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Nikon Coolpix S1000pj Review
Date: Sept 20, 2009
NIkon Coolpix S1000pj - "Silver" model
HANDLING & FEEL
The Nikon Coolpix S1000pj is an ultra-compact and light digital camera with an all-metal body that feels solid and well-built. Measuring 99.5 x 62.5 x 23
mm (4.0 x 2.5 x 0.9 in.), it is slim enough
to slip into a jeans pocket or small fashion handbag.
When you look at the Nikon S1000pj face on, you might be forgiven to think that the square at the top right is an optical viewfinder and the square below the flash is the lens. Easy to make that mistake. Let's see: the square at top right is in fact the lens (it has a built-in barrier and its position means that you need to be careful not to extend your left fingers in front of it) and the square just below the flash is a built-in projector. That's right, the "pj" in the "Nikon S1000pj" refers to its built-in projector. Read more about the projector in our User's Experience section.
The Nikon S1000pj in projector mode placed on its stand
On the top right, besides the lens are two smaller squares (yeah, lots of squares on this camera, except for two buttons, which we will describe later). The topmost one is an infrared receiver (there's also one at the back of the camera) so you can use the Remote Control. The Remote Control allows you to browse thru the pictures (including movies) in Playback mode. I expected that, but surprise, surprise, the Remote Control also allows you to take still pictures and movies. Working distance is within 5 m (16 ft.)
Turn on the camera, point to your subject. Press the OK button to take the picture (focus is automatic). You can use the W and T buttons to zoom. The Remote Control also works if you put the camera in Self-timer mode.
In Projector Playback mode, you need to manually focus the image on screen, then use the Remote Control to browse thru the pictures. You can use the W and T buttons to zoom in for a closer view, including viewing thumbnails. You use the OK button to play a recorded movie, and the W and T buttons to increase / decrease the sound volume.
The second smaller square is the Self-timer lamp / AF-assist illuminator.
The four holes below the projector are for the built-in microphone.
The Nikon S1000pj does not have a handgrip (or even "finger grip") but thanks to the generous space in front and at the back, you get a good enough grip. Even then, it can at times be slippery, so the use of the wrist strap is always a good idea.
Startup time is pretty fast at just over 1 sec. Shot to shot time
is about 1.7 sec. (I took 9 shots in approx.
15 sec.) which is quite good. There is no practical shutter
lag. Autofocus is very fast and precise in good lighting conditions; in low-light, it is pretty fast using the AF-assist illuminator, but can sometimes take up to 2 sec. to lock focus, depending on how contrasty your subject is.
||Colors: overall black (the faceplate can also be "silver") with chrome accents
||Looks: fashionable, stylish
||Well designed, comfortable enough to hold, though can be slippery
||Controls on the small side, but precise and very usable
||Ultra Compact: fits in a Jeans pocket or small fashion purse
||Dimensions: Approx. 99.5 x 62.5 x 23 mm (4.0 x 2.5 x 0.9 in.) excluding projections
||Weight: Approx. 155 g (5.5 oz.) without
battery and SD memory card
||Takes 1 Li-ion battery EN-EL12 3.7V
|SPEED OF OPERATION
||Startup speed with lens cover opening and LCD turning
in just over 1 sec.
||Shot to shot time about 1.7 sec.
||No practical shutter lag in good lighting
A Li-Ion battery EN-EL12 gives about 220 shots (CIPA) and charges in about 2 hr 30 min.
The Terminal compartment is on the top right side
of the camera (viewed from the back) with a small
rubber "door" that is quite difficult to maintain open (and hence you have to struggle a bit to plug in the USB cable).
Nikon S1000pj Top View
The top of the camera has (from right to left)
the wonderfully large circular Shutter Release Button with the Zoom Lever around it, the recessed square Power ON/OFF button, the rectangular manual Projector Focus Slider, and the circular Projector button.
I like the large circular shutter release button. Often, on an ultra compact digital camera, you only find a small shutter release button. The problem with a small shutter release button is that when you press it, the whole camera moves, resulting in camera shake and hence blurred photos. The Nikon S1000pj has a generous sized shutter release button with the right amount of tensile resistance for half press and full press.
The Zoom lever goes thru the 5x optical zoom in approx. 2 sec. and I counted about 9 steps.
The Nikon S1000pj has no viewfinder but has a large 2.7 in. LCD monitor that is bright with 230,000 dots and with a
fast enough refresh rate for a smooth display.
