Nikon Coolpix S800c Hands-On: Is Android On A Camera As Awful As It Sounds?

Nikon Coolpix S800c Hands-On: Is Android On A Camera As Awful As It Sounds?

Nikon’s latest camera gimmick is actually pretty clever. As smartphone manufacturers race to beef up their built-in cameras from five-megapixels to eight, to twelve and so-on, Nikon thought it prudent to flip the game on its head: it already has a 16-megapixel compact camera, so why not put Android on it and beat phone makers to the punch? Introducing, the Android-powered, Nikon S800c digital camera. Is it nifty or just plain bad?

Truth be told, the S800c isn’t actually something you can easily compare to a regular Android-powered smartphone, simply because of the lack of a SIM card. It can’t make calls, nor can it send text messages. The only way this thing can connect to the internet is via the built-in Wi-Fi antenna. That makes the S800c more of an Android tablet, rather than an Android smartphone. Whoever heard of a 3.5-inch tablet with a 16-megapixel camera before?

The idea behind the Coolpix s800c is social sharing. You know, that old chestnut. It comes preinstalled with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram alongside the Shoot, Play and Share apps from Nikon. When you power the device up, it’ll first boot into the camera. You can snap shots within about 1.5 seconds, but you won’t be able to review them until the software behind the shooting app has powered up (being Android).

The 3.5-inch touchscreen supports touch shooting and it’s super quick, but it’s a shame that only 10 per cent of the photos you use touch shutter for are properly in focus. You’ll get good results taking mid-range portrait shots with the touch shutter.

The Coolpix S800c runs Android 2.3.3 out of the box. That’s despite the fact that Android 4.1.1 aka Jelly Bean is now hot property. You’d assume that 2.3.3 was selected due to its stability, right? After all, You don’t want those precious pictures being missed due to a dodgy app, but that’s not it. More than once in a two-hour concert, the device crashed while in the camera app which meant the camera shut itself down completely. I had to pull the battery before I could coax any life out of it again, which meant the shot of the lovely Kelly Clarkson I had planned to take was lost. Hopefully that’s an isolated incident.

As far as snapping pictures goes, the S800c performs admirably. Low light shots are tremendously good, the image stabilisation is fantastic when shooting at the long-end of the lens or high-definition video, and the one-touch sharing functionality is excellent. Your friends will line up to ask how you snapped that perfect concert pic while their mobile phones were left with overexposed rubbish.

It’s also got full access to the Google Play store, which means you can install apps and play games that are compatible with Android 2.3.3. Clever, but you wouldn’t want to hand the kids your camera to play Angry Birds on, especially given the state of the S800c’s battery. Hint: it’s atrociously bad. We’ll do a full battery test and more in the review.

In the meantime, check out some of the snaps from the S800c.

Click to enlarge…