Nikon Coolpix s8100

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 September, 2010, 12:00am

Between fancy SLRs and basic point-and-shoots, there are so many mid-range digital cameras that it can be a bit overwhelming. It also makes it hard to put Nikon's Coolpix S8100 in any particular category.

While it looks sleek and comes with manual focus, the S8100 lacks the full range of manual exposure controls that are found in so-called 'prosumer' (professional consumer) models like Panasonic's LX-3/5.

Yet, the S8100 comes with some pretty impressive features, including 12.1-megapixel imaging, and a whopping 10x optical zoom lens - equivalent to 30-300mm on a 35mm format lens. In addition, the S8100 gives you full HD (1920x1080p at 30fps) video recording - with stereo sound!

You also get top-notch speed with the S8100, which has a top ISO setting of 3200 for those dim lighting conditions, and a top shutter speed of 1/4000 second for action shots. These two are needed to compensate for the simple aperture, which flattens out at a very basic f3.5-5.6.

What you don't get in terms of manual control, Nikon tries to make up for with some neat automated shooting functions. 'Night Portrait' combines multiple shots to brighten up the background of photos taken at night with a flash. There is also a 'Best Shot Selector' mode that takes 10 shots at once and selects the sharpest image.

The Nikon Coolpix S8100 will launch this month. Pricing in the US is US$299 (around HK$2,400).

Pros: big 10x zoom lens in a compact body, full HD video with stereo sound

Cons: no shoe to add external flash, no manual exposure control