If you are planning a trip to the ocean, lake, the beach, want to shoot in the rain or fear not handing off the camera to the kids the Nikon Coolpix S31 is a water, dust and shockproof rated camera featuring a 10.1mp sensor, 720 HD video, with a shockproof rating of 3.9 feet and a waterproof depth of a little over 16 feet for up to 30mins. At first look, I felt the camera was a little light and seemed almost like a toy in construction but it also had very straight-forward features and easy to read and understand buttons which is perfect for almost every user. The on-screen menu options were easy to navigate and had a good amount of features for scene selection, camera settings and offers some basic in camera image editing options like brightness and special effects. The Nikon S31 features a 2.7″ LCD and compared to some other older underwater models I have used I found the screen very easy to see underwater in both pool water and the ocean water.
Other features include a built in flash and 26-mb on board storage, which is very small for memory size today and a bit of an odd number. However, the Nikon Coolpix S31 accepts standard SD, SDHX and SDXC cards so storage capacity is not an issue. The camera features a 3x optical Nikkor glass zoom lens plus a 4x digital zoom for a total of 12x zoom — but using the digital zoom is almost a joke as the image starts to degrade rather quickly and I would rather have more of an optical zoom. The battery and memory card enclosure, which has a gasket around it to keep the elements out, should really have some sort of a double backup to make sure it does not open. In theory, it does have a safety as you have to slide the press the switch and slide it up and then slide the case to open. The issue was the location seemed to always end up right by my hand and I felt that I was going to hit this and open while underwater…although this did not happen. I would like to see another safety lock type mechanism to really ensure that it does not open by accident. Additionally, Nikon should include either a longer wrist strap or at the very least one that I can adjust and secure around my wrist. I feared dropping the camera in the ocean so I tied my bathing suit to the wrist strap as a backup.
Switching between video and audio while underwater was very easy and you can select the underwater scene mode to help with color correction although I still color corrected my files after. While shooting I used a 16gb SD card and video time showed only 18-mins recording capacity based on shooting 720HD which I thought was very short time amount for that large of a card — especially when I can get way over that with the same card in other cameras. The software included with the camera is more of a photo and video file management software but I would like to see Nikon offer a tool or software to help color correct the underwater video and images — because most people will end up with images that are bluish even if they use the scene selection mode and just accept that as the final image.
Overall, the Nikon Coolpix S31 was very easy to use, reasonably priced and I think anyone that has used a point and shoot digital camera could easily pick the camera up and shoot with it. I don’t think I would use the Nikon Coolpix S31 to replace my regular point and shoot but to have it as a secondary weapon in my digital camera arsenal especially when I want to shoot in the areas where I would never use my standard digital camera. We give the Nikon Coolpix S31 4 out of 5 stars for this Damn Good Review.
Sample images shot in Bermuda — they have been color corrected:
[toggle title=”Camera Specs”]Specifications Type Compact Digital Camera Effective Pixels 10.1 million Image Sensor CCD Sensor Size 1/ 2.9 in. Total Pixels 10.34 million (approx.) Lens Focal Length 4.1-12.3mm (angle of view equivalent to that of 29-87 mm lens in 35mm  format) Lens f/-number f/3.3-5.9 Lens Construction 6 elements in 5 groups Lens Zoom 3x Digital Zoom Up to 4x (angle of view equivalent to that of approx. 348mm lens in 35mm  format) Motion Blur Reduction Electronic VR (still pictures) Motion Detection (still pictures) Autofocus (AF) Contrast-detect AF Autofocus (AF) Focus-area selection Center Face detection Focus Range [W]: Approx. 1 ft. (30 cm.) to infinity [T]: Approx. 1 ft. 8 in. (50 cm.) to infinity Macro close-up mode: [W]: Approx. 2.0 in. (5 cm.) to infinity Focus Lock Yes Monitor Size 2.7 in. diagonal Monitor Type TFT-LCD with 5-level brightness adjustment Monitor Resolution 230,000-dots Monitor Frame coverage (shooting mode) 97% horizontal (Approx.) 97% vertical (Approx.) Monitor Frame coverage (playback mode) 100% horizontal (Approx.) 100% vertical (Approx.) Storage Media SD memory card SDHC memory card SDXC memory card Internal Memory Approx. 26MB Storage File System DCF EXIF 2.3 DPOF compliant Storage File formats Still pictures: JPEG Audio files: WAV Movies: AVI (Motion-JPEG compliant) Movie AVI (video: Motion-JPEG compliant) HD: 1280x720p / 30fps Image Size (pixels) 3648 x 2736 (10M) ISO Sensitivity ISO 80 -1600 Lowest ISO Sensitivity 80 Highest ISO Sensitivity 1600 Exposure Metering Matrix Center-weighted (digital zoom less than 2x) Spot (digital zoom 2X or more) Exposure Control Programmed auto exposure (shutter speed, ND filter selection and ISO sensitivity) Exposure Modes Programmed Auto Scene Modes Close Up Continuous shooting Diorama effect Fireworks Show Food Interval shooting Mirror Underwater Soft In-Camera Image Editing Brightness Change colors Highlight colors Vividness Decorate Exposure Compensation ± 2 EV in steps of 1/3 White Balance Auto Shutter Mechanical and CCD electronic shutter Shutter Speed 1/2000-1 sec. 4 sec. (when scene mode is set to Fireworks show) Top Continuous Shooting Speed at full resolution Up to 4 shots at approx. 1.5 frames per second Continuous Shooting Options Continuous (Shoot a series) Single Aperture Electronically-controlled ND filter (-3 AV) selection Self-timer 10s (approx.) Smile Timer Built-in flash Range (approx.) (ISO sensitivity: Auto) [W]: 0.5 to 3.5m (1ft. 8 in. to 11 ft.) [T]: 0.5 to 2.0m (1ft 8 in. to 6 ft 6 in.) Built-in Flash Control TTL auto flash with monitor preflashes Built-in Flash Yes Interface Hi-speed USB Interface Data transfer protocol MTP PTP Video Output NTSC PAL I/O terminal Audio/video (A/V) output; Digital I/O (USB)[/toggle]
A great water, shock and dustproof point and shoot camera with good pictures and HD video
- Easy to Use Interface
- Good Picture Quality
- Optical Zoom
- In-Camera Editing
- Digital Zoom
- Limited Video Recording Time
- Software for Color Correction