Camera Reviews
by Brad Soo on October 29 2009

Ever fantasized having a projector built into a digital camera? Good news, I’ve just published my review of the Nikon Coolpix S1000pj, the world’s first (and currently, the only) digital camera with a built-in projector. Is Nikon’s projector-digicam really worth all the hype? Hit the link to find out! I’ve also posted sample photos taken using the camera in the Nikon Coolpix S1000pj photo gallery. What are you waiting for? Hit the link for our full review of the Nikon Coolpix S1000pj.

Special feature: Check out the section dedicated to the camera’s projector in our review!

DPInterface Nikon Coolpix S1000 PJ Review

Brad Soo – October 29th, 2009 (Updated November 18th, 2009)

If there’s one thing Nikon does best in their compact cameras is adding bizarre features. From WiFi on the Coolpix P3 years ago to GPS and an Ethernet port on last year’s prosumer Coolpix P6000. Nikon couldn’t let the year 2009 pass without doing something extraordinary, could they? Introducing the unique Nikon Coolpix S1000pj, the world’s first and currently the only digital camera with a built-in projector.

Besides its unique projector, the Coolpix S1000pj has the usual digital camera affair: 12 megapixels of resolution, a self-contained 5X optical zoom lens with optical image stabilization, 2.7 inch LCD, VGA movie mode and point-and-shoot operation. Is the Nikon Coolpix S1000pj a good camera to check out? Find out now.

Size and Weight

(159.9) 89.5 x 54.9 x 20.0 mm (120 g) – Canon PowerShot SD940 IS Digital ELPH
(176.2) 99.9 x 53.4 x 22.9 mm (130 g) – Canon PowerShot SD980 IS Digital ELPH
(180.9) 99.8 x 58.5 x 22.6 mm (146 g) – Casio Exilim FC150
(172.8) 96.5 x 55.9 x 20.3 mm (130 g) – Casio Exilim Z450
(180.0) 97.7 x 58.9 x 23.4 mm (153 g) – Fujifilm FinePix F200 EXR
(175.2) 89.0 x 57.9 x 23.9 mm (115 g) – Fujifilm FinePix Z37
(185.0) 99.5 x 62.5 x 23.0 mm (155 g) – Nikon Coolpix S1000pj
(177.0) 96.5 x 60.5 x 20.0 mm (140 g) – Nikon Coolpix S70
(173.1) 97.5 x 55.7 x 26.2 mm (125 g) – Olympus Stylus 7010
(173.1) 95.7 x 59.6 x 20.2 mm (131 g) – Panasonic Lumix FP8
(172.5) 97.0 x 54.0 x 21.5 mm (105 g) – Pentax Optio P80
(167.7) 99.8 x 59.7 x 18.5 mm (149 g) – Samsung Dual View TL220
(165.8) 93.8 x 58.2 x 16.5 mm (119 g) – Sony Cyber-shot TX1
(165.8) 90.5 x 51.8 x 19.8 mm (120 g) – Sony Cyber-shot WX1
All the weight figures above show when the camera is empty without a battery or memory card

The Nikon Coolpix S1000pj is one of the larger cameras in its class thanks to the additional projector component. Thankfully, it’s still small enough to fit into most pockets (though you will certainly feel the presence of the camera).

In the box

The Nikon Coolpix S1000pj comes with an above average bundle, which includes two things you typically won’t find in your typical digital camera box: a projector stand and wireless remote control.

  • EN-EL12 Rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • Battery charger
  • Wrist strap
  • Camera projector stand
  • Wireless remote control
  • USB cable
  • A/V cables
  • Camera software CD
  • User’s manual

The Nikon Coolpix S1000pj comes with a paltry 36 MB of built-in memory. Unless you usually don’t take more than 10 pictures in a single outing, you would want to use a memory card with the camera. The Coolpix S1000pj takes SD/SDHC cards and a good place to start would be around 2 to 4 GB. As with many of Nikon’s past Coolpix models, I didn’t notice a sizable speed boost when using a ‘high-speed’ card with the camera so if you like, opt to save a few bucks by getting a ‘standard’ card.

