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Nikon Coolpix S8100 Digital Camera Review

Nikon Coolpix S8100 Digital Camera Review - The compact Nikon Coolpix S8100 Digital Camera is put to the test to find out how the pocket zoom performs.

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Nikon Coolpix S8100 in Compact Cameras

Nikon Coolpix S8100

The Nikon Coolpix S8100 is an update to the S8000, and switches from a CCD imaging sensor in the S8000 to a high speed backside illumination CMOS sensor, for improved noise performance, and increased shooting performance. The camera provides a lot of features in a compact, pocketable body, such as a 10x optical zoom lens, 3” screen, full HD video mode, and stereo recording.

Nikon Coolpix S8100 Off

Nikon Coolpix S8100 Features: The Nikon Coolpix S8100 includes 5fps shooting, numerous scene modes, focus tracking, auto-scene selection, auto modes, and pop-up flash.

The video mode is impressive as it is full HD video recorded at 1920 x 1080 (1080p) with stereo sound, and allows the use of optical zoom. The camera also shoots high speed video at 240, 120, 60 and 15 fps. There is also an option to switch on Wind Noise Reduction. The camera features built in vibration reduction, which is useful with a 10x optical zoom lens, as this should help keep photos sharp in low light or when using the telephoto end of the lens.

The camera features a number of interesting scene modes such as Panorama assist (for stitching together on a computer), backlighting, night portrait, night landscape, as well as blink warning, and motion detection. The screen is impressive with a high resolution of 921k dots.

Nikon Coolpix S8100 Back

Key Features
  • 12.1 Megapixel back illuminated CMOS sensor
  • 10x Optical Zoom Lens (35mm equivalent: 30 – 300mm)
  • 3.0in screen with 921k dots
  • Full HD (1080p) movie recording with stereo sound
  • Shoot still images while recording HD movie
  • High speed shooting modes (5fps, full resolution)
  • High speed video modes (240, 120, 60, 15fps)
  • 1cm macro mode
  • In-camera Red-Eye Fix
  • In-camera editing functions include Quick Retouch, and D-Lighting
  • Creative Slider allows adjustment of brightness, saturation and colour

Nikon Coolpix S8100 Top

Nikon Coolpix S8100 Handling
The Nikon Coolpix S8100 feels solid and has a high quality screen that works well even in bright sunlight. The menu system is easy to use and the scroll wheel makes it quicker to scroll through the options.

The build quality appears to be very good, with a sturdy metal body, high quality screen, although the battery cover is quite thin plastic, so needs looking after. The metal body of the camera has a solid feel and a high quality finish, with a metal tripod socket.

There is a good layout of buttons and controls, with good sized buttons, and recessed on/off switch. This should ensure you don't accidentally switch the camera on in your pocket. The mode dial is a good firmness to avoid accidentally turning it. The camera provides a raised bar at the front for grip and a good sized thumb grip area. The only potential problem I can see is with the far left (when viewed from the back) tripod socket.

Nikon Coolpix S8100 Bottom

Battery life - Battery life is rated at 210 shots according to the CIPA / Nikon testing - this may mean you need to buy a backup battery if you plan on taking more shots. In our testing we were able to take over 315 shots before the battery went completely flat - this was a combination of high speed and normal photos. The camera comes with a USB cable that can be plugged into a computer to charge, or alternatively you can use the Nikon wall plug with built in USB socket.

Speed - Shutter response is very good at 0.1 second or less, with a quick focus speed as well at roughly 0.3-0.4 seconds when on wide angle. High speed continuous shooting is very good at 5fps at full resolution (flash is not available). Shot to shot time is good at around 1.8 seconds between shots without flash, and around 2.0-2.2 seconds with flash on. Switch on time is also good, taking roughly 1.6 seconds to go from off to on, and taking a photo.

