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Nikon Coolpix S3700 Compact Digital Camera Review

Nikon Coolpix S3700
Nikon Coolpix S3700

Choosing an Inexpensive Camera

When I was looking for a compact, digital camera I researched all of the major brands. I ended up with the Nikon Coolpix S3700, mostly because it fit into my budget. In this review I’ll share my opinion of this surprising little camera.

First off, here is why I chose the Coolpix S3700:

I consider myself an amateur photographer. It’s a hobby, and I use many of my own photos for my articles as well. So, when I was traveling recently I wanted to take a lot of pictures, but I didn’t feel like lugging my bulky camera case around everywhere. I wanted a small camera I could easily fit into my pocket.

I also decided it had to be around $100, because I if I were going to spend any more I would prefer to upgrade my main camera. Thirdly, it would be really nice if it could shoot decent pictures.

On that last point I was dubious. I know many people rely on their smart phones for casual photography, but I didn’t want to carry my phone around with me either. The S3700 is actually smaller than my phone anyway.

My main camera is a Nikon Coolpix P500. This model is a few years old by now, and the newer version is the P530. This is a mid-priced digital camera geared toward hobby photographers like me. My P500 is hardly a pro-level cameras, but it is still are light years ahead of the little S3700.

I like my P500, and I really had no illusions that the S3700 would be anywhere close as far as image quality, especially when it came to distant subjects requiring a strong zoom. The best I hoped for was decent long-range point-of-view images, and with that I would have been happy.

So, that’s why I went with the Coolpix S3700, and what I expected from it. Now let’s get down to the business of how well this little camera performed, and whether or not it met my expectations. I've also included some images I've taken with the camera. Let's get to it!

Nikon Coolpix S3700 Specs

Here are some of the key specs for the Coolpix S3700:

  • 20.1 Effective Megapixels
  • 8x Optical Zoom
  • 16x Dynamic Fine Zoom
  • 720p HD Video
  • Built-in WiFi
  • 16 Scene Modes plus Auto Selector
  • Dimensions: 3.8 in x 2.3 in x .8 in
  • Approx Weight: 4.2 oz

Throwing specs out at you probably doesn’t help you very much, so here are some thoughts on the aspects of the S3700 that are most important to me, and probably to you.

Ocean Sunset
Ocean Sunset

8x Wide Angle Optical Zoom and 16x Dynamic Fine Zoom

The Coolpix 3700 features an 8x optical zoom. This isn’t great but, again, in this price range I was only expecting a camera that would give me decent point-of-view images. It also has a 16x digital zoom Nikon calls Dynamic Fine Zoom.

I wasn’t expecting good quality images from anything but a slight zoom, but I have to say I am impressed. Pushing the Coolpix to the limits of its optical zoom, and even moderately into the Dynamic Fine Zoom, gave me good image quality and detail.

The margin of error is tight with a little camera like this, and it still isn’t wise to push the digital zoom too hard, but I have to say I have been pleasantly surprised with the zoom abilities of this little camera.

The S3700 has Lens-shift Vibration Reduction, a feature meant to minimize blur due to the camera shaking. As you likely know, the more you zoom the more possibility of image blurs if you aren’t careful. This is an affliction I suffer from, so a little help in that regard is greatly appreciated.

Clocktower Mall – Dockyard, Bermuda
Clocktower Mall – Dockyard, Bermuda

Scene Modes and Image Quality

The Coolpix S3700 does give you a few very basic options for messing around with picture quality, such as adjusting ISO sensitivity. However, as with most small digital cameras, it is usually easiest to leave all of that on AUTO and simply adjust the scene selector if need be. And, that again, is usually best left on AUTO. However, you will certainly find cases where, with a little experimentation, you will get better image quality using one of the scene modes.

Like most small digital cameras, you need to be aware of light levels. In some cases the scene modes can help you out here, but low light levels and subjects beyond the reach of the flash always spell trouble for me.

There is also an easily accessible Macro Mode, used for taking pictures of small and close-up subjects. While it does help with image quality a bit, as you’d probably expect you can’t zoom in for extreme detail. This is par for the course for lenses on small cameras like this.

After 500+ pictures, I have to say I am quite pleased with the S3700 when it comes to image quality. It doesn’t rival my P500, but it is much better than I had expected. For a little, inexpensive camera I could not have asked for more.

Backyard Apple Tree – Moderate Zoom
Backyard Apple Tree – Moderate Zoom

HD Video

I don’t shoot a lot of video, and that’s not why I buy a digital camera. However, after messing around with it for a bit, I have to say video is on a similar level as the images. In other words: Decent quality, but don’t fly too close to the sun.

If you expect casual video that’s easy to dump to your computer you’ll be happy with the S3700. If you need anything better you’ll want to upgrade to a more expensive camera, or to a dedicated video recorder. Like the photos, to keep your subjects in focus and reduce the chances of grainy images you need to keep the zoom at a reasonable distance and be aware of light levels.

Other Features and Thoughts

The S3700 has a built-in WiFi feature. You can send your images to your computer, printer or smart phone without having to establish a physical connection. I have not used this feature, nor do I care about it. It was not something I saw as a selling point when I chose this camera.

However, if you find the functionality of a smart phone useful when it comes to the ability to easily send pictures to different devices, this may end up being a key feature in your book. I will say it is very easy to move images from the camera to a PC.

There is a Quick Effects function that allows you to perform artistic alterations to your images after shooting. You have options like Painting, Photo Illustration, Soft Portrait, etc. While I can see the use of this in theory, I prefer to avoid it. The screen is too small to really get an idea of what changes I am making to the original photo.

The Coolpix S3700 is very easy to use. Like, stupid-easy. Everything you need is right there on the face of the camera. You can change scene modes, activate video recording, engage the timer or change flash settings with a button push or two.

The overall build quality is okay, and about what you’d expect from an inexpensive camera. The charging block and cable are not as high-quality as those that came with my other Nikon camera, but that is to be expected as well.

I’d say we weak point for this camera is zooming in on small subject matter at a distance, such as shooting pictures of birds and other small wildlife.

Interesting Rock - Shot using Macro Mode
Interesting Rock - Shot using Macro Mode

Overall Rating and Advice

I have been very surprised by the Coolpix S3700. I had hoped it would produce passable images, but it ended up performing better than I expected. Compared to all the digital cameras in all the world the S3700 is probably one star out of five. However, compared to other options around the $100 mark I’d call it a solid five stars.

That’s basically the bottom line. The S3700 would never be my main, every-day camera. I did not expect it to be. But it did come through on everything I had asked of it: It is super portable, it is inexpensive and it takes quality pictures. That’s really all I wanted.

If you are a casual photographer looking for a small device to toss in your pocket or purse I don’t think you can do better than this little camera in this price range. If you need a camera for more hardcore, professional use, obviously you ought to look elsewhere.

I hope you found my Nikon Coolpix S3700 Compact Digital Camera review helpful. Good luck with your photography, whatever camera you choose!

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