Nikon Coolpix S800c Review

October 23, 2012 | Gavin Stoker | Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


The Nikon Coolpix S800c is the first ever camera to use the Android smartphone operating system. The S800c is also Wi-Fi enabled with a 16 megapixel CMOS sensor, 10x optical zoom, built-in GPS and a 3.5-inch OLED touchscreen. The 25-250mm Nikkor lens has Vibration Reduction, while the S800c allow users to upload photographs and movies to their social networks, including Google+, Facebook and Twitter. The Nikon Coolpix S800c is available in white and black for a suggested retail price of $349.95/£379.99.

Ease of Use

Is it worth spending £379 on a camera that offers nigh identical handling to your smartphone, yet cannot make phone calls unless you're within reach of a wireless Internet connection of sufficient strength and are using Skype? That's the conundrum at the heart of Nikon's Coolpix S800c. It's the first camera to market powered by an Android 2.3 'Gingerbread' Operating System, as originally witnessed on your mobile phone. It's a direct rival for Samsung's £399 Galaxy Camera that uses a newer (but Nikon would argue less tried and tested) OS in Android 4.1 'Jellybean'. Yes, we're not massive fans of the cutesy names either.

Whereas Samsung's model benefits from a huge 4.8-inch touch screen at the rear, the Nikon's 3.5-inch variety - also touch sensitive and instantly responsive - is teeny by direct comparison. However it does mean the camera overall is smaller and more portable, so it's swings and roundabouts.

Nikon tells us the core target audience for its S800c is users aged 17 to 35, who, theoretically, will be well used to smartphones as an everyday accessory and will therefore find this camera an easy 'step up' device. It's not exclusively a case of 'if you can't beat 'em, join 'em' then, honest.

Like a smartphone the admittedly stylish Nikon's Coolpix S800c provides the ability to be able to download and run various Internet sourced applications, from photo related 'apps' such as Instagram to ubiquitous online game Angry Birds. Indeed its manufacturer has equipped the camera with a large (for a camera) memory, with 1.7GB partitioned for photos and video and 680MB given over to supplementary 'apps' with which to personalise it.

Like Sony's newest NEX-6 and NEX-5R models that also offer Wi-Fi, you can in effect 'build' your own camera via the available apps, some paid for, others free of charge. The Nikon also offers compatibility with Bluetooth devices and has a built-in GPS antenna for the tagging of images; the latter would at one time have been big news in itself but feels slightly like background noise here.

In terms of headline camera features, the S800c fields a 16 effective megapixel resolution from a 1/2.3-inch BSI CMOS sensor and incorporates an Expeed C2 image processor. The focal reach here is the equivalent of a respectably broad 25-250mm in 35mm film terms, or a 10x optical zoom. Light sensitivity runs from a manually selectable ISO125 to ISO3200, while video capture is the Full HD 1920x1080 pixels at 30 fps and with stereo sound, for which the zoom can be utilized once recording has commenced.

It's worth mentioning though that the screen here is an impressively high 819k-dot resolution anti reflective OLED display rather than the bog standard LCD, which on our sample at least made it seem as if we were looking at a high definition video feed rather than a photo realistic replacement for an optical viewfinder.

Nikon Coolpix S800c Nikon Coolpix S800c
Front Rear

From the front though the Nikon's Coolpix S800c resembles your typical point and shoot camera, if a slightly elongated handset-sized one. We had the sensible matt black version in for review, though a glossy white is the alternative, which in our opinion is more striking still.

With a tapering window housing the flash ranged top right and a stereo microphone located top left of lens with small porthole for AF assist/self timer lamp just below, the retracted 10x zoom lens dominates, and, while there is room for some form of handgrip to the far left, Nikon has opted for aesthetics over practicality. So instead of any grip we get a pebble-smooth surface instead.

Looking down on to the camera's top plate we see the Nikon's Coolpix S800c's largest control is the shutter release button, here encircled by a lever for operating the zoom, the lip of which juts forward sufficiently to catch the pad of the forefinger. Set level with the surface of the top plate is an on/off button with central green LED, while the top is bereft of the usual GPS antenna bump that usually signposts a camera with this feature.

When you first lift the camera from the box, because there's the Android operating system to deal with, rather than the regular camera interface, there's a big of rigmarole to go through. This involves either setting up a Google account or logging into a pre-existing one. A virtual on-screen Qwerty keyboard is provided for users to do this. It's frustrating though if you're eager to get straight down to the business of taking pictures.

