Nikon Coolpix S8000 Review Image

Nikon Coolpix S8000 Review Image

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Introduction

The Coolpix S8000 is Nikon’s first travel-zoom camera, featuring a 10x zoom lens with a versatile focal range of 30-300mm. Measuring just 27.3mm thick, the Nikon S8000 is also currently the World’s slimmest camera with a 10x optical zoom. Other key features include 14 megapixels, high resolution 3 inch LCD screen, 720p high-definition movie mode, lens-shift Vibration Reduction, 3fps continuous shooting, 1cm macro mode and a fast “DSLR-like” auto-focus system. Available in three colours, Black, Brown and Champagne Silver, the Nikon Coolpix S8000 costs £249.99 / €299.99 / $299.95.

Ease of Use

The Nikon Coolpix S8000 has a rather conservative yet still appealing design, with the metal body finished in a glossy black coating. As already mentioned, the S8000 is very slim for a camera with a 10x zoom lens, but note that the camera measures nearly 70mm deep when the zoom is fully extended. At 183g it’s also quite a light camera, and just about fits in both the palm of your hand or a shirt pocket. The lens dominates the front of the S8000 and has an attractive rounded appearance that helps distinguish it from rival models, as does the neat pop-flash which automatically appears whenever a flash mode is selected. Otherwise the design is pretty conventional, with nothing to surprise or scare anyone who has used a digital camera in the last five years, making it easy to get up and running in no time at all.

That’s certainly helped by the S8000’s lightening fast reflexes. As promised by Nikon, this is certainly one speedy compact camera. Start-up time is almost instant, with the camera ready to go in less than half a second. At least, that’s partly true, in the sense that the LCD screen springs into life. Annoyingly, you have to wait for a further 3 seconds before you can access the main menu, zoom the lens, or perhaps most importantly, playback or take a picture! Nikon’s claims about the ultra-fast start-up are therefore misleading to say the least, so much so that after a while I just left the S8000 permanently turned on, so annoying was the wait for it to spark into life.

Thankfully, when the camera has finally woken up, the S8000 is something of a speed demon when it comes to focusing on your subject. The 10x zoom lens provides a versatile focal range of 30-300mm, impressive given the overall size of the camera, and is just wide enough for landscapes and with more than enough reach for candid portraits. The lens has a fairly fast maximum aperture of f/3.5 at the wide-angle end but a rather slow f/5.6 at full telephoto. The Nikon S8000 is very quick to find focus, locking onto your target in less than 0.2 seconds, regardless of the lighting conditions or which end of the zoom range you’re using. Very impressive given that the S8000 is using a contrast AF system, which is traditionally slower than the phase detection system that most DSLR cameras use. In addition, the Subject Tracking scene mode detects, tracks, and focuses on the main subject, making it easier to capture moving subjects successfully.

Nikon Coolpix S8000 Nikon Coolpix S8000
Front Rear

Nikon have included their excellent VR (Vibration Reduction) image stabilisation system to help prevent camera-shake, an essential feature nowadays, which is turned on and off in the Setup main menu. In practice the VR system makes a noticeable difference to the sharpness of the images, as shown in the examples on the Image Quality page, but don’t expect to get sharp results every time at the longer focal lengths without the use of a suitably fast shutter speed. Thankfully leaving the anti-shake system on didn’t reduce the battery-life too much, with the camera managing just over a rather average 200 shots using the supplied Lithium-ion rechargeable battery. The S8000 can be charged using the USB socket on a computer or via the main power using the included AC adapter.

In addition, there are three other functions that also help to prevent camera shake. High ISO light sensitivity up to ISO 6400 at full resolution throughout the range reduces the risk of blurred images, while the Motion Detection option automatically detects and compensates for both camera and subject movement. Best Shot Selector (BSS) mode automatically selects the sharpest of up to 10 sequential shots. All of these options and the Vibration Reduction system can be used at the same time if so desired.

