Steve's Conclusion

Steve's SnapShot

  • 16-Megapixel CMOS Imaging Sensor
  • 3.7-Inch Touch LCD Screen
  • 1,229,000 dots of resolution
  • 12x NIKKOR optical zoom lens: 25-300mm (35mm equivalent)
  • Lens-Shift Optical Image Stabilization
  • Android 4.2.2 operating system
  • Full Auto shooting modes
  • Creative Art Filters
  • Full 1080p HD video recording
  • Slow Motion video recording modes
  • Built-in WiFi
  • Built-in GPS
  • Large internal memory (1.5GB)
  • Rechargeable Li-Ion battery
  • MicroSD memory card compatible
Pros
  • iAuto shooting mode is accurate and easy in all situations
  • Android system gives you the versatility of a tablet and 1,000s of apps
  • Huge, high resolution, 3.7-inch touch LCD screen is bright and easy to see
  • Good image quality at lower ISO settings
  • Lens-Shift image stabilization helpful when on the move
  • Compact flash is good for short-range shooting
  • Loaded with features like WiFi and GPS for users on the go
  • HDMI output
Cons
  • Poor battery life, especially with all of the extra features running
  • Very noisy/soft images at higher ISO settings
  • Slow performance for a camera in this price range
  • Very sensitive stereo mics pick up ALL sounds around the camera
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 3.1 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = approx. 2/10 to 4/10 of a second
  • Shot to shot delay wo/flash = 1.24 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash = 2.62 seconds
  • High Speed Burst = 10fps for 3 images
  • Low Speed Burst = 2.17fps
  • All tests were taken using the camera's internal memory, Auto shooting mode, ISO auto, Flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
The Nikon CoolPix S810c is an innovative compact digicam. As one of only a few cameras to incorporate the Android operating system, the camera offers an entirely new set of abilities. While the S810c offers appealing photography features and good image quality, poor battery life and slow performance drag it down. This is a good start to a new generation and we look forward to seeing how this line develops.
Pick This Up If...
You are looking for more than just a camera. The Android system adds the same capabilities as a tablet or smartphone to a compact and capable digicam.
Nikon's new Coolpix S810c takes a new approach to the point-n-shoot camera by giving it an Android operating system. This gives you a Nikon camera with the capabilities of a tablet. This is no gimmick either, the camera also features a 12x optical zoom lens, 16-Megapixel CMOS imaging sensor, 3.7-inch touchscreen LCD, WiFi, GPS, Lens-Shift O.I.S. and full HD video capture. Combining these great features with the Android 4.2.2 and the Google Play Market give you endless possibilities that extend far beyond just taking pictures. This entire package has been gathered into a body that is smaller than most smartphones, but about twice as thick. Available in either black or white, this compact digicam is easy to carry and works as far more than just a digicam.

Featuring the Android 4.2.2 operating system, the camera has access to thousands of apps for anything you can think of, not just photography. Games, Music, Email and all forms of Social Media can be easily accessed as long as the camera is connected to WiFi. This also adds a whole new dimension to apps like Instagram and others related to photography with the ability to capture much higher quality images than with a standard smartphone or tablet.

The compact camera is sleek and easy to handle with one or two hands. Besides the zoom control, power and shutter release buttons, the only controls on the camera body are the Android controls located on the back. Everything else is controlled via the large touchscreen LCD. The camera itself has its own look to the menu system, different than that of your typical Android device. This menu features large, easy to read icons that let you quickly find and change any settings that are available.

The one complaint with the large, 3.7-inch, 1,229,000-dot LCD screen is that it is not as sensitive to the touch as a smartphone or tablet. It is much easier to use than most touch screen cameras, but still does not have the feel and ease-of-use that we have become accustomed to with our everyday technology. On the other hand, the screen is incredibly clear and bright, making it easy to shoot and view your images in most any lighting conditions.