It also took a little while for our camera to establish a wireless connection even though we were sitting in front of our router; suffice to say it was 20 minutes of faffing about before the camera was up and running as we hoped it might have been from the get go. Half press the shutter release button on this camera however and thankfully it's much quicker to respond than our dozy HTC smartphone, while a full resolution, maximum quality image is committed to memory in around two seconds.

Should you wish to turn the Nikon's Coolpix S800c off, you of course press the top plate on/off button - but unless you disable the feature you'll be asked every time whether you wish to place it on standby, as one would a phone, which necessitates a further button press.

The screen that the S800c presents us with initially on powering it up offers a sparse looking five operational icons - as with your phone it doesn't automatically default to picture taking mode, unless you were using it in that mode before you last turned it off.

Nikon Coolpix S800c Nikon Coolpix S800c
Top Front

First among these icons and moving through them on screen from left to right is a shooting mode. Next up is playback, the third mode is for uploading images to a smart device, a fourth is for Internet browsing, while the fifth is for 'settings' - set up mode in other words. A neat feature aiding viewing is that if you turn the camera on its side to shoot portrait fashion, the display also rotates so that it is always shown the right way up.

It is via the 'settings' menu that we activate or disable the likes of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity or specify devices to connect with, while, like your mobile phone, there's also an airplane mode. Sound, display and location and security settings are also to be found here.

To the right of this on-screen display, located on a side bar, are three further shortcut buttons: again for shooting and playback, with a third unmarked one slotted in between. Give this a finger tap and the most smartphone-like display is revealed, showing 18 pre-loaded applications that fill the screen entirely and will be familiar to anyone with an Android phone, such as one from the HTC range.

While it's easy enough to begin intuitively navigating the Nikon's Coolpix S800c's settings with a finger tap or swipe, ideally on a normal camera we'd want some of the icons slightly larger than they might appear on your phone - even if we can't fault the screen's responsiveness to each to our actions. As with reviewing images on your smartphone, if you want to view a chosen shot larger you can do so with a flick of the fingers, or make it smaller with a pinch.

If we select shooting mode we are presented with a screen offering six options. From top to bottom and left to right these are an easy auto mode, regular auto mode, scene mode, special effects mode, Nikon's regular smart portrait mode and lastly movie mode. As there is no dedicated red video record button on this camera, users have to navigate their way to this setting to commence filming. As the screen is presented in 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio, black bands naturally crop left and right when taking 4:3 aspect ratio photos rather than video.

On the left of screen in auto stills mode there is a brief toolbar showing exposure (+/- 2EV), macro focus, self timer (two secs, 10 secs, off) and flash options (auto, auto with red eye reduction, off, fill flash, plus slow sync), while bottom right of screen we're provided with an indication of the resolution selected and number of shots remaining. Easy auto mode is 'easier' in that does away with the macro option.  We also usefully get a little miniature thumbnail of the previous shot taken shown bottom right of screen when in capture mode. If we give this a tap, said image enlarges so we can view it properly. So far, so intuitive.

Nikon Coolpix S800c Nikon Coolpix S800c
Front Side

Although it isn't immediately obvious, the Nikon's Coolpix S800c additionally offers a touch shutter function, whereby tapping the OLED screen will take a shot. The scene mode options here are brief but offer up all the essentials, with the line up comprising snow, sunset, dusk/dawn, night landscape, close up, food, fireworks, black and white text, backlit photograph, easy panorama - hold down the shutter and pan and the camera stitches together the image for you - plus a dedicated setting for pet portraits.

The special effects mode options are limited to soft, sepia, high contrast monochrome, high key or low key settings - though of course you can add your own toy camera-like apps as and when wished in due course.

To the right of the Nikon's Coolpix S800c's screen are three hard keys - a back/return key, a home key and a menu button - all of which are self-explanatory.

While the left hand flank of the camera if viewed from the back is devoid of any controls entirely, on the right side we find separate covered ports for an HDMI connection and USB output - the latter being used not just for hooking the camera up to your PC as an alternative to using its wireless facilities, but also recharging the camera.

