The colors produced by the S2800 are generally punchy and bright, and seem true to life. There were occasional issues when using the camera in bright light, however.
I found during testing that shooting towards a light source created pink lines on the screen, although these didn't appear on the eventual shot.
The S2800 copes admirably in a variety of different lighting conditions and the camera's metering system does a good job producing well balanced exposures. While I noticed some lens flare when shooting towards bright sunlight, this is to be expected for a camera of this price, and it definitely isn't the worst offender we've seen. Likewise, I noticed a little fringing on backlit shots when examining images at 100%, but nothing out of the ordinary.
With a custom white balance setting available as well as the usual presets, we were hoping for a good performance from the S2800 and were not disappointed. I had good results while using the auto white balance - the camera produced accurate colours with no discernible colour casts, even under artificial lights, and I rarely had to switch from the auto white balance to a more specific preset.
During my testing, I was happy to let the Coolpix S2800 choose ISO (sensitivity) for me in the automatic setting, since shots up to ISO 800 have very little noticeable noise. Shots taken indoors or in low light were generally of an acceptable quality, with a little grain when viewed at 100% but nothing too unexpected and not something that would affect printing at A4 or below.
There is a definite lag with processing times on the S2800, which is especially noticeable if you want to change any of the settings straight after taking a shot. I used a class 10 SD card, and it quickly became frustrating to have to wait for the "please wait for the camera to finish processing" message to disappear before I was able to shoot again.
Nikon has put together a solid list of creative filters for the Coolpix S2800 - my favourites were definitely the Cross Process set, which recreates the classic darkroom technique - but I was also impressed with High Contrast Monochrome, Vivid and Toy Camera filters. Disappointingly, though, the Coolpix S2800 only offers panoramic assist rather than a full panoramic mode, meaning that you'll have to stitch together your photos using your own editing software later on.
The macro focusing distance is advertised at 10cm for the S2800, but in reality we found that it often struggled to focus when that close to a subject, resulting in blurry, out of focus shots. It is, however, capable of picking up fine detail - you just might have to refocus the camera a few times first to get the shot you want.
Offering value for money and decent build quality, the Coolpix S2800 is a great camera for those looking for their first compact camera, but it is unlikely to appeal to people who like to have a bit more control over their photos. This camera is frustratingly simple if you have any prior knowledge of photography, but would be great for someone who is just starting to get to grips with the terminology while still knowing they can get great shots if they don't feel like experimenting.
If you're looking for a camera with a longer zoom lens, the Canon IXUS 155 is arguably a better option, as it has 10x optical zoom.
Amateurs and new photographers will love the S2800 - with its creative filters and lack of complicated settings, it's likely to appeal to people who are looking for something simple and fun to use.
In general the S2800 is a nice small entry-level compact. It has a good range of interesting filters, is easy to use and won't break the bank.
There are couple of things that could take this compact from good to great. Better macro performance, full HD video and quicker processing speeds would make a difference, plus we'd really like to see just a few more manual options available, for when the auto settings don't quite get it right.
For a budget camera, the S2800 delivers a great entry-level camera, which performs well pretty consistently. Perfect to take on holiday or sling in your bag to capture spontaneous shots, the S2800 is well suited to people who like to have a dedicated camera to hand. It produces images at least as good as most current smartphone cameras, but with the advantage of not draining precious battery life.