Nikon Coolpix S8000 review:

Nikon Coolpix S8000

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3 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars 1 user review

The Good Fast start-up time and autofocus; plain but efficient design; excellent 921,000-pixel LCD.

The Bad Poor lens quality; fine details and textures get smoothed over; suffers from some operational limitations and unpredictable behaviour.

The Bottom Line If specifications were all that counted, the Nikon Coolpix S8000 would be right up there with the best compact superzooms, but its 14.2-megapixel sensor produces mushy, over-processed detail, and its 10x zoom is second-division at best. It's not that expensive for a compact superzoom, but it's not that good either

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6.5 Overall

Nikon's Coolpix S8000 is the world's thinnest compact superzoom with a 10x zoom, at just under 24mm thick. It has a 14.2-megapixel sensor, 720p high-definition movie mode, a high-resolution LCD and a host of features to make taking pictures easier. It all comes in at a price of around £220.

Versatile and speedy
These compact superzooms really are useful. They're barely bigger than an ordinary compact but they have a much larger zoom range, so they're far more versatile. The S8000's 30-300mm zoom range means it's not quite a wide-angle (28mm or less, strictly speaking), but there's not much in it, and you do get a very handy 10mm macro mode.

From a distance, the S8000's pictures look fine. The colours are good, there's only moderate distortion, and there are no problems with exposure (click image to enlarge)

The start-up time is short and the autofocus is fast. Around the back, there's an excellent, 921,000-pixel, 75mm (3-inch) LCD display. You wouldn't normally expect a display of this quality on anything less than a digital SLR.

Nikon's kept the control layout pleasingly simple. A mode button cycles between the basic 'auto' mode, in which you can control settings like ISO and white balance; an automatic or manual scene-selector mode; a 'smart portrait' mode (including face-detection, skin-softening, smile- and blink-detection features); and a focus-tracking mode.

The S8000's high-resolution LCD display is surprisingly good. Unfortunately, its image quality isn't

This focus-tracking mode is quite neat. Once it's locked on, it follows your chosen subject around the frame, if either you or they move. It can even pick your subject up again if they move out of the frame momentarily.

Polyfilla portraits
The smart-portrait system is less impressive. The 'smile timer' is supposed to recognise a smile and take a picture, but it proved unpredictable at best, while the skin-softening option makes it look like your subject's face has been coated with a mixture of foundation and Polyfilla.

Also, when you use the zoom to take a close-up, the S8000 sometimes says it's in focus when it clearly isn't. The auto scene-recognition mode resolutely refused to use the flash too -- even in a darkened room.

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