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Nikon Coolpix S31 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £95
inc VAT

Basic image quality and even more basic features, but the rugged design and low price are perfect for children


1/2.9in 10.0-megapixel sensor, 3.0x zoom (29-87mm equivalent), 185g

The 1/2.9in sensor is smaller than the 1/2.3in sensors used in most other compact cameras, and image quality was closer to that of a mobile phone than a dedicated camera. Details were pixel-sharp in the centre of frames but a little soft towards the edges, with chromatic aberrations giving halos of discolouration around high-contrast lines. Noise gave photos a slightly scruffy quality, and took a heavy toll in low light.

Nikon Coolpix S31
Details are a little scruffy – a tell-tale sign of noise – but high-contrast lines are nice and sharp here

Nikon Coolpix S31
Focus is sharper in the centre than at the edges, but it’s not a bad effort

Nikon Coolpix S31
This indoor shot with the flash suppressed reveals a lot of noise, although it’s not so noticeable after resizing to smaller dimensions

Ultimately, though, image quality was usually good enough for online sharing. The times when it failed were more often down to some odd exposure decisions rather than inherent limitations of the hardware. In most indoor shots the camera sensibly raised the ISO speed to 800 to minimise blur. However, on other occasions it used ISO 400 and shutter speeds as slow as half a second, resulting in heavy blur. We then switched the flash from Suppressed to Auto to minimise blur and noise, but the camera was sometimes reluctant to use the flash in gloomy conditions.

Nikon Coolpix S31
Flash-lit exposures are well judged – this is better than what we’d expect from a phone’s LED flash

Nikon Coolpix S31
However, for this shot (taken by our three-year-old tester) the camera hasn’t bothered to use the flash. The resulting ISO 800 sensitivity has produced a lot of noise

It would be easy to dismiss the S31 on account of its basic image quality and limited functions. However, we can’t think of a better camera at this price for primary school-aged children. The small sensor and lack of optical stabilisation means it misses out on an award, but it meets its target users’ needs well and is more than the sum of its parts.

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Basic Specifications

Rating ****
CCD effective megapixels 10.0 megapixels
CCD size 1/2.9in
Viewfinder none
Viewfinder magnification, coverage N/A
LCD screen size 2.7in
LCD screen resolution 230,000 pixels
Articulated screen No
Live view Yes
Optical zoom 3.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent 29-87mm
Image stabilisation none
Maximum image resolution 3,648×2,736
File formats JPEG; QuickTime (AVC)


Memory slot SDXC
Mermory supplied 26MB internal
Battery type Li-ion
Battery Life (tested) 260 shots
Connectivity USB
Body material plastic
Lens mount N/A
Focal length multiplier N/A
Kit lens model name N/A
Accessories USB cable
Weight 185g
Size 65x106x42mm

Buying Information

Warranty one year RTB
Price £95

Camera Controls

Exposure modes auto
Shutter speed auto
Aperture range f/3.3 (wide), f/5.9 (tele)
ISO range (at full resolution) auto
Exposure compensation +/-2 EV
White balance N/A
Additional image controls saturation
Manual focus No
Closest macro focus 5cm
Auto-focus modes multi, face detect
Metering modes multi, face detect
Flash auto, forced, suppressed
Drive modes single, self-timer