Depending on how much you like viewing your photos or letting others view your photos, the Nikon Coolpix S1000pj is either really cool or a waste. The compact camera houses an ultrasmall projector able to display photos and video at sizes up to 40 inches diagonal at the press of the button. However, the rest of the camera is completely basic: 12-megapixels, 28mm-equivalent wide-angle lens, 5x optical zoom, a 2.7-inch LCD, and nearly fully automatic shooting options. Nikon's less expensive S640 and the even cheaper S570 have comparable photo quality and shooting performance (the S640 is actually faster). So if you're just after a good compact camera, the S1000pj is a waste. But, if you love to share your photos instantly and want to do it on something other than a computer screen, TV, or a tiny camera display, the S1000pj is really cool.
|Key specs||Nikon Coolpix S1000pj|
|Dimensions (WHD)||4 x 2.5 x 0.9 inches|
|Weight (with battery and media)||6.3 ounces|
|Megapixels, image sensor size, type||12 megapixels, 1/2.3-inch CCD|
|LCD size, resolution/viewfinder||2.7-inch LCD, 230K dots/None|
|Lens (zoom, aperture, focal length)||5x, f3.9-5.8, 28-140mm (35mm equivalent)|
|File format (still/video)||JPEG/Motion JPEG (.AVI)|
|Highest resolution size (still/video)||4,000x3,000 pixels/ 640x480 at 30fps|
|Image stabilization type||Optical and electronic|
|Battery type, rated life||Li-ion rechargeable, 220 shots|
|Memory type||SD/SDHC cards|
The camera's design is simple and stylish and other than a little window on the front, there's nothing about it that immediately says, "Hey, I have a built-in projector." What's most interesting about the S1000pj is that the addition of the projector adds little to the weight or size of the camera; it's really not much bigger than a compact camera with similar features sans projector. Controls are, for the most part, the same as on any other compact Coolpix.
On top, along with the power and shutter release buttons and zoom ring, are a slider for adjusting focus for the projector and a button for turning on the function. In back to the right of the bright LCD and below the studded thumb rest are buttons for changing shooting modes, playing and editing images, accessing photo, video, and system setting menus, and deleting pictures. There's a directional pad for navigation and setting exposure, flash, timer, and macro. Again, it's all pretty standard. There are also two small squares--one in back, one in front--for receiving IR signals from the bundled remote control. (It can be used for playback and shooting.)
Now, on to the projector: It sits at the center of the camera's front and is oddly unprotected. Press the Projector button on top and move the camera forward or back until the picture is the size you want it, and then use the focus slider to fine tune the picture. It can be set as close as 10 inches from the screen or back as far as 6.5 feet. You can immediately start navigating through your photos or hit the Menu button to start a slideshow as well as turn on transition effects and background music, adjust interval time. Included is a little stand that angles the camera upward to avoid any objects that may be on the surface you're using. The angle, though, creates a keystone effect distorting projected images; you're better off using a tripod or an unobstructed level surface. Also, since there is no automatic orientation of photos, you'll need to go through and rotate images before playback. The projector is quite bright, but, of course, the darker the room, the better the experience. All in all, it's a successful feature that will no doubt be fun at parties with family and friends gathered around. It would be particularly nice for vacations where you want to instantly relive something you've just done or seen. Lastly, I can see it having some solid business uses, such as in real estate where you'd be able to give an impromptu showing of a house on a client's wall.
|General shooting options||Nikon Coolpix S1000pj|
|ISO sensitivity (full resolution)||Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1,600|
|White balance||Auto, Manual, Daylight, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Cloudy, Flash|
|Recording modes||Auto, Scene Auto, Scene, Smart Portrait, Subject Tracking, Movie|
|Focus area modes||Face priority, Auto, Manual, Center|
|Metering||Multi, Center-weighted, Spot|
|Color effects||Standard, Vivid, Black & White, Sepia, Cyanotype|
|Burst mode shot limit (full resolution)||4 photos|
Again, without the projector the S1000pj would be a fairly run-of-the-mill compact. There are 16 scene modes with nothing out of the ordinary as well as Scene Auto Selector, Nikon's automatic scene-recognition mode. Nikon's Smart Portrait System gets its own spot in the shooting-mode menu. Basically, it combines Nikon's previously available Blink Warning, Smile Shutter, In-Camera Red Eye Fix, D-Lighting, and Face Priority AF features into one mode and adds a Skin Softening component. This type of mode is available from other manufacturers, but Nikon's implementation is fast and works well. If you want the most control over your results there's a program mode simply called Auto. There's also a Subject Tracking option for trying to keep moving subjects in focus, but the truth is the rest of the camera's performance is too slow for any real action photography.
For the money you might expect fast shooting performance, but the S1000pj behaves like a typical snapshot camera. It takes 1.8 seconds to wake up and shoot. Subsequent shots will leave you waiting an average of 1.9 seconds between them, going up to 2.6 seconds if you use the flash. Shutter lag is average in good lighting conditions at 0.5 second; in dim lighting it's noticeably long at 1 second. The S1000pj has a full-resolution continuous shooting speed of 0.6 frames per second for up to four shots.
Overall photo quality produced by the S1000pj is very good. Many cameras in its class suffer a significant dip in quality when they use any sensitivity above ISO 200. The S1000pj is actually good to ISO 400. The camera lets you limit the auto ISO range to either 80-200 or 80-400. If you're in daylight or bright conditions, I recommend locking it down to 80-200. Again, it did perform well up to ISO 400 with minimal color shift and most fine detail intact, but it's at its best at ISO 200 and below. It can shoot at full resolution up to ISO 1,600. However, both it and the step below ISO 800 don't look good because of color shifting and yellow blotching and general smearing of detail. So while you can, in fact, keep shooting in low-light conditions, you probably won't be thrilled by the results. On the other hand, viewed through the projector the photos at the higher ISOs are more palatable.
Colors produced by the S1000pj are vibrant, though not accurate. Everything turned out nice and bright and reasonably natural-looking. Characteristic of compact cameras, highlights tend to blow out, but at least Nikon's D-Lighting system helps bring up shadow detail. Nikon manages to keep distortion under control from the 28mm-equivalent wide-angle lens. In high-contrast areas of photos there is some purple fringing, but the amounts are average.
The S1000pj is capable of shooting movies at a VGA-quality 640x480-pixel resolution and the optical zoom is locked while recording. The results are good, especially if you're primarily viewing them through the projector.
The Nikon Coolpix S1000pj's projector is as novel as the front-mounted LCDs on the Samsung DualView cameras. The big difference is in everyday usefulness, and, well, Samsung wins there. But, the S1000pj is entirely entertaining and if you like to show off your photos on the spot and not on a little LCD, it's a great option. Hopefully if there's an update to the model, the price can come down some and Nikon can fit 2GB or more of fixed internal storage into the budget.
(Smaller bars indicate better performance)
|Time to first shot||Typical shot-to-shot time (flash)||Typical shot-to-shot time||Shutter lag (dim)||Shutter lag (typical)|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Find out more about how we test digital cameras.