Originally Posted: December 30, 2012
Last Updated: December 31, 2012
At first glance, the Nikon Coolpix S800c ($349) looks like just another compact ultra zoom camera. It's anything but ordinary. The Coolpix S800c is one of only two cameras on the market powered by the Android operating system, with the other being Samsung's Galaxy Camera. The use of Android allows you to share photos without having to connect to your computer, or tether to a smartphone. There also are thousands of photo-related Android apps available to download, so if you've ever wanted Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter on your camera, here you go. You'll control all of this on the camera's 3.5" touchscreen OLED display.
The camera-related features on the Coolpix S800c include a 16 Megapixel CMOS sensor, 10X (25-250 mm) optical zoom lens, image stabilization, lots of filters and scene modes, and 1080/30p video recording.
Ready to learn more about the this unique camera? Keep reading them, our review starts now!
What's in the Box?
The Coolpix S800c has a pretty skimpy bundle, save for its healthy amount of onboard memory. Here's what you'll find when you open the box:
- The 16.0 effective Megapixel Coolpix S800c digital camera
- EN-EL12 lithium-ion rechargeable battery
- Charging AC adapter
- Wrist strap
- USB cable
- 40 page Quick Start Guide (printed) + full manual available for download
The Coolpix S800c has a total of 4 GB of memory, with 1.7 GB available for apps, photos, and movies. I had about a gigabyte less on my camera, due to all of the included Google apps. If you want more storage (and I'm sure you will), the camera supports SD, SDHC, and SDXC memory cards. I'd suggest picking up a 4GB or 8GB card for use with the camera. While using a high speed card won't hurt, you don't need to go overboard and buy anything fancy.
The S800c uses the same EN-EL12 lithium-ion battery as several other Nikon cameras, including the Coolpix S9300. This battery holds 3.9 Wh worth of energy, which isn't a whole lot for this power-hungry device. Here's what kind of battery life you can expect:
If I'm not mistaken, the Coolpix S800c has the worst battery life of any camera I've ever tested. And the number above is with Wi-Fi turned off, so if you're using that, or just spending a lot of time with the screen turned on, expect much lower numbers. I think it's quite telling that the very first page of the manual is dedicated to extending battery life.
If you're going to buy the S800c, I'd recommend picking up not one, but two spare batteries. A Nikon-branded EN-EL12 will set you back around $22. Unfortunately, Samsung doesn't provide battery life numbers for their Android-powered Galaxy Camera, though other reviews have said that it's fairly good (its battery is 1650 mAh, compared to 1050 mAh on the S800c).
The Coolpix S800c's battery is charged internally, over its included (proprietary) USB cable. You can use an included AC-to-USB adapter to charge, or just plug the camera right into your computer. Don't plan on charging when you're in a hurry, as it takes almost four hours to fully charge the battery. The camera cannot be used while it's charging. If you want to charge the battery outside of the camera, then you'll want to pick up this external charger.
There are three optional accessories available for the Coolpix S800c. The first is the MH-65 external battery charger (priced from $25) that I just mentioned. This fills up the battery in 2.5 hours and also allows you to have a spare battery on hand at all times (definitely a good idea on the S800c). Accessory number two is the EH-62F AC adapter (priced from $23) which will let you operate the camera while plugged into the wall, unlike the included USB charger. Nikon also sells screen protectors (model number LP-SD001) for around $8.50.
Nikon doesn't actually bundle any software with the Coolpix S800c -- they make you download it. The software package is known as ViewNX 2, and its made up of several parts. Nikon Transfer does just as it sounds -- it moves your photos and movies from the camera to your computer. ViewNX 2 itself is a pretty standard image organizer, with a good set of editing tools. You can adjust things like sharpness/contrast/brightness/and color, brighten shadows, straighten a crooked photo, remove redeye, or reduce chromatic aberrations. Photos and videos can be uploaded to Facebook or YouTube, or to Nikon's own MyPictureTown service.
The documentation for the Coolpix S800c is split into two parts. There's a 40 page Quick Start Guide that goes over camera and Android basics. If you want more information, you'll have to go to Nikon's website and download the full manual -- just like with the ViewNX software that's normally bundled. The full manual is about average in terms of quality. If you downloaded ViewNX, then you'll find instructions for using the software installed onto your computer.
