Billed as the world’s slimmest 10x optical zoom camera, the 14-megapixel S8000 sits at the pinnacle of Nikon’s oddly unstylish Style range.
The 30-300mm zoom is smooth and quick to focus – speed is something of a theme with this camera – at wide and maximum zoom. Lens-shift vibration reduction helps quell camera shake exaggerated by the long zoom.
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You get 16 scene modes, including Auto Select, which chooses the right one depending on the situation you’re in and Sport which reels off 45 shots at 3fps. An effective Auto mode lets you adjust white balance, metering and sensitivity. There’s also Face Detection and a maximum ISO of 3200 for low-light shooting.
Nikon S8000: Picture perfect
Pictures are detailed and quite sharp, although if you look very closely, edges aren’t as razor-like as on its big-zoom rival the Panasonic TZ8. Wide-angle results are excellent, while macro mode impresses focusing 1cm away. We did notice some purple fringing though at max zoon, but it’s not enough to spoil your shots.
With a lightening-fast start-up time of little more than a second and a similarly speedy shutter, the S8000 is a nippy device. It’s comfortable to hold, although with such a long zoom, a grip would have been useful. The ability to use the zoom when shooting 720p 24fps HD video would have been useful though.
The pop-up flash, which has a decent range of up to 5.5m at wide angle, is a welcome addition. Nikon claims you’ll get 210 shots from the li-ion battery.
Nikon S8000: Ease of use
With its intuitive menus, navigated at speed via a scroll dial, the S8000 is one the most user-friendly cameras we’ve seen, while the three-inch TFT LCD screen has a very high resolution of 921,000, so it’s great for playback and menus are exceptionally sharp, but although it works well in bright conditions, it’s prone to smearing.
Pictures are stored on an SD memory card. There’s a mini USB in the base for transferring pictures and a mini HD port for movies. Supporting stereo sound, dual speakers are on top of the camera, but sound quality isn’t particularly loud though.
All told, the S8000 is a very high quality, point-and-shoot snapper. Novices and anyone who values ease of use will love it, even if it’s not quite as classy rivals.