Nikon, we were starting to get a bit worried.
Last year, compact cameras started to sport HD video recording in their hordes, but Nikon's offering was nowhere to be seen. We knew the company had the technology (after all, the D90 was technically the first digital SLR to be able to record in 720p video), but why did it take so long?
Design and features
Thankfully, the company has come to the party with its latest range of Coolpix cameras, including this offering, the S8000. It's deceptively small for a 10x optical zoom camera, with the lens enclosed in the front casing underneath a small hump. At just 27.3mm deep, the Nikon is the slimmest camera in the 10x optical zoom fray (which is albeit a small market). Other cameras like the Olympus Mju 9010 are just a little chubbier.
Shown from above with the lens extended fully, the S8000's zoom belies its slender chassis. (Credit: Alexandra Savvides/CBSi)
The lens itself is 30mm at the wide end and is relatively conservative when compared to other zoomy cameras like the, which hits 25mm, and has a longer reach.
At the back, a 3-inch LCD screen (920,000 dots) takes pride of place alongside a range of buttons, including a scroll wheel that doubles as a four-way directional pad. A dedicated video record, playback and scene mode button are also featured here. The flash is a pop-up unit that springs up from the top of the camera, alongside the stereo microphone.
Inside sits a 14.2-megapixel CCD 1/2.3-inch sensor and HD video recording at 720p. The S8000 has a number of automatic modes including a full auto mode, which allows adjustment of ISO (it really should have been called program mode), as well as scene modes, smart portrait mode and subject tracking mode. There is also another feature that Nikon is championing, called the Creative Slider.
An example of the shots that the S8000 can take using the Creative Slider. Here, we set the hue at either end of the scale. (Credit: Alexandra Savvides/CBSi)
This feature is accessed from the exposure compensation button, allowing users to tweak hue and vividness with the features visible on the screen. This is nothing new, and nothing that can't be done in post-processing either. The implementation is a tad fiddly, requiring you to enter into the exposure compensation menu, scrolling to the required option, selecting it with the OK button, and then again with the arrow key, and scrolling to set the option accordingly.
The Creative Slider in action, showing adjustments that can be made to hue and saturation. (Credit: Alexandra Savvides/CBSi)
The tripod mount is not located directly underneath the lens, which is a little disappointing but not unusual, meaning less than optimum stability when attached to a tripod. At the base too is the joint slot for the memory card (SD/SDHC) and rechargeable Lithium-ion battery. Note that there is no dedicated battery charger; instead, the battery is charged in-camera.