Announced worldwide in September 2010, the Nikon Coolpix S8100 boasts of a back-illuminated CMOS sensor and a 30-300mm equivalent optically stabilized lens.
The camera is believed to be a replacement for the S8000, and Nikon has reduced the megapixel count from 14 MP in the S8000 to 12.1 MP in the S8100. If claims are to be believed, the camera is designed for enhanced performance in low light and high-speed photography.
DESIGN AND BUILD QUALITY
The Nikon Coolpix S8100 is built rugged. The outer shell is metal and has an additional rubberized protective coating on the front panel. This provides a firm grip, though there is no well-defined hand grip. The lens barrel has three segments, and the lens does not protrude out of the body when the camera is switched off. The battery chamber door appears flimsy. The camera has a metal tripod mount and it is towards the left side of the bottom panel, opposite the battery chamber, which means that you can change the battery or memory card without removing the camera from the tripod.
The 12.1-megapixel Nikon Coolpix uses a 1/2.3-inch Type (6.16 x 4.62 mm) backside illumination CMOS sensor for imaging. This is believed to provide unmatched image quality in low-light situations. The camera features a 30-300mm equivalent f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens featuring lens shift vibration reduction. The lens is constructed with 10 elements in 8 groups. The camera uses contrast detect method for autofocus. The lens focuses from approximately 50cm to infinity at the wide-angle end, and approximately 1m to infinity at the telephoto end. The camera offers five options for focus area selection—Face Priority, Auto (9 areas), Manual (99 areas), center, and subject tracking. The Coolpix S8100 provides three metering options—256-segment matrix, center-weighted, and spot. Exposure can be compensated up to +/-2.0 EV in 1/3-EV steps. Shutter speed ranges from 4 to 1/2000 sec, and aperture from f/3.5 to f/7. Sensitivity of the S8100 ranges from ISO 160 to 3200. The built-in flash works in the TTL auto flash mode with monitor preflashes, and has a range of 50 cm to 4.0 m at the wide-angle end and 50 cm to 2.5m at the telephoto end.
The shooting modes of the Coolpix S8100 are Auto, Scene, Scene auto selector, Night Landscape, Night portrait, Backlight, Subject tracking, and Auto continuous shooting. Scene modes are Portrait, Landscape, Night portrait, Party/indoor, Beach, Sunset, Dusk/Dawn, Night landscape, Close-up, Food, Museum, Fireworks show, Copy, Backlight, and Panorama Assist. Capture modes available are Single, Continuous, BSS (Best Shot Selector), Multi-shot 16 (16 frames in single burst). Still images are recorded in JPEG format, while movies are recorded in MOV format. The maximum image resolution is 4000 x 3000 pixels. The S8100 offers HD videos with the highest quality of 1080i.
The Nikon Coolpix S8100 uses a 3-inch, 921,000-dot TFT monitor with clear color display and anti-reflection coating. It has an internal memory of approximately 102 MB, and accepts an SD-type card for external storage. The camera is powered by a rechargeable Li-ion battery EN-EL12 (supplied). It has dimensions of 104.0 x 59.2 x 29.9 mm, and weighs approximately 209g (including battery and SD card).
The Nikon Coolpix S8100 is comfortable to hold and easy to operate. The rubberized body provides very good grip, and the thumb rest at the back complements this. The large LCD screen displays crisp images and is very easy to view. The camera’s interface is intuitive and navigating through the menus is just as comfortable.
The Nikon Coolpix S8100 performed reasonably well in our tests. The camera controlled noise like a champion. The native image size was 10 x 13.33 inches at 300 ppi. At 16.67 percent of the native size, we did not observe any noise. Viewed at 25 percent, slight noise appeared at ISO 3200. At 33.33 percent of the native size, we did not observe any change in noise characteristics. At 50 percent size, we could observe a tinge of noise at ISO 1600. White Balance was good most of the time, though at times, it faltered, especially under uncalibrated light sources.
Images were sharp and distortion was well under control. We observed very slight barrel distortion from 250 to 300mm equivalent, which is surprising since barrel distortion is normally associated with wide-angle. Darkening was observed at extreme corners, which was not much of a concern. The camera exhibited prominent flare and ghosting along with purple fringing. The camera focused fast and accurately, though we observed a small delay between the focus confirmation beep and the time the display rendered the image as sharp.
VALUE FOR MONEY
The Nikon Coolpix S8100 retails at an MRP of Rs.15,950. This is good value for money for a camera that offers an optically stabilized 10x zoom and advanced features.
Design and Build Quality 18/20
Key Features 17/20
Value for Money 17/20
+ Excellent build quality
+ Unmatched control of noise
+ Optically stabilized 10x zoom
– Delay in display update
– White Balance could have been better
Offering a 30-300mm equivalent zoom range, the Nikon Coolpix S8100 is worth a look if you require a point-and-shoot camera that can capture a variety of subjects. But we wish the zoom started at a wider angle. But that alone does not snatch the Best Buy tag from this camera.