Nikon Coolpix s31
Easy to Use Interface
Good Picture Quality
Limited Video Recording Time
Software for Color Correction
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: