Nikon Coolpix S8200 Review

Nikon Coolpix S8200Over the last 45 years I have been snapping away with little more than box brownies through film SLRs to todays digital cameras. My current budget dictates a maximum spend of around NZ$250 – firmly in the mid range of budget cameras.

Like many I have been through a plethora of digital cameras starting with ones that were little more than toys to pocket rockets straight out of Inspector Gadget or James Bond. So much has changed in the last 10 – 20 years.

The promised merging of video and still cameras has promised much but the journey seems to have been much longer than anticipated. Until recently still cameras gave tantalizing glimpses of a merged device but never quite delivered. Movies taken on a digital still cameras always had something holding them back – low resolution, no optical zoom, no refocusing while filming or just simply poor quality.

With the S8200 I am almost content, yes its not perfect but my god it’s so close it feels awfully picky to give less than a perfect score. Finally full HD, 1920×1080, with optical zoom while filming and refocusing and yes the quality is excellent. It’s not broadcast quality, you can sometimes hear the zoom syncros whirring and refocus is a little erratic, but it fits in your pocket and cost less than $250.

When I picked this up it was an end of line special at Noel Leeming, with a price tag of $207 with $40 to have a 3 year warranty. Still in the budget price range.

Of the low/mid range compact cameras I have had recently Canon, Samsung, Pentax, Kodak and Olympus it usually felt that the megapixel and zoom count was pushed to far. The saturation and detail often seemed lacking, compromises appear to have been made shoehorning features into a budget price. But with the S8200 the balance leans towards image quality rather than simply satisfying the numbers brigade.

Nikon Coolpix S8200 Top ViewPicking it up and using it you feel the build quality from the rubber grip on the front panel, to the sensible layout of controls and things simply working the way I expect them to. I’ve done the whole lugging a huge camera bit, I need something I can take to the park in my pocket and still get good images and just as importantly quality video.S8200 Select Wheel

I have to say I am continually surprised at the build quality and layout of the S8200. Maybe it’s just me but the S8200 just seems to meld with my requirements. For example a simple right click of the menu wheel and I can quickly adjust the exposure adjustment, no navigating 50 menu steps like so many cameras.

Sure it doesn’t do GPS stamping or have a touch screen but satisfying the ever increasing feature set does seem an impossible dream. Even if a camera does have it all it is frequently buggy or hard to use.

But for sheer ease of use, quality of build, feature set and most importantly image quality the Nikon Coolpix S8200 is had to beat.