It's worth flagging up the fact here that the S800c's supplied EN-EL12 lithium ion rechargeable battery is charged within the camera rather than via a standalone charger, with a USB lead and adapter plug into which one end slots provided. But as the camera can manage a meagre 140 shots from a full charge - roughly half of what we'd expect from non Android OS snapshot cameras - you might want to charge up a spare in advance anyway.

The base of the Nikon's Coolpix S800c meanwhile features a screw thread for a tripod just left of centre, while a catch protected cover protects the joint battery and SD memory card compartment, which is pretty much as you'd expect to find on any conventional snapshot.

So what of the pictures you can actually take with theNikon's Coolpix S800c? Do they better what you can achieve with your smartphone, or even a standard issue snapshot costing half of what the S800c does? Read on to find out…

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 16 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 5Mb.

Given that the £379 asking price of the Nikon Coolpix S800c almost pitches the camera against the better premium compacts such as the Samsung EX2F and Panasonic LX7 - or is roughly the same as the most basic body-only DSLR - we were hoping that image quality could help partly justify that outlay.

However, the sensor size is 1/2.3-inch - standard issue for most snapshots costing half as much. Couple this with a high-ish 16 megapixels and there's the threat of visible noise at higher ISO settings, even though this Nikon tops out at a comparatively modest ISO3200. So it proves here, with a gritty appearance predictably creeping in from ISO800 upwards, though, to be fair, even at ISO3200 we'd consider results to be usable at a push. Nikon was obviously right to cap it there however.

Even when conditions are bright, other issues are presented such as blown highlight detail, while JPEGs straight from the camera often appeared softer than we'd hoped. At least colours are realistic and white balance consistent from shot to shot, but this can't make up for the disappointment of an image quality a match for cameras costing half the price. Perhaps we're missing the point however and the S800c is more about its manufacturer wanting to get a head start on rivals and declaring 'look at what we can do' than offering a conclusive argument as to why a dedicated camera will always be better than a smartphone. At this price, we're not so sure it is.

We were more forgiving when it came to video performance on the Nikon Coolpix S800c, as the optical zoom can be used, there's stereo sound and Full HD picture quality. It's a bit of a shame then that the movie option isn't more prominent and you have to drill down into the feature set to find it.


The Nikon Coolpix S800c has 6 sensitivity settings ranging from ISO 125 to ISO 3200 at full resolution.

ISO 125 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)


ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)


ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)


Here are two 100% crops - the right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images 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)


Chromatic Aberrations

The Nikon Coolpix S800c shows some purple fringing, with purpleeffects in areas of high contrast as shown in the examples below.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)


The Nikon Coolpix S800c allows you to get as close as 10cms to your subject, in this case a Compact Flash card.


Macro (100% Crop)


These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (25mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (25mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Flash Off - Telephoto (250mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (250mm)

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)

Red Eye Reduction

Red Eye Reduction (100% Crop)


The Nikon Coolpix S800c's maximum shutter speed is 4 seconds in the Freworks Show scene mode, which is not good news if you're seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 1 second at ISO 1600.


Night (100% Crop)

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Nikon Coolpix S800c camera, which were all taken using the 16 megapixel Fine JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample Movie & Video

This is a sample movie at the highest quality setting of 1920x1080 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 60 second movie is 103Mb in size.

Product Images

Nikon Coolpix S800c

Front of the Camera

Nikon Coolpix S800c

Front of the Camera / Turned On

Nikon Coolpix S800c

Front of the Camera

Nikon Coolpix S800c

Front of the Camera / Turned On

Nikon Coolpix S800c

Rear of the Camera

Nikon Coolpix S800c

Rear of the Camera / Turned On

Nikon Coolpix S800c

Rear of the Camera / Turned On

Nikon Coolpix S800c

Rear of the Camera / Turned On

Nikon Coolpix S800c

Top of the Camera


Nikon Coolpix S800c

Side of the Camera

Nikon Coolpix S800c

Side of the Camera

Nikon Coolpix S800c

Front of the Camera


The first of any new product line is never going to offer value for money alongside the thrill of the new. And the Nikon Coolpix S800c is an exciting product, even if the short battery life is an issue as is the fact that accessing the ability to take photos isn't as immediate as we feel it should be. Not a problem if you're using a smartphone and are therefore going to be doing more besides, but rather more of an issue on an actual camera. Then there's the disappointment that the actual images produced aren't any better than a point and shoot camera costing half as much.

