Nikon’s Travel Camera Is Built For Your Pocket
Travel-zoom cameras provide the best combination of optical reach and compact size on the market. Companies such as Sony and Panasonic are ratcheting things up with 20x and 30x lens designs, but all that extra zoom comes at a cost: The cameras aren’t very pocketable.
The Nikon Coolpix S6800 (MSRP $219.95) sidesteps this optical zoom arms race and sticks with a more modest 12x design, providing enough reach for most users while offering a slim, compact package. With the addition of Wi-Fi, a 16-megapixel backside-illuminated CMOS sensor, a 3-inch LCD and some new “Advanced Glamour Retouch” modes, the S6800 just screams for the opportunity to tag along on your adventures.
Design and usability
At about an inch deep, the S6800 is a camera that will fit in the pocket of even the skinniest jeans. The 12x optical zoom lens collapses into the body and offers a 35mm equivalent focal range of 25–300mm. The lens feeds light to the 16-megapixel CMOS sensor and has optical stabilization for both stills and video, and electronic stabilization is available when recording video.
The shooting experience with the Coolpix S6800 is very similar to most other point-and-shoots: The limited aperture range means it struggles in low light, though the optical stabilization did allow us to take some acceptably sharp shots even at full zoom. The camera is lightweight and easy to use, though the lack of manual control will put off anybody looking for a more advanced camera. Still, this is a successful design that doesn’t leave much room for gripes — especially given the extremely reasonable price point.
When it comes to features, the S6800 is pretty well-equipped. Stills shooters benefit from 9.4 frames per second shooting (with a maximum of seven frames in a burst), a 100-6400 ISO range, a built-in flash and a bevy of in-camera editing and scene modes. Video shooters get full 1080/30p HD video and a stereo microphone. There’s also updated Wi-Fi connectivity.
Nothing here is revolutionary, but there are no glaring omissions, either. The biggest addition over last year’s models is the Advanced Glamour Retouch modes, which offer several ways to beautify up to three subjects in your photo. It does so by brightening skin tones, hiding the bags under eyes, applying eye makeup digitally and whitening teeth. You can change the shade of subjects’ lipstick, because, man, that mauve looks terrible with your fuchsia dress.
We’re not sure we’d use these features, but they’re a bonus that does separate the Coolpix S6800 from the crowd. If you do similar editing to your photos already and just want to ship shots straight from the camera to social media channels, this eliminates one extra step.
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To be certain, the Coolpix S6800 lacks most of the advanced features that usually get us camera reviewers all excited. It doesn’t have a viewfinder, a large sensor, 1080/60p video, manual control or excellent ergonomics. But at an MSRP of $219.95, nobody expects it to.
What the S6800 does have is a competitive feature set for the class, built-in Wi-Fi and a compact body that you won’t mind carrying with you all the time. There’s nothing here that will set the camera world alight, but there’s enough that, if you’re in the market for an affordable, easy-to-use camera, it’s worth considering.
That said, we wouldn’t recommend paying full price for this camera right away. We’ll have to get the S6800 into our test labs to make any proclamations about performance, but there’s been very little improvement in this part of the market in the past two years. Also, cameras like the S6800 tend to drop precipitously in price throughout the year. Today’s $220 camera is tomorrow’s $180 camera — and Black Friday’s $130 camera.
So if you need a pocketable point-and-shoot, we’d say you should take a look at something such as the Coolpix S6500, which is essentially the same camera and can be had for $169.95.
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