Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Nikon Coolpix S8000 14.2MP Digital Camera with 10x Optical Vibration Reduction (VR) Zoom and 3.0-Inch LCD (Black)
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I owned the very good Sony DSC-W350 (which I liked very much), but I managed to leave it in a rental car. Between the time I bought my Sony and now, Nikon released a new line, so I figured I'd give one of their best compact point and shoot cameras a try. I use a lot of Nikon's DSLR equipment, but their point-and-shoots have been a bit disappointing to me over the years. But I liked the S8000 and decided to give it a try - and I'm glad I did...it's a wonderful point-and-shoot, even better than the Sony in every way.

First, I place a lot of emphasis on the size and shape of the camera and whether it just feels natural in my hands. The S8000 is very small and light, and sometimes really petite cameras just feel awkward to me. I'm happy to say that the S8000 gets it about perfect - it's easy to hold, the controls feel like they're where you expect them, and I never accidentally hit say, the power button when I'm looking for something else. I also tend to like designs that put the lens in the middle of the camera, as opposed to some designs (like the otherwise very good Panasonics) that tend to put the lens off-center. With very little practice, I feel like I can work the Nikon with my eyes closed, and I never feel awkward with it.

The built-in LCD monitor is also very good and easy to read under most conditions, except maybe in very bright direct sunlight. Still, my eyes aren't fantastic, but I have no trouble navigating the menus or reviewing shots after I've taken them. As an added plus, the menus are structured in a way that's similar to Nikon's DSLR cameras, so if you're familiar with Nikon's other products, you'll feel right at home here.

It's also a fast camera. I don't find the start-up time to be particularly quick, but once you have it on, focus, zooming, shutter lag, flash recycle and so on are very, very fast indeed. The autofocus system seems to be about as fast as the system in my Nikon D3 most of the time, which is really impressive to say the least. With some of the older point and shoots I've owned, I felt like I'd miss shots because of shutter lag or how long it took to focus...not so with the S8000.

As for image quality, I have to say that I was skeptical that a 10x lens could perform as well as I want. Honestly, I'd rather have a super sharp 4x than a mediocre 10x, and this was my biggest concern with the Nikon. Well, I'm happy to say that I've been pleasantly surprised by the wide zoom range in the Nikon - this is one really high performance lens, at least when you look at it in combination with all the other features the camera offers. It does great close-ups, letting you focus up to about half an inch from your subject. It seems to have a great optical anti-shake capability, permitting you to hand-hold the camera in fairly dark situations without resorting to a flash. The wide-angle end of the spectrum looks natural without some of the distortions you sometimes see on this type of camera. The worst thing I can say about the lens is that it has some purple fringing at the long end of the range - nothing that can't be fixed in Photoshop, but it is noticeable.

Overall, I don't see much difference in the 10x lens on the Nikon versus the excellent 4x lens on my former Sony in terms of image quality. The Nikon seems to produce slightly warmer colors with more saturation and just a generally more vivid appearance. The Sony was more natural looking, but not a lot of difference otherwise. I do notice that Nikon seems to apply slightly less digital sharpening than Sony, but this again is easily corrected in whatever editing software you use if you want to. Frankly, some cameras tend to push the sharpening a bit too far, and portraits tend to come out looking a bit harsh as a result. The Nikon gives you a more natural look that most people will find pleasing - plus you can always add sharpening after the fact if you need to.

If you're a novice, one thing to keep in mind is that at the telephoto end of the zoom range, the S8000 is equivalent to a 300mm on a 35mm camera. This offers quite some magnification - but it also amplifies your tendency to get blurry pictures by inadvertently shaking the camera (for instance, as you press the shutter release). Nikon's vibration reduction system helps a lot, but you really need bright lighting (hence, high shutter speeds) to get consistently sharp pictures with this end of the zoom range. I'm sure we'll see subsequent reviewers complaining about fuzzy images at the long end of the zoom range, and no doubt this will be why. As a side note, the camera includes a tripod socket, so it's possible to get perfect pictures in low light, even at the 300mm end of the range - but I rarely see people carrying around a five pound tripod for their six ounce camera.