Design & Features
Despite its Android underpinnings, the Coolpix S800c looks about the same as your typical compact ultra zoom. It's sleek, mostly metal, and generally well put-together. The only real weak spot is one I've complained about many times before, and that's the plastic door over the memory card / battery compartment. Given its touch interface, it shouldn't be surprising to hear the S800c is light on buttons. The back of the camera has the three standard Android buttons (back, home, and menu), though I wish they were back-lit. The top of the camera has the power and shutter release buttons, as well as the zoom controller. Everything else is handled on the camera's large OLED display.
|Images courtesy of Nikon USA|
The Coolpix S800c is available in matte black or glossy white.
The Coolpix S800c is indeed a compact camera, and one that'll travel in your pockets with ease. Here's how it compares to the same group of compact ultra zooms that I listed earlier:
The Coolpix S800c is pretty much straight down the middle in terms of both bulk and weight.
It's tour time! Since the S800c doesn't have much in the line of buttons, this will be quick.
If I'm not mistaken, the Coolpix S800c has the same lens as the more traditional Coolpix S6300. This F3.2-5.8, 10X optical zoom lens has a focal range of 4.5 - 45.0 mm, which is equivalent to 25 - 250 mm. That maximum aperture range isn't great (not very "fast", in photo terminology), but it's typical for this type of camera. The lens is not threaded, so conversion lenses and filters are not available.
The S800c has optical image stabilization of the lens-shift variety, which Nikon calls Vibration Reduction. This will reduce the risk of blurry photos, and it also smooths out your videos. There's a "hybrid" VR option available, which adds electronic shake reduction into the mix, though processing times will increase, and images will be noisier.
To the upper-right of the lens is the camera's built-in flash. Despite its small size, the flash packs a generous punch, with a working range of 0.5 - 5.6 m at wide-angle and 1.0 - 3.1 m at telephoto (at Auto ISO). As with all compact ultra zooms, an external flash is not supported.
Other items of note on the front of the camera include the stereo microphones, and the AF-assist lamp. While I'm not 100% sure, I believe that the panel next to the flash is the GPS antenna.
It's pretty much "all screen" on the back of the Coolpix S800c. This 3.5" touchscreen OLED display has 819,000 pixels, so everything is super-sharp. OLED displays also offer more vibrant colors and better viewing angles than their LCD counterparts. One thing that's less impressive is outdoor visibility -- LCDs typically do that better. Low light viewing could've been better.
The only other thing to see in this view of the camera are the three standard Android buttons: back, home, and menu. I wish these were 1) centered, 2) spaced further apart, and 3) back-lit. They do the job, though.
The only things to see here are the power and shutter release buttons, as well as the zoom controller. If you quickly press the power button, the camera will enter standby mode, which will allow you to wake up the S800c without having to boot up Android. Once the standby time has expired (it's an hour by default), the camera will shut off. You can shut it off yourself by holding down the power button.
The zoom controller moves the lens from wide-angle to telephoto in about 2.4 seconds. I counted eighteen steps in the S800c's 10X zoom range.
Nothing to see here! The lens is at the wide-angle position here.
On the right side of the camera you'll find mini-HDMI and USB output ports. HDMI is the only way in which you can connect the camera to a television -- composite video is not supported.
The lens is in the full telephoto position here.
On the bottom of the S800c you'll find a metal tripod mount (not seen here) and the battery/memory card compartment. The plastic door over this compartment is very flimsy.
The included EN-EL12 battery can be seen at right.
Sorry about the quality of the screenshots -- they're photos of the display, rather than the usual frame grabs
Before I start talking about the "camera" parts of the Coolpix S800c I want to go over what makes it unique: Android. For the tech geeks out there, here are some quick specs:
- The processor is a dual-core ARM Cortex A9 design, though the manufacturer is unknown
- The camera has 512MB of memory (plus 4GB of storage)
- As mentioned earlier, the camera has a 3.5" capacitative touchscreen OLED display with 819,000 pixels
- The S800c runs Android 2.3.3 (Gingerbread), which is a little "stale" in 2012
- Wireless protocols include 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1
The Samsung Galaxy Camera's specs are considerably more impressive, but it also costs a lot more.
