Performance and Use
This is truly an aim-and-forget camera—there’s only an Auto mode with very limited options. If you want to adjust shutter speeds and apertures this camera is not for you. Since we’ll always go with the flow, we put in the camera in Auto at maximum resolution and best compression. The 14-megapixel camera grabs 4320×3240 pixel files as well as 720p HD clips.
Before getting to the results, let’s state the S8000 is an easy-to-use, easy-to-carry camera. The menus are quite legible and simple to follow. It zooms and focuses quickly thanks to a 9-area AF system, saving images to memory in reasonable time for a point-and-shoot. It’s rated .7—that’s point seven—frames per second so if sports or action photography is your thing, you won’t be too thrilled with this Coolpix. Check out the $399 P100 that shoots 10 fps since it uses the same Exmor R chip found in the Sony TX7. In case you’re wondering, Sony sells the chip to Nikon as well as Casio, FujiFilm, Samsung among others.
For the most part the 3-inch screen held up well but there were issues with direct sunlight. Unfortunately, Nikon makes it somewhat difficult to adjust the display (multiple menu steps). It would be far better if there was a dedicated key to boost brightness in those instances.
We took many shots of blooming flowers and other subjects over the course of several weeks. Once done, files were downloaded to a PC, reviewed closely on a monitor (100%+) and 8×10 prints made.
Overall the Nikon S8000 captured very high-quality stills with accurate colors and practically no purple fringing at extreme telephoto. Sharpness was also very good but not tack sharp as a D-SLR but that’s way too much to ask for from a point-and-shoot. Although the 10x zoom is a plus, macro close-ups were outstanding, among the best we’ve seen from a digicam. The Creative Slider function is just O.K. as it lets you adjust brightness, vividness and hue. Actually we feel it takes away from the straight ahead results you’ll get in Auto.
Digital noise was handled very well by the S8000. Of course you should try to keep it as low as possible (around 400) but ISO 3200 prints could be used in a pinch—which is pretty amazing for a compact camera. 100 percent blow-ups on the monitor at that level were pixilated messes but the 8×10 prints were decent. Nikon’s Vibration Reduction system did a fine job handling blur—it’s a winner even with handheld shots taken at 1/6th of a second. The camera is rather pokey at less than 1 frame per second but like most 12- to 14MP digicams it’s really for static subjects like scenery and people portraits which the S8000 handles with aplomb. And the battery, which is rated 210 shots, performed better than advertised so you really don’t need a spare unless you plan on using the flash with every shot.
As noted the S8000 takes 1280x720p videos by tapping the red dot on the back. It’s somewhat limited since there’s no optical zoom available, just 2x digital so you should frame your scene before you hit the button. Quality on a 50-inch plasma using HDMI was poor and the digital zoom just made the “blocking effects” even worse. There simply is no comparison to the videos made with this camera versus the recently reviewed Editor’s Choice Sony TX7. The Nikon’s clips might pass muster on YouTube but that’s a stretch.
The Nikon Coolpix S8000 is a very good, lightweight 14MP camera that takes high-quality stills. It’s extremely simple to use and has a versatile 10x focal length of 30-300mm, making it a good choice for vacationers or anyone who wants a solid digicam at hand. Unfortunately its HD video quality is very low-definition as Sony and Panasonic have left Nikon in the dust. At around $265 at legit online dealers it’s a bit on the pricey side but if you’re looking for a quality camera—i.e. a device for capturing photographs–keep the S8000 in mind.
- 10x zoom (30-300mm)
- Takes very nice stills
- Quality 3-inch LCD
- Superior optical image stabilization
- Pokey less than 1 fps shooting
- Prefer wider-angle (26mm not 30mm)
- No manual adjustments other than white balance, ISO
- Poor video quality