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Customer Review

327 of 352 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Still photos & features, poor focusing in video & zoom noise, October 21, 2010
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This review is from: Nikon Coolpix S8100 12.1 MP CMOS Digital Camera with 10x Optical Zoom-Nikkor ED Lens and 3.0-Inch LCD (Black) (Camera)
UPDATE: I have returned the camera today after observing two issues that are dealbreaker for me. We finally had a bright sunny day today and I took some videos to compare against my 3 year old Canon Powershot TX1 that shoots 720p. I also received my mini-HDMI cable so I could watch the video on my 42" LCD TV directly without post-processing thru Apple TV box.

ISSUE #1: The video keeps going out of focus while I zoom or pan - whether I set center, weighted focus and/or single AF or continuous AF. The recorded video looks really bad. On the other hand my TX1 stays rock steady with the focus.

ISSUE #2: There is a loud zoom motor noise that gets recorded in the clip. I initially thought that continuous AF or Image Stabilization is causing the noise. I put the camera on a tripod and disabled continuous AF and the noise remained and it was clearly there when I operated the zoom.

The still photography feature of the camera is stunning, but video is important for me as well as I want to carry only one camera on my travels.

I love the 3" LCD on this camera, but the two issues pushed me over the edge.

Original review below:

This is my 1st Nikon. I have always purchased Canon ever since I used a Canon A1 35mm film SLR nearly 30 yrs back. I own a Canon Digital SLR, Canon DV Cam, Canon Powershot TX1. Most of my photography during travel/vacation has been with the TX1 shooting both stills as well as 720p Video which I edit on my Mac and then stream thru my Apple TV.

I have been looking forward to replacing my TX1 with a camera that is:
- compact like TX1
- bigger and better LCD screen (TX1 has very tiny one)
- shoots 1080p with full optical zoom (not handicapped like Canon has done with all their 1080p shooting compact cameras that don't allow optical zooming during video recording)
- good range of optical zoom
- image stabilized lens
- reasonable number of pixels
- better low light shooting
- shoot moving objects
- separate shutter button and video recording buttons - this is very useful when the subject is not waiting for you to fiddle with the rotary selector as with most cameras (except for TX1 which had this feature).

It is important for me give all this preamble to relate to what my expectations were from this camera.

Gave up on Canon finally, looked into Panasonic ZX7 - didn't like the reviews and waited patiently for the release of Nikon S8100. Received it today. Have taken some shots and here is my first impression.

1. I am happy with the image quality of the stills
2. Great quality of 1080p video (haven't tried the 720p mode as yet)
3. Optical zoom is very good (the rate of zooming slows down during video recording)
4. Controls are simple to use
5. Very fast focus response
6. Very fast start time
7. Very good image stabilization
8. Face detection works very well (even on images on TV)
9. Very good build quality (feels robust) - just like my TX1

Only negative: The position of the flash. It is the place where you would normally grip the camera with your left index finger. If the flash wasn't a pop up type, this could have been avoided.

Overall, I am very happy with the camera. Will move on to try the remaining features in the next few days. Have to get hold of the mini-HDMI cable to test the direct to TV playback of 1080p video.
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Showing 1-10 of 38 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 26, 2010 10:11:43 PM PDT
Ed says:
Seems like problem one occurs for me but i find it to be a normal thing. Problem 2 could mean yours is defective because mines doesn't do that.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 26, 2010 10:48:55 PM PDT
Saibal says:
Thanks for responding to my observations. Interesting that you think that the focus going in and out is acceptable. Since I had my TX1 next to me for comparison, I could clearly see that S8100 had the problem while TX1 didn't.

Posted on Oct 26, 2010 11:55:15 PM PDT
Sunnyj209 says:
Amazing review thanks for saving me the time and effort:)

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 27, 2010 8:02:11 AM PDT
Katy says:
Ouch. So if you were going to buy a new replacement camera, what would you get?

I hadn't uploaded my camera onto my laptop yet, so didn't notice any problems with the sound. Will have to try it out.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 27, 2010 8:29:29 AM PDT
Saibal says:
Kat, I am desperately looking to buy a new compact camera that would replace my Canon Powershot TX1. It should have 10x optical zoom, at least 7MP, 720p video, large LCD, image stabilization, good image and video quality, decent low light shooting, and none of the issues I observed on S8100. If Canon had come out with a variant of TX1 with larger LCD, I would have gone for it. I haven't actually handled the Panasonic ZX7 which was recommended to me, but the reviews were not good.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 27, 2010 8:38:03 AM PDT
Katy says:
If you find something, please please let me know so I can check it out; hopefully before my 30 days return runs out on this S8100.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 27, 2010 9:23:41 AM PDT
Saibal says:
Sure, Kat. The only option left is the Panasonic ZX7. Give that a try at a nearby store. I am not holding my breadth for now. Hope they will come out with new models before the holiday season.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 27, 2010 12:03:22 PM PDT
D. Larsen says:
did you make much use of the continuous shot / burst feature? This is the feature i'm most interested in, and i can't find much feedback yet on this.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 27, 2010 1:06:46 PM PDT
Katy says:
I have tried experimenting some with the continuous shot feature, and so far everything comes out blurry if it was moving when I took the picture. Definitely nothing like the digital SLR cameras. Maybe I just don't have enough light for this camera?
I'll keep trying though...

Posted on Oct 29, 2010 7:41:36 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 8, 2010 7:56:46 AM PST
D. Daly says:
I just got the camera, the zoom noise while recording video is almost none existent, so much so that I would almost say there is none. I have found that focus is fine when you are not zoomed. With such an extreme 10X lens the aperture is next to nothing at the limit, so I think you just have to be more modest in how much zooming is done in video. I have been using a 5 year old SD card so old that it does not have a class rating. I ordered a sandisk class 10 so I will see how it works in a couple of days. There is a focus issue related to how much zoom you had when you started the video clip, less so if you start wide open, then zoom but don't zoom 10X. Many previous mega zooms did not permit zooming at all.....

Update, camera does make sound if you use constant AF, Nikon recommends single AF be used only which is more limiting to range of recorded subjects for each clip.

Update: Went to a cross country meet where there were 200 runners in a line for the start. This camera is such a joy, at 300mm I was able to get still close ups of my daughter. Then I filmed the race start at 1080P, unbelieveable in such a small package. My only misstake was I did not have the display set to max brightness in advance, so I could see the screen ok but my bad!
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