You can turn on the camera in two different ways. If you press the power button, the lens will extend instantly and you can start taking photos a second later. The camera is in a sort of "dumb mode" for about thirty seconds, while the Android OS boots up. The only thing you can do during this time is take a few photos. You can't review them, enter the menu system, or jump over to Android. You'll know that the camera is fully booted when the icons on the screen change colors. If you want to go straight to Android, you can also turn on the camera by holding down the Home button.
The camera goes into "standby mode" after being idle for a few minutes (or when you press the power button). In this mode you can quickly go back to shooting, without having to wait for Android to boot up.
|Looks like any other Android homescreen, aside from the playback/movie buttons on the right side (with the app drawer in the middle)||Apps like Instagram work just fine, though photos are limited to 8 Megapixel|
The main Android screen should look very familiar to anyone who has used an Android-based smartphone. You've got your grid of icons that can be spread across multiple home screens. You can install pretty much any Android app that you desire, whether it's Facebook, Instagram, Google Maps, or Angry Birds Star Wars. Certain apps, such as Chrome, will not work, probably due to the old version of Android being used. The S800c's dual-core processor made things pretty snappy. Well, except for gaming, which is a little sluggish.
The screen isn't terribly large (especially coming from the monster screen on my phone), which makes typing a challenge (you might want to try installing SwiftKey). Also, unlike most phones, the S800c does not have haptic feedback, so you can't "feel" when you type.
Using the camera in Android is the same as it is on a smartphone. One caveat, though: while the Coolpix S800c is a 16 Megapixel camera, apps can only capture 8 Megapixel images. Sharing photos is a snap (no pun intended): you can do it from Nikon's playback app, or the standard Gallery app.
The Smartphone side of the application used to pull photos off of the camera over Wi-Fi
Another way to share photos is to tether your camera with your Android-based smartphone. First, you'll need to download Connect to S800c for Android or iOS. Once that's done, you'll need to pair the two devices, which takes about a minute. After that you just start the app on each end, wait for the connection to be established, and you're set. The Connect to S800c really does just one thing: let you download photos from the camera to your phone or tablet. It can't control the camera in any other way (a remote shutter would've been great).
There were two issues I ran into related to Android (aside from the aforementioned poor battery life). The first is that Wi-Fi reception is poor and sometimes unreliable. The camera often couldn't find Wi-Fi networks that I had no problems with on my other devices. On several occasions the camera couldn't obtain an IP address, and I could replicate that on multiple networks. The final issue was that the camera often lost the connection to the Wi-Fi network when it went into standby mode (which Nikon said they fixed in a firmware update). Toggling Wi-Fi off and on usually resolved that issue for me.
The camera says this is photo 3 out of 114, which is far from the truth
The other problem was related to image playback. When using Nikon's playback app, photos that I had just taken were not shown. If I went into the standard Android gallery app they were visible, and rebooting the camera often brought them back into the Nikon app. Another issue was how photos were organized. The photo above is number 3 out of 114, when in reality it was one of the most recent photos I took (and should be like 110). A few times the order of photos was totally messed up, for no apparent reason.
While I like the idea of having Android in a camera, I think Nikon still has some bugs to work out on the Coolpix S800c.
This is what you'll see when composing photos on the camera. While a composition grid is available, a histogram is not.
So that brings us to the camera side of the Coolpix S800c. Despite its relatively high price and fancy operating system, the S800c is actually quite stripped when it comes to camera features. Yes, it has face/smile/face detection, HDR, and a panorama mode, but if you're after Nikon's Active D-Lighting feature or manual exposure controls, look elsewhere. In the screenshot above you can see what's available while shooting: exposure compensation, macro mode, self-timer, and flash. For everything else, you'll have to press the menu button (see below for details on that).
