Product Reviews » Nikon COOLPIX S8200: Little Camera, Big Quality
Sometimes the smallest of packages bring the biggest of surprises – the little box with that engagement ring, or even better, when a newborn comes into the world at seven pounds. I am continually amazed how camera manufacturers can make so much technology—even though some of it is admittedly old-fashioned magic—fit into a compact, pocket-sized camera!
The first compact film camera that I loved was an old Olympus XA. It had a stylish and small profile, with a clamshell case to protect its wonderful lens. I was always pleased with its images, and used it for years. I have been trying to replace it digitally for a decade now.
While I have used Canon, Pentax, Mamiya, Bronica and other cameras over the years, I have generally been a Nikon user over my 40 years of shooting. I have actually had two compact Nikon COOLPIX cameras in the past.
I think by now we all recognize Nikon as one of the premier camera makers, with a rich optical heritage. Nikon Inc. is arguably the world leader in digital imaging, precision optics and photo imaging technology, and is globally recognized for setting new standards in product design and performance for its award-winning consumer and professional photographic equipment. So it is no surprise that their latest COOLPIX camera, released this spring, has finally surpassed my high expectations.
“The new COOLPIX S-series cameras are super slim and easy to carry around for all of those special ‘can’t miss’ moments that matter in a person’s life,” said Bo Kajiwara, Nikon's director of marketing. “These cameras complement a personal style while providing amazing image and video quality easily.”
The COOLPIX S8200 is only 1.3” wide, fitting neatly in a shirt pocket; but this baby is packed with features.
Some of the highlights include:
Some of the other mind-blowing features include the Smart portrait system, which automatically recognizes when a subject is smiling and releases the shutter, Face-priority, which finds and focuses on up to 12 faces, not to mention Blink Warning, Red Eye fix, and Skin Softening. How can a pocket-sized camera do these things? Magic is the only way I can figure. Then let’s add in Vibration Reduction to stabilize portraits, High-speed Burst shooting, and Best Shot selector which shoots up to ten images, selecting and keeping only the sharpest one. As I said – magic, pure and simple.
S-Series Pricing and Options
The COOLPIX S9300 is available for a suggested retail price (SRP) of $349.95 in black, red and silver, while the COOLPIX S6300 is available for $199.95 SRP in red, black, silver and blue. The COOLPIX S4300 is available for $169.95 SRP in plum, black, silver, white and red, while the COOLPIX S3300 is available for $139.95 SRP in silver, black, pink, purple and red. The SRP of the COOLPIX S8200 is $329.95.
So, I decided to employ a potentially risky strategy when testing out the S8200. Instead of taking my normal DSLRs to a series of local assignments, I took only this little pocket rocket. Let’s review what we did together below.
For the last 40 years, I have been shooting music, dance and theater performers on-stage and off; from Led Zeppelin to Pete Seeger to Dead Kennedys. One of the things most people find frustrating with compact digital P&S cameras is the time lag between focus and exposure. Most cameras, except mid to high-range pro DSLRs, can not handle live performance photography. Well this one does, a first for me with a compact. Take a look at this shot of a vocalist, taken in a small club in NY. Sharp, crisp and well-exposed. This is a milestone for me, a compact P&S being able to react as quickly as needed for stage shooting.
While the COOLPIX S8200 has some special-effects settings, I wanted to see what the basic camera settings would do with color. Look at the clean, contrasting colors of this simple gardener’s still-life.
Now let’s see what it does outdoors in bright sun light. Here we have the gardener in an American Gothic stance. His skin's tonal range is perfect.
Next, I attended a local Cinco de Mayo parade. Parades can be tough as they are a continually moving event made up of continually moving objects. But again, the movement of the individuals and the parade were captured nicely in wonderful color. Subjects are sharp; costumes are brilliant. Action is frozen with no movement on the part of the camera or subjects. What more could we ask for?
I think this little camera did a great job capturing the color, light values and textures of the foliage.
One more thing. Many of us professional shooters are now being asked to shoot video during an assignment for use by the client on a website, as a teaser of sorts. So, I decided to try the S8200 in video mode. I am pleased with the quality of the image and pleasantly surprised with the sound quality provided by the stereo microphones. And it is surprisingly easy to use—literally one-touch video.
So, if you are looking to upgrade to a mid-range, high-quality, amazing point & shoot, take a close look at the new COOLPIX S8200. With this camera, you can fill up your shirt pocket with big state-of-the-art technology!
Follow the light…f-stop fitzgerald