Performance from the S810c shows one of its major flaws. The Android system really slows down the start-up and overall performance from the camera. When turning the camera on, it is able to capture its first image in 3.1 seconds, which is a little slow, but not terrible. Even though you can capture an image this fast, it can take 10 seconds or more before you can make any changes to the camera settings while the Android system starts. The AF system works great, with very little shutter lag, less than 1/10 of a second, and a working AF time of 2/10 to 4/10 of a second. Shot-to-shot delay is a little on the slow side with a delay of 2.62 seconds when using the built-in flash and 1.24 seconds without the flash. Burst shooting also did well, but only for a short time. High Speed Burst is capable of 10fps but is only capable of capturing 3 images at a time. Low Speed burst is capable of more images at a rate of 2.17fps. All of our tests were completed using the camera's internal memory, Auto shooting mode, ISO auto and all other settings at the factory defaults.

Looking at our outdoor image samples, we see an overall pleasing image, with good exposure and color. When we look closer, we notice a little noise throughout all of the images, even at the lowest ISO setting, that dulls the fine details within the image. There is also some softness around the edges of the images, both of which take away from the overall quality.

Composing your images is assisted by the 12x NIKKOR optical zoom lens. With a 35mm equivalent of 25-300mm, the lens gives you some great versatility with a good wide and telephoto end. It also allows for macro shooting as close as 2cm for getting up close and personal with your subjects.

Our indoor sample shots shows a sharper image with the same great exposure and color from our outdoor images. Image noise has been controlled very well at the lower ISO settings, bringing out all of the fine details throughout the image. The noise levels do increase quickly, blurring most of the fine details by ISO 400. They continue to increase quickly, making anything over ISO 800 look pretty bad at 100%. Assisting with your low-light images is a small built-in flash unit. With a range of up to 18ft. (W) at ISO auto, shorter if you set a lower ISO, the camera had no problems correctly exposing our indoor images at the lowest ISO settings.

Face detection works very well, making it a pleasure to shoot portraits with the S810c. Faces are detected quickly and followed with ease once they enter the camera's frame, even if they are not looking directly at the camera. This keeps your subjects in focus and properly exposed while your subject moves until you capture your image. Our sample images came out very well, with the focus and exposure set for the detected faces.

The S810c sports several special or artistic filters to satisfy your creative side. These special effects shooting modes start with a standard image, then apply the settings to give you your desired effect. While these will look like images that you are used to seeing from apps like Instagram, these photos will be of much higher quality and offer more detail than you will normally capture from a smartphone or tablet. We have posted a few samples, but there are many more effects options available.

Capturing video with the S810c is not as easy as we are used to seeing, with the majority of cameras we test nowadays offering a dedicated video recording button. For this camera, Nikon still requires you to change the shooting mode of the camera, which has to be done via the LCD screen. This will slow you down a little if you are in a hurry to capture a video on the fly, but once you get used to it, the process is pretty quick. Once you are in video mode, the shutter release is used to start recording. While recording the 12x optical zoom is fully functional, allowing you to get creative with your videos. During our tests the S810c did very well, until it came to using the zoom. The camera's AF had a little trouble keeping the subject in focus while zooming the lens, which rendered blurry video.

Audio is captured by the camera's built-in stereo microphones. This mics are very sensitive and will pick up all sounds around the camera and magnify background noises; which is very noticeable in our sample.

Powering the S810c is a 3.8V, 1850mAh rechargeable Li-Ion battery. During the course of our testing, the battery supplied us with enough power to capture approx. 150 images and several short videos while completing our tests on a single charge. While we did not have to recharge, the battery was very close to depletion. Our testing involved as little use of the extra features as possible, such as WiFi and GPS to get the most from the camera. Using the camera for other Android apps and other features will greatly reduce this battery life. The battery is recharged inside the camera which makes it a little more difficult to keep a spare charged and ready, but at the same time, makes it easier to charge while on the go with a standard USB cable.

Bottom Line - Nikon's CoolPix S810c is a compact and extremely useful digicam. It has a great set of features including the 16-Megapixel CMOS sensor, 12x optical NIKKOR zoom lens, O.I.S. and a huge 3.7-inch touch LCD screen. The inclusion of the Android operating system allows you to use it for so much more, giving it the capabilities of a WiFi enabled tablet or smartphone. The only drawbacks at this point are the slow start up and performance speeds, along with poor battery life. With a MSRP of US $349.95, we expect great things to come from this camera line, but this first edition may not be the one to grab just yet.


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