Lugging heaps of photographic kit about in the hope of a good pic is an arduous business, and I have therefore been in search of a compact, high quality camera (under R4000) that I can take anywhere, for web publishing and maybe even something a little more demanding.
While I used to do some photography as a sideline business – I hasten to add that I am no great shakes as a photographer. If any of the photographs in this review possess any merit at all – it’s mostly due to the camera.
Thus it was that I happened upon the Nikon S8000. Sales people told me what a ‘toadly awesome’ camera it was (They would, wouldn’t they. Chances are they’re only there for the commission). After looking at a selection of other products, I selected the S8000. If it had been anything less than stellar, I wouldn’t have bothered writing about it. So here it is in all its glory. This impressive camera is one of the most versatile and powerful point-and-shoot cameras I’ve come across.
The pictures featured in this blog were taken after the camera had been dropped from waist height onto a concrete floor. I didn’t plan this, you understand. I was just appallingly clumsy: So if it is to survive in my possession for long, it will have to be outstandingly robust.
Oh, before I carry on, the following photos have not been touched up with any software. The only editing has been to crop unwanted detail from a few images.
For starters the zoom on the S8000 is a remarkable 10 times. I also found the zoom to be comfortably quick. On the downside, it was rather difficult to make micro adjustments to the zoom when composing a shot.
The Macro facility is most impressive. The photo below shows one of those lip balm thingies. The camera was less than 5cm from the subject and the clarity is quite acceptable for a point-and-shoot.
I am also exceedingly impressed with the way in which the S8000 deals with complex exposure variations in a picture. The following photo shows an impressive aggregation of exposures, from dark to light, resulting in an acceptable picture – despite the bright sunlight and dark shadows.
Low light pictures were also handled well. Increasing the ISO rating produced grain that is comparable to my Canon 5D, but at low ISO ratings and setting the camera on the auto ISO setting, produced most favourable results.
Now as most of you know, the built-in flash on any camera is frustratingly weak at the best of times. And that’s being kind. But if you are aware of the lack of power and use the flash as a fill in light, you can achieve some nice effects.
With some cunning fill-in flash, your pictures can have quite good impact. If you would like to add stronger lighting, I’m afraid there are no hot shoe adapters on the camera; However, it is possible to use a light induced trigger such as the Metz.
Get a couple of these and attach your posh Canon Speedlights or Nikon equivalent (I mean, you’ve got the bucks, right?). The feeble on-camera flash will then trigger the bigger strobes and the results should be pretty good.
Image stabilisation. Frankly, I am astounded! Forcing a low ISO rating (100 ISO) I was able to take hand-held pictures with astonishing clarity.
The photograph above was taken in low light at sunset (Really? Wow!). But here’s the thing. In order to achieve the required composition, I had to crouch on one leg (the other being temporarily in a brace). The result was that I was shaking like an Aspen leaf. Holding my breath in the best sniper tradition didn’t even help, but as you can see, the results were most gratifying.
Night photography. This is another area where the S8000 shines. These two night pics were taken with the flash switched off and the ISO set at 100. I would estimate that the exposure time would be around ¼ to ½ a second. But the colour representation was remarkably faithful (I’d set the white balance to ‘auto’). Even in telephoto mode, the image clarity with available street light is eminently satisfactory.
- Compact size
- Robust structure
- Advanced firmware
- Value for Money
– all make the Nikon S8000 an outstanding point-and-shoot camera, delivering quality of image one would normally expect from the entry level DSLRs (Digital Single Lens Reflexes). I’m happy that I made a good purchase – at least until the next, new and improved model is released.