Review by Matt Grayson
Nikon Coolpix S1000pj: Features
On the top, the slider brings the projected image into focus.
Enforcing the recent view in the industry that manufacturers aren't caught up with cramming more and more pixels onto the sensor, Nikon have released the S1000pj which has a cool new feature that sets it apart from all the others. Designated with the letters “pj” after the model number isn't actually anything to do with night wear but actually indicates the inclusion of a projector in the front of the camera.
Nikon hope to tap into the sharing market that's been constantly pursued by other companies, such as Kodak, by allowing the pictures you take to be instantly viewed on any light, smooth surface in a darkened room.
To the uninitiated, the front of the camera suggests that the small lens in the middle of the body is the camera lens, but this is actually the projector lens. A small, slim flash sits above the opening while the lens for picture taking is safely covered behind a sliding door in the top left of the body. I'm unsure why the projector isn't protected, it could be due to a lack of space.
On the top plate is a little more than normally seen on compact cameras. The power button and shutter release are still there but because of the projector, the activation button is now sat on the far end while a small slider sets the focal distance so if you wish to view it on a surface further away from normal, it brings the image into focus.
|Nikon Coolpix S1000pj: Specification
- Zoom: 5x optical
- Resolution: 12.1Mp
- Sensor size: 1/2.3in
- Sensor type: CCD
- Max. image size: 4000x3000
- File type: JPEG
- Sensitivity: ISO80-6400
- Media type: Internal, SD, SDHC
- Focus types: Auto, manual, centre, face detection
- Normal focusing: 30cm-infinity
- Close focusing: 3cm-infinity
- Metering types: TTL exposure metering using image sensor
- Exposure compensation: +/- 2EV in 1/3 step increments
- Shutter speed: 4sec - 1/1500sec
- Flash: Built-in, 30cm – 3.5m (wide), 50cm – 2.5m (tele)
- Monitor: 2.7in TFT LCD, 230,000dot (76,000px)
- Interface: USB 2.0
- Power: Li-Ion battery
- Size: 99.5x62.5x23mm
- Weight: 155g (excl. battery and card)
This new technology has the possibility of overshadowing the other neat features such as the internal 5x optical zoom with a 35mm equivalent range of 28-140mm. To cope with the top end of the zoom, Nikon have fitted the S1000pj with a Hybrid VR system. This sounds fancy and I think that's the point. It uses a lot of technology seen before but because it's called Hybrid, it sounds newer.
However, whether that's what they're doing or not, if Hybrid VR, which uses either lens shift, electronic vibration reduction or a mixture of both, doesn't work you can choose from a Hi-ISO option with a maximum setting of ISO6400 (although this setting and ISO3200 drop the resolution to 3Mp) or you can opt for Motion detection which compensates for your movement as well as the subject. Finally, the BSS (Best Shot Selector) will take ten photographs in succession and choose the sharpest of the the set. With this arsenal at hand, it's pretty unlikely that you'll be able to get a picture shaky which is useful if the images are going to be projected onto a screen.
Being part of the stylish range (hence the 'S' in S1000pj), the new Nikon isn't aimed at the kind of market that gets involved with the heavier aspects of photography and because of that, it employs a more simplified layout. Thankfully, it doesn't go as far as keeping ISO automatic, such as what's found on the 'L' series, so there's a little extra scope in terms of creativity. However, there's no metering modes available so what is available is clipped.
The lens of the projector is found in the middle of the camera.
On the back, you will find the area dominated by the 2.7in TFT LCD screen with all the controls down the right side for easier use by the thumb. Pressing the camera button will enter a small menu for choosing your shooting mode. You can choose from auto mode (interestingly, the most adaptive), scene modes, smart portrait mode which features a smile timer, blink warning feature as well as a blink proof option taking two pictures to eradicate the chances of photographing a blink. There's also a skin softening mode which is similar to the beauty mode found on the Casio Exilim EX-H10 we recently reviewed. In the camera menu, you can also choose from a subject tracking option which uses a basic version of the subject tracker found on the Nikon DSLRs and works by locking focus on the subject using contrast detection, then tracks the subject while they remain in the frame.
Nikon Coolpix S1000pj: Build and handling
The camera is nicely laid out with all controls easily reached with fingers or thumbs. I think the buttons could be a little bigger so if you have large hands, you may find the camera a bit more difficult to use.
It starts up quickly enough and the screen is nice and bright. I worry about the flimsiness of the battery door, it's really thin and bendy and its only saving grace is that it has a locking switch.
Of course the main feature is the projector and from a build viewpoint, it's bright and works well on most surfaces. It works better on a bright wall, but I could still see it on a mid tone surface.
Nikon Coolpix S1000pj: Performance
As with any projectors, the built-in version found on the Nikon Coolpix S1000pj works better, the darker it is. In the tests, it showed that it can be used in daylight just not very effectively. What's interesting is the feel that the photographs give when viewed in this way. Just simple pictures of family and friends that would normally be cast into a folder somewhere on a computer took on a whole new slant. They looked interesting and nostalgic and I think it's down to how the projector handles the light registered on the image. Photographs taken at dusk came out with a very blue cast and they looked old fashioned, but in a trendy way.