220 shots – Canon PowerShot SD940 IS Digital ELPH
240 shots – Canon PowerShot SD980 IS Digital ELPH
300 shots – Casio Exilim FC150
550 shots – Casio Exilim Z450
230 shots – Fujifilm FinePix F200 EXR
220 shots – Nikon Coolpix S1000pj
200 shots – Nikon Coolpix S70
170 shots – Olympus Stylus 7010
380 shots – Panasonic Lumix FP8
200 shots – Pentax Optio P80
200 shots – Samsung Dual View TL220
250 shots – Sony Cyber-shot TX1
350 shots – Sony Cyber-shot WX1
All the cameras above are rated with rechargeable batteries according to CIPA Standard

The Nikon Coolpix S1000pj comes with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and a charger for it. The EN-EL12 battery doesn’t pack a whole lot of juice, leading to the Coolpix S1000pj’s rather average battery life rating of 220 shots per charge. In terms of projector playback time, you can get an estimated 60 minutes of projector run-time using a fully-charged battery.

Accessories

There aren’t a whole lot of accessories to expand the camera with. You can pick up an optional AC adapter and various camera cases, but that’s about it. One tip from me: You can cut out various shapes on a paper/cardboard to fit around the projector lens so the camera will project ‘shaped’ images on your wall. That’s not exactly a revolutionary idea (far from that), but it certainly is an interesting ‘effect’ when sharing photos with friends.


Camera Tour

The Nikon Coolpix S1000pj design is like a weird cross between the Sony G3’s front and the back of an average Nikon camera. Not like that’s a bad thing – the S1000pj has good ergonomics and your fingers rarely bump into anything by accident – but the camera has a fairly unique design (two lenses on the front!) that stands out from the big crowd of standard point-and-shoots. The camera is made of a combination of plastic and metal, and feels fairly sturdy in-hand.

The Nikon Coolpix S1000pj comes in black as a standard, as well as a rarer white-colored body in some places.

The front design of the Coolpix S1000pj with two lens windows is a love-hate thing, but come to think of it, the camera isn’t as radically different as you think – take the ultra-thin Coolpix S70, add a little more bulk to it and an additional lens window (for the projector), and you’ll get S1000pj.

To the upper right side of the camera is its 5X optical zoom lens, equivalent to 28 – 140 mm and it comes equipped with Optical Vibration Reduction (Nikon’s term for optical image stabilization which helps reduce blur caused by camera shake). One aspect of the Coolpix S1000pj’s lens that isn’t too hot is the slow aperture range which is about half to a full stop slower than most compact camera lenses – with a range of f3.9 – f5.8, you’d better have a lot of light around or a tripod handy; otherwise, you’ll have to deal with slow shutter speeds (blurry pictures, potentially) or noise from high ISOs.

Directly to the right of the lens are the camera’s tiny AF-assist/self-timer lamp and one of two wireless remote receivers on the S1000.

Behind the OTHER lens window in the center of the camera is… not another zoom lens, but the Coolpix S1000pj’s most touted feature: a built-in projector. We’ll get to a dedicated section about the projector later in the review.

Above the projector lens is the Coolpix S1000pj’s flash unit which is of average power and then there’s the microphone, located just below the Coolpix logo.

The Nikon Coolpix S1000pj features a 2.7 inch LCD, which has about 230,000 pixels. The camera’s LCD is sharp and has good visibility in low-light. However, the screen’s visibility in bright light was just so-so; you may need to tilt the camera’s a bit to hit the right viewing angle.

The Coolpix S1000pj’s controls are located to the right of the LCD. To the upper right side of the LCD are the flash charge indicator and the second remote control receiver.

The first two buttons are the shooting mode and direct playback buttons respectively. Next up is the Coolpix S1000 PJ’s five-way navigation pad:

  • Up – Flash setting (Auto, auto with red-eye reduction, off, on, slow sync, rear-curtain sync)
  • Down – Focus mode (Normal, macro, infinity)
  • Left – Self timer (Off, 2 seconds, 10 seconds, Smile Timer, Blink proof)
  • Right – Exposure compensation (+/-2 EV in 1/3 step increments)
  • Center – OK/Set

I’ll be talking about the camera’s Smile Timer and Blink Proof features when I get to the next section in the review. The last two controls (located below the navigation pad) of the Coolpix S1000 PJ are the MENU and delete photo buttons.

At the top of the camera, you’ll find two things related to the camera’s built-in projector. There’s a button for toggling the projector on/off. Regardless of the mode you’re in, pressing the projector button will automatically bring up image playback. Next to that is the projector focus slider, which allows you to focus the projected image by moving it left (closