The Nikon Coolpix S8000 boasts a 10x optical zoom in an impressively compact body
Nikon’s COOLPIX S8000 offers an impressive-sounding 14MP sensor and 10x optical in a compact frame. Although not quite as slim as some of it’s rivals, the S8000 has plenty of benefits elsewhere.
Just as superzoom cameras were the fashionable releases of a few years ago, a number of manufacturers seem to have taken the idea of compact hi-zoom cameras to heart. Panasonic and Canon have released a number of models over the last few years, most notably the Lumix TZ7 and Powershot SX200IS. Both offer impressive specs for a comparatively small model, and it appears the S8000 is looking to ape the success brought from that endeavor. Having a 14MP sensor is something of a worry, as previous tests have often shown that bumping up the megapixels on a small chip doesn’t always lead to excellent photographs, especially when a large optical zoom is attached. The S8000 counteracts this to some degree by having optical image stabilization, reducing the reliance on increasing the ISO. This will undoubtedly aid the focus at the top end of the zoom and hopefully reduce the appearance of visible noise. A 720p HD video mode is also included, alongside an incredibly useful HDMI port to insure sound and movie are transferred to a HDTV.
A few compromises clearly needed to be made in order to keep the frame small, most prominently the pop-up flash. As with the likes of the Canon Powershot SX200IS fingers need to be well clear of the unit at all times to prevent the S8000 taking severely underexposed shots. The buttons are relatively small elsewhere, with the movie record control being particularly recessed into the body. Beneath the movie record, shoot and playback buttons is a dual function dial and D-pad, which primarily alters settings within the menu system. Annoyingly there’s no manual controls for the dial to adjust, which would have been the perfect usage for such a control, so it simply acts as an alternative to the D-Pad. The zoom control, although relatively responsive, takes an age to become active when the camera is activated and subsequently opportunities can be missed. The amount of active focal areas on offer makes it far quicker, once the lens is active, to take a shot even if the focus can be somewhat unreliable at the top end of the magnification.
Image quality isn’t quite up to the spec of the S8000’s more established competition, with occasional fringing apparent on a number of shots as well as an overall softness around the edges. Colours tend to be almost cartoony in appearance, offering a lack of tonal range for the most part but having a decent amount of pop to make the images look vibrant. Sharpness at the top end of the zoom is surprisingly good, but there’s still an amount of softness around the periphery of the focal area.
Decent image quality and some impressive specs make this a good, but not great, compact.