When we reviewed the Nikon Coolpix S01 we said that its lack of features and stripped-down menu options in the wake of other cameras having them crammed into every corner was rather refreshing. A very simple point-and-shoot has a lot of appeal for those who don't want to think too much or be inundated by the process of taking a picture. If you simply want to record special or spontaneous moments, it was well-suited. And the S02 carries on this appeal.
At the same time, we expected a few more refinements in the 'next generation' of this micro compact camera. Portability is important, of course, but so is versatility.
We expected a few more controls on the S02, but instead the menu is a virtual photocopy of its predecessor. The lack of ISO or white balance - or focus, for that matter - controls means you're going to struggle using the S02 in many of the situations in which this camera is designed for: parties, nights out with friends.
And wouldn't Wi-Fi make sense for this intended market?
It's hard to get away from how handy its small size really is. You could tuck this camera into your sock when you go running. We also enjoyed how easy it is to use, which really comes into its own in movie mode. The camera also produces quite strong colours.
The Nikon Coolpix S02 could really use a memory card slot, if even just for Micro SD cards. And given its audience, some more dynamic options for filters and effects would help the S02 appeal to its audience, as would a Wi-Fi capability to allow its users to share those photos instantly. Finally, while we wouldn't expect a camera like this to have loads of controls - and, indeed, we find its simplicity refreshing - the lack of some basic controls like ISO and White Balance make it difficult to use in low light settings.
The Nikon Coolpix S02 boasts some definite improvements over its predecessor, namely a bigger sensor and full HD video recording. But the people who are concerned about sensor size probably aren't buying this camera.
The S02 is therefore stuck in an awkward place. Experienced photographers looking for a cheap take-anywhere camera will be put off by its image noise and lack of some key controls, while casual photographers looking for a small camera to record special moments will probably want something with sharing options and a wider range of effects to apply to their images.
In the end, both groups will probably gravitate towards the next option that fills those needs.