Expert Review of Nikon Coolpix S80
A rather innovative device, Nikon Coolpix S80 is enough to strike everyone’s eyes in the first glance, we know about this camera is for 'innovation'. Having a 14 megapixel sensor alongside a huge 3.5 inch OLED touch screen and a 5x optical zoom lens, Nikon Coolpix S80 is a super slim tablet-style designed camera which has a sliding panel up front and bears a shockingly similar look to the earlier reviewed Sony CyberShot TX9 only difference being the panel on our device that slides horizontally, and not vertically like before for the cameras with zooming capabitlies. Nikon Coolpix S80 made its place firm in the array of compacts replacing its predecessor Nikon Coolpix S70 which was immediately made dysfunctional prior to the launch of Nikon Coolpix S70.
Apart from adding 2 additional megapixels, it has kept the 5x range of its precursor albeit shifting it in favour of telephoto with 35 mm equivalent wide angle extending as much as 175mm. The screen is fully touch functional, and for a touch screen, the user device interface is everything, and for that very reason, Nikon has taken a very bold decision, which means it has given up on all physical controls on the device except for obviously the shutter release for touch icons. But really how much does it fair against devices already in the industry, to find that out we made it go against rivals from other manufacturers. One being, Sony CyberShot TX9, which as mentioned earlier has shockingly similar resemblance to the camera, the next device is Panasonic Lumix FX700 which is a touch screen device too, but is made on a slightly different approach. It combines these physical controls mentiond below with touch icons, in a much larger and more conventional compact body.
14 Megapixel Sensor
5x Optical Zoom lens
3.5-inch LCD touchscreen covering entire back
Sliding Panel in the front
35 mm focal range equivalent to 35 – 175mm
Design and Build Quality
No offence meant, but to say that Nikon Coolpix S80 is exactly similar to Sony CyberShot TX9 is a bit of disservice to S80, as the dimensions vary slightly at 99mm x 62mm x 16.5mm. The device is insanely compact, fits well in pocket, and is a perfectly portable, fit for travelling, and is just 1mm longer and 1 mm thinner than Sony CyberShot TX9. So basically similar in dimensions too as the vertical and horizontal sliding doesn’t really make that much of a difference. The reason why we keep Nikon Coolpix S80 above TX9 is the great attention that Nikon has given to Coolpix S80’s styling. The top and bottom edges of the device are very swiftly rounded and the sliding panel wraps around it exceptionally. Very clean and systematic lines are made on the device as a result of the physical controls being absent and the entire rear of the device is occupied by the 3.5-inch big screen. So up front, on the camera there is nothing but the sling panel which covers the lens and flash when the camera is not quite in use and on the back there is just the screen, nothing else. On the top of the device, there is nothing left but the shutter release function, this just leaves us with the sides and the underneath panel to talk about. The panel on the right hand side of the device, slides down very well and the battery is revealed, so is the card compartment. The battery is easy to get, even if our camera is quite neat.
Focus and Face Detection
Like all the modern day Point-and-Shoot devices, Nikon Coolpix S80 also portrays face detection AF feature. This case detects upto 12 faces and nearest one gets the focus locked on to him framed with double border. Simply tap the different face if you have to select it. This face detection feature works pretty decently in good light conditions, but being just a compact device, like most compact devices, its AF too struggles in low light conditions both to detect the faces, and even if it has detected them, to efficiently track them once the level of light starts to fall. The face detection of Nikon Coolpix S80 is quite as sophisticated as Sony CyberShot TX-9’s, it has its own ability to prioritise adult and child faces but lacks in the ability to recognise them like in the case of Panasonic Lumix FX700, but one thing is clear that Nikon Coolpix S80 is simple and really effective upto some extent.
Lens and Image Stabilization
Nikon Coolpix S80 has a 5x optical zoom lens, which is average to say and sports a focal range of 35mm equivalent 35 to 175mm. The device simply replaces Nikon Coolpix S70, this also serve 5x zoom, but the range on Nikon Coolpix S80 is 28 to 140mm, which provides better wide angle. Nikon Coolpix is 20mm thicker than Nikon Coolpix S80, however, the only logical reasoning we could find as an answer to Nikon’s decision of dropping the wide angle to get a higher telephoto range, is shedding down a good 3.5mm from the full width of the camera. Compactness is very important and that is the very reason a Point & Shoot device is called a 'compact camera', but we cannot hide the fact that we are terribly disappointed with Nikon over this decision. But then, it is really not that unapplaudable to assume that there will be more potential market of people interested in ultra stylish compact touch screen Point-&-Shoot devices than devices with more zoom range. So, will the half millimetre advantage that Nikon has over CyberShot TX9 fetch more buyers than the ones it will lose given the loss in wide angle? Frankly, we are not so sure about that.
Screen and Menus
All that the rear of Nikon Coolpix S80 has is a 3.5-inch OLED touchscreen and it is spread entirely over the back of the camera. The proportions of 16:9 are ideally suited for HD movie recording of the device, while our screen is filled with effective touch options which are overlapped on the image. Normally 4:3 is the ideal screen proportion, but in our device while shooting in 4:3 mode, black bands appear down at either side of the device. The screen image of Nikon Coolpix S80 is really bright with high contrast and almost every bit is as good as the marginally high resolution LCD screen of Sony CyberShot TX9. As a matter of fact, we will say that Nikon Coolpix S80’s OLED screen gives rise to a little more contrast to the screen both while you are indoors or out. Another advantage of using the OLED technology is that Nikon Coolpix S80’s screen gives excellent view for wide angle viewing be it vertically or horizontally with no efficient drop in the brightness or quality of image. What has been said is that Nikon Coolpix S80 is now almost ideal for “above head” shots and among small groups for playback mode with everyone being with you rather than being behind you.
The entire Nikon Coolpix S80 is powered by EN-EL 10 Li-Ion battery. On full charge, this device provides power well enough for a good 150 shots under CIPA, that is, Camera Imaging Products Association standards test. This is really disappointing, both talking in general terms and comparing it with its intense rival Sony CyberShot TX9 which clocks at 230 shots and Panasonic Lumix FX700 which is good to go at 300 shots. Let us look at it this way, if there is a second battery and you take it to travel with you, it will match up for one single battery of Panasonic Lumix FX700.
Best video mode that Nikon Coolpix S80 offers is 720p HD. This is quite a disappointment as every other device is now offering 1080p full HD view. This 1280 x 720 resolution at 30 frames per second video stream is programmed in MPEG-4 format which works at an average bit rate of 10 MBPS and is saved in the popular Quicktime format .mov wrapper. Optical zoom can very well be effectively used while shooting movies and the motor noise seems almost inaudible, and hence, is not picked up by the dual stereo mics which happen to be below the flash.
Nikon Coolpix S80 runs on a 14MP sensor which has the maximum capacity to produce images of the resolution 4320 x 3240. There are two widespread settings which are made available on 14MP images and rest of them use single compression setting. When the compression setting is at the best quality, the image file size measures up around 5.5 MB.
Simple on-screen controls.
Large, dazzling, high contrast OLED screen.
Compact, fashionable and functional design.
No physical controls.
Bad battery performance.
Modest 35mm maximum wide angle.
Modest 7cm macro distance.
Poor continuous shooting performance.