Not quite ready for the bulk of a superzoom camera? Sounds like you're looking for a zoomy compact. The Coolpix S8200 from Nikon exemplifies this format, with a 14x optical-zoom lens packed inside a very slimline body.
Design and features
Behind the lens is a backlit CMOS sensor, designed to be ideal for shooting in low-light situations. With a maximum aperture of f/3.3-5.9 at each extreme, it's not the fastest lens in the world, but it's more than adequate for everyday photography. At the top of the camera is a slimline flash unit that pops up when required, though it is situated just where fingers might sit when holding the camera.
Around the back is a beautifully bright and high-resolution 3-inch screen, which makes composing and taking photos a breeze. The rest of the back panel is simple but functional; there's a scroll wheel that also acts as a four-way directional pad to change flash, exposure compensation, macro or timer settings, and an instant-on record button.
Shooting modes are simplified, with no sign of any manual controls here. The mode dial at the top has a green camera icon, which is standard automatic or program auto, where you can control settings like ISO or white balance. There is also a continuous shooting mode, a pet portrait (!) mode, scene modes and a range of creative effects or filters that can be applied to images.
An example of the filters on the S8200. From the top left: soft, sepia, monochrome, high key, low key, selective colour.
Target autofocus is one of the most interesting features on the S8200. It's an autofocus mode that automatically detects the size and shape of the object that you're trying to focus on, and sets the exposure accordingly. See an example of this feature in action in our video (available soon). The S8200 can also shoot video in full HD at 1080p, and has a stereo microphone at the top. Connectivity is provided via mini-HDMI and USB-out.
|Nikon Coolpix S8200|
|12.1-megapixel backlit CMOS sensor||16-megapixel backlit CMOS sensor||16-megapixel backlit CMOS sensor|
|3.2-inch touchscreen (460,000 dots)||3.0-inch LCD (921,000 dots)||3.0-inch LCD (921,000 dots)|
|12x optical zoom||14x optical zoom||10x optical zoom|
|Full HD (1080p, 30fps, H.264)||Full HD (1080p, 30fps, H.264)||Full HD (1080i, 60fps, MPEG-4)|
|No GPS||No GPS||GPS unit|
General shooting metrics (in seconds)
- Time to first shot
- JPEG shot-to-shot time
- Shutter lag
- 22.214.171.124Nikon Coolpix S8200
- 32.60.3Canon IXUS 1100 HS
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Continuous shooting speed (in seconds)
- 5Nikon Coolpix S8200
- 3.3Canon IXUS 1100 HS
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Note that the S8200 can only take five frames in one burst before stopping to process them. While Nikon claims that the S8200 can achieve six frames per second (like in our comparison table above), in our tests we were only able to eke out five frames. Nikon rates the battery for 250 shots.
Many backlit CMOS sensors in cameras, such as the S8200, tend to exhibit processing artefacts on images. This camera is no exception, as images inspected at 100 per cent magnification look "crunchy". That said, for reduced resolution work, like web display or small prints, the S8200 takes excellent images.