The S800c's version of a mode dial
If you tap the green box on the lower-right corner of the composition screen you'll see the menu shown above. The options here include:
- Easy Auto: point-and-shoot with automatic scene selection; some menu options locked up
- Auto: still automatic, minus the scene selection; all menu options available
- Scene: choose from portrait, landscape, sports, night portrait, party/indoor, beach, snow, sunset, dusk/dawn, night landscape, close-up, food, fireworks, black & white copy, backlighting, easy panorama, and pet portrait
- Special effects: select from soft, nostalgic sepia, high-contrast monochrome, high key, and low key
- Smart Portrait: the camera detects faces and takes pictures when someone smiles; blink detection and skin softening features are also available
- Movie mode: record Full HD video with stereo sound; more on this later
Two scene modes that I want to quickly mention are backlighting and easy panorama. Backlighting uses the HDR technique to improve overall image contrast. The camera takes two photos (HDR typically involves 3 or more photos), each at a different exposure. These photos are combined into one, with better shadow and highlight detail than you'd get otherwise. Here's a quick example:
View Full Size Image
View Full Size Image
While the first thing you may notice is that things get a bit darker inside, the real changes can be found just aside the windows. Notice how the clipped highlights on the van and the street disappear in the HDR image -- nice. The S800c shoots its HDR sequence quickly, so you probably won't need a tripod. It does take several seconds for the image to be processed, though.
The easy panorama feature lets you create 180 or 360 degree images simply by panning the camera from one side to the other. Here's a 180 degree panorama for you:
The S800c stitched things together pretty nicely. Unfortunately, the quality isn't great and the resolution is relatively low. Easy panorama will work for web viewing, but not much else.
The rest of the camera options can be found in the shooting menu, which is where you'll set the image size, touch functionality (the camera supports touch focus and shutter, naturally), ISO sensitivity, burst mode, and white balance. The only manual control on the camera is for white balance -- a "preset" option lets you use a white or gray card to get accurate color in unusual lighting.
From the shooting menu you can also access the setup menu. Here are the items of interest there:
- Vibration Reduction: choose from standard or hybrid image stabilization, or turn it off entirely; do note that hybrid VR may reduce image quality
- Shutdown timer: how long the camera waits before turning off while it's in standby mode (the choices are 1 - 12 hours, or off); when the camera shuts off, all unsaved data is lost
- Blink warning: the camera will display a warning screen if one of your subjects had their eyes closed when a photo is taken
- GPS options: as I've mentioned, the S800c has a built-in GPS, which records the longitude and latitude of where a photo was taken; these options let you turn the GPS on and off, set the clock, or read assisted GPS (A-GPS) from a memory card (you download this data from Nikon's website)
The GPS feature worked pretty well. Once turned on, it took about 30 seconds for the camera to figure out where I was (in a fairly open area). Initial versions of the S800c had a rather nasty bug that put the wrong location data into photos, but that's been rectified by firmware updates. The one thing that baffled me was that the camera doesn't actually display the location when you view an image in playback mode. You'd think with the power of Android at their disposal, Nikon could display a map, or at least the coordinates!
Now let's talk about movies. The S800c records Full HD video at 1920 x 1080 at 30 frames/second with stereo sound. You can keeping recording until the file size reaches 4GB, or the time elapsed reaches 29 minutes -- whichever comes first. At either of the two 1080p settings (high or normal, recorded at 14 and 12 Mbps, respectively), you'll hit the time limit first. You can also record at 1280 x 720 or 640 x 480, both at 30 frames/second. Do note that since there's no dedicated movie recording button on the camera, you must switch into that mode if you want to take videos.
The optical zoom lens can be used while you're recording a movie, and the lens moves slowly so the motor noise isn't picked up by the microphone. Continuous (full-time) autofocus is available, so your subject will stay sharp as they move around the frame. You can use the VR (image stabilization) function, as well.
As you might've guessed, there are no manual controls in movie mode on the Coolpix S800c. The only real option is a wind filter, which comes in handy when recording movies outdoors.
The S800c can also record movies at frame rates other than the standard 30 fps. Choose from 15 fps (at 1080p), 60 fps (at 720p), 120 fps (at 640 x 480), or 240 fps (at 320 x 240). Movies taken at 15 fps will appear to move twice as quickly when played at normal speed, while the opposite is true when the frame rate is 60, 120, or 240 fps.
Here's a sample for you, taken at the highest quality setting. For the record, the wind filter was turned off.
The video quality is decent, though the camera seemed to struggle a bit with the fast motion. Videos with slower-moving subjects looked good.
