Long-zoom compact cameras, also often called travel cameras, are a big growth area of the digital camera market. Nearly all of the main manufacturers now produce compact cameras with zoom lenses of 10x magnification or greater, models such as Panasonic's TZ8 (£210) and TZ10 (£270), Samsung's WB650 (£240), the Canon SX210 IS (£240), Olympus mju 9000 (£240) and Ricoh CX3 (£300) and Fujifilm's new F300 EXR (£329, review coming soon) are all big sellers. Increasingly these cameras are being equipped with other advanced features such as manual exposure options, high-speed shooting, HD video recording, built-in GPS or travel guides being added as the brands vie for a bigger share of the market. As a result these travel cameras are becoming ever more complicated and ever more expensive, factors which may discourage many potential buyers.
Nikon has been something of a late entrant into this particular sector, but has recently introduced a long-zoom compact of its own that should go some way towards redressing the balance. The Coolpix S8000 features an optically stabilised flush-folding 10x zoom lens equivalent to 30-300mm, a 14.2-megapixel CCD sensor, a three-inch high resolution monitor and HD video recording with stereo audio, but with an easy-to-use fully automatic operation and in a body which Nikon claims is the thinnest 10x zoom camera in the world, all for a wallet-friendly price of less than £190.
The S8000 is a nice looking camera too. It has a mostly plastic body with a metal facia, and is available in three colours; brown, black and the light bronze colour shown here. The build quality is up to Nikon's usual high standard, and the camera feels solid and substantial in the hand, despite its relatively low weight of 183g including battery and memory card. It measures 103 x 57 x 27.3mm at its thickest section, not much bigger than some ultra-compacts, and the unusual rounded ridge around the lens gives it a distinctive appearance. It has few protruding parts and slips easily into a pocket.