There aren’t too many external controls and buttons (just 11 in total) on the Coolpix S8000, reflecting the fact that this is a point and shoot camera with no manual controls. On top of the camera is the pop-up flash, stereo sounds mics, recessed On/Off button, shutter release button and tactile push/pull zoom lever. On the bottom the S8000 has an SD compatible memory card slot, allowing the use of either SD or SDHC cards, and there’s also 32MB of internal memory, which can store 5 images at the highest quality level. The memory card slot is shared with the battery compartment. There’s also a metal tripod socket which is inconveniently located in the far-left corner of the camera and the A/V Out port.

Nikon Coolpix S8000 Nikon Coolpix S8000
Front Front

The rear of the S8000 is quite traditional in design, with all of the controls located to the right of the large LCD screen. The large 3 inch LCD monitor has a excellent resolution of 921k dots, resulting in a detailed and vibrant display that puts standard LCD screens to shame. It also offers five levels of brightness, an anti-reflection coating and a wide viewing angle. There’s a round navigation wheel and a central OK button, surrounded by three buttons above and two below. The navigation wheel is a nice touch that can be used to scroll through menu settings and pictures, but doesn’t really serve any other purpose. The four corners of the wheel also double up to access the flash, exposure compensation, macro and self-timer settings (starting at 12 o’clock and going clockwise).

Above the navigation wheel are buttons for accessing the various scene and movie modes and playing back your images. There are 16 scene modes to choose from, including the clever Scene Auto Selector, which automatically recognizes the scene in your picture from 6 presets (Portrait, Landscape, Night Portrait, Night Landscape, Closeup and Backlight) and adjusts the camera settings accordingly. There’s also a dedicated button for starting and stopping movie recording (more on this below). Below the navigation wheel are the self-explanatory Menu and Delete buttons. Unfortunately there’s no quick way to change the ISO speed or other key settings, forcing you to delve repeatedly into the menu system.

D-Lighting is a long-standing Nikon technology that brightens the shadow areas of an image, and on the S8000 it can be applied to an image after it has been taken. Face-priority Autofocus can detect up to 12 faces in a scene just so long as they’re looking directly at the camera, whilst In-Camera Red-Eye Fix automatically processes the picture to remove red-eye. Blink Warning alerts you if someone in the frame had their eyes closed, and the Smile Timer automatically takes the picture when a smile is detected. The Skin softening function magically makes your subject look 10 years younger by smoothing out any perceived imperfections, and the new Creative Slider instantly adjusts the brightness, saturation and colour tone of an image.

The Nikon Coolpix S8000 can record 720p HD quality video complete with steroe sound. It offers 1280×720 and 640×480 pixel movies at 30 or 15fps, and 320×240 pixels at 15fps saved in the Quicktime .mov format, and there’s also an HDMI Mini port to easily connect the camera to a HDTV (although no suitable cable is supplied in the box). Unfortunately you can’t use the 10x optical zoom lens during recording, with just a 2x digital zoom available, there’s only an electronic vibration reduction system, and no “premium” features like wind-cut or in-camera editing.

Nikon Coolpix S8000 Nikon Coolpix S8000
Memory Card Slot Battery Compartment

In the Sport Continuous shooting mode the S8000 takes an impressive 3 frames per second for up to 45 shots, but sadly only at 3 megapixel resolution. The standard continuous mode offer around 1fps, which is below average for this class of camera. There is also a Multi-shot 16 mode that quickly takes 16 low-resolution photos and arranges them into a single image.

Once you have captured a photo, the Nikon Coolpix S8000 has quite a good range of options when it comes to playing, reviewing and managing your images. You can instantly scroll through the images that you have taken, view thumbnails (up to 16 onscreen at the same time), zoom in and out up to 10x magnification, apply D-Lighting, the new Skin Softening feature, and Quick Retouch (improves the contrast and saturation), set the print order, view a slide show, delete, protect, rotate, hide and copy an image, plus create a smaller version and add a black border.

