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 S800c is a full Android 2.3 (known as Gingerbread) device, meaning it can run any apps that an equivalent smartphone could offer - so you can run Photoshop Express to spruce-up your images, rather than being dependent on the manufacturer-supplied processing options. For that matter, there's nothing to stop you passing the time with a quick game of Temple Run or Fruit Ninja. You'll control all of this on the camera's 3.5" touchscreen OLED display.
As far as core photographic features are concerned, the S800c offers the same 10x zoom lens and 16MP backlit CMOS sensor as the Coolpix S6300, meaning you get a proper compact camera as well as the capabilities of a fully-functioning tablet computer. For perspective, the S6300 had a list price of $199 at launch, compared to the $349 Nikon is asking for the S800c.
- 16MP 1/2.3"-type BSI CMOS sensor
- 25-250mm equivalent F3.2-5.8 lens
- 3.5" WVGA OLED touchscreen
- Android v2.3 operating system
- Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS
- ~2GB of internal memory (690MB of this for Apps)
- Up to 8fps continuous shooting
- 1080p30 video
Compared to Samsung Galaxy Camera
The S800c isn't the only Android-powered camera on the market - Samsung's larger and higher priced Galaxy Camera is also worth serious consideration. Here's how the two devices stack up in terms of their key photographic specifications.
|Nikon Coolpix S800c||Samsung Galaxy Camera|
|Sensor resolution (type)||
16MP 1/2.3" BSI CMOS sensor
|Focal range (zoom power)||25 - 250 mm (10X)||23 - 481 mm (20.9X)|
|Maximum aperture range||F3.2 - F5.8||F2.8 - F5.9|
|Display size / resolution||3.5" / WVGA (400 X 800 px) OLED||4.8" WXVGA (1280 X 720 px) AMOLED|
|ISO range||125 - 3200||100 - 3200|
(using LCD, CIPA standard)
|140 shots||290 shots|
|Operating System*||Android 2.3 (Gingerbread)||Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)|
|Dimensions||111 x 60 x 27 mm
(4.37 x 2.36 x 1.06")
|129 x 71 x 19 mm
(5.08 x 2.8 x .75")
|Weight (with battery)||184 g||305 g|
|*Correct at time of writing - Jan 2013|
As you can see, the Samsung offers a considerably more versatile lens, reaching 481mm (equivalent) at the long end of its zoom, and a huge display, borrowed from the Glaxy SIII smartphone. The inevitable tradeoff, however, is that it is much bigger than the Nikon S800c, and heavier too. An important, but easily missed point is battery life - the Galaxy Camera's CIPA rating of 290 shots per charge isn't fantastic, but it's more than twice as many as you can expect to get from the Coolpix S800c in comparable conditions.
What's in the Box?
The Coolpix S800c comes in a pretty skimpy bundle. 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 very generous (for a camera) total of 4 GB of internal 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.
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.
A version of this review was first published at www.dcresource.com, and is presented here with some changes, notably the inclusion of a full set of product images, our usual studio comparisons and an expanded samples gallery, plus the addition of a standard dpreview score.