Nikon S32 Review

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Basic Specifications
Full model name: Nikon Coolpix S32
Resolution: 13.20 Megapixels
Sensor size: 1/3.1 inch
Lens: 3.00x zoom
(30-90mm eq.)
Viewfinder: LCD
ISO: 125-1600
Shutter: 4-1/2000
Max Aperture: 3.3
Dimensions: 4.2 x 2.6 x 1.6 in.
(108 x 66 x 40 mm)
Weight: 6.2 oz (175 g)
includes batteries
MSRP: $130
Availability: 03/2014
Manufacturer: Nikon
Full specs: Nikon S32 specifications
3.00x zoom
1/3.1 inch
size sensor
image of Nikon Coolpix S32
Front side of Nikon Coolpix S32 digital camera Back side of Nikon Coolpix S32 digital camera Top side of Nikon Coolpix S32 digital camera    

Nikon S32 Review -- First Impressions

Preview posted

Looking for an affordable yet rugged camera to take to beach or pool? (Hint: It might serve you well elsewhere, but when it comes to taking the drenchings and beating of a day's splashing around, your smartphone's almost certainly not the answer.) No, this niche is one Nikon aims to fill with the Coolpix S32.

This is a camera focused clearly on three things: approachability, affordability, and (within reason), a sense of near-tanklike indestructability. You'd never know it to look at it, though. Sure, with it's flash directly above the center of the lens it looks perhaps a little ungainly, but it doesn't have the overly aggressive-meets-futuristic look of many rugged cameras. It's all soft curves and sweeping arcs, here.

Although it's not quite as worldproof as some of Nikon's AW-series models, the Nikon S32 should more than suffice both seaside and poolside. It's waterproof to 33 feet and shockproof to five feet, but unlike some AW-series models, not freezeproof. (For the metric speakers amongst us, that's 10 meters and 1.5 meters, incidentally.)

The Nikon S32's lens offers 35mm-equivalent focal lengths ranging from a 30mm-equivalent wide-angle -- not the most generous in these heady days of wide-angle wundercams -- to a modest 90mm-equivalent telephoto. Maximum aperture at wide-angle is a somewhat dim f/3.3, and this falls to a decidedly dim f/5.9 by the time you reach the telephoto position. The optical formula of the lens is a simple 6 elements in 5 groups. There's also no adjustable aperture diaphragm -- instead the S32 simply switches on or off an optional neutral density filter.

A contrast-detection autofocus system is featured, and includes face-detection function. The closest focusing distance is just 2 inches (5cm) at the wide-angle position. Vibration Reduction is limited solely to electronic VR, which simply raises the ISO sensitivity (and noise levels) in an attempt to attain a hand-holdable shutter speed.

Behind the lens sits a smaller-than-average 1/3.1-inch, 13.2-megapixel CMOS image sensor. Together with the unbranded image processor, this allows the Nikon S32 to shoot at a moderate rate of 4.7 frames per second for 11 shots (a little less than two and a half seconds). Sensitivities range from ISO 125 to 1600 equivalents.

A selection of 14 user-friendly Scene modes are provided. Matrix metering is used for most exposures, although if you use up to 2x digital zoom then center-weighted metering is enabled instead, while digital zoom levels beyond this point opt for spot metering.

+/-2.0EV of exposure compensation is provided in 1/3EV steps, and seven white balance modes are available, including preset manual. Shutter speeds range from 1/2,000 to 4 seconds, although exposures beyond one second are available only in the Fireworks Show scene mode. A built-in flash has a range of 10 feet at wide angle or 5.5 feet at telephoto, using Auto ISO sensitivity.

You'll be framing and reviewing your images and movies on a fixed-position LCD monitor, par for the course with almost all rugged cameras. The monitor is a smaller-than-average 2.7-inch, anti-reflective type with a relatively low resolution of 230,000 dots.

As well as stills, the Nikon S32 is a video capture device, capable of recording at up to Full HD (1080p; 1,920 x 1,080 pixel) resolution with a rate of 30 frames per second. Videos use H.264 / MPEG-4 AVC compression, and include LPCM monaural audio.

The Nikon S32 draws power from an EN-EL19 lithium-ion rechargeable battery pack, said to yield around 220 shots on a charge. Connectivity includes USB 2.0 High Speed data, NTSC / PAL standard-definition composite video, and Type-D Micro HDMI high-def video. Images and movies are stored on SD, SDHC, or SDXC memory cards, or in a modest 25MB of built-in storage.

Available from March 2014, the Nikon Coolpix S32 ships in two body colors: white or blue. List pricing is set at around US$130.

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