Nikon Coolpix S1100pj review: Nikon Coolpix S1100pj

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The Good Compact, attractive body with a projector built into the front for instant slideshows up to 40 inches in size.

The Bad Photo quality, shooting performance, and features are all that of a less expensive camera.

The Bottom Line The Nikon Coolpix S1000pj is all about the built-in projector; if you don't need it, you don't need this camera.

7.6 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 7
  • Performance 6
  • Image quality 7

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
Price (MSRP) $429.95
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.

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