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2010.09.19

Nikon recently has recently announced flagship cameras for three of their Coolpix series. The ultra-slim S80, the compact travel-zoom S8100 and the advanced compact P7000.  These three cameras will become available between September and November.

The Coolpix S80 is as stylish in appearance as it is in specifications. It sports a luxurious metal finish and high-resolution CCD with 14 megapixels behind a 5X optical zoom folded-optics lens equivalent to 35-175mm. The back side of the camera shows a 3.5″ wide-screen OLED display with 819K pixels and touch-screen interface. OLED is a technology which produces bright displays with relatively low power consumption compared to traditional LCDs. This helps keep the size and weight of ultra-slim cameras which can use slimmer batteries. The Coolpix S80 particularly can take 150 shots and measures a mere 17mm in depth. Other headline features include stabilization and the now-required HD video recording more at 720p (1280×720 @ 30 FPS). Despite such a small size, Nikon managed to put in an HDMI output to display images and playback video directly on most HDTVs.

Next up is a subtle refresh of the compact travel zoom S8xxx series. Like the S8000 before it, the S8100 fits a whole 10X optical zoom lens into a 30mm thick body, something very few cameras manage. This time the zoom range is from 30 to 300mm and is optically stabilized for sharp photos at relatively low shutter-speeds. The only viewfinder on the S8100 is a large 3″ LCD with a 920K pixels, wide viewing-angle and anti-glare coating. Where the S8100 leaps bounds ahead of its predecessor is in terms of speed. The replacement of the S8000’s 14 megapixels CCD for a 12 megapixels BSI CMOS-sensor means that the S8100 can shoot at a whopping 10 FPS. Video enthusiasts will enjoy full HDTV recording in a such a compact camera with up to 1920×1080 @ 30 FPS video. For such large video files, Nikon thoughtfully included support for SDXC cards which are planned to support up to 2 TB per card.

The P7000 may follow the P6000 in its series but boasts an entirely new design and direction for Nikon high-end compacts. Geared towards image quality first, the Coolpix P7000 uses a 10 megapixels CCD with ISO range reaching 3200 behind a stabilized wide-angle lens with 7X optical zoom. Having an equivalent of 28-200mm lens means the P7000 is very versatile while remaining relatively compact. This high-end compact digital camera is directly aimed at advanced users wanting portability while keeping powerful features and efficient controls. Photographic control are spread all around the camera to avoid the slowness of using menus to change important settings. There is an optical tunnel viewfinder for use in very bright sunlight and a hot-shoe to support powerful external flashes, known as Speedlights in Nikon terminology. Certain photographers will be pleased to know that the P7000 shoots both JPEG images and RAW files, potentially leaving processing into the hands of specialized third-party software such as Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.

It does not stop there, the P7000 includes several rare and unique features in its class, including a virtual horizon which so far has been reserved for high-end DSLRs, a stereo microphone input for audio during video-recording which has also been only seen on high-end DSLRs and dual infrared receivers. To round out the most important specifications, this digital cameras uses a high-resolution 3″ LCD with 920K pixels and records 720p HD video with both zoom and focus capabilities. Keen readers will notice the only disappointing specification of the P7000 is its incomplete framing coverage at 97% compared to 100% for other advanced compacts. Also note the lack of GPS compared to the P6000, which honestly seems a great thing to cut-back on considering how many truly useful features the Coolpix P7000 has acquired.

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