Nikon Coolpix S3000

Blog Andy Shaw Feb 18, 2011

Nikon’s great-value ultra-compact camera is stuffed with top features.

Pros and Cons

Product Pros: + Small, pocketable camera
+ Great shots in favourable conditions
+ Top features
Product Cons: - Struggles with low-light conditions

If the Holy Grail of compact camera design is to produce a smart, pocketable, feature-packed camera body that takes excellent shots at an affordable price, then this new Nikon model is almost there. It has features that compact models could 
have only dreamt of a year or two ago, the case is truly svelte (94 x 56 x 19mm) and light (116g with battery and memory card) and, at £109.99, it's terrific value for money.

The features list is impressive. The 2.7in screen takes up almost all of the back of the camera. It has a 4x optical zoom - excellent for a camera as thin as this - and pulls back to a wide angle, offering a good range of framing options. As well as the usual selection of scene choices (which help the camera choose the correct settings for subjects such as landscapes, firework displays and sporting events), it also features a very useful smile-detecting portrait mode and a subject-tracking system to keep moving objects in focus. It takes snaps up to 12 megapixels, has a video mode and comes in a range of eye-catching colours.

The resulting photos in our test were a bit of a mixed bag. There's no denying that it takes smashing pictures in decent light. However, as light levels dropped (because we were indoors or it was getting dark) the camera started to come a cropper with the fine balance required between focus and exposure. To be fair, most compact cameras struggle with this, but the S3000 has made little progress in this department.

Ease of use
If you're hoping for point and shoot, you won't be disappointed, and the camera does fine with its automatic settings in most circumstances. With special features such as the smile-detecting portrait mode, you have to go through a menu system that'll take a number of button presses - a switch or physical button might have been a better route to such a useful function.

Value for money
You can really forgive the camera any foibles when you look at the price - you won't see many similarly priced models that have anything like the same array of features and provide such great results from a small package. It might be worth comparing it to Canon's budget range because, in our tests, we've found Canon's cheaper cameras perform marginally better. However, if size matters, Nikon wins the slimming competition.