The Coolpix S800c has the standard Nikon playback mode (more-or-less). The interesting features here include:
- Quick Retouch: enhances contrast and saturation, with three levels to choose from
- D-Lighting: brighten dark areas in a photo
- Filter effects: apply digital filters, such as vivid color, selective color, cross screen, and miniature effect to photos you've taken
- Skin softening: remove blemishes and wrinkles from people pictures
- Image sharing: press the button with the two arrows (shown below) and you can send your photos to just about any destination (depends on what apps you have installed)
Two things you won't find: redeye reduction and movie editing. That said, since the images and videos are stored in the Android file system, third party apps can be used to add features like those, and much more.
Note the icons on the right for Wi-Fi and sharing
As you'd expect on a device like this, you can swipe from photo to photo, without delay. You can also pinch to zoom in, and use your finger to move the image around. If you want to see thumbnails, reverse the pinch-to-zoom gesture.
The Coolpix S800c tells you absolutely nothing about the photos you've taken. You'll have to find another app to do that, or just use your PC. As I mentioned earlier, the S800c can get a little weird with photo organization at times.
Performance & Photo Quality
Aside from the lengthy delay while Android is initially booting up, the Coolpix S800c is a pretty responsive camera. The table below summarizes its performance:
Overall, a pretty good performance, at least after Android is booted up.
There are six continuous shooting modes on the Coolpix S800c, though only three take photos at full resolution. Here's a description of each, including performance numbers:
Don't expect too much from the high speed option -- the burst is over as soon as it begins. The low speed option is fast enough for photographing fast action. The high speed modes shoot really quickly, but at substantially lower resolutions.
Let's move on to photo quality now, shall we?
The Coolpix S800c struggled with our studio lamps. There was a noticeable color cast, regardless of whether I used a preset WB value, or used the custom function. I ended up going with the incandescent setting, which made things a little brown. The figurine itself came out a bit soft and fuzzy, but not horribly. The nose is out of focus due to the depth-of-field (and you can't adjust the aperture to help out with this). There is some noise reduction artifacting visible, especially around the "mouth", which is probably the cause of most of the softness seen here.
The minimum focus distance in macro mode is 10 cm, at the full wide-angle end of the lens. It quickly rises to 30 cm once you leave that position. Nikon doesn't publish the focal ranges once you leave the "green zone" (indicated on the OLED display), but I can tell you that once you hit full telephoto, the minimum distance is a full meter.
Since the Coolpix S800c is a point-and-shoot camera, you're at the mercy of its scene modes for taking long exposures like the one you see above. I used the night landscape scene mode for the shot above and, as you can see, the camera didn't bring in nearly enough light. That makes it pretty hard to judge sharpness, though it seems okay from what I can see, at least on edges. I do see some detail loss on the buildings, which isn't too surprising, given that the 800c boosted the ISO to 400. If you enjoy taking long exposures like this, I'd find a camera that lets you manually adjust the shutter speed.
Since I can't control the ISO and shutter speed at the same time, I am unable to perform the night ISO test. You'll find the studio ISO test further down the page.
The Coolpix S800c takes a two-pronged approach to redeye reduction. First, it fires the flash a few times, ahead of the actual exposure. After the picture is taken, the camera detects any leftover redeye, and removes it digitally. I had mixed results with the S800c -- sometimes I had horrible "demon eyes", while other times I got what I've shown above. I think it all comes down to whether the camera's digital removal system kicks in or not. Based on my time taking photos of the family over the holidays, I'd say that you'll encounter redeye at least some of the time on the Coolpix S800c.
While there's very little barrel distortion at the wide-end of the S800c's 25 - 250 mm lens, there seems to be some pin-cushioning, which is normally seen in telephoto shots. Not sure what's going on here -- maybe too much digital correction? My S800c had some blurring in the top-left corner on the frame, which may or may not be a problem for you. Vignetting (darn corners) was not an issue, however.
Now we're going to take a look at our studio test scene. Since the lighting never changes, you can compare these images with those from other cameras that I've reviewed over the years. As with the photo tests above, there's a brownish color cast courtesy of the S800c's white balance system. Keep in mind that the crops below show only a small portion of the total scene, so be sure to view the full size images too.
