Cheap but versatile pocket camera
The Nikon Coolpix S3100 produced better pictures than we had expected for a camera at this price. It's also admirably slim with a mostly metal build, able easily to slot into a pocket. It's available in seven colours including the fetching pink shown here.
The camera is so thin and light that it was tricky to hold steady. This meant focus was a bit off, especially when zoomed-in, because it was picking up the minute shaking when we pressed the shutter button. Also, there is no mechanical image stabilisation, which is a shame.
We ended up using the self-timer to solve the problem, but it's an annoyance. The camera has a 5x optical zoom lens, equivalent to a wide-angle 26-130mm on an old film camera. That makes it better for both landscapes and group shots than close-up portraits.
A 2.7in rear screen is used for both composing and reviewing pictures and video – there's no viewfinder – and it was quick to respond. It powered up in just over a second and had little shutter lag. It took around three to four seconds to save the JPEG picture files to the SD memory card (not supplied).
Besides taking 14-megapixel still pictures it can record high-definition video in the 720p resolution, with a dedicated camcorder-style record button. This made it easy to start filming quickly no matter which shooting mode we had selected at the time.
We enjoyed Nikon's selection of colour options, with the ‘vivid' mode providing a welcome boost to some rather flat-looking images. There are also 19 scene modes for different environments, and Smart Portrait features that are geared towards taking better pictures of people.
In general, picture and video quality was impressive, especially for a camera so cheap, but we did spot two problems common to cheaper cameras: soft edges to photos taken at maximum wide angle and purple fringing in brighter images. Results were surprisingly good in low light, however.
The Nikon Coolpix S3100 is lacking in manual features so it's better suited to beginners and those who would prefer to have the camera do the work. We found it too slim to be practical but it's still a good-value first camera.
Read more reviews
One of the best pocket-sized zoom snappers at this price
Picture quality better than expected; stylish metal build; easy to use; good zoom lens; HD video with instant-record button
Camera shake blurring is a problem at maximum zoom; lacks manual features and HDMI output
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