The camera goes out to ISO 3200, but in my use so far, I'd only recommend up to ISO 400 for images you intend to print, maybe 800 for email/web images. Higher ISO than 800 get to look pretty poor, in my opinion. Of course, this is the nature of the beast - these compact cameras have compact image sensors, and that means you just can't boost the sensitivity without introducing lots of noise.

The built-in flash is okay, but not super powerful. It does offer uniform lighting over the frame, even when using wide angle views - a pet peeve of mine on other cameras. The S8000 also has automatic red-eye reduction built in, so you rarely see people pictures having lots of red-eye. Of course, I'd rather have great noise-free performance out to ISO 3200 so I don't need the flash in the first place, but absent that, the flash is a reasonable compromise.

Nikon includes their venerable D-lighting system, which is essentially a way to bring detail back into the picture when there's a huge contrast variation. It works well, for instance, with many flash shots, or when you have a person standing in the shade against a sunny background. Since you can also add these effects post-processing, I tend to turn the feature off in my cameras, but it does work well overall.

There are a few other included features I don't get much use out of. One is the video mode. I suppose if I want to take videos, I'd use a video camera, not a tiny point-and-shoot. Nikon doesn't seem to have put a lot of thought into the video mode anyway...it's "only" 720p, and in what seems like a poor design choice, you can't zoom the lens while filming. Another included feature I just don't find myself using is the burst mode that lets you take up to 16 lower quality (3MP) images in a very rapid sequence...generally, if I'm doing high-speed action photography, I'm doing it with my DSLR, not the point-and-shoot. Compared to the Sony I recently owned, there are also no panorama or HDR modes, but honestly, I don't miss either of these.

Overall, I think Nikon has a winner here and I absolutely recommend it for anyone wanting a compact but capable point-and-shoot.
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on March 8, 2010
I bought this camera because I wanted a camera that could both take high quality pictures of objects from a far away distance and took HD video. The Quality of the pictures of this camera are good from a far distance. I could easily read signs when zoomed in that I could not read from looking at them. I am a structural engineer so I needed something that I could read the structure types and be able to idetify the structures from a distance, in this it did its job.
Now the down side of the camera. The video quality of the video was excellent as well as the sound. The HUGE overlooked flaw is that recording indoors or out there is a high pitched squealing noise in the backround of every video no matter if it was played on lcd, computer, tube tv, or the camera itself. I tried the camera instore and it did the same thing (after I had taken it home and tested in depth). I have also seen example videos online where you can here the distinctive squeel.
If you are getting this camera for the picture quality only, look no further; but if like me you wanted HD video as well I would suggest looking at another camera.

Update***

I just purchased the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3, and wow. When comparing the photos I had saved with the Nikon and now the new photos I have taken of the exact same objects, the Panasonic clearly wins big. Along with my complaint of the Nikon's video the Panasonic also has a clearer HD video and stereo sound with no annoying whine in the background. And now the best part. I purchased it off amazon at $235, which is $65 less than the Nikon. I would highly recommend checking out the Panasonic Lumix first.
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on April 11, 2010
After a few days' research and testing between Canon S90 and Canon SX210 at 2 shops, I decided to get a Canon S90 for its better image quality.

But when I went to a third shop, aiming to get Canon S90, I was shown on the computer screen the 2 photos (jpeg) taken at the same place (indoor) a few seconds ago, one by S90 and one by Nikon S8000. The photo taken by S8000 rendered the true colors, just as what I saw under the lighting, and the image did not have jagged edges as in Canon S80 when magnified at the computer. Then a couple of shots confirmed that the noise control between the two were not as I expected. At least under ISO 400, Nikon S8000 photos did not provide more noise than Canon S90. Actually, at ISO 125, I did observe that Nikon's resolution was better. And the LCD screen resolution of Nikon was also higher than Canon S90. True, Canon S80 allowed one to take RAW images and manual control, but I wanted a travel zoom camera and would not like to work with RAW images or excess processing of the images(otherwise I would take my DSLR.) And Nikon 30mm-300mm provides a much more flexible zoom than Canon's 28mm-105mm.