Nikon Coolpix S8100 Performance
Exposure is generally excellent, with the camera striking a good balance between bright and dark areas in a photo, with a tendency to keep detail in bright areas rather than shadow areas. This works well producing pleasing images, and when you want to keep detail in the darker areas you can switch to the backlit mode on the mode dial. The Nikon Coolpix S8100 features a Panorama assist scene mode to help you line up shots in a sequence. These shots are not stitched together in the camera, you need to use software provided by Nikon.

Nikon Coolpix S8100 Sample Photo Nikon Coolpix S8100 Sample Photo
Good colour and detail.
ISO160, 1/80, f/3.6, 6mm (33mm equivalent)
Macro performance
ISO387, 1/30, f/3.5, 5mm (30mm equivalent) 

ISO and Noise Performance

Nikon Coolpix S8100 ISO speed test: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
Nikon Coolpix S8100 ISO Test
Nikon Coolpix S8100 ISO Test
Nikon Coolpix S8100 ISO Test
Nikon Coolpix S8100 ISO Test
ISO160, 1/11, f/4.5, 18mm ISO200, 1/13, f/4.5, 18mm ISO400, 1/24, f/4.5, 18mm
Nikon Coolpix S8100 ISO Test
Nikon Coolpix S8100 ISO Test
Nikon Coolpix S8100 ISO Test
ISO800, 1/45, f/4.5, 18mm ISO1600, 1/105, f/4.5, 18mm ISO3200, 1/200, f/4.5, 18mm

Images are sharp and detailed with good colour from ISO160 (the lowest ISO setting available) all the way up to ISO400. ISO160 provides the best results, with the most detail, and lowest amount of noise and there is a slight difference in noise and detail compared to ISO200, even though there is only a difference of “ISO40”. When you increase the ISO setting to ISO800 noise becomes more noticeable, and detail starts to degrade. At ISO1600 noise increases, and detail is further smudged away. ISO3200 results show the highest levels of noise, and the lowest levels of detail, however the results may be acceptable for use resized online.

Nikon Coolpix S8100 Sample Photo Nikon Coolpix S8100 Sample Photo
Wide angle shot
ISO160, 1/980, f/3.5, 5mm (30mm equivalent)
Some zoom
ISO160, 1/735, f/4.3, 14mm (77mm equivalent)
Nikon Coolpix S8100 Sample Photo Nikon Coolpix S8100 Sample Photo
Full optical zoom 
ISO160, 1/325, f/5.6, 54mm (300mm equivalent)
High speed mode captures movement well.
ISO160, 1/710, f/3.5, 5mm (30mm equivalent)

The dynamic range of the camera is quite good for a compact camera. The camera has a “backlighting” mode on the dial – this will brighten darker areas of the image, and works well especially in some tricky lighting situations where the subject is dark. However the camera doesn't feature a specific high dynamic range mode.

Nikon Coolpix S8100 Sample Photo
Nikon Coolpix S8100 Sample Photo
Good exposure 
ISO160, 1/560, f/3.5, 5mm (30mm equivalent)
Good detail
ISO160, 1/130, f/3.5, 5mm (30mm equivalent)

Auto white balance is generally very good giving pleasant results, with slightly warm colours, and outside the results were excellent. Indoors, auto white balance under incandescent and fluorescent light was very good. Using the preset incandescent white balance setting provided cooler colours but very good results (whites and greys were very neutral). The preset for fluorescent light produced slightly red / magenta results.

 Nikon Coolpix S8100 Sample Photo  Nikon Coolpix S8100 Sample Photo
Auto White Balance - Incandescent Lighting
ISO160, 1/19, f/3.8, 8mm (44mm equivalent)
Preset Incandescent WB - Incandescent Light
ISO160, 1/19, f/3.8, 8mm (44mm equivalent)
Nikon Coolpix S8100 Sample Photo
Nikon Coolpix S8100 Sample Photo
Auto White Balance - Fluorescent Light
ISO160, 1/3, f/3.8, 8mm (44mm equivalent)
Fluorescent White Balance - Fluorescent Light
ISO160, 1/4, f/3.8, 8mm (44mm equivalent)

Video Mode
The video mode shoots at full HD, 1920x1080, at 30fps, and allows the use of the optical zoom. The camera can also shoot 240, 120, 60, 15fps high speed videos at 320, 640, 1280, 1920 pixels wide respectively. The maximum length of a video is 29 minutes. A full HD example video can be seen below, as well as further examples showing the different high speed video modes on our youtube channel.