I love the colour reproduction on the colour test chart. All the colours are balanced nicely with subtle boosts to the primary colours. Even though the warmer tones are more saturated than normally seen on a compact, the original skin tone tile looks normal and this is backed up by the expanded skin tones. The grey scale is good with white and black looking nicely balanced and there's even some colour poking through the pastel tones whih can so easily be lost.
There's a lot of noise in the landscape picture which is unfortunate but point and shoot cameras don't tend to give the user much say in whether they can control the speed of the camera. It is possible to change the ISO on the S1000pj but, like all other compacts, not when it's in a scene mode.
The exposure is good and it looks like Nikon's D-Lighting is working well to bring detail out in the shadowy areas at the side of the frame.
A photograph of the turreted building tests the chromatic aberration by looking for colured bands along the edge of the walls. It's quite definite with a solid purple line which sometimes bleeds over quite badly.
Plenty of CA in the shot of the turrets but it's not as bad as I've seen before. There is some bleed over, though.
Metering works well and has been helped along with the dynamic range program to bring out the detail.
While in Sheffield, I also took a shot of the Town Hall to test the camera's metering and it works very well. Normally a camera would've silhouetted the side of the building in shade but here, there's lots of detail and I think D-Lighting has helped in this instance.
In portrait mode, the camera hasn't quite nailed the white balance giving a very slight magenta cast. This could be to warm up the skin tones as they look warmer than I'd expect on the test shots. I could have changed the white balance to counterbalance the problem but that wouldn't be true of the performance that portrait mode gives. Noise is an issue in this program mode meaning that noise reduction (NR) is working overtime and smoothing out the detail.
Portrait mode gives a mild cast on this image. Is it to warm up the skin tones or is it a wrong judgment on the white balance.
A little flash adds more detail, fills in the shadows and gets rid of the cast left by the setting without flash.
Adding flash has helped to a degree, showing more detail in the hair and has brightened up the rest of the image while eradicating the cast that shows up without it.
Most, if not all, compacts have a colour tone mode to alter the basic colour output of the camera. The Nikon Coolpix S1000pj has six options, vivid, neutral, mono, sepia and cyan. The sixth being off, or natural. It can give some interesting effects in certain situations and the cyanotype effect is a good idea if you like your old fashioned look. Sepia is a bit too strong, which is usually the case, and can look a bit sickly. Mono doesn't give a good contrasty effect but simply drops colour out of a graded image so all that's left is a blend of greys.
Nikon Coolpix S1000pj: Noise test
After the previous tests, the noise results are worth a good look at. The S1000pj has a sensitivity range from ISO80 to ISO6400 although the two last settings are capped at 3Mp to try and control noise.
ISO80 gives a very nice result with plenty of detail in the petals of the flower and balanced tones of the card. There's a little noise showing through but it's only mild and won't affect a picture when viewed normally. On our test, noise started to poke through at ISO100 with a few small artefacts noticeable in the shadow areas of the grey card. The rest of the image hasn't changed though so looks pretty good at a reasonable distance.
The problem persists and starts to get unacceptable at ISO400 as white dots litter the grey card and coloured blobs of green and purple start to invade. Detail is also starting to go from the petals as NR kicks in to try and solve the problem.
ISO1600 is a mess of coloured pixels, smudgy petals and no detail. Taking the next step to ISO3200 drops the resolution and looks like an oil painting version of the photograph. This may sound romanticised but is down to noise control smoothing over everything. By the final setting, hard purple spots are starting to re-emerge in the shadow areas and the black card.
Nikon Coolpix S1000pj:
The ISO80 test.
The ISO6400 test.
Despite a bad result from the noise test, the overall picture quality of the Nikon Coolpix S1000pj is pretty good. Metering has worked well and it focuses reasonably fast. The beauty is in the projector and in a double whammy, noise problems won't be as noticeable when viewed on a projector screen.
Using the projector reminded me of being back at school when we had to use the OHP to learn Spanish phrases or look at how insects mate. Add that to the images giving a nostalgic feeling and new innovation turns into memory lane.
It's expensive, but it's innovative. No other camera falls into that price point with that classification, most are a couple of hundred pounds less. That said, I enjoyed using the Nikon Coolpix S1000pj and I think if you're into sharing your images then this is the camera for you. It's progressive, creative and a great talking point at a party.
Nikon Coolpix S1000pj: Plus points
Projector works on most surfaces, in most light conditions
Good metering capability
Lovely colour rendition
Nikon Coolpix S1000pj: Minus points
Flimsy battery door
Noise is a big problem
CA on high contrast areas
Portraits got a cast
The Nikon Coolpix S1000pj costs around £389 and is available from Warehouse Express here:
Nikon Coolpix S1000pj