I was searching for a camera as a gift and one of the first things that people need to do when they’re searching for a camera is to recognize is how are they going to be using that camera?
People need to be asking questions about the types pictures the going to be taking and at what times they think they might be taking those photos and if they might ever need the ability to do a quick video.
Small cameras are starting to be in high competition with smartphones. Smartphones are now coming with a standard eight megapixel digital camera built into them, but they don’t have an optical zoom. Having an optical zoom with your smart phone or with a standard digital camera is what is really going to make that device standout.
It’s one thing to be able to simply take a picture, and it’s another thing to be able to just digitally zoom in on the picture, but digitally zooming in on a picture is not the same as a optical zoom; optical zoom will always give you a better resolution, and better output. And I think this is why you starting to see some of the smaller cameras with the much higher megapixel resolution is so that they can take much higher resolution pictures, not have a large optical zoom, but have a digital zoom that really extends the abilities of the camera.
Anyway, the purpose of this camera, the search for, was based on a few criteria. It had to be small, it had to be easy to use, it had take nice pictures, it had to be convenient, it needed to take short videos and it had to have a decent optical zoom.
The best part about technology when you’re looking at stuff like this is that digital devices such as cameras keep doubling in their abilities almost every six months, but the prices of these devices tend to go down just about fast.
With a budget of roughly hundred dollars and recognizing the name brand recognition of Nikon I chose the Coolpix model S3300 because of the compact size and that it met the criteria that I was looking for.
Here’s some more information on it…
16 megapixel CCD image sensor
6x NIKKOR Optical zoom
26 mm wide-angle lens
2.7-inch high-resolution LCD
Smart portrait system
Scene auto selector
18 optimized scene modes
Dimensions (W x H x D) 94.8 x 57.8 x 19.5 mm
Nikon Coolpix S3300 Digital Camera
Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL19
Charging AC Adapter EH-69P
USB Cable UC-E6
Audio Video Cable EG-CP16 – composite connectors for a TV.
ViewNX 2 Installer CD [photo management and panoramic picture creator]
All the main functions of the camera seem to be convenient and right there on the top right hand corner. Turning on, zooming and snapping the pictures, can all be done with your index finger. And other functions such as scene, display, menu and trash can all be done with the operators thumb.
Actually holding the unit is a little intimidating because it is kind of small; this is where I actually like the idea of using the wrist lanyard that comes with the camera. But the idea of the compact camera is to be portable and be small enough to be placed into your pocket.
The display in the back is very nice, you can see the results of your shots very well.
Here’s some of the pictures I took with it in the middle of the day…
The first shot is a native picture with no zoom… and the picture was taken with no tripod; just freestanding.
The next shot was with the full 6X optical zoom…
The last shot that’s shown here is using the 6X optical zoom and all of the digital zoom. As you can see some of the picture quality degrades after using the digital zoom, but that is with all digital zoom.
Here’s a few more scene shots for the purpose of testing the zoom…
These pictures show the native shot and the optical zoom of the camera; again freestanding. The results seemed very good and as you’re trying to focus on your subject the camera does have automatic detection of the subject.
Overall, I think the unit takes very nice pictures…
I have to admit that I liked using the 16:9 option for taking pictures.
As the pictures are taken, they are stored onto the SD card [ not included with the camera].
Roughly each picture is 3.5 MB.
The Nikon Coolpix S3300 has the ability to capture video.
This 16 second video that I uploaded to YouTube was 64 MB. The quality isn’t bad, and although the camera has the ability to zoom in while recording, I didn’t show that option.
In my opinion, if this movie had actually been recorded or captured in a native MP4 format, the file size of the video could’ve been much less. This would’ve saved space on the SD card and would’ve saved bandwidth for the person who was going to upload the video to YouTube.
Here’s some information about the native video format that was used…
A good piece of information though is that the AVI file that the Nikon Coolpix camera produced seems to be compatible with Windows Movie Maker 2012.
For testing purposes, I converted this AVI file to a standard MP4 video and the compression of the video was cut down by two thirds. Actually a little more than that, the converted file size was less than 20 MB. I know that there’s other Nikon cameras that record video in a MP format that are not as new, so I’m wondering why Nikon chose to use the AVI format on the other cameras [like this one].
Things I didn’t like…
- Offloading the images
I didn’t like how the camera isn’t mounted as a drive letter, but this may be indicative of Nikon in general. I believe it’s more convenient for the operator to be able to plug-in the camera and simply offload the images without having to remove the memory card. This unit will require the operator to open the bottom access panel and remove the SD card in order to offload the images and videos.
I think this is a bad choice because the operator should have the ability to plug the camera in, offload the images and manage the memory card without having to put wear and tear on moving parts of the camera.
But there are options of using specialized memory cards like Eye-Fi that create a wireless connection between the PC and the digital camera; all without having to plug up any cables and transfer all the information wirelessly. This option is in the camera settings.
- Nonstandard USB cable
The camera comes with a USB connector cable, but it has a nonstandard on the end of it. I don’t like that Nikon has chosen to use a specialized cable, something proprietary, when there’s already an existing standard. This just makes it difficult on the user to connect the device for charging.
- The power connector
As mentioned above, I didn’t like the proprietary power connector. I think Nikon should’ve gone with a standard mini USB connector. This would’ve made the camera more compatible with other chargers, car adapters and it would allow the user to use pretty much any USB cable if the original one went bad. But because Nikon did not do this, if the operator loses the power connector, the have to purchase a new one… so don’t lose the power connector.
Buying a camera is bad enough for yourself, finding one for someone else is a massive task, but besides the USB cables and the video format Nikon used, I believe the camera is solid and would make a great gift for someone; especially if they don’t already have one.
I hope this helps…
Larry Henry Jr.
…via Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12