The Monitor Settings menu option toggles between various views, including showing detailed settings information about each picture, such as the ISO rating and aperture/shutter speed, framelines and no information. Unfortunately there is no histogram available during composition, but a small one can be displayed during playback with a press of the OK button. If you have never used a digital camera before, or you’re upgrading from a more basic model, reading the well-written and easy-to-follow manual before you start is a good idea. Thankfully Nikon have bucked the recent trend of not providing hard-copy manuals by supplying it in printed format.

In summary the Nikon Coolpix S8000 is a generally fast and intuitive point and shoot camera with a few significant drawbacks – now let’s take a look at the image quality.

Nikon Coolpix S8000 Review Image

Nikon Coolpix S8000 Review Image

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Image Quality

All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 14 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 5.5Mb.

The Nikon Coolpix S8000 produced images of above average quality during the review period. The 1/2.33 inch, 14 megapixel sensor used in the S8000 produces noise-free images at ISO 100 and 200, with ISO 400 also looking good, although there’s some grain at 100% magnification and slight loss of saturation. ISO 800 shows some quite obvious noise and softening of fine detail, and ISO 16000 is even noisier, although still OK for small prints and web images. The fastest setting of ISO 3200 seems to have been included just to look good on the list of specifications. The S8000 handled chromatic aberrations quite well, with some purple fringing effects appearing in high contrast situations. The built-in flash worked well indoors, with no red-eye and good exposure. The night photograph was OK, with the maximum shutter speed of 5 seconds limiting what you can achieve after dark. The Vibration Reduction system works very well when hand-holding the camera in low-light conditions or when using the telephoto end of the zoom range. Macro performance is excellent, allowing you to focus as close as 1cm away from the subject. The images were soft straight out of the S8000 and ideally require some further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop, as you can’t change the in-camera setting.

Noise

There are 6 ISO settings available on the Nikon Coolpix S8000. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting.

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

Focal Range

The Nikon Coolpix S8000’s 10x zoom lens offers a very versatile focal range, as demonstrated by the examples below.

30mm

300mm

File Quality

The Nikon Coolpix S8000 has 2 different image quality settings available, with Fine being the highest quality option. Here are some 100% crops which show the quality of the various options, with the file size shown in brackets.

14M Fine (4.5Mb) (100% Crop) 14M Normal (2.6Mb) (100% Crop)

Sharpening

Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web – Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are soft at the default sharpening setting and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. Unfortunately you can’t change the in-camera sharpening level.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

   

Chromatic Aberrations

The Nikon Coolpix S8000 handled chromatic aberrations fairly well during the review, with some purple fringing present around the edges of objects in certain high-contrast situations, as shown in the examples below.

Example 1 (100% Crop)

Example 2 (100% Crop)

Macro

The Nikon Coolpix S8000 offers a Macro setting that allows you to focus on a subject that is 1cm away from the camera when the lens is set to wide-angle. The first image shows how close you can get to the subject (in this case a compact flash card). The second image is a 100% crop.

Macro Shot

100% Crop

Flash

The flash settings on the Nikon Coolpix S8000 are Auto, Auto/Red-eye Reduction, Off, On and Slow Sync./Red-eye Reduction. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Forced Off – Wide Angle (30mm)

Forced On – Wide Angle (30mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Forced Off – Telephoto (300mm)

Forced On – Telephoto (300mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. As you can see, neither the On or the Auto/Red-eye Reduction settings caused any red-eye.

On

On (100% Crop)
   

Auto/Red-eye Reduction

Auto/Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)

Night

The Nikon Coolpix S8000’s maximum shutter speed is 5 seconds, which is not great news if you’re seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 5 seconds at ISO 100. I’ve included a 100% crop of the image to show what the quality is like.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)

Vibration Reduction

The Nikon Coolpix S8000 has an anti-shake mechanism, which allows you to take sharp photos at slower shutter speeds than other digital cameras. To test this, I took 2 handheld shots of the same subject with the same settings. The first shot was taken with anti shake turned off, the second with it turned on. Here are some 100% crops of the images to show the results. As you can see, with anti shake turned on, the images are much sharper than with anti shake turned off. This feature really does seem to make a difference and could mean capturing a successful, sharp shot or missing the opportunity altogether.