There's not much in the line of noise at ISO 125, with just a tiny bit showing up at ISO 200. Noise begins eating away at details when you reach ISO 400, making this a good stopping point if you plan on making larger prints. ISO 800 is still usable, but only for small prints or web viewing. I would avoid both ISO 1600 and 3200 entirely.
Since the Coolpix S800c lacks support for the RAW format, I cannot do a RAW vs. JPEG comparison in this review.
The Coolpix S800c definitely won't win awards for its photo quality, which unfortunately can be said for most of Nikon's compact cameras. Exposure was generally accurate, though like most compacts, highlights will be clipped at times (you can try using the HDR feature to reduce this). Away from our studio lamps, colors were nice and saturated -- no complaints there. The biggest photo quality issue is that images are soft, over-processed, and filled with smudged details, with these two photos being excellent examples. Nikon definitely has the noise reduction cranked up, which replaces grain-style noise with mush. I'd rather have the grain, myself. If I owned the S800c, I wouldn't let it go above ISO 400 in order to minimize noise as much as possible. Purple fringing was rare.
As always, you are the best judge of image quality. Have a look at our photo gallery and decide for yourself if the S800c's image quality meets your expectations.
The Nikon Coolpix S800c is one of only two Android-based cameras on the market, with the other being the more expensive Samsung Galaxy Camera. The S800c takes the "guts" of Nikon's Coolpix S6300 compact ultra zoom and adds a dual-core processor, 3.5" OLED display, 1.7 GB of memory and the Android 2.3 operating system. These additions make the S800 about $170 more than its more traditional counterpart. The one feature both the S6300 and S800c share is their F3.2-5.8, 10X optical zoom, which is equivalent to 25 - 250 mm. The lens is paired with Nikon's lens-based Vibration Reduction (image stabilization) system, which reduces the risk of blurry photos. Flip to the back of this stylish camera and you'll find a large 3.5" touchscreen OLED display with 819,000 pixels, along with the three traditional Android buttons. The display is bright and colorful, with a wide viewing angle. Outdoor visibility is just okay, and I had a hard time seeing my subjects in low light. The only other buttons on the camera are for power and shutter release, which means that you'll be using that touchscreen for everything else. That includes focusing and shutter release in addition to menu navigation and image playback, by the way. One thing I wish the camera had is haptic feedback, which makes typing and pressing buttons on the touchscreen a little bit easier (at least for me).
The big story on the Coolpix S800c is Android. The camera runs version 2.3 (Gingerbread), which is pretty stale these days, especially compared to the Galaxy Camera, which runs version 4.1 (Jelly Bean). While this shouldn't affect most users, the newer versions of Android are much faster, and support more apps (such as Google's Chrome browser). The shooting and playback modes on the camera are essentially apps, with the former loaded automatically when the camera is turned on. While I wouldn't call the S800c a no-frills camera, menu options are light, and those expecting manual controls will be disappointed. The playback app seemed to be quite buggy, often display photos out of order, or not showing them at all. If you want to use another camera app or something like Instagram, go for it (that's sort of the point of having an Android phone) -- just be aware that the highest resolution you can use outside of the Nikon camera app is 8 Megapixel. Some apps will be able to see the photos you've taken, while others (like Adobe Photoshop Express) will not. The S800c has several wireless features built in, including Wi-Fi, a GPS, and Bluetooth. Since Wi-Fi is the main way in which the S800c can share photos, I was disappointed at how poorly implemented this feature is. Reception is truly awful, and I experienced a handful of connection problems at various times. You can use the Wi-Fi to tether to a mobile device (smartphone or tablet), from where you can send photos on to other destinations. Unlike the Wi-Fi system, the camera's GPS system worked flawlessly, and provided accurate locations for both photos and Google Maps. Do note that the camera doesn't display the GPS info when you're viewing photos, so you'll have to find something else to do that.
