Nikon Coolpix S6800 Review

May 31, 2014 | Jack Baker | |

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 20 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 6Mb.

The Coolpix S6800 may be focussed on style and compactness over outright image quality, but it will snap a nice shot, providing you don’t scrutinise the results too closely. The camera’s exposure metering strikes a good balance between preserving shadow and highlight detail and, along with the punchy colour reproduction, means shots look bright and attractive straight from the camera. Auto white balance also acquits itself well, accurately capturing colour where similar cameras have come a cropper.

If you do view at 100% and pixel peep then the limitations of the S6800’s small sensor are visible. Some grain is present even at low sensitivities, whilst fine detail in landscape shots can look slightly smoothed and painterly. However these are issues which plague pretty much any camera with a 1/2.3” sensor and the S6800 deals with them fairly well.

Ramp up the sensor sensitivity for low light or to freeze a fast-moving subject and of course more image noise comes into play, but the camera controls grain well and eliminates colour speckling up to ISO800. Even ISO1600 is quite useable, though by ISO3200 the camera is losing the battle with noise. The maximum ISO6400 is best left as a marketing tool rather than a useful setting, such are the high levels of noise and detail smoothing.

Optical performance is also up to scratch as the lens keeps chromatic aberrations (purple fringing) to a minimum and maintains good corner sharpness. Distortion is minimal at wide angle, though there is a visible pincushion effect at the maximum telephoto end, although you shouldn’t notice it unless you shoot stark geometric subjects.

Noise

The Nikon Coolpix S6800 has seven sensitivity settings ranging from ISO125 to ISO6400 at full resolution.

ISO 125 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso125.jpg iso200.jpg
   

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

iso400.jpg iso800.jpg
   

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

iso1600.jpg iso3200.jpg
   

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

 
iso6400.jpg  

Focal Range

The S6800’s 12x zoom lens achieves a maximum wide-angle focal length equivalent to 25mm, and is capable of a telephoto reach of 300mm (in 35mm-camra terms).

25mm

300mm

focal_range1.jpg focal_range2.jpg

Sharpening

Here are two 100% crops - the right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images from the Nikon Coolpix S6800 are slightly soft at the default sharpening setting and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. You can alternatively change the in-camera sharpening level to suit your tastes.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg
   
sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

File Quality

Shooting the Nikon Coolpix S6800 at its maximum 16.0MP resolution in Fine JPEG quality produces images 6-8MB in size. You can choose to downgrade to Normal quality at this resolution, whereby the file size roughly halves.

Fine (7.39Mb) (100% Crop)

Normal (3.86Mb) (100% Crop)

quality_fine.jpg quality_normal.jpg

Chromatic Aberrations

Given the range of the zoom lens, the Nikon Coolpix S6800 shows some purple fringing, with limited effects in areas of high contrast as shown in the examples below.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

chromatic1.jpg chromatic2.jpg

Macro

The S6800’s lens will focus as close as 2cm from a subject, however depth of field becomes very shallow at this extremely close distance.

Macro

Macro (100% Crop)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg

Flash

The S6800’s built-in flash has four settings: Auto, Auto with red-eye reduction, Fill flash & Slow sync. Shooting a white surface from a distance of 1.5m, the flash provides even coverage with the lens zoomed in, though some vignetting is visible in the wide-angle shot.

Whether the flash is set to standard Auto mode – or Auto with red-eye reduction – the camera successfully avoids any trace of red-eye.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (25mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (25mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Flash Off - Telephoto (300mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (300mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are a couple of portrait shots. As you can see, neither the Fill Flash or the Auto with Red-eye reduction options caused any amount of red-eye.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)
flash_on.jpg flash_on1.jpg
   

Red Eye Reduction

Red Eye Reduction (100% Crop)

flash_redeye.jpg flash_redeye1.jpg

Vibration Reduction

Holding a camera steady at or near the 300mm-equivalent focal length the S6800 is capable of is a tall order. Luckily Vibration Reduction saves the day and ensures shots like this stay crisp.

Shutter Speed / Focal Length

Anti Shake Off (100% Crop)

Anti Shake On (100% Crop)
1/5th sec / 256mm antishake1.jpg antishake1a.jpg

Night

Night photography is easy with the Night Landscape mode, which works whether you’re shooting hand-held or on a tripod.

Night Night (100% Crop)
night1.jpg night1a.jpg

Backlighting

This setting automatically captures two exposures of a high-contrast scene to record shadow and highlight detail separately, then merges them into a single HDR image.

HDR Off

HDR On
hdr_off.jpg hdr_on.jpg

Special Effects

The S6800 offers thirteen colour effects, all of which are previewed live. Your options are: Soft, Nostalgic sepia, High-contrast monochrome, High key, Low key, Selective colour, Pop, Super vivid, Painting, Toy camera effect 1, Toy camera effect 2, Cross process & Mirror.

Soft

Sepia
effects_01.jpg effects_02.jpg
   

Monochrome

High Key

effects_03.jpg effects_04.jpg
   

Low Key

Selective Color

effects_05.jpg effects_06.jpg
   

Pop

Vivid

effects_07.jpg effects_08.jpg
   

Painting

Toy Camera 1

effects_09.jpg effects_10.jpg
   

Toy Camera 2

Cross Process

effects_11.jpg effects_12.jpg
   

Mirror

 
effects_13.jpg  

Easy Panorama

Easy Panorama just requires you to pan the camera whilst it captures and stitches the images into either a 180 or 360-degree panorama.

Easy Panorama
panorama.jpg