Hands on: Nikon S02 review

Nikon's teeny tiny camera gets an overhaul – but is it any better?

What is a hands on review?
Nikon S02
Nikon's teeny tiny compact now has a better sensor

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Almost all compact camera manufacturers have suffered as the onslaught of camera phones continue to march forward.

Some manufacturers try to fight the smartphone by offering incredibly small compact cameras that still manage to outdo their always connected rivals in terms of image quality.

The S02 is Nikon's attempt to appeal to the party goer who doesn't want a complicated camera, but would still like something that offers just a little bit extra than the smartphone can. From the S02, you get a 3x optical zoom and a proper Xenon flash.

Nikon S02

Nikon first introduced this very small concept last year in the Nikon S01, but it is replacing the sensor for the S02 with a 13 million-pixel CMOS device. Compared to the S01's 10 million-pixel CCD device, it should produce better images.

The S02 is equipped with a touch-sensitive screen, which has been made slightly larger, at 2.7 inches. Other features include full HD video recording and a weight of just 100g.

Nikon S02

Build Quality and Handling

The S02 is one of the smallest compact cameras on the market, and that is of course the first thing you notice about it. It's dimensions make it smaller than a credit card (but not in thickness) making it ideal to slip into a pocket or bag. You could even do as Nikon suggests and wear it as a necklace – at just 100g, it's really a camera you can take anywhere.

Nikon S02

There are very few physical buttons on the S02, just a shutter release and playback button on the top, and a home button on the back of the screen – which is itself a touch icon, rather than a physical press button.

Most of the controls of the camera – of which again there are relatively few – can be found via the touchscreen. Touching the home button brings up the options of Shooting, Play, Movie, Set Up and so on – from here you can make changes using the screen, but it's not really a camera for fiddling about too much with the settings beyond simple things such as turning the flash off.

Nikon S02

As with the S01, there's no memory card slot on board the S02, instead you'll rely entirely on the inbuilt 8GB memory. That should be more than enough for capturing your party snaps, you just need to remember to regularly clear the memory. It seems odd that there wasn't at least room for a Micro SD card slot.

There are a few special effects which can be accessed via the home button, but they're nothing in comparison to the likes offered by Instagram, which is a shame – as digital filters are bound to appeal to the target audience of this camera.

Nikon S02


This is a camera that does what it says on the tin. We found the previous camera (the S01) offered pleasing enough images, so with a new type of sensor, we should see some improvement on this.

As there's no control over lots of the settings, it can be difficult to get the image you want, but we're hopeful that some of the problems we encountered previously may have been resolved by the new sensor – come back for the full review to find out if that's true.

Nikon S02

Early Verdict

It's hard to know what to make of a camera like this. It's priced a little bit high for what it can offer – sure it's only £119, but for a camera that only offers a touch more than your phone (and that you have to remember to pick up) that's a little steep – if it was priced lower we could see it being more of an impulse purchase.

One way that this camera could also be significantly improved, and better equipped to compete with the smartphone, is by including Wi-Fi connectivity, for instantly sharing photos, or at least instantly sending to your smartphone or tablet.

Watch out for a full review of the S02 when it becomes available.

Amy Davies

Amy has been writing about cameras, photography and associated tech since 2009. Amy was once part of the photography testing team for Future Publishing working across TechRadar, Digital Camera, PhotoPlus, N Photo and Photography Week. For her photography, she has won awards and has been exhibited. She often partakes in unusual projects - including one intense year where she used a different camera every single day. Amy is currently the Features Editor at Amateur Photographer magazine, and in her increasingly little spare time works across a number of high-profile publications including Wired, Stuff, Digital Camera World, Expert Reviews, and just a little off-tangent, PetsRadar. 

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.