Can this touchscreen-enabled, HD recording gadget-lover's dream fulfil its promise?
The Nikon COOLPIX S80 differentiates itself in the ever-increasing compact market by offering some impressive extras, including a 3.5″ touchscreen and HD video. With a sliding front panel and sleek, stylish body there’s plenty to admire aesthetically, although it’ll no doubt be the OLED screen that garners the most attention.
Nikon Coolpix S80 review – Features
Unlike many similar models the S80 doesn’t deposit purely the infrequently used controls onto the touchscreen, leaving only the shutter release as a ‘hard’ button. The likes of the zoom and focus are all within the screen’s remit, putting plenty of focus on the speed and accuracy of the controls. In actuality the touchscreen is relatively poor in both reaction and detection, making it difficult to perform any tasks rapidly.
This is especially apparent when using the zoom, as attempting to perform smaller adjustments takes far more time than would be thought reasonable. There’s also the option, when in the correct mode, to double-tap the screen to take an image, but the length of reaction time from the camera can make predicting the shutter release incredibly tough. On a positive note the focus system is relatively simple, as it simply requires a touch on a subject. The HD movie mode is noisy in low light, but shows far better results in more balanced lighting and the audio is quite reasonable.
Nikon Coolpix S80 review – Design
Although there’s only one button on the S80 it can’t be considered small, as the 3.5″ OLED screen dictates the physical size of the camera. The sliding front is one of the more distinctive design elements, although without a dedicated power button the S80 often became powered on while in a bag or pocket.
Protecting the lens is a secondary function of the slider, and is relatively successful at that. The fact that the lens is so small makes this far easier, as does the location of the lens at the top left of the front panel. Rather annoyingly this also puts the lens in prime position for obstruction with a finger while shooting. The simplicity of the S80 must be lauded though, as even the most uninitiated to digital cameras would find it hard to be perplexed by a virtually button-less device.
Nikon Coolpix S80 review – Image Quality
Image quality suffers somewhat due to the small lens, operating well at lower ISO settings and being forced to rely on post-processing. This results in some muddier colours and reduced sharpness, although both are only obviously visible under 100% magnification in a photo editing program. In most conditions the images returned were sharp, with a slight leaning towards the red end of the spectrum but otherwise above average.
Annoyingly the image stabilization isn’t up to a high enough standard to correct for the majority of hand shake, which is more than likely another symptom of a small lens and comparatively large optical zoom. In spite of this the S80 is capable of producing some decent images, giving it a little more substance to go with the style.
The touchscreen may be a let down, but the image quality isn't half bad and the camera is extremely easy to use