There were no real surprises with Nikon’s new Coolpix digicam line-up
–five of the seven 2010 models take HD videos. The digicam we’re reviewing–the 14.2-megapixel S8000–captures stereo 720p HD clips at 30 fps. Yet the last time we looked, the Coolpix and its ilk are cameras, so still quality should be paramount. Let’s see how this package adds up…
Features and Design
The Coolpix S8000 is a very attractive camera with sculpted lines around the 10x zoom lens. We had an all-black model, but it’s also available in red, bronze and champagne silver. Nikon claims this is the thinnest camera in its class at 1.1 inches thick, but that’s a moving target and competitors are at most just a fraction fatter. Still it is thin, given the potent zoom. The digicam measures 4.1 x 2.3 x 1.1 (WHD, in inches) and weighs 6.5 ounces with battery and card. You’ll have no issues carrying this around with you all the time.
Along with the usual logos and decals, the front has a nice textured surface on the left side; the thumb rest on the back has a nub-like surface. It felt just right in our hands but you know the drill—do your own hands-on before you buy this or any camera. Also on the front is an AF Assist lamp, a great help for fast focusing. There is no visible flash as it’s an auto pop-up type like many Canon PowerShots like the SX210 IS. Nikon claims the S8000 has a “wide” lens but with an opening focal length of 30mm it’s not nearly as wide as many Canon, Sony and Panasonic models. In our book 25-28mm is true wide angle but 30mm isn’t too bad and you’ll grab nice landscapes and portraits. The 300mm on the tele end makes this a good choice for travelers.
The rear of the S8000 is dominated by a 3-inch LCD rated a fine 921K pixels. The screen worked well for the most part. Hidden in the thumb rest at right is a small speaker. Below this are the typical controls and keys: Menu, Playback, Delete and Camera which gives access to Auto, Scene modes (16 options), Smart Portrait and Subject Tracking. Smart Portrait lets you soften skin tones and use Face/Smile/Blink Detection while Subject Tracking helps capture things on the move—more on these in the Performance section. Instead of the usual four-way controller, there’s a Rotary Multi Selector i.e. a dial surrounding the center OK button. With the selector you can access the four-points of the compass—exposure compensation, macro, self-timer and flash. When you tap exposure compensation (brightness) you can also change hue and how vivid you want your colors. The last key is the red dot so you can quickly shoot a video rather than turning a mode dial. This is a good feature.
On the top is the shutter surrounded by a wide/tele toggle, tiny on/off button, stereo mics and the pop-up flash. On the right side of the Made In China camera is the compartment for the mini HDMI out while USB-A/V out and the battery/SDHC card slot is on the bottom along with a tripod mount. Definitely use Class 6 or better cards for best results. All in all, the S8000 is a nicely designed camera you’ll easily use after 15 seconds of setup.
What’s In The Box
The Coolpix S8000, battery/charger, USB and A/V cables, strap and 20-page Quick Start guide as well as a 172-page User’s Manual. The CD-ROM has the Nikon Software Suite featuring Nikon Transfer, ViewNX, ArcSoft PanoramaMaker 5, QuickTime and access to my Picturetown which offers 2GB of free online storage.