The Nikon Coolpix S8100 is a 12.1-megapixel digital camera with an advanced CMOS sensor and a 10x optical zoom. You also get speedy performance and a large LCD display, including 1080p video recording and a flashy, portable design. Image quality is quite good as well, with the ability to shoot HDR photographs.
The Coolpix S8100 from Nikon is a nicely-sized compact camera that comes in many different colors (black/gold/red), but our model was the flashy red color. In total, the S8100 measures 4.1 x 1.2 x 2.4-inches (wdh) and weighs 0.46-pounds. The body is rather rounded as opposed to a boxed design, which makes it a little more compact and portable. The metal that the camera is made out of is very sturdy and feels durable. The small design makes it easily able to be slipped into a pocket or purse.
This camera has a 3-inch LCD display on the backside that has 921,000-pixel resolution and the display is very bright and is also viewable in direct sunlight, which makes great for outdoor shooting. Also on the back, there is a four-way control pad and wheel combination alongside a playback button, menu, delete and a few other buttons. The mode dial on the top allows you to quickly change shooting modes. The menu system on the Nikon Coolpix S8100 is very intuitive and is very simplistic with only three tabs: Shooting, Movie and Setup. The settings are all very accessible and shouldn't confuse even the novice of users.
At the bottom of the camera houses the battery and the memory card slot behind a door. There is also a mini-USB/AV combo port and a mini-HDTV port to connect it to an HDTV, but you have to purchase the cable separately. One side note about the battery is that it is only rated at 210 shots, which is rather poor, but it wouldn't be so bad if Nikon would've included a battery indicator on the LCD display. Rather what they did is only displayed a battery icon when the battery is low, which allows users to be caught off-guard too easily.
Some of the specifications of the Nikon Coolpix S8100 include a 12-megapixel resolution, a 10x optical zoom (30-300mm 35mm equivalent), a 4x digital zoom, a focal length of 5.4-54mm, an aperture range of f3.5/f5.6, shutter speed of 1/4000 - 1/120 second, and a built-in flash with ISO speeds of 160-3200. The maximum image resolution is 4000 x 3000-pixels and the maximum video resolution is 1920 x 1080-pixels (30 frames per second), which is full 1080p high-definition. There is also optical and digital image stabilization, which is a much welcomed combination. The storage media that the S8100 supports are SD/SDHC/SDXC cards.
Nikon doesn't allow for much manual adjustment, but they do include many preset modes, including using preset white balance modes, focus modes and recording modes. There are also several different color effects for an artistic touch, but beyond that, control is limited. This should please the novice users, who can use the automatic mode, but more experienced users will feel left out.
Image quality with the Nikon Coolpix S8100 is very good and seemed above average in subjective testing. The camera automatically focuses in on certain parts of the frame and these are shown by boxes when you half-press the shutter release. If people's faces are in the frame, the face recognition will automatically set the focus onto them. In direct sunlight, the camera does a fantastic job as just about all other cameras do, so the real test comes in indoor and nighttime situations. In dark situations, the pop-up flash is quite strong and sometimes washes out the subject if it is too close to the camera. There is an HDR (high dynamic range) shooting mode that combines several photos taken at different exposures into one picture to enhance shadows and highlights.
Video quality is also good, but getting very good quality video requires you to hold the camera very steady and move it as slow as possible. Any sudden movements creates blurriness that depletes the video's quality. The zoom does work while recording video, but the motor noise is very loud and detectable on playback of the video.
Speed is another strong point of the Nikon Coolpix S8100, especially in the shutter lag and shot-to-shot time at only just over 1 second.