In truth then it is among early adopters rather than camera enthusiasts that the Coolpix S800c stands the best chance of finding an audience. Not just because of the premium asking price but also the initially modest camera specification, when compared what could be bought if you're not bothered about, or even put off by, an Android operating system. That said, while for now it might be considered something of a niche product, the smart money is still on a greater symbiosis between cameras and phones as being the shape of things to come rather than a passing gimmick. Which is why, importantly, while it ain't perfect, the Nikon Coolpix S800c is still a revolutionary product in its own right.

3.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4
Features 4
Ease-of-use 3
Image quality 3
Value for money 3

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Nikon Coolpix S800c from around the web. »

Extremely easy to use and responsive, the Android-based Nikon Coolpix S800c feels like a camera running a mobile operating system, rather than a smart phone with a better-than-average lens and sensor. While it performed well, some rough edges in my tests and the high price dampen its score.
Read the full review » »

Our smartphones have incorporated digital cameras for a decade, so isn’t it time that compacts took a few lessons from the smartphones threatening to kill them off? Nikon thinks so, and has launched the first Android powered camera to hit the market in the £380 Nikon Coolpix S800c, rival in that respect to the subsequently announced Samsung Galaxy Camera.
Read the full review » »

As mobile phones begin to penetrate what once was “camera-only” ground, the proliferation of such smartphones is said to be the demise of compact camera sales. The solution? Camera inoculation. At least that’s where the Nikon Coolpix S800c has gone - this “smartcamera” is powered by Android Gingerbread 2.3 and offers something that no phone has: a 10x optical zoom.
Read the full review »


*¹ Not compatible with Multi Media Card (MMC).

*² Based on CIPA Standards for measuring life of batteries.

*³ Android, Google, Google Play, YouTube, and other marks are trademarks of Google Inc.

