In terms of camera performance the S1000pj isn’t at all bad either. It starts up in just over two seconds, and in single-shot mode its shot-to-shot time of approximately 2.4 seconds is fairly respectable. In continuous shooting mode the S1000pj can manage approximately two seconds per frame, but with a confusing double-blink of the monitor which makes it look like it’s going a lot faster.
The autofocus system is a little bit on the slow side, but not annoyingly so, and its low-light performance is excellent. It has a good bright AF assist lamp, and will focus in darkness at a range of several metres. The face detection, blink detection and subject tracking systems work well in good light, but as one might expect they perform less well in poorer illumination.
The S1000pj does have one major weakness, and unfortunately that is its picture quality. As usual with periscope-type internal zoom lenses the optical quality isn’t all that good, with significant blurring and blue-green chromatic aberration around the edges of the frame. At least barrel distortion appears to be corrected in processing, but overall sharpness and detail are lower than most other 12MP compacts. The slow maximum aperture of f/3.9 doesn’t help much either.
The problems don’t end there. Dynamic range is very restricted despite the automatic D-Lighting feature, with detail clipped from both shadows and highlights. As well as this image noise is visible at all ISO settings, becoming a significant problem as low as 200 ISO, and the 1600 ISO setting is pretty much unusable. 3200 and 6400 ISO are available, but only in a cellphone-quality 3.0-megapixel size.
These image quality issues might be too much of a handicap for the S1000pj, because at the moment it costs a wallet-crushing £350, although some of the less scrupulous online retailers have it for around £305. That’s a lot of money for a fairly average point-and-shoot camera, especially one with questionable picture quality, so it’s going to have to rely on the novelty value of the LED projector technology to sell is. It will probably succeed in gadget-obsessed Japan, but I fear that in the cash-strapped UK it may not do so well.
The CoolPix S1000pj is a gadget lover’s dream, and is sure to draw an admiring crowd, at least until the next cool toy comes along. Build quality and design are up to Nikon’s usual high standard, and the projector technology certainly works well enough, but annoyingly it is let down by mediocre camera performance. Considering the cost, only the gadget lovers are going to buy it.