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Nikon Coolpix S800c Compact Digital Camera – Expert Review

Nikon Coolpix S800c

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Powered by Android Gingerbread 2.3, the Nikon Coolpix S800c sports a 3.5-inch, OLED touch screen, which provides full control of the camera features as well as apps, games and more.

It is brilliantly responsive to the touch and whilst the screen is perfectly sized for the job, I did get frustrated from the constant finger marks, which were almost impossible to remove.

Features

In scene mode you’ll find 17 options split across three screens that you can swipe through.

The S800c has a 1/2.3-inch 16-megapixel backside-illuminated CMOS sensor and an impressive 10x zoom with an aperture ranging from f3.2-5.8. It’s equivalent to a 25-250mm on a 35mm camera and has the added function of optical image stabilization

ISO ranges from 125 and goes as high as 1,600 to provide plenty of flexibility for any given lighting conditions. This is a great facility aiding your photography through changing lighting conditions from bright sunlight to dimly lit environments.

With its built-in Wi-Fi, you can even connect to a network to surf the Web or open up the Google Play store to download movies, Apps, games and books! There’s no 3G connectivity, so you can only connect via a Wi-Fi hotspot which is very easy to configure setting the S800c apart from the pack.

Another great feature of the S800c is the ability to make Skype calls, play Angry Birds and an assortment of other games for complete entertainent value.

If you don’t have access to a Wi-Fi hot spot, you can connect the camera directly to a smartphone or tablet with mobile broadband access. This opens the opportunity to send photos and upload on the move.

The camera also has built-in GPS, which, allows you to geo-tag your photos on the move, but you can also double it up as a navigation tool to guide you on your travels.

However, one thing to note here is that you’ll probably want to treat yourself to a second battery as the S800c is CIPA-rated for 140 shots. If you consider what this machine is capable of doing with all the apps, wifi access, zoom lens, filming movies etc, it wont be long before the all important battery juices run dry.

One downside to this camera is the fact you cannot charge the battery separate from the body, i.e. you have to plug the camera into the mains via a USB adaptor to charge it up. So you’ll need to charge the spare battery in this manner as well before you go out with your camera.

Performance

The scene modes come with five special effects, including high and low key as well as high-contrast monochrome mode and Macro mode. The macro mode is rather disappointing, only allowing you as close as 10cm from your subject at wide angle. The depth of range is, as a result, rather disappointing although details in the frame are nice and sharp.

  • Shot in Macro mode – click for larger image

Shooting speeds were sluggish and a little disappointing too, which is surprising for a camera with price tag.

I was also surprised to find that when shooting outdoors in bright conditions, it often struggled to focus. Plus, it sometimes seemed to expose the image incorrectly when using Easy Auto Mode.

I feel what’s really missing on this model at this price level are more manual shooting functions, which would allow you to choose your aperture and shutter speed, for example, and would really open up the camera’s full potential. You can however, adjust the camera’s ISO sensitivity, white balance and exposure compensation levels.

When it comes to focusing in your frame, you need to half press the shutter button and this will auto select the focus area rather than selection a single point focus, which is somewhat frustrating. You can override this by simply pressing a finger on the screen to focus.

The shooting features and special effects are quite fun to use although I cant say they are at professional levels. One in particular, which was a bit hit and miss, was the smart portrait which often struggled to focus on the subject’s face resulting in lots of blurry shots.

However, generally speaking, most images were captured with good colour reproduction and provided sharp and vivid details.

Video Test

The S800c’s default video setting is 1920x1080p resolution at 30 frames per second. However, you also have the option to record at 640×480 pixels. It also has two high-speed shooting modes, which capture 240fps and 120fps at 320×240 and 640×480-pixel resolution respectively.

The results were very pleasing with crisp and clear pictures and good sound reproduction too. However, I did notice some noise of the zoom whilst shooting when I played the video back, so you may want to minimise your zooming during recording to avoid this issue.

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Pros

  • Built in Wi-Fi
  • Responsive Touchscreen
  • Large ISO range
  • GPS Functionality

Cons

  • Battery life
  • Hit and miss exposure calculation in Easy Auto Mode
  • Smudgy LCD Screen
  • Disappointing Macro Mode

Verdict

The Nikon Coolpix S800c performs well overall, but there are a couple of niggles considering the fairly high price tag, namely the smudgy screen, disappointing macro mode feature as well as the low battery life and sluggish shooting speeds.

However, there’s no denying that the image quality is good, colours are excellently reproduced and details are vivid and sharp.

The Android feature is a great bonus allowing you endless possibilities with gaming, apps and access to the internet on your travels. My concern is there are other compact cameras on the market with a lower price tag, providing an extensive range of features to gain top quality images.

Therefore, my overriding question lays on whether a user really needs to pay this high price for the benefit a camera run on Android, especially when most of us have these features on our mobile devices?

The concept is a great one, but Nikon need to fine tune the camera’s photography features to make it a worthwhile investment.

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