Slim but impressive zoom compact camera
Nikon’s S8000 offers a 10x optical zoom lens with vibration reduction and a resolution of 14 megapixels from a body just under 3cm thin. Such specifications make it the slimmest camera of its type, so it’s ideal for photographers who travel.
At the back is a high-resolution 3in screen for composing and replaying photos and high-definition video clips in the resolution of 720p. The screen provided the sort of clarity we have seen in the past only on more professional digital SLR cameras.
There is a built-in flash too, of the pop-up variety so it’s further from the lens and limits the chance of getting red eyes in your photos. There is no viewfinder so shots must be composed on the screen.
The S8000 was fast, powering up in just a second. And with an auto-focus system borrowed from Nikon’s renowned SLR cameras, it is able to lock onto its target in an instant. Something else we did not expect from a pocket camera was the ability to shoot video with stereo sound, making it a ‘best of both worlds’ option for those who do not want to travel with separate camera and camcorder. A bonus is the side-mounted HDMI port which allows it to connect to a flat-panel TV, but the cable costs extra.
It has a dedicated video-record button. On most compact cameras you would have to turn a shooting mode dial to the movie option and press the shutter release button. This speeds up the process, but we would prefer a larger button. The ability to charge the camera battery from a laptop through the USB connection, as well as the mains, is a nice touch.
Operation is point-and-shoot, though some manual control is available through a slider that adjusts colours and exposure.
Colours appeared washed-out at times when the camera was left on its auto setting, though there are 16 scene modes to get the best from common subjects. The lens performed well for sharpness, though we detected soft edges when shooting at maximum wide-angle.
Nit-picking aside, the S8000 offers good value because it includes features normally found only on more expensive models.
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Crammed with features, the S8000 more than justifies its price tag Good points Big 10x zoom; compact size; sophisticated design and construction; high-definition video with stereo sound Bad points Slow to respond at times; no zoom in movies; variable exposure from shot to shot
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