Shutter Speed / Focal Length

Anti Shake Off (100% Crop)

Anti Shake On (100% Crop)

1/13th sec / 30mm
1/8th sec / 300mm

Nikon Coolpix S8000 Review Image

Nikon Coolpix S8000 Review Image

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Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Nikon Coolpix S8000 camera, which were all taken using the 14 megapixel Fine JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample Movie

This is a sample movie at the quality setting of 1280×720 at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 15 second movie is 16Mb in size.

Nikon Coolpix S8000 Review Image

Nikon Coolpix S8000 Review Image

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Product Images

Nikon Coolpix S8000

Front of the Camera

 
Nikon Coolpix S8000

Isometric View

 
Nikon Coolpix S8000

Isometric View

 
Nikon Coolpix S8000

Pop-up Flash

 
Nikon Coolpix S8000

Rear of the Camera

 
Nikon Coolpix S8000

Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed

 
Nikon Coolpix S8000

Rear of the Camera / Turned On

 
Nikon Coolpix S8000

Rear of the Camera / Main Menu

 
Nikon Coolpix S8000

Top of the Camera

 

Nikon Coolpix S8000

Bottom of the Camera

 
Nikon Coolpix S8000

Side of the Camera

 
Nikon Coolpix S8000

Side of the Camera

 
Nikon Coolpix S8000

Front of the Camera

 
Nikon Coolpix S8000

Front of the Camera

 
Nikon Coolpix S8000

Memory Card Slot

 
Nikon Coolpix S8000

Battery Compartment

Nikon Coolpix S8000 Review Image

Nikon Coolpix S8000 Review Image

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Specifications

Image Sensor Type
CCD
Sensor Size
1/2.3 in.
Total Pixels
14.48 million
Effective Pixels
14.2 million
Image Area (pixels)
4320 x 3240(14M)
3264 x 2448(8M)
2592 x 1944(5M)
2048 x 1536(3M)
1024 x 768(PC)
640 x 480(VGA)
4224 x 2376(16:9)
Vibration Reduction
Lens shift VR
LCD Monitor Size
3 in. diagonal
LCD Monitor Type
wide-viewing angle TFT LCD with anti-reflection coating
LCD Monitor Resolution
921,000 Dots
ISO Sensitivity
ISO 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, Auto (auto gain ISO 100-1600), Fixed range auto (ISO 100-400, 100-800)
Storage Media
SD
SDHC
Not compatible with Multi Media Cards (MMC).
Internal Memory
Approx. 32MB
Interface
Hi-speed USB
Lens Zoom
10x
Lens Specification
5.4-54.0mm (equivalent with 35mm [135] format picture angle: 30-300mm); f/3.5-5.6; Digital zoom: up to 2x (35mm [135] format picture angle: 600mm)
Focus Range

50 cm (1 ft. 8 in.) to infinity (∞), Macro mode: 1 cm (0.4 in.) to infinity (∞)

Battery Type
Rechargeable
Battery / Batteries
Nikon EN-EL12 Lithium-ion Battery
(supplied)
AC Adapter
Charging AC Adapter EH-68P
EH-62F AC Adapter (optional)
Battery Charger
MH-65 Battery Charger
(optional)
Battery Life (shots per charge)
EN-EL12: 210shots

Based on CIPA industry standard for measuring life of camera batteries. Measured at 23°C (73°F); zoom adjusted with each shot, built-in flash fired with every other shot, image mode set to Normal.
Approx. Dimensions
Height: 2.3 in. (57.0mm)
Width: 4.1 in. (103.0mm)
Depth: 1.1 in. (27.3mm)

excluding projections. Method of noting dimensions and weight is in accordance with CIPA DCG-005-2009 guideline.
Approx. Weight
6.5 oz. (183g)
with battery and SD memory card
Supplied Software
Software Suite CD-ROM
Optional Accessories
AC Adapter EH-62F, Battery Charger MH-65
Supplied Accessories

  • Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL12
  • Charging AC Adapter EH-68P
  • USB Cable UC-E6
  • Audio Video Cable EG-CP14
  • Strap AN-CP19
  • Software Suite CD-ROM

Nikon Coolpix S8000 Review Image

Nikon Coolpix S8000 Review Image

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Conclusion

The Nikon Coolpix S8000 is a solid entry into the travel zoom market, and easily one of the slimmest and more attractive models currently available. On paper it’s also one of the quickest too, but only if you ignore the inexplicable 3 second delay after the S8000 is powered on and can accept the reduced 3 megapixel resolution to achieve the headline-grabbing 3fps burst shooting.

Nikon are pushing the speed of the S8000, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint in this regard. Focusing is on a par with most entry-level DSLRs, quickly locking onto the subject without too many misses. The S8000 also bursts into life very quickly, although it’s best to leave the camera turned on to avoid that puzzling 3 second “freeze”. Other standout features include the versatile 10x optical zoom, excellent high-resolution LCD screen and the 720p video mode, although the inability to use the optical zoom during recording is infuriating.

Image quality is only above average, with the 14 megapixel sensor delivering acceptable results in terms of noise from ISO 100-400, although it becomes all too apparent at ISO 800, with the faster settings of 1600 and especially 3200 not really worth using. Chromatic aberrations are also visible in high contrast images and pictures are soft straight out of the camera with no ability to sharpen them. On the upside the 1cm macro mode is an excellent feature, as is the built-in anti-shake system, and although it takes a few seconds to warm-up, the pop-up flash is very handy.

Although it gets a lot of things right, the Nikon Coolpix S8000 also gets some important things wrong – most notably the 3 second operational delay on startup, lack of zoom in movie mode, below par continuous shooting at full resolution, and 14 megapixels on such a small sensor resulting in less than stellar photos. The S8000 represents a decent first stab at what is quickly becoming a hotly contested camera category, but market-leaders Panasonic don’t need to worry too much just yet…

4 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4
Features 3.5
Ease-of-use 3.5
Image quality 3.5
Value for money 4

Nikon Coolpix S8000 Review Image

Nikon Coolpix S8000 Review Image

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Main Rivals

Listed below are some of the rivals of the Nikon Coolpix S8000.

Canon PowerShot SX120 IS

Canon PowerShot SX120 IS Review thumbnail

The Canon PowerShot SX120 IS is one of the most affordable super-zoom cameras around. For less than £225 / $250, the Canon SX120 offers a 10x optical zoom lens, 10 megapixels, 3 inch LCD screen and fast DIGIC 4 processor. Curiously aimed at both the family market, with Easy and Smart Auto modes, and prosumers, with a full range of manual controls, is the Canon PowerShot SX120 IS a successful jack-of-all-trades or master-of-none? Mark Goldstein finds out…

Casio EX-H10

Casio EX-H10 Review thumbnail

The Casio EX-H10 is the latest pretender to the travel-zoom digital camera throne. Offering a 10x, 24-240mm zoom lens, large 3 inch LCD, and 720p HD movies in a pocketable body, the EX H10 is clearly challenging the likes of the Panasonic TZ7 / TZ6, Canon SX200 IS and Sansung WB550. Mark Goldstein discovers if the Casio EX-H10 has what it takes in our World-exclusive review…

Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR

Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR Review thumbnail

The FinePix F70 is the latest camera to feature Fujifilm’s revolutionary EXR technology, which offers you the choice of images with high resolution, expanded dynamic range or less noise at high ISO speeds. The Fujifilm F70EXR also offers two new shooting modes, Pro Focus Mode and Pro Low-light, which use multi-frame technology to create photos with greater depth-of-field and reduced noise, plus a versatile 10x zoom lens in a small and stylish body. Priced at just $279.95 / £229.99, is this the perfect compact camera for beginners and more experienced photographers alike? Read our expert review of the Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR to find out…

