Nikon Coolpix S30 pictures and hands-on

With the Nikon Coolpix S30, Nikon have stepped into a new category of camera, and it's all about family. This is a camera you can put into the hands of your children without worrying about how much damage they'll do to it.

Built like a plastic tank, the Coolpix offers a distinct advantage in avoiding some of the dainty controls you'll find elsewhere in Nikon's compact range. There are three buttons on the top of the camera: a central power button, a big video button and a big shutter button.

On the back you'll find four buttons down the left-hand side of the screen - unmarked because their function changes depending on what you're doing - and a four-way controller on the right, which also operates the zoom.

The design has been considered by Nikon. Although this is a chunky camera, it will withstand drops from 80cm - about the hand height of a 5-year-old - and you'll find the lens and flash in the centre of the face of the camera, meaning fingers are less likely to stray and cover them.

Children like to poke the end of a lens with sticky fingers and that's a fact. On any normal compact, that means you've then got to try and wipe the glass clean or your pictures all look milky. In the case of the S30, the lens is housed within the camera, so there are no external moving parts and it will be much, much, easier to wipe clean.

The Nikon Coolpix S30 is also waterproof (IPX8, hence the internal housing of the 3x zoom lens). With proofing down to 3m, it will survive a trip to the beach, being dunked in the dog bowl or dropped in a puddle.

It's also one of the only Nikon compacts that deviates from a text-based menu system. Using icons and colours, the menu isn't especially slick compared to some of the efforts of Samsung or Sony, but it’s easy enough to use.

In our quick play with the camera we found a number of fun features on offer. You can change the sounds, edit pictures and apply a number of photo effects.

Basic photo functions aren't omitted however, so you can capture 720p video and take 10 megapixel snaps. The sensor is a 1/3 type CCD, which is small, and ultimately this will effect the final quality of the results.

The S30 measures 101.9 x 64.8 x 39.4mm and weighs 214g. It will need an SD card for storage and requires 2x AA batteries for operation.

This is an interesting camera from Nikon and at £99, it's not too expensive for those looking for something that will survive a trip to the beach, especially if you want to save your slick P310 from the children.

Of course, we can't judge the quality of the results until we get the Coolpix S30 in for a review, but we'll be sure to let some kids loose with it when we do.

The Nikon Coolpix S30 will be available from 29 March 2012, will cost you £99.99 and comes in black, blue, white and pink.