Having Nikon DSLRs myself, I had the impression that DCs were not Nikon's strong areas. But the test shots gave me enough confidence to get a Nikon S8000 back home and gave it a try. Under sunlight, the photos were so pleasing and much better than I have expected from a DC. The image sizes can be either at 4:3 or 16:9. At 300mm, the image is still very acceptable and at 30mm, I detect very little distortion. I mainly shot photos using the AUTO mode but the MACRO and FOOD modes are extremely useful. The FOOD scene, allowing me to change the color tones of the photo, gives such delightful photos of the dishes! To summarise, Nikon S8000 is a very pleasant surprise for me. I got the silver one which had a very solid build and cool design. To top it all, I got a grey Nikon umbrella (which could be used as a reflector) and Coolpix camera bag for free at a local Asia dealer.

For the limitations, Nikon's menu seemed to be a bit less user-friendly than the old Panasonic DC I owned. I also hope there will be more reviews comparing S8000 and other cameras, especially at high ISOs.
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on March 9, 2010
I was looking for a camera that provided outstanding picture quality and quick response time without having to lug around a DSLR. After comparing similar models from Cannon and Panasonic, I settled on this one. I have not been disappointed at all. The auto mode provides crisp and clear photos, even at very close range. This is very important for a novice photographer such as myself. For users who wish to control the picture output a bit more, there are 15 scene selections and many other advanced image settings choose from. The menus all have contextual help settings to help making selecting from these options a little less daunting.

As one of the previous reviewers pointed out, there is a high pitch noise present during video playback. It is not horrible but definitely noticeable. I did not purchase the camera primarily for capturing video, but would be lying if I said the HD recording capability was a feature I overlooked. While this is not a deal breaker by any means, it did keep me from giving a full 5 stars on my review.
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on April 2, 2010
I read all of these reviews before going shopping for this camera. The movie option is something I frequently use. The noise complaints worried me so I visited several stores and tried to find out what they were talking about. I could not find one camera with this noise problem. I brought it home, recorded a movie in a closed room, downloaded it to my computer, cranked up the sound, and still did not detect any noise that I've seen described in these reviews. The only noise I could come up with was a snoring dog from across the room. I have taken movies & photos of every type, from every angle, in every environment and under every lighting condition possible. I love this camera!! It's small but very comfortable to use and perfect for dropping into a pocket or purse. I don't like missing great photo opportunities so I like my camera handy at all times. I highly recommend it.
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on May 2, 2010
I purchased a $400 Canon auto-focus, image-stabilizer camera about 2 1/2 years ago and hated it from "Day One." My husband claimed it was "operator error," until he tried changing every setting to see if he could get it to take decent pictures. We finally gave up and bought a new camera about one month ago: the Nikon S8000 from amazon.com. I couldn't be happier. The pictures are awesome with or without the telephoto. Unlike my Canon, the Nikon takes nice pictures in low light situations, or when shooting into the sun (with flash turned "on.") The controls are very intuitive and I like the "scene" feature to tell the camera if you are taking a portrait, landscape, night portrait, indoor shot, beach/snow, sunset, dusk/dawn, night landscape, close-up (such as a picture of a flower), etc. The only negatives I have found are the placement of the flash (as noted by previous reviewers); it's in an awkward place where some people would normally place their left index finger to hold on to the top of the camera. I also find that the LCD screen is very hard to see in bright (outdoor) light, even when adjusted to the brightest setting it can be. However, I can live with a few minor inconviences as this camera takes just awesome pictures! I have always loved Nikon cameras and wished my husband had NEVER talked me into the Canon. After two+ years, I am finally ENJOYING photography again!

