Nikon S8000 Review – you see my point…and shoot

The Nikon S8000 - Broad Spectrum solution

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.

The S8000 - mugshot

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.

S8000 at widest angle

...Mid zoom

... at maximum zoom

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.

Macro - in action

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.

Afternoon sun, shadows - exposure complexities

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.

Low light - Sunrise at Nahoon Reef East London

I don't understand this one either... The road going past at speed.

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.

Fill-in flash on a fence post against a sunset.

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.

The Metz light-induced trigger. No, I didn't take this pic.

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.

Effective fill-in flash

Image stabilisation. Frankly, I am astounded! Forcing a low ISO rating (100 ISO) I was able to take hand-held pictures with astonishing clarity.

Impressive image stability in low light

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.

East London City Hall - more attractive at night

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.

At ISO 100 - the S8000 behaves impeccably

In summary.

  • 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.

The Nikon S8000

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About Freud Fission Chips

Despite the banality of the name, FFC has led an intensely varied life. Grateful for surviving almost three years as a 'troepie' (soldier for non-South African Readers) in the Angolan war, he determined to wring as much out of life as possible. Currently providing Business Analysis services, trading on the stock market and developing web pages to pay the bills, FFC also dabbles in wildlife, landscape and people photography, writing, and far too many interests for his own good. He has also travelled extensively in southern Africa (working on the sound theory that a moving target is more dificult to hit). These peregrinations also include over 1500kms on foot through some of the worlds most spectacular scenery. It hasn't all been plain sailing, beer and skittles, and endless beds of roses... Chief amongst the prerequisites for surviving Africa, with its mind-bending characteristics, is an appropriate sense of humour.... So, for now, he will be recounting the amusing among the annoying, the frustrating wrapped in the funny and extracting the mirth from the melancholy... Oh yes, there might be some alliteration too.
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3 Responses to Nikon S8000 Review – you see my point…and shoot

  1. Vivi Andrew says:

    Hi Alan….
    Thank you for the review on this cam…I for one…am very glad you took the time to
    do it….as you know Im very keen to get this camera and as much as I would love to
    have a DSLR…I would need to rob a bank to get one lol
    Your review has helped me to see that the S8000 will be a good buy for my needs
    …especially the macro and optical zoom features.
    Thx again!
    Vivi

  2. Steve says:

    Looks good – some tips there for a rank amateur such as I, too. BTW, I settled on the Nilfisk Coupe vacuum cleaner with HEPA filter 🙂

  3. @Vivi. You are most welcome. I hope whatever camera you buy gives you many hours of fun and pleasure. Keep in touch and let me know how it went.

    @Steve. I suspect you’re being a tad modest about the amateur thing – but I am glad if this helped. In fact I’m exceedingly gratified that people are finding this blog useful and/or entertaining.

    Thanks to both of you for taking the time to read it.

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