Nikon Coolpix S3000

Special thanks to Rob for sharing this review of his new camera! … Comments in blue were added by the site’s webmaster, Michelle.

1. Takes pretty sharp 12MP images in good light, that can comfortably be printed out at 8?x10?, even after a bit of cropping.
2. I paid $59+s&h for it (Excellent price! I didn’t know you could get a good camera that cheap.)
3. Has an ISO priority option over the full ISO range of ISO80-3200
4. Has a manual “cue-card” type white balance setting, which yields excellent color fidelity, WHEN I REMEMBER TO SET IT…lol
5. I can zoom in on photos in review mode, all the way to a 1×1 crop, great for checking to be sure exactly how well that shot will turn out on your computer (and know if you need to re-adjust a few settings and try it again)
6. There is the option to retouch (3 levels), apply Nikon’s “D-lighting” effect, or crop pictures in-camera after you’ve taken them
7. Good wide-angle view at 4.9mm (actual focal distance, sorry I’m not sure what the 35mm equiv. on this one is) max wide-angle setting
8. The battery/SD card door is far enough away from the tripod mount that I can still access them w/out removing the cam from my tripod (I LOVE when camera manufacturers do this!)
9. Multi-zone (I think 16 or 20 points) manual autofocus area select option.
10. On the 12*MP setting (yes, that’s 12[star]) it actually takes some very well NOT compressed pics (avg about 3.4MB filesize) with pretty much 0 noticeable JPEG compression noise in the output.

1. Proprietary USB connector that’s shaped enough like Kodak’s proprietary connector that I almost broke it when trying to install the wrong USB cable (OOPS!) (Yikes! … I have given up on keeping my proprietary USB cables straight. I just use my computer’s card reader.)
2. Autofocus doesn’t seem to like me a lot of times…the red AF assist light is BRIGHT!! and washes out the subject on low-light shots, resulting in an AF FAIL 95% of the time (rectifiable frequently by manually moving AF zone away from center, so the AF assist light doesn’t fire)
3. Fixed aperture, any DOF adjustments require skillful fiddling with the (rather limited) “4.9mm-19.6mm” (aka 4x) focal distance (aka zoom).
4. No manual focus option.
5. No RAW format capability (what do you expect from a $59 “snapshot” camera)
6. Auto ISO mode (3 settings: full auto[I think 80-3200ISO], auto range 1[80-400ISO], or auto range 2[80-800ISO]) likes selecting higher ISO settings than I normally prefer, resulting in a somewhat grainy image (though, with a fixed aperture, the only other option is often a 1/2second or more exposure time)
7. Auto white-balance is a little buggy at times (like every other digicam I’ve ever owned)
8. No filter threads for me to attach filters (or, more likely, macro/tele. conversion lenses) to in order to expand the functionality (and somewhat dismal focal range) of the camera
9. No “infinity” option for the AF, so moon shots (or any other celestial shots) are definitely out

Overall Impression:
This is a “snapshot” type camera that can be had (refurbished) for $59+s&h that performs WAY above my expectations for a camera of that class & price-range.

It gives me enough faith that digital photography has finally matured enough that I can be more comfortable shelling out $200+ on a “bridge” camera, or entry-level DSLR and not wish immediately to have my 35mm film camera back. (Which is actually saying QUITE a lot, since I haven’t yet bought a “serious” digital camera for just that reason. Nothing under about $1.5K produced images that could BEGIN to rival 35mm film.)

Unfortunately, this is NOT a “bridge” camera, so I’ll never be truly satisfied with it as my “good” camera. But it is quite impressive as my “don’t have to cry if/when I break it” camera.

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