Steve's Conclusion

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Steve's SnapShot
Thumbnail image for S6800_BK_front34l_lo.jpg
  • 16-Megapixel Backside Illuminated CMOS Imaging Sensor
  • 3.0-Inch LCD Screen
  • 12x Optical zoom lens: 25-300mm (35mm equivalent)
  • VR optical image stabilization
  • Dedicated Video Record Button
  • iAuto and other automatic shooting modes
  • 1080p HD video recording
  • Built-in WiFi
  • Li-Ion Rechargeable Battery
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card compatible
Pros
  • iAuto shooting mode is accurate and easy in all situations
  • Dedicated Video Capture Button is always ready to record
  • Great image quality at the lower ISO settings 
  • VR optical image stabilization is very helpful when shooting on the move or using the full telephoto end
  • Nice, Bright 3.0-inch LCD
  • Creative filters
  • WiFi is easy to use and gives control to a smartphone or tablet
  • Average shooting performance
  • Competitively priced
Cons
  • Excessive noise in high ISO images
  • Movies collect high audio noise
  • No manual controls
  • Poor battery life
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 2.3 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused  = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = approx. 7/10 to 9/10 of a second
  • Shot to shot delay wo/flash = 1.4 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash = 4.32 seconds
  • Continuous Low =  2.17fps 
  • Continuous High = 6.36fps for 7 shots
  • All tests were taken using a SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-1, 8GB SDHC memory card, Program Mode, ISO auto, Flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
The Nikon CoolPix S6800 is an ultra-compact and incredibly easy to use digicam. Built for anyone looking to just point-n-shoot, the camera goes anywhere and is always ready to shoot both stills and video.
Pick This Up If...
You are looking for an affordable and ultra-compact camera that is easy enough for anyone to use. 
Nikon's CoolPix S6800 is an ultra-compact digicam with exceptional versatility. This extremely easy-to-use camera sports a huge 12x optical zoom lens, large 3.0-inch LCD screen, 1080p HD video capture and built-in WiFi capabilities. Its fully automatic shooting modes allow anyone to operate the camera with ease, while access to most of the shooting settings as well as plenty of creative shooting modes allow for plenty of creative freedom. All of this has been crammed into an ultra-compact body that can be carried in a small bag, purse or even your pocket without too much difficulty. 

The WiFi capabilities of the S6800 work well and are some of the easiest to use that we have seen. When connecting the camera to a smartphone with Nikon's Wireless Mobility Utility, you have options to view and download images from the camera to your phone. It also allows your smartphone to act as a wireless remote control for the camera, with the capabilities of zoom control, setting changes and capturing images. It gives a whole new meaning to self-portraits and capturing group images with the photographer in them.

Handling the camera is easy and fairly comfortable, but due to the size of the camera, it lacks something to really get a good grip of. This is more relevant when shooting with one hand, but if you are careful, one-handed operation is not difficult. The body of the camera has been kept very simple, with just the basic controls on the back. The buttons are small but easy to distinguish and operate. Composing and viewing your images is accomplished with the 3.0-inch, 460,000 dot LCD screen. The screen shows 99% of the field-of-view that the camera will capture so there is no guessing on your final image. With 5 levels of adjustable brightness, the screen is easy to see in just about all lighting conditions. 

Looking at our outdoor image samples we can see that the camera provides a decent exposure and accurate colors for our scenes. The brighter the scene, the better the exposure and color. At the wide end of the zoom range, we did notice some softness around the edges as well as a little vignetting.

Shot composition is assisted by the camera's 12x wide optical zoom lens. With a 35mm equivalent of 25mm-300mm, you will be ready to shoot in just about any situation, from vast landscapes to getting up close to a distant subject. Nikon's VR (vibration reduction) optical image stabilization system works well to stop camera shake and steady the lens at the telephoto end, and in all low-light situations.

Our indoor sample images give us a more controlled look at the overall image quality and noise levels of the camera. Our M&M man images lack a few of the finer details that we are used to seeing, but overall it produces a sharp and well-exposed image. Noise levels are kept in check very well at the lower ISO settings (ISO 125 - ISO 400), but at ISO 800 the noise starts to take over. The higher ISO images show slightly duller colors with lines that are not as crisp. As we see with all cameras, Nikon has taken their ISO levels a little too far as ISO 3200 - 6400 are not acceptable and should only be used if there is no other option.

For your low-light shooting, Nikon has included a very compact flash unit. This unit is not very powerful, as seen with our ISO 125 sample shot, but it can come in handy when needed in a small dark area or as a fill on a bright day.

Both Auto and Portrait shooting modes take advantage of the camera's Face Detection software which does an excellent job of detecting and following faces within the camera frame. Once a face is detected, the camera will base all of the exposure settings for it and make it the priority for the AF system. This ensures that your subject will be the focus point of your image. Our samples show excellent portraits, with the subject displaying excellent focus and exposure. ISO 400 helped to soften the skin tones but also faded away some of the fine details that you may be looking for. 

The S6800's special shooting modes or filters allow you to quickly and easily add creativity to your images. You can shoot using a filter or add it afterwards. The camera starts with a basic high quality image and applies the filter for you, so you get the best possible image. There are no adjustments for these filters, so what you see is what you get.

Thanks to the dedicated video recording button, the camera is always ready to start recording full 1080p HD videos at the touch of a button. Not just full HD either, the camera can also capture at faster frame rates (lower resolutions) so that you can slow down your movies with a smooth, slow-motion effect. Our sample video, while showing good color and exposure, struggled with the motion aspect leaving the subject hard to see and focus on. As with all small compact cameras, the sound is recorded by a tiny built-in microphone that is incredibly sensitive to the sounds closest to the camera. It will also pick up any background noises that are around you, including the wind if you're outside. The S6800 also allows you to view your images on any HDTV with an optional HDMI cable.  

Powering the S6800 is a 3.7V, 700mAh rechargeable Li-Ion battery. This tiny battery is only capable of capturing up to 170 images on a single charge. This is a little less than we are used to seeing from a battery this size, but with the power of the lens and LCD screen, it is no wonder why it goes so fast. During our tests we were able to capture well over 100 images and videos on a single charge. If you plan on shooting for more than a short period of time in a day, you will want to have a spare battery with you at all times. This is pretty easy to accomplish with the included external charger and USB charging capabilities. As long as you have 2 hours and an outlet, you will be able to keep them both charged and ready.

Bottom Line - Nikon's CoolPix S6800 is a versatile and affordable ultra-compact digicam. Its low-light CMOS imaging sensor and 12x wide optical zoom lens make this a great camera to have for any situation. This camera was designed for true point-n-shoot users with its multiple auto shooting modes. The excellent image quality at lower ISO settings fades quickly as light decreases. With a MSRP of US $219.95, this is a great option for anyone looking for an affordable and versatile ultra-compact camera.


Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.

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