Value for Money
The Nikon Coolpix S8100 is available for around £215, this compares well with the competition, as it features full HD video with stereo sound, and high speed shooting. Alternatives to look at include the Casio Exilim H15, Pentax Optio RZ10, Canon Powershot SX130 IS, Fujifilm FinePix F300EXR, Fujifilm FinePix F80EXR, Canon Digital IXUS 1000HS, Samsung WB600, Sony Cybershot HX5, and Ricoh CX4 to name a few! Of these, the Samsung WB600, Fujifilm FinePix F300EXR and Canon Powershot SX130 IS are worth looking at if you're looking for more optical zoom.

Nikon Coolpix S8100 Verdict
The Nikon Coolpix S8100 is an impressive compact camera that is packed with features, and most importantly delivers great photo quality in practically all situations. The camera offers an impressive full HD video mode, that allows use of optical zoom, and has a great 3in screen. The camera also offers 5fps high speed shooting, and high speed video, making the camera versatile as well as fun to use.

ePHOTOzine Recommended Award
The Nikon Coolpix S8100 packs a lot into a compact body and has an excellent video mode.
Nikon Coolpix S8100 Pros:
Excellent Macro Mode
Good photo quality and colour
5fps Shooting / High Speed Shots / Video (upto 240fps)
Full HD Video with optical zoom and stereo sound
Built in vibration reduction
High quality 3in screen

Nikon Coolpix S8100 Cons:

Some corner softness
Does not stitch photos in-camera 

Nikon Coolpix S8100: Specification
Price £215
Contact www.nikon.co.uk
Lens 10x zoom NIKKOR; 5.4-54.0mm (35mm format picture angle: 30-300mm)
Resolution 12.1 million
Sensor size 1/2.3 inch
Sensor type CMOS
Max. Image size 12M 4000 x 3000
Monitor 3.0in TFT LCD monitor, 921000 pixels
Shutter speed 1/2000-2sec, 1/4000-1/120s (sport continuous mode), 4 sec. (when scene mode is set to Fireworks show)
Focusing system Contrast-detect AF
Focusing modes Auto (9-area automatic selection), Center, Face priority, Manual with 99 focus areas, Subject tracking
File types Still pictures: JPEG, Sound files (Voice Memo): WAV, Movies: MOV (Video:MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, Audio: AAC stereo)
ISO sensitivity ISO160 - 3200
Metering system Programmed auto exposure with motion detection, 256-segment matrix
Metering modes Spot (digital zoom 2X or more), Center-weighted
Exposure compensation Exposure compensation (-2.0 to +2.0 EV in steps of 1/3 EV)
Continuous 5fps at full resolution
Image stabilisation Yes - Combination of lens-shift and electronic VR (still pictures) Lens-shift (movies)
Movie mode Full HD 1920x1080, 30fps, Stereo sound
Media type Internal memory (approx. 102 MB), SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards
Interface Hi-Speed USB
Power Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL12 (supplied), Charging AC Adapter EH-68P/EH-68P(AR) (supplied)
Box Contents Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL12, Charging AC Adapter EH-68P/EH-68P(AR), USB Cable UC-E6, Audio Video Cable EG-CP16, Strap, ViewNX 2 (CD-ROM)
Size 104.0 x 59.2 x 29.9mm
Weight 209g (including battery and memory card)
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Photographs taken using the Nikon Nikon Coolpix S8100

Hair ColorSundayNo LeftoversBig BiteStreet PortraitMade in the U.S.A.A Common MistakeStreet PortraitThe Good LifeThe Cafe Kitchen WindowWasthis the Big Bad Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood?ChimpingBeauty of Natural colorful sunsetBeauty of NatureNatural colorful evening

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