The Coolpix S800c is a point-and-shoot camera, with white balance being the only manual control. There's an Easy Auto mode which will select a scene mode for you, plus regular Auto, scene, and special effect modes. Two of the notable scene modes includes HDR (two-shot), which reduces highlight clipping, and Easy Panorama, which lets you "sweep" your way to 180 or 360 degree images (of mediocre quality). There's also a Full HD movie mode, which records video at 1080/30p with stereo sound and use of the optical zoom and image stabilizer. Low and high frame rate options are also available. As with still shooting, there are no manual controls in movie mode, unless a wind filter counts. Also, since there's no dedicated movie recording button on the camera, you'll have to enter movie mode each and every time you want to record a clip.
Camera performance is good in most respects, with two notable exceptions. First, startup times. The camera takes 1.8 seconds to extend its lens and prepare for shooting. If the camera's been off for a while, then you'll have to wait for an additional 30 seconds for Android to boot up before the S800c is fully functional. You can fire off a few photos during this time, but no settings can be adjusted, and playback mode is not available. Once Android is ready, the camera will reward you with above average AF performance, minimal shutter lag, and brief shot-to-shot delays. Full resolution continuous shooting ranges from 7.5 frames/second (for three shots) in high speed mode to 1.6 frames/second (until your memory card fills up) at low speed. Here comes the other big performance problem: battery life. The Coolpix S800c is CIPA rated for 140 shots per charge, which is about as bad as you'll find. But that's with Wi-Fi and the GPS off, and just taking pictures. If you spend a lot of time playing in Android, you can easily drain the battery in an hour. The S800c charges its battery internally, which takes several hours and doesn't let you use the camera while it's plugged in.
Photo quality is just okay. Exposure is generally accurate, though like most compacts, the S800c will clip highlights at times. Colors were nice and vivid, except in our studio, where everything had a brownish cast. Subjects were soft and fuzzy, with some fine details smudged away by noise reduction. You can crank the ISO up to around 400 and still make decent-sized prints, though ISO 800 is best for small prints only. Whether there's redeye in your photos depends on whether the camera's auto removal system catches it. If it does, you should have good results. If it doesn't, look out. Purple fringing levels were low.
The Nikon Coolpix S800c was the first Android-powered camera (barely) and perhaps gives us a peek at what cameras will look like in the future. Sharing and editing photos is easier than on almost any camera, save for Samsung's 4G-equipped Galaxy Camera (which also sports a more modern version of Android and a larger display). That said, Nikon has quite a bit of work to do before I can recommend this Coolpix. Photo quality, battery life, and Wi-Fi reception are all things that need significant improvements. I'd also add in a dedicated movie recording button and allow the included battery charger to power the camera. While the Coolpix S800c makes a fun "extra camera", I wouldn't want it as my everyday shooter. I haven't used the Samsung equivalent so I can't comment on how well it compares (aside from specs), but I'd recommend sticking with a traditional compact ultra zoom instead of the S800c. If you like the ease of photo sharing offered by the S800c, you might want to look at a "regular", Wi-Fi equipped camera instead.
- Android ecosystem adds thousands of ways to edit and share your photos (among other things)
- 10X, 25 - 250 mm zoom lens in a small, stylish package
- Sharp and vivid 3.5" touchscreen OLED display
- Fast AF, shot-to-shot speeds
- Built-in Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth
- Automatic scene selection when in Easy Auto mode
- Plenty of scene modes and special effects, including HDR and "sweep panorama" features
- Full HD movie mode with stereo sound, use of optical zoom and image stabilizer, and full-time autofocus
- Tons of built-in memory
What I didn't care for:
- Mediocre photo quality; photos are soft and noisy, with strong highlight clipping at times
- Terrible battery life
- Wi-Fi has very poor reception, occasional connection problems
- Buggy playback mode sometimes displayed photos out of order, or not at all
- Camera not fully functional until Android is booted (which takes 30 seconds if camera has been off for a while)
- Running outdated version of Android
- No manual controls, save for white balance
- Hard to see subjects on OLED in low light
- Lack of dedicated movie recording button means you have to switch into movie mode every time you want to record video
- Internal battery charging is slow; camera cannot be used while charging
- Flimsy door over battery/memory card compartment; can't access compartment with tripod
- Software and manual must be downloaded from Nikon website
As always, I recommend heading to your local camera or electronics store to try out the Coolpix S800c and its competitors before you buy!
Check out our gallery to see how the Coolpix S800c's photo quality looks!