Hold the phone: Nikon's new camera runs Android 2.3

The Nikon Coolpix S800C is a 10x-optical-zoom pocket camera that runs Android.

As phones become more like cameras and cameras become more like phones, it was only a matter of time before a standalone camera ran a mobile OS. And so, here we are.

Nikon's Coolpix S800C, a pocketable 10X-optical-zoom (25mm to 250mm) camera with Wi-Fi features and a 3.5-inch OLED touchscreen, will be the first major-release camera to run the Android operating system. The S800C's other core specs include optical image stabilization to bolster its long-zoom lens and 1080p video recording at 30fps.

The S800C's OLED touchscreen.

The Coolpix S800C will also offer built-in GPS capabilities with in-camera maps and a real-name location database, and there's 650MB on board for app storage in addition to an SD/SDHC card slot. Its 16-megapixel CMOS sensor looks like the same one found in the excellent Nikon Coolpix P310. The S800C is a big step up from your average smartphone camera in terms of lens versatility, but you won't find manual exposure controls in the mix.

According to Nikon, the Coolpix S800C will run apps compatible with Android 2.3 Gingerbread, and not just photography-centric apps. In case you want to play games, update your Twitter feed, or create a to-do list on your camera, you can do that. Odds are, most users will be using the camera's Android capabilities to add filters and effects with the better Android photography apps and uploading pics to Instagram.

While an Android-based camera was somewhat inevitable, it is surprising that the first big-name Android camera announcement is coming from Nikon. The smart money was on Samsung or Sony, two camera manufacturers that also make Android devices, to be the first to market with a camera based on the Android OS.

This may or may not be the first Android camera out there, depending on where you draw the line between a camera and a phone. At CES in January, Polaroid demoed the SC1630 camera, which ran Android, had a comparatively modest 3X-optical-zoom lens and made phone calls. The Coolpix S800C lacks the ability to make calls, and it's the first Android camera you'll probably be able to find in all major retail outlets. Due in September, the Coolpix S800C will sell for $350.

Nikon Coolpix P7700: No Android, just high-end

Another Nikon announcement may be of greater interest to experienced photographers, as the company introduced its new flagship Coolpix premium camera. The 12-megapixel Coolpix P7700 is the first CMOS-based camera at the top tier of the Coolpix lineup, with a 1/1.7-inch type, 12-megapixel sensor.

The Nikon Coolpix P7700 provides fast adjustments via physical buttons.

The CMOS sensor isn't the only change as compared to its predecessor, last year's Coolpix P7100. The new P7700 has a wider maximum aperture of F2.0 at the wide-angle end of its optically stabilized 7.1X zoom lens (28mm to 200mm), 1080p video capture, a faster burst mode at full resolution (eight frames per second with a cap of six successive shots), and a different body design than prior P-series cameras. There's also no built-in optical viewfinder in the P7700, although the new model supports attaching a separately-sold viewfinder to its hot shoe.

Welcome holdovers include full manual exposure controls, aperture- and shutter-priority modes, a tilt-and-swivel 3-inch LCD screen, physical knobs and buttons for quick adjustments to exposure compensation and other settings, and compatibility with Nikon's external flashes and other DSLR accessories via its hot shoe. Due in September, the Nikon Coolpix P7700 will be priced at $500.

Subscribe to the Digital Photo Newsletter

Comments