You can manually adjust the LCD monitor's brightness
in SETUP [5 levels, with Level 3 considered normal brightness]. The LCD does not gain up much, if at all, in low light. There
is an effective AF-assist Illuminator to help
achieve focus in low-light.
All the controls are to the right of the LCD. I appreciate that the camera designer took pains to leave a clear area for where your thumb rests.
At the top, there is a Flash Lamp that lets you know if the flash is ready to fire (red light), is still recharging (blinks), or off. The reason why this info is just not displayed on the LCD screen is that when you half-press the shutter release button, all info on screen (if you selected to display them in the first place: Menu - Set up - Monitor settings - Photo info - Show info or Framing Grid) disappears except for the shutter speed and aperture.
To the right of the Flash Lamp is the rear Infrared receiver.
The nine holes are for the speaker.
The green camera square button is the Shooting Mode button and allows you to select a shooting mode, of which there are 5: Auto, Scene, Smart Portrait, Subject Tracking, and Movie.
Auto mode is basically Program Auto in that you can still select ISO, WB, exposure compensation, etc.
There are 17 Scene modes: Scene auto selector, Portrait, Landscape, Sports, Night portrait, Party/indoor, Beach/snow, Sunset, Dusk/dawn, Night landscape, Close-up, food, Museum, Fireworks show, Copy, Backlight, Panorama assist.
In Scene auto selector, the camera automatically selects a Scene mode for you. That is not foolproof. I tried it with a close-up subject and the camera at first correctly selected the Close-up scene mode. When I tried it a second time, the camera insisted on the Night landscape scene mode. The key is to watch the icon change so you can ascertain if the camera makes the correct selection. It's certainly convenient, though not 100% foolproof.
Backlight is interesting in that the flash will fire as fill-in flash. Use it during the daytime when there is a strong light (e.g. sun) coming from behind your subject. You'll get a nice halo around the hair, plus the fill-in flash will correctly expose the face.
Panorma assist lets you take a number of pictures (seems to be unlimited) and allows you to superimpose the half-transparent previous shot for precise matching. You'll need to do the stitching later in Panorama Maker (supplied on the CD ROM).
Smart portrait automatically takes a picture when a face is recognized and the subject smiles (Smile timer is set ON by default and can be turned OFF in MENU). If desired, you can also set Blink proof mode ON and apply a measure of skin softening.
Subject tracking mode lets you lock onto a subject and the camera will track it as the subject (or the camera) moves. It works quite well, too, as long as the subject does not move too fast. This is great for a subject that moves a lot -- like a kid who can't stay in one place.
You can record about 32s of 640 x 480 30fps movie (with sound) into Internal memory and 7 min. 20 s into a 512MB SD memory card. Maximum recording time is 25 min. or 2GB. Optical zoom is disabled during movie recording, but you can use digital zoom.
The Playback button puts the camera in playback mode, and a second press of the button brings up a sub menu that allows you to add the current picture as a Favorite, Sort the pictures by Scene modes or List them by date. A half-press on the shutter release button immediately returns the camera to shooting mode.
If you just
want to view your pics without turning the camera
on, simply press and hold the Playback button
for about 3 sec. and you'll be in Playback mode; when you're done, press the
Power button to turn the camera off.
The Multi selector is... square, with the four corners slightly angled downward, making it easy to use. UP is Flash (Auto, Red-eye, Off, Fill-in, Slow sync.; RIGHT is Exposure Compensation (+/- 2.0 EV is 0.3EV increments); DOWN is Macro; and LEFT is Self-timer (10s, 2s).
The MENU button lets you select the Shooting and Set-up settings.
In Playback mode, the DELETE button deletes the picture currently displayed. To delete all pictures, you need to access the MENU [ Menu - Playback menu - Delete - Erase all images - Yes]. In Shooting mode, pressing the DELETE button allows you to delete the last picture you've taken. The DELETE button is safely recessed so you don't press it by mistake.
Small thing, but someone thoughtfully put two slightly raised tiny dots to delineate the top and bottom of the control buttons so you can find them by touch alone.
Like I said, the controls have been well thought out and there's no frustration using them (though I would still recommend that you try them out first if you have large fingers).
On the bottom of the camera is the hard plastic tripod socket and the Battery
/ SD Card Compartment. There is a small latch
to secure the battery from falling when the door
is opened. You will not be able to change
battery and card while the camera is mounted on
The Nikon Coolpix S1000pj is ultra compact yet handles well, with well designed controls. The projector is intuitive to use and, together with the Remote Control, they make the S1000pj a fun digital camera to use.