The S3000’s overall performance is somewhat uninspiring, but about average for a camera in this price category. It appears to start up in just under two seconds, but in fact it’s nearer four seconds before it’s ready to take a picture. In single-shot mode its shot-to-shot time is approximately 2.5 seconds, which isn’t too bad, while in continuous mode it can manage a shot every 1.3 seconds, although there is no audio signal to indicate when a shot is taken and the monitor view is frozen between shots.
The autofocus is accurate and reliable, although it’s not particularly quick. Low light focusing has some room for improvement, taking several attempts to focus in dim room lighting, and even then taking nearly two seconds. However it does have a good AF assist lamp so it can (eventually) focus even in very low light.
Image quality is surprisingly good for the price, particularly noise control. Images up to 200 ISO are virtually noise-free, and even at 400 colour gradients are fairly smooth. There is some noise at 800 ISO, but the results are quite printable. 1600 and 3200 ISO are very noisy, but this is nearly always the case.
Unlike a lot of recent cameras the S3000 has no digital distortion correction, so at wide angle there is a lot of barrel distortion and even a bit of chromatic aberration towards the corners, but overall sharpness is good right across the frame. Colour reproduction is very natural, and exposure is generally reliable, but as usual dynamic range is very limited, and the S3000 has no contrast booster function to help with this.
The Nikon CoolPIx S3000 is a good low-cost ultra-compact. It’s a bit short on features and the performance is distinctly mediocre, but it is well made, very easy to use and looks good in whatever colour you choose. Image quality is good for the price.