UPDATE -- JULY 21, 2010: I just returned from an Alaskan cruise and am still in love with this camera. My pictures are incredible and the various scene selectors were very helpful. I would encourage anyone purchasing this camera to also buy a second battery (and keep a fully charged second battery on hand at all times). When you receive the low battery indicator, you only have about one or two more photos you can shoot, so there's not a lot of warning that your battery is low. I charged up both of my batteries every night while on the cruise (took 500 pictures in seven days) so I was always ready for a full day of sightseeing and picture taking.
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on May 9, 2010
Got this as a replacement for an earlier Coolpix camera. The features/buttons were the same, and the shutter speed and picture quality are much improved over my earlier camera. The only downside - battery life. My initial use was on a trip to Sweden, and I ran the battery down before the first full day of picture-taking. So, while I'd recommend the camera, I'd also say to buy a second battery to swap during a long day of sightseeing and picture taking!
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on May 7, 2010
Having owned a Nikon Coolpix (5200) before, I thought certainly upgrading would be a cinch. Not quite. Although the picture quality is excellent, the body & kit have flaws. The included charger only charges a battery while in the camera, making it impossible to continue shooting while charging an assumed second battery at the same time. At some point you'll have to stop taking pictures to charge. I ordered a charger (MH65) I found & am awaiting for less than $25, that will charge the battery by itself. Another foible is (at least on my camera) the mini-USB port has a soft plastic cover that does not 'hang' on the camera body; so keep careful track of where you put it while charging or transfering, or it's gone. This port only indicates "A/V out." I found it confusing to understand that it's also the charging port. Also, you must keep your left index finger off the top of the camera body or the flash cannot pop up, and you may miss that critical shot. The SD memory slot arrives empty; with 32 MB internal memory, I opted for a 4GB SD Ultra card. Except for these annoying shortfalls, overall quality is very good; best points are the great 10X optical zoom lens, typically excellent metering in "auto scene" mode, very good motion/vibration elimination, and an excellent quality 3" viewer/viewfinder. I'd give careful consideration to these points before buying.
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on March 24, 2010
I shoot with a d300 mainly, doing floral, macro and actually, whatever tickles my fancy. When I read the review of this camera pre-release, I wanted it immediately. The focal length is perfect: 30-300mm. I can slip this little sweetheart into my pocket and have a quality camera at the ready when carrying a dslr around my neck wouldn't be an option. Seriously, I like it so well that I am considering taking it with me for our tropical vacation and leaving the d300 at home. The d300 really is a beast to travel with when you add a few lenses, even though once I am there -wherever- I am glad I have it along. This will be the true test for me, going to a photographers heaven with just the s8000. I did use it quite a bit on our last trip to Albuquerque, and loved it.

[...]

on this link above you'll see a wide range of focal lengths, I was totally impressed with the ability of the s8000 to pull the top of the Sandia mountain in clearly.

This little beauty will never replace my dslr, but it is sure nice to have in my purse at family get togethers where having a dslr along is just a hassle and to me seems so intrusive when taking candid photos.

I haven't tried the video portion of the camera, so I can't comment on the noise. Generally I pull out my Flip when I want to shoot video anyway.

You won't be disappointed in this camera :)
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on April 24, 2010
I have lots of cameras, including a another Nikon and a Canon 50D. I bought this for my wife's use, but use it some myself, because it's so easy to stick in the pocket and shoot.
The image quality is very good. The Camera is well made and the zoom range with minimal distortion for this camera type is great. I am satisfied, BUT, I hate the flash placement-I still find my finger on the top of the flash and I have to manually bring it up to position. I also dislike having to charge the battery in the camera. All considered, knowing what I know after using the camera, I'd buy it again.
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