he S8000 boasts Nikon’s EXPEED processor, which gives it quite creditable performance. It was able to start up and take a photo in less than two seconds, or a shot with flash in just under two and a half seconds, which is very quick. Shot-to-shot time in single shot mode is approximately 1.9 seconds, while in standard continuous mode it can manage approximately 1.2 seconds, although annoyingly there’s no audio cue when it takes a picture in this mode.
The autofocus system is very good in normal lighting conditions, and while it does slow down somewhat in lower light it never hunts and nearly always gets a lock. It has a good AF assist lamp with a range of at least three metres, and will focus reliably in most lighting conditions. The flash is also very good, fulfilling its claimed 5.5m range at wide angle, but is also well metered for close range shots.
The S8000 has optical image stabilisation, essential for a long zoom lens. Due to the camera’s all-auto operation it’s hard to measure accurately, but it produced sharp pictures at moderate zoom at shutter speeds as slow as 1/8th of a second. Combined with the Best Shot Selector it’s easy to get sharp results even in quite low light.
Image quality is on the whole very good. The Nikon ED lens is particularly good, producing distortion-free results at wide angle, with excellent edge-to-edge sharpness with minimal chromatic aberration. The level of detail is about average for a high-spec 14MP camera, with relatively low image compression producing high quality files of around 4.5-5.5MB. Colour reproduction is quite natural, producing plenty of detail without over-saturating. Dynamic range is better than expected, with good shadow and highlight detail, improved still further by applying D-Lighting in playback.
Noise control is also very good, with minimal noise at 400 and 800 ISO, and printable results even at 1600. The maximum 3200 ISO is a bit of a mess as it nearly always is, but even then the results are usable for small images.
While it may lack all of the contemporary bells and whistles, the Nikon Coolpix S8000 is a solidly made and well designed camera that offers a wide range of easy-to-use high-end features and produces reliably good results in a wide range of situations. It is a superb all-rounder and excellent value for money.