In my opinion, there are a few criteria required for a camera that can be taken with you on walking or cycling tours. I look for a camera that is small and compact, has a good quality lens and some element of zoom. Added extras might include a camera that is robust and waterproof. I have had cameras destroyed by the rain and another that didn’t cope when I dropped it from the height of a metre on to a stone ground. But the proof of a good camera is in the taking of the pictures and the resulting photos.
On test: Nikon Coolpix S32 camera
This is a lightweight and neat size of camera. I spent most of my walking day carrying the13-megapixel Nikon CoolPix in my hand or a small pocket in the waistband of my rucksack. It felt lightweight (perhaps even a bit too lightweight) and easy to hold. On walking and cycling trips I do like a camera to be lightweight. So the Nikon Coolpix scores well on that front. It boasts a NIKKOR lens with 3x optical zoom and a 13 MP CMOS sensor, which means it has an image sensor that will capture a lot of picture detail, even in low light. The camera can also take full high definition videos at 1080p with stereo sound. The results can be viewed on-screen while the HDMI micro-connector also supports playback on an HDTV. The camera is waterproof to a depth of 10m so can be used for underwater photography, too. But why is the camera called a CoolPix? Answer: Because, I guess, it has a wide range of very funky extra features to play with! Some of the camera’s rather different features include:
With cartoon style frame.
“Fun dedicated” filters. You can take a photo with one of a number of colourful and patterned borders or choose to take pictures with a different range of colours.
Pretty pink and flowery border!
As well as the usual photo shooting functions of night-time, scene and macro (close-up) there are photo shooting functions including: Food photography, intervals, underwater, fireworks, backlit, mirror, bubble, neon, cartoon, soft and diorama (3D style).
It’s also possible to change the colour of photos to be brighter or darker, more vivid or less vivid, highlight colours. To be honest, the choice of different photo styles was mesmerising. After playing about a bit with these different features I decided to stick the camera on “normal” and take it with me on a Munro walking trip. Using the Nikon is fairly straightforward. As soon as you have charged the battery (via a plug and AC charger wire that comes with the camera) and then switch it on with the on-off button, up pops a screen that helps you to set up time, date etc. It didn’t take me long – and I didn’t refer to the manual – to work out how to do the set up. There are three buttons on the top of the camera. One is the on/off, one is for taking video and one is for taking a still photo. I confess that I got the video and photo buttons confused a few times. I wonder if it would be better to have these buttons in a different place or better highlighted. When you look closely the video button has a red dot but when you are busy trying to quickly frame photo it’s too easy to get the photo and video buttons mixed up. I did this a few times which was annoying. However, the more I used the camera the less this happened. Zooming in and out with the 3x optical zoom is simple. A dial/navigation style button on the back of the camera has a plus and minus side and you simply hold this down. For me, the test of the camera was how it handled the taking of pictures on a normal day in the great outdoors. You can see the results. I think the colours are good and very true to real-life.
True to life colours on a walk of a friend's last Munro.
Some of the people in the photos seem a bit blurred and I wonder if the camera is not so good at coping with a bit of hand shake. But mostly the pictures look sharpy and in focus.
Rucksack close up
I enlarged some photos just to see if the camera does take high resolution pictures and I was pleasantly surprised.
Great scenes. On the Munro Mayar in Angus.
Happy smiling walkers on Mayar, Angus.
I think the camera handled the scenic shots well and the landscape colours look sharp and vibrant.
Bringing the dramatic landscape to life in a photo.
Also, if you are looking for a camera that can take a few knocks and will photograph underwater and cope with rain the Nikon Coolpix is a good choice. When it came to the “fun” features I can see these appealing to families with younger children. It’s a great idea to encourage kids to get into photography and Nikon have come up with lots of funky options. I doubt I would use these funky features after an initial “let’s see what it can do” but I would definitely consider the camera for a child or as a fun accessory.
Is this a little blurry? Or was it my hand shake?
All in all though the outcome is good for a compact camera that costs less than £80, especially as it is shockproof and waterproof and can take pictures underwater to a depth of 10m. If you want a fun camera for the family or for kids then this is an even better buy. You can buy the Nikon CoolPix S32 camera in bright pink, blue, yellow or silver to suit your mood or favourite colour. Buy from Clifton Cameras for £79.95.