside. Nikon may have covered all budgets, but were left wanting more
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|With few thrills and below-average images, the S3100 is only appealing on the outside. Nikon may have covered all budgets, but were left wanting more|
Simons spent many experimental hours in a homemade, traditional darkroom, and has now transferred that knowledge into the realms of digital with a critical eye.
|Total Camera Reviews||17|
|Average Camera Rating||3.6|
|Simon's Last 5 Reviews|
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