The advancements in smartphone photography have put immense pressure on compact camera manufacturers. Some have even speculated the demise of the compact camera, but as Mart Twain once said ‘The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.’
Nikon are taking the fight back to the smartphones with their brand new COOLPIX S800c, combining Nikon’s tradition of excellent image quality with the convenience of a WiFi connected Android touch screen device.
Nikon has introduced the world to device cross-over from a different angle, building the world into a compact camera is at the very least a great product differentiation. For those with a preference for picture taking abilities the COOLPIX S800c is the pocket friendly device of choice.
Being an Android based device the S800c can do far more than simply snapping pictures. With the built in WiFi connected to a local network you can check your Facebook, send emails, play a little angry birds or tweet the picture straight off the camera. In fact the entire suite of social media sites can be instantly fed directly from the camera for a healthy dose of instant gratification. GPS has also been included to geotag photo’s, it is also available to all apps as per the Android norm.
Under the hood Nikon have provided current generation technology including a 1/2.3 inch 16 megapixel backside illuminated (BSI, for low light shots) CMOS sensor and EXPEED C2 image processor. The lens provides 10x zoom with the 35 mm equivalent of 25-250mm zoom while maintaining f/3.2-5.8.
The camera software already seems quite advanced, taking full advantage of the EXPEED C2 processor to provide VR optical image stabilization, facial recognition and object tracking. A short burst mode is available that can shoot at 8 frames a second for 3 frames , fast but brief.
The S800c is equally capable when shooting video, capturing full 1080 HiDef (1920×1080 resolution at 30fps) with stereo sound. Movies like pictures are also instantly available for upload and some instant YouTube gratification.
The rear of the camera is dominated by the 3.5 inch OLED touch screen display. A minimum of buttons, (3) provide the standard Android functions; Menu, Home and Back, while all of the camera’s functions are driven by the touchscreen. The take photo button (shoot) has survived the transition, sitting just where it is expected on top in a large round finger friendly format.
The only piece of the puzzle missing for the S800c is 3G or 4G connectivity, an opportunity missed by Nikon perhaps. Who wouldn’t love a Nikon camera smartphone? The half way solution of tethering to your smartphone or tablet for 3G connectivity is available, raising the interesting idea of having a 3G connected tablet combined with the S800c as the pocket handset.
As compact camera’s become more complex the job of creating the software that controls the camera is becoming exponentially more time consuming and expensive. If Nikon were to build by hand the functionality provided by Android they would require massive teams of software engineers beavering away for years, why reinvent the wheel.
Android also brings other advantages, all internet based image processing sites like Instagram are available when in WiFi range. Google Play is also included opening up a world of Android app and games.
Taking a leaf out of the smartphone book Nikon are multi-devicing their compact camera’s, squeezing the functionality of an internet tablet and portable media player into a compact camera. Not only setting out to compete in a crowded compact camera market but trying to render other pocket Android devices redundant.
The compact camera for the Twitter generation will be available next month (September 2013) for $349.95 USD. In this ever increasingly connected and social world the Nikon S800c is a brilliantly logical evolution of the compact camera. The kind of idea that has us wondering why this is the first, while we quickly realize it won’t be the last.
Related: Nikon COOLPIX S800c