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 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.
In-camera editing functions include Quick Retouch, and D-Lighting
Creative Slider allows adjustment of brightness, saturation and colour
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.
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.
Good colour and detail.
ISO160, 1/80, f/3.6, 6mm (33mm equivalent)
Nikon Coolpix S8100 ISO speed test: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
ISO160, 1/11, f/4.5, 18mm
ISO200, 1/13, f/4.5, 18mm
ISO400, 1/24, f/4.5, 18mm
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.
ISO160, 1/735, f/4.3, 14mm (77mm equivalent)
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.
ISO160, 1/560, f/3.5, 5mm (30mm equivalent)
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.
Auto White Balance - Incandescent Lighting
ISO160, 1/19, 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.
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.
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
A super wide-angle zoom aimed primarily at landscape and architecture photographers with a more affordable price and a slightly wider range than the camera makers' own models...is there a catch? We aim to find out.
3 Aug 2009 11:34AM