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Nikon Coolpix S8100 review

Verdict

A worthwhile update to the excellent S8000, with Full HD video and excellent image quality

Review Date: 11 Feb 2011

Reviewed By: Dave Stevenson

Price when reviewed: £233 (£280 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
6 stars out of 6

Value for Money
4 stars out of 6

Performance
5 stars out of 6

When the S8000 came out last year, Nikon lauded it as the slimmest compact camera in the world with a 10x zoom lens. The S8100 is its successor, although many of the changes feel more like refinements than definitive upgrades.

Nikon has changed the body slightly, moving the power button and adding a comfortable strip of plastic to the right-hand grip, but the most interesting changes are on the inside. The resolution of the 1/2.3in CCD sensor has shifted into reverse, with the S8100 offering a 12.1-megapixel sensor to the S8000’s 14.2. The processor has had an upgrade, though, moving to Nikon’s Expeed C2 chip, which means 1080p video, up from the S8000’s 720p.

The S8100 has another nifty video trick up its sleeve: 120fps recording, which produces impressive results when filming fast-moving action, playing it back extremely smoothly. Don’t get too excited, though – the highest resolution available in 120fps mode is a heavily compressed 640 x 480, rendering footage unusable on anything larger than the S8100’s 3in, 921kpixel screen.

Nikon Coolpix S8100

The lens is one of the longest on offer on any compact. In 35mm terms it’s a 30-300mm, 10x zoom monster, and goes from wide-angle to true telephoto in just two seconds. The S8000 was criticised for chromatic aberration, and while purple fringing is still evident in some situations, our test images suggest an improvement has been made.

Despite fewer megapixels on the sensor, there’s been no increase in the S8100’s ISO capabilities, with ISO 3200 remaining the loftiest setting. At that level the S8100 surprised us by returning broadly usable test images. Softness begins creeping into images only at around ISO 1600; below that we had a hard time telling our shots apart. At the lower reaches of the ISO range, our test images were sharp and punchy, if a little blurred in the corners of the frame at the S8100’s widest angle.

The drawbacks are otherwise few and far between. It’s disappointing there isn’t more manual control. Exposure compensation and ISO can be adjusted, but not shutter or aperture. The continuous mode is reasonable, shooting five frames in one second, but the buffer expired after those same five shots.

Even if the S8100 doesn’t allow much creative flexibility, the lens remains an impressive achievement, and top image quality means it’s a good choice for those who want an accommodating camera and who treasure pocketability above all else.

Author: Dave Stevenson

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User comments

Sensor Size

With a sensor size of 1/2.3 it remains a very expensive snapper, and nothing more. At this price I would expect to see a 1/1.7 sensor at the least. What compact camera enthusiasts really want is the promise that the LX3 Panasonic held, a new sensor bigger than a 1/1.7, and smaller than an APS-C sensor (which is about 6x bigger. This is an attractive handbag camera, and nothing more.

By stokegabriel on 14 Feb 2011

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