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Nikon lights up Coolpix S8100 megazoom

A backside-illuminated CMOS sensor brings high-speed shooting performance and improved low-light photo quality to Nikon's compact megazoom lineup.

Click for larger view. Nikon

Nikon has a decent 10x compact megazoom in its 2010 Coolpix lineup, the S8000. Its photo quality definitely falters in low-light conditions, which could be corrected with the S8100. Along with using the company's latest image processing engine, the Expeed C2, this 10x compact (30-300mm, 35mm equivalent) is packing a 12-megapixel, backside-illuminated CMOS sensor. Like other BSI CMOS cameras we've tested, Nikon is promising improved handheld low-light photos as well as faster shooting performance.

Nikon claims the S8100 can shoot at 10 frames per second at full resolution for five shots; not as good as competing models but still good. It'll capture two shots before you fully press the shutter release, too, just in case you can't press the shutter release fast enough to get what you're after. It also has a Sports Continuous burst at 120fps, though that has to be at a reduced resolution and who knows how long you'll be waiting for those to store before you're able to shoot again.

The high-speed shooting also allows for functions like a high dynamic range mode that'll take multiple shots with different exposures and combine them for a single photo with a broad tonal range. Low-light photos are not only improved because of the sensor's design, but it has special shooting modes that take multiple shots and combine them into one with less noise and motion blur.

The body looks slightly redesigned, too, with an actual shooting mode dial on top instead of the button/menu combo on the S8000. Still no manual or semimanual shooting modes, but I guess you can't have everything. You do get slider controls for adjusting image brightness, saturation, and color tone, though, and it has the S8000's 3-inch LCD with 921K-dot resolution as well. And while the S8000 has a 720p movie mode, the S8100 shoots at resolutions up to 1080p at 30fps in MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 format.

The Coolpix S8100 will be available late September 2010 for $299.95 in black, red, and gold versions.