A week with: Nikon Coolpix S3500

Cute and cool – but don't expect too much

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The Independent Tech

96.8 mm wide, 57.8 mm high, 20.5 mm deep
Camera-shake reduction
20.1-million pixels
Editing functions available on-screen
Battery life of still shooting: Approx. 220 shots
129g Rechargeable Li-ion Battery NIKKOR lens with 7 x optical zoom
Focus range: 50cm to 5cm

In the age of eight megapixel cameraphone, have low-budget cameras become redundant? Depends. Sometimes even the latest smartphone cameras struggle with any view that isn't daylight, so clubbing, laser shows, candlelit dinners and fireworks are all out of the picture. A little budget camera can capture that moment. It won't be the most professional-looking image but it's good enough for Facebook. The Nikon Coolpix S3500 is as good as your average smartphone camera, and on top of coping with those low light levels, it has some neat little features that make it worth adding to your artillery of gadgets.

What is it?

The Coolpix S3500 is a cute little camera that costs about £109 and weighs in at teensy 129g. Available in six colours, it's got an impressive zoom and pixel count for such a lightweight product. At 20.1-million pixels and seven times optical zoom and it offers more than your average smartphone camera.

Does it work?

You can edit the images on the camera screen with lots of quick functions including a glamour function, which features eye whitening, teeth whitening, making faces slimmer and hiding eye bags. I especially liked the cheek-reddening function, that gives you an instant healthy glow – perfectly matched to your skin tone.

The only annoyance is that it will only alter one feature at a time rather than all of them at once. On the plus side, it saves a new image each time you edit something, so if you decide you don't like the way you look with the huge eyes of an anime character, you still have the original shot to fall back on.

Other functions include filters to make your image look like a painting or an Instagram photo and different levels of light adjustment. There are the usual settings to give the camera some context for the image, like "portrait", "landscape", "night" and "sport" but also things like "party", "beach" and "snow" and even, for the LOLcats generation "pet portrait", to make your furry friends look their best.

There's also a sort of fake fisheye lens that stretches the centre of the image (usually someone's face) which is quite fun. The camera coped particularly well in low-light which is often a problem with cheaper cameras and smartphone cameras; I took it to a nightclub and, somewhat embarrassingly, every photo was clear enough for me to relive the memories the morning after. It takes films too, although the on-screen editing is limited, the anti-shake function comes in very handy here.

Is it worth the money?

It's not for people who take photography seriously, but for a little lightweight gadget to take to parties or on holiday, it's ideal.