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Nikon Coolpix S8200 review: Nikon Coolpix S8200

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If you like shooting close-ups, the S8200 is excellent at it. It can focus as close as 0.4 inch from a subject and, as long as the sensitivity is set below ISO 200, the 16-megapixel resolution will give you sharp shots with fine detail.

Lastly, movie options include full HD capture at 30 frames per second as well as iFrame, which is 960x540-pixel resolution at 30fps designed for easier editing and playback on mobile devices, and VGA at 120fps for slow-motion clips.

Shooting performance, at least on the surface, is very good. Shutter lag--the time it takes from pressing the shutter release to capture--is 0.3 second when shooting in good light and 0.6 second in low-light conditions. However, extending the lens really slowed down the autofocus system and during my testing I found myself regularly prefocusing over and over to get a clear shot. That might be acceptable if you're shooting stationary subjects like landscapes and architecture, but not active kids and pets. From off to first shot is a quick 1.1 seconds and shot to shot it's just 1.5 seconds. Even using the flash was pretty quick at only 1.7 seconds between shots. It can also continuously shoot a burst of five photos at a rate of 7.2 frames per second. But, if you use any of the multishot modes, like HDR or Night Landscape, or any of the burst shooting options and you'll be waiting much longer as the camera processes and stores images.

Aside from all the features and performance, the camera is nice-looking and easy to use, too. Available in black, red, and silver, the S8200 is compact given its ultrawide-angle 14x zoom lens, though still a bit chunky. The metal casing has a slight rubberized texture on it for added grip, but I wish there was more than a slight ridge on the front of the camera to hold. If there is one big problem with the design it's the flash. It pops up from the left side, so it's easily blocked by fingers when it rises and then once it's up, it won't go back down until you shut off the camera.

Nikon S8200 controls
Despite the camera's compact size, the controls are easy to press.

The controls and menu system are fairly uncomplicated, so out-of-the-box shooting shouldn't be much of a problem. The menu system is broken into three tabs: Shooting, Movie, and Setup. The layout keeps you from doing too much hunting through settings. And thanks to the high-resolution screen, menus are nice-looking, sharp, and easy to read. The LCD gets reasonably bright as well, so you shouldn't struggle too much when framing shots in bright direct light. It's great for playback to boot.

A mode dial sits on top for quickly changing your shooting mode. On the back, a large thumb rest separates the screen from a record button for movies; there is no standalone movie mode you have to switch to in order to shoot video. Below that is a playback button and a four-way control pad/wheel with an OK button in its center (Nikon calls it a Rotary Multi Selector), and then there are Menu and Delete buttons at the very bottom. The control pad is used for menu and image navigation as well as setting the self-timer, adjusting flash and exposure compensation, and turning on macro focus. Should you want to move more quickly through menus, images, and videos, you can spin the wheel instead of doing single presses with the underlying control pad. Although it moves easily, you can feel stops.

The S8200 is powered by a lithium ion rechargeable pack that is rated for 250 shots; this was supported in testing, though it was a mix of stills and movies. Plus, the camera doesn't give you a battery life reading until it needs to be recharged. The battery is charged in the camera by connecting via USB to a computer or the included wall adapter. The battery and card compartment are on the bottom behind a locking door. On the right side is a small door covering a Mini-HDMI port and a Micro-USB/AV port (but not the version currently used by most smartphones).

I'm slightly less enthusiastic about the Nikon Coolpix S8200 than I was about its predecessor, the S8100. It's still a nice camera for its price, features, and performance compared with other compact megazooms with BSI CMOS sensors. But because of little things like the pop-up flash and more important things like the slow autofocus with the lens extended, it's not as easy a recommendation.

Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Time to first shot  
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Shutter lag (dim)  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS10
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX7V
Nikon Coolpix S8200
Canon PowerShot Elph 510 HS
Fujifilm FinePix F600EXR

Typical continuous-shooting speed (in frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

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