Product name COOLPIX S800c
Type Compact digital camera
Number of effective pixels 16.0 million
Image sensor 1/2.3-in. type CMOS; total pixels: approx. 16.79 million
Lens 10x optical zoom, NIKKOR lens
Focal length 4.5-45.0 mm (angle of view equivalent to that of 25-250 mm lens in 35 mm [135] format)
f/-number f/3.2-5.8
Lens construction 8 elements in 8 groups (1 ED lens element)
Digital zoom magnification Up to 4x (angle of view equivalent to that of approx. 1000 mm lens in 35 mm [135] format)
Vibration reduction Lens shift
Motion blur reduction Motion detection (still pictures)
Autofocus (AF) Contrast-detect AF
Focus range [W]: Approx. 50 cm (1 ft 8 in.) to infinity, [T]: Approx. 1.0m (3 ft 4 in.) to infinity; Macro mode: Approx. 10 cm (4 in.) to infinity (at a wide-angle zoom position beyond the triangle mark) (All distances measured from center of front surface of lens)
Focus-area selection Face priority, auto (9-area automatic selection), center, manual (focus area can be selected using the touch panel), subject tracking
Monitor 8.7 cm (3.5-in.), widescreen, OLED monitor (touch panel) with anti-reflection coating, approx. 819k-dot, 5-level brightness adjustment
Frame coverage (shooting mode) Approx. 98% horizontal and 98% vertical (compared to actual image)
Frame coverage (playback mode) Approx. 100% horizontal and 100% vertical (compared to actual image)
Media Internal memory, spaces available for saving images: approx. 1.7 GB, Spaces available for saving applications: approx. 680 MB (varying depending on the country or region), SD/SDHC memory card *¹
File system DCF, Exif 2.3, DPOF compliant
File formats Still pictures: JPEG, Movies: MOV (video: H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, audio: AAC stereo)
Image size (pixels) 16M (high image quality) [4608 x 3456(fine)], 16M [4608 x 3456], 8M [3264 x 2448], 4M [2272 x 1704], 2M [1600 x 1200], VGA [640 x 480], 16:9 (12M) [4608 x 2592], 16:9 (2M) [1920 x 1080]
Shooting Modes Easy auto, Auto, Scene(Portrait, Landscape, Sports, Night portrait, Party/indoor, Beach, Snow, Sunset, Dusk/dawn, Night landscape, Close-up, Food, Fireworks show, Black and white copy, Backlighting, Easy panorama, Pet portrait), Special effects, Smart portrait, Movie
Continuous Shooting Single (default setting), Continuous H (images are taken at a rate of about 8.1 fps, up to 3 frames), Continuous L (up to 18 images are taken at a rate of about 1.4 fps), Continuous H: 120 fps (50 frames are captured at a speed of about 120 fps or faster), Continuous H: 60 fps (25 frames are captured at a speed of about 60 fps or faster), BSS (Best Shot Selector), Multi-shot 16
Movie HD 1080p(fine) (default setting): 1920 x 1080/approx. 30 fps, HD 1080p: 1920 x 1080/approx. 30 fps, HD 720p: 1280 x 720/approx. 30 fps, VGA: 640 x 480/approx. 30 fps, HS 240 fps: 320 x 240, HS 120 fps: 640 x 48, HS 60 fps: 1280 x 720, HS 15 fps: 1920 x 1080
ISO sensitivity (Standard output sensitivity) ISO 125-1600, ISO 3200 (available in manual mode)
Metering mode 256-segment matrix, center-weighted (digital zoom less than 2x), spot (digital zoom 2x or more)
Exposure control Programmed auto exposure and exposure compensation (-2.0 - +2.0 EV in steps of 1/3 EV)
Shutter Mechanical and CMOS electronic shutter
Shutter speed 1/2000-1 s, 1/4000 s (maximum speed during high-speed continuous shooting), 4 s (Fireworks show scene mode)
Aperture Electronically-controlled ND filter (-2 AV) selection
Range 2 steps (f/3.2 and f/6.4 [W])
Self-timer Can be selected from 10 and 2 second durations
Range (approx.) (ISO sensitivity: Auto) [W]: 0.5-5.6 m (1 ft 8 in.-18 ft), [T]: 1.0-3.1 m (3 ft 4 in.-10 ft)
Flash control TTL auto flash with monitor preflashes
Interface Hi-Speed USB/PictBridge; HDMI; Wi-Fi® (WPS 2.0 support); Bluetooth®
Data Transfer Protocol Mass storage
HDMI output Can be selected from Auto, 480p, 720p, and 1080i
I/O terminal Digital I/O (USB), HDMI mini connector (Type C) (HDMI output)
GPS Receiver frequency 1575.42 MHz (C/A code), geodetic system WGS 84
Supported languages Arabic, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (European and Brazilian), Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese
Power sources One Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL12 (included), AC Adapter EH-62F (available separately)
Charging time Approx. 4 hours (with Charging AC Adapter EH-69P when battery is fully discharged)
Battery life *² Still pictures: Approx. 140 shots when using EN-EL12
Tripod socket 1/4 (ISO 1222)
Dimensions (W x H x D) Approx. 111.4 x 60.0 x 27.2 mm (4.4 x 2.4 x 1.1 in.) (excluding projections)
Weight Approx. 184 g (6.5 oz) (including battery and SD memory card)
Temperature 0°C-40°C (32°F-104°F)
Humidity 85% or less (no condensation)
Wi-Fi (Wireless LAN) Standards IEEE 802.11b/g/n (standard wireless LAN protocol), WPS 2.0 (certified compliant with Wi-Fi Alliance standards), ARIB STD-T66 (standard for low power data communications systems)
Wi-Fi (Wireless LAN) communications protocols IEEE 802.11b: DBPSK, DQPSK, IEEE 802.11g: OFDM, IEEE 802.11n: OFDM
Wi-Fi (Wireless LAN) range (line of sight) Approx. 60 m (65 yd) (varies with location)
Wi-Fi (Wireless LAN) operating frequency 2412-2462 MHz (1-11 channels)
Wi-Fi (Wireless LAN) data rates (actual measured values) IEEE 802.11b: 5 Mbps, IEEE 802.11g: 20 Mbps, IEEE 802.11n: 25 Mbps
Wi-Fi (Wireless LAN) security WPA/WPA2/WEP
Wi-Fi (Wireless LAN) access protocols Infrastructure
Bluetooth standards Bluetooth® (ver.2.1+EDR)
Profile A2DP
Processor Coretex-A9
Memory Internal storage: 1.7 GB, RAM: 512 MB
Operating system Android™ 2.3 *³
Supplied accessories Camera Strap, Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL12 (with Terminal Cover), Charging AC Adapter EH-69P, USB Cable UC-E6
Optional accessories Battery Charger MH-65, AC Adapter EH-62F

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