Olympus mju 9000

Olympus mju 9000 Review thumbnail

The Olympus mju 9000 (also known as the Stylus 9000) is a new travel-zoom compact camera. Offering a 10x, 28-280mm lens in a pocketable camera, the mju 9000 also features a 12 megapixel sensor, 2.7 inch LCD screen, 1cm macro mode and 5fps shooting (at 3 megapixels). Priced at £310 / $349.99 and available in black and blue, the Olympus mju 9000 is certainly up against some tough competition, principally the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ7 and Canon PowerShot SX200 IS. We find out if the mju 9000 has what it takes to beat them…

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ7

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ7 Review thumbnail

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ7 is a brand new entry in the travel-zoom camera category. Sporting a 12x, 25-300mm lens with optical image stabilisation, 3 inch LCD screen, 720p HD movies and 10 megapixels, the Panasonic TZ7 promises to be the ultimate do-it-all pocket camera. Available in silver, black, brown, blue and red for £349 / $399, does the TZ7 succeed? Read our in-depth, real-world review complete with image samples, videos, test shots and more…

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ8

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ8 Review thumbnail

Travel-zoom cameras have quickly become a popular sector of the compact market, offering a compelling combination of small size and big zoom. Panasonic’s new budget travel-zoom camera for 2010, the DMC-TZ8 (also known as the DMC-ZS5) is no different, offering a 25-300mm focal range in a camera that can easily fit inside a jacket pocket. Mark Goldstein puts the TZ8 / ZS5 through its paces in the World’s first on-line review…

Ricoh CX3

Ricoh CX3 Review thumbnail

6 months is a long time in the fast-moving world of digital photography – certainly long enough for the Ricoh CX3 to replace its predecessor, anyway. To recap, the CX3 is a compact travel-zoom camera, with a 10.7x lens providing a focal range of 28-300mm, a new back-illuminated 10 megapixel CMOS sensor which promises improved low-light performance, a gorgeous high-res 3 inch LCD screen, and the long-awaited addition of 720p HD movies. The Ricoh CX3 can be yours for £299 – read the World’s First review to find out if it’s worth your attention.

Samsung WB500

Samsung WB500 Review thumbnail

The Samsung WB500 (also known as the Samsung HZ10W) is a compact pocketable camera with a 24mm ultra wide-angle, 10x optical zoom lens. The 10 megapixel WB500 has some impressive features, including a 720p HD movie mode, 2.7 inch LCD screen, manual shooting, and not forgetting that 24-240mm lens. Priced at $299.99 / £229, Mark Goldstein finds out if the Samsung WB500 / HZ10W is worth considering.

Samsung WB550

Samsung WB550 Review thumbnail

The new Samsung WB550 (also known as the Samsung HZ15W) is the first camera in the World to feature a 24mm ultra wide angle, 10x optical zoom lens. A direct competitor to the Panasonic TZ series of cameras, the 12 megapixel WB550 has some impressive features, including 720p HD movie mode, 3 inch LCD screen, manual shooting mode, and not forgetting that 24-240mm lens. Priced at $329.99 / £299, Gavin Stoker discovers if the Samsung WB550 / HZ15W really can depose the TZ king…

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H20

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H20 Review thumbnail

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H20 is one of the more affordable super-zoom cameras on the market, offering a 10x zoom lens, 10 megapixel sensor and 3 inch LCD screen. Attractively priced at $280 / £269, the compact Sony DSC-H20 features a full range of creative shooting modes for the advanced amateur, as well as the Intelligent Scene Recognition mode for beginners. There’s also the bonus of 720p HD movie recording for video enthusiasts. Read our expert review to find out if the Sony H20 deserves a place on your super-zoom hit-list.

Nikon Coolpix S8000 Review Image

Nikon Coolpix S8000 Review Image

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