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Nikon Coolpix S8200 Overview

Posted: 08/24/2011

Nikon is aiming its Coolpix S8200 digital camera at photographers seeking superzoom reach in a relatively compact body, and as such, it's likely to appeal to outdoors and nature types, as well as fans of traveling light. A swift burst shooting capability might also appeal to sports fans, and a variety of in-camera special effects available for still images and movie capture cater to those who don't want to spend time in the digital darkroom. The S8200 replaces the previous S8100 model in the company's lineup.

At the heart of the Nikon Coolpix S8200 is a backside-illuminated CMOS image sensor with an effective resolution of 16.1 megapixels. Backside-illuminated sensors place their circuitry on the rear (non-illuminated) side of the chip, leaving more space on the active side available for light-gathering, and thereby increasing sensitivity. The Nikon S8200 offers sensitivities ranging from ISO 100 to 3,200 equivalents, with everything from ISO 100 to 1,600 equivalents available to an Auto ISO function. Compared to their CCD brethren, CMOS image sensors typically offer higher burst-shooting performance, and this is borne out in the S8200's high-speed six frames-per-second burst shooting capability. Total resolution of the S8200's 1/2.3-inch type imager is 16.79 megapixels.

The Nikon S8200's 1.3-inch thick body includes a powerful, Nikkor ED-branded 14x optical zoom lens, offering everything from a generous 25mm-equivalent wide angle to a powerful 350mm telephoto. As you'd expect given the telephoto reach, which would otherwise require a 1/350th second shutter speed or higher for handholding, the S8200 includes true optical image stabilization. Maximum aperture varies from f/3.3 to f/5.9 across the zoom range. There's also a 2x digital zoom function which provides an effective 700mm-equivalent telephoto when combined with the optical zoom, although like any digital zoom this extra reach will come at the cost of reduced image clarity, since the camera is essentially just taking the center of an image shot at the camera's maximum optical zoom level, then scaling it up to full resolution and making some educated guesses as to the missing data (with more to guess as the zoom level increases). By default, the Nikon S8200's lens can focus to just 20 inches (50 cm) at wide angle, and 40 inches (1 m) at telephoto, but a macro mode enables focusing as close as just 0.4 inches (1 cm) in the wide angle position.

The rear panel of the Nikon S8200 is dominated by a 3.0-inch TFT LCD panel with a relatively high resolution of 307,000 pixels (921,000 dots, with each pixel comprising adjacent red, green, and blue dots.) The S8200's screen is said to have wide viewing angles, an anti-reflective coating, and a five-level brightness adjustment.

As well as its high-speed burst capture, another feature of the Coolpix S8200 likely enabled by its speedy CMOS sensor is high definition 1080p (aka Full HD; 1,920 x 1,080 pixel) video capture, which includes stereo sound. The S8200 allows use of the optical zoom lens during video capture, enabling consumer videographers to better follow their subject as recording continues. There are also two unusual movie mode that records VGA video for slow-motion or fast-motion playback. The former records at 60 frames per second, and saves as a 15 fps video which plays back at one-quarter speed. The latter records at 15fps, plays back at 60fps, and offers 4x speed.

The Nikon S8200 offers a selection of special effects functions that are applicable to both still and movie capture, although a list of these modes wasn't available at press time. There are also post-capture filter effect functions for still images only, including Selective Color and Fisheye Effect filters.

Images and movies are stored on Secure Digital cards, including the higher-capacity SDHC and SDXC types. The S8200 also includes approximately 89MB of available internal memory, enough to capture a few of the most important shots, should you accidentally leave your flash card at home. Catering to transferring of images and movies to a computer, the Nikon S8200 offers a USB 2.0 High Speed data connection, and there's also an HDMI high-definition video output. Power comes from a proprietary EN-EL12 lithium-ion battery pack, rated for approximately 250 shots on a charge, to CIPA testing standards. An optional EH-62F AC adapter is available for longer shooting sessions, if a power point is convenient.

The Nikon Coolpix S8200 has dimensions of approximately 4.1 x 2.4 x 1.3 inches (103.7 × 59.3 × 32.7 mm) excluding projections, and weighs 7.6 oz. (213 g) including battery and SD memory card. The product bundle includes one EN-EL12 battery pack, both USB and video cables, an AC charging adapter, camera strap, and ViewNX 2 software CD-ROM.

The COOLPIX S8200 will be available in the US market from mid-September 2011 in black, silver, and red versions. Pricing is set at approximately US$330.

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