Nikon Coolpix S33 Waterproof Digital Camera
There are many different ways to do photography and to use a camera. Some people’s first priority is taking high quality, pixel-perfect photos, while others just want to take a photo with minimal hassle. The Nikon Coolpix S33 waterproof digital camera is for the latter type. We are talking about a 13.2 Megapixel “adventure” point-and-shoot camera with decent optical capabilities and a range of outdoor-friendly features.
Say you’re going on a vacation with family. You need a cheap camera which will do the job of capturing fun memories, but even though you won’t pay much for it, you want it to be resistant enough to survive even the craziest family and friends time – water diving, rock climbing, beach volleyball, you name it, S33 can take it.
- Camera type – Point-and-shoot
- Weight – 180g
- Sensor – 1/3.1-inch CMOS, 13.2 Mpx
- Lens – NIKKOR, 3x optical zoom
- Body material – Plastic, glossy finish
- Colors – White, Pink, Blue, Yellow
- F-number – f/3.3 – f/5.9
- Focal length – 4.1 – 12.3 mm (30 – 90mm — 35mm equivalent)
- Autofocus – Contrast-detect AF
- ISO – 125 – 1600
- Shutter speed – 1/4000 – 4s
Features and design
So, what exactly is Coolpix S33 capable of? Well, you can use it underwater down to 10m (33 feet) and it is shock resistant up to 1.5m (5 feet). As you can imagine, this is perfect for shooting stills and recording video in the sea, at a pool or a waterpark, in the rain, snow or pretty much anywhere a typical vacation might take you.
To prove its value to family, especially with children and other non-tech-savvy members of your company, Nikon has gone a few steps further to make it not only safe to use but also very simple to use.
The S33 comes in white, pink, blue and yellow colors. The white model actually looks kind of sleek and premium, while the colored models give out a certain toy-like feeling, which we found appropriate for a camera of this type. The whole body, along with physical buttons, feels surprisingly firm and sturdy, considering the price tag. Note that due to its glossy plastic finish, it is extremely slippery, especially underwater.
Within it’s shiny plastic body, you will find dedicated, easy to use controls. On the top you get three buttons, one for turning the camera on and off, and the other two for taking stills and recording video, respectively. On the camera rear, there is a 2.7-inch LCD screen where you will see all your basic camera settings along with some additional goodies such as creative filters. Left of the screen, there are four physical buttons used for navigation on-screen options. To the right of the screen there is the standard circular four-button navigation, used either for moving through media or zooming in or out. Underneath the nav buttons there is a dedicated media button which takes you inside your gallery. That’s it, straightforward as it can be.
You will notice the four buttons on the left don’t have any markings on them, and that’s why once turned on, the screen will show an icon next to each button. Icons are color-coded, making navigation through different sections even easier.
There four different sections for you to fiddle with, each accessed by the corresponding button. From top to bottom, we have green, blue, pink and yellow section. In the green section, you can play with your photos, edit settings such as brightness, contrast, highlights and shadows. You can also add creative effects, record audio to your photos, etc. The blue section allows you to shuffle through your photos based on the date they were taken and you can create a slideshow. The pink button has a single purpose which is to delete unwanted photos. The final, yellow section, is the Set-up settings section, which allows for resizing and copying photos, as well as other general recording settings.
Image and video quality
As far the camera quality itself is concerned, you shouldn’t expect too much here. The sensor is a smartphone-sized 1/3.1-inch CMOS, which is smaller than an average point-and-shoot, but about the same size as the sensor in the new iPhone. Overall image quality is also about the same you can expect from a high-end smartphone camera – which is not to say it’s bad. There is a 3x optical zoom, which is expands the lens outwards while zooming.
Even though maximum ISO sensitivity is at ISO 1600, you won’t be able to manually select it because the camera sets the ISO automatically. But even if you could select ISO 1600 we still wouldn’t recommend it considering the noise levels are very high. We’ve found that setting ISO at 100 or 200 will generally produce good results, while going up to ISO 400 you will definitely notice the noise, it is still comes out an acceptable photo. ISO 800 and ISO 1600 are somewhat problematic with noise handling.
Unfortunately, there is no integrated image stabilization, so shooting with lower shutter speed to reduce ISO is not an option, at least not without a tripod. Since there is no IS system to compensate for vibrations while you’re moving, this also means you’ll get a shaky video unless you’re completely still while recording, or using a tripod.
Unlike most competitor cameras in this price range, the Coolpix S33 features Full HD 1080p video recording at 30fps. Video is generally sharp and vivid, although it sometimes misunderstands the scene and applies inaccurate white balance setting. What is somewhat disappointing is the lack of optical zoom during video recording. Yes, you can still use digital zoom which might come in handy, but we should all know how this degrades image quality.
Images produces by S33 are very sharp out-of-the-box, which means users won’t have to mess around with photo editing tools such as Photoshop. If you do decide to apply some post-process sharpening, we advise you to go approach it non-aggressively, as artificial sharpening may introduce additional unwanted noise to photos which already quite noisy at higher ISO levels.
One could expect impressive details from this resolution, but keep in mind that combining lots of megapixels and a very small sensors is not the best recipe for preserving details. If zoomed at 100% you will notice smudged details.
If you are into macro photography, wanting to shoot a close-up photo of a butterfly, or any other small object, be it inland or underwater, you will not be disappointed with this camera. It can focus on objects as close 5cm, add to that the 3x optical zoom and you will be able to get mighty close to anything macro.
Image quality during night or in very dark environments is significantly degraded. Lack of sufficient light means camera will have to bump up the ISO, which will introduce serious noise and loss of detail. On the other hand, even with the lack of IS, rest assured you will not get blurry images with this camera. On a more positive note, the integrated flash performs quite well, balancing the strength of the flash according to the lighting situation and applying the right white balance. There is no red-eye reduction, so you will get red eyes while shooting people will turned-on flash. Overall, this camera will do good for portrait or group photos of people, even during night.
Nikon Coolpix S33 waterproof digital camera is a solid budget camera for those who want a basic shooter without having to worry about it easily breaking. It is water-proof and shock-proof, thanks to its rugged, sturdy body. It doesn’t overly impress in any area, except possibly macro photography and fast continuous shooting performance. But keep in mind the price-range and the intended purpose of this camera – it is extremely cheap for a waterproof camera and the ease of use it offers is well-appreciated for any casual photographer. This is in fact the cheapest underwater camera on the market. Don’t expect jaw-dropping image quality, instead rest assured almost every shot will be properly produced – with subjects in-focus and without motion blur, with more than enough sharpness and a nice reproduction of colors. The most obvious case of use for this camera is summer vacation at the sea, in which case there will be plenty of light from the sun, ensuring you get the very best images this camera can produce.
We understand any prosumer will want more quality in their images, so this is obviously not a camera for photography enthusiasts. The importance for simplicity and reliability of a camera is often overlooked, and that’s why we appreciate what Sony has done with the S33.
To conclude, if you need an affordable, basic, simple-to-use camera for the whole family, including elderly people as well as children, look no further, the S33 will deliver!