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Body and Design

Despite its Android underpinnings, the Coolpix S800c looks about the same as your typical zoom compact camera. It's sleek, mostly metal, and generally well put-together. The only real weak spot is one I've complained about many times before, and that's the plastic door over the memory card / battery compartment. Given its touch interface, it is no surprise to see that the S800c is light on buttons. The back of the camera has the three standard Android buttons (back, home, and menu), though I wish they were back-lit. The top of the camera has the power and shutter release buttons, as well as the zoom controller. Everything else is handled on the camera's large OLED display.

OLED displays also offer more vibrant colors and better viewing angles than their LCD counterparts. One thing that's sometimes less impressive is outdoor visibility - LCDs typically still do that better, in my experience.

The S800c's 25-250mm equivalent lens has a maximum aperture of F3.2-5.8 which isn't terribly impressive (it's not very 'fast', in photo terminology, in that it lets in less light than many competitive models in the $300-400 range), but it offers pretty decent versatility. As we'd expect from this style of compact camera, the S800c's lens is not threaded, so conversion lenses and filters are not an option.

The S800c does offer optical image stabilization though, which Nikon calls Vibration Reduction. This will reduce the risk of blurry photos, and it also smooths out your videos. There's a 'hybrid' VR option available, which adds electronic shake reduction into the mix, though as a consequence of the way in which it works, processing times will increase, and images may be noisier.

Other items of note on the front of the camera include the stereo microphones, and the AF-assist lamp for helping out in poor light. On top of the camera you'll see the power and shutter release buttons, as well as the zoom controller. If you quickly press the power button, the camera will enter standby mode, which will allow you to wake up the S800c without having to boot up Android. Once the standby time has expired (it's an hour by default), the camera will shut off. You can shut it off yourself by holding down the power button.

In your hand

As you can see, despite the high technology hiding inside, the S800c is a very small camera, of about the same size as a typical midrange compact. Although lightweight and portable, the lack of any sort of hand grip does make it a little uncomfortable to use single-handed. There's a contoured 'hook', of sorts, on the rear of the camera but this is partly formed by the three rear buttons on the right of the display, so don't grip too tightly...

Body Elements

The Coolpix S800c has the same lens as the more traditional Coolpix S6300. This F3.2-5.8, 10X optical zoom lens has a focal range of 4.5 - 45.0 mm, which is equivalent to 25 - 250 mm.

 

The zoom controller moves the lens from wide-angle to telephoto in about 2.4 seconds. I counted eighteen steps in the S800c's 10X zoom range.

It's pretty much "all screen" on the back of the Coolpix S800c. This 3.5" touchscreen OLED display has 819,000 pixels, so everything is super-sharp.

The only other thing to see in this view of the camera are the three standard Android buttons: back, home, and menu. I wish these were 1) centered, 2) spaced further apart, and 3) back-lit. They do the job, though.

To the upper-right of the lens is the camera's built-in flash. Despite its small size, the flash packs a generous punch, with a working range of 0.5 - 5.6 m at wide-angle and 1.0 - 3.1 m at telephoto (at Auto ISO). As with all compact ultra zooms, an external flash is not supported.
On the right side of the camera you'll find mini-HDMI and USB output ports. HDMI is the only way in which you can connect the camera to a television -- composite video is not supported.
On the bottom of the S800c you'll find a metal tripod mount (not seen here) and the battery/memory card compartment. The plastic door over this compartment is very flimsy.

The Coolpix S800c is indeed a compact camera, and one that'll travel in your pockets with ease. Here's how it compares to the same group of compact ultra zooms that I listed earlier:

Camera Dimensions
(W x H x D, excluding protrusions)
Volume (bulk) Mass (empty)
Canon PowerShot ELPH 530 HS 3.4 x 2.1 x 0.8 in. 5.7 cu in. 130 g
Fujifilm FinePix F800EXR 4.1 x 2.4 x 1.4 in. 13.8 cu in. 212 g
Nikon Coolpix S800c 4.4 x 2.4 x 1.1 in. 11.6 cu in. 184 g
Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5 4.1 x 2.3 x 0.8 in. 7.5 cu in. 120 g
Samsung Galaxy Camera 5.1 x 2.8 x 0.8 in. 11.4 cu in. 312 g
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX30V 4.3 x 2.5 x 1.4 in. 15.1 cu in. 221 g

The Coolpix S800c is pretty much straight down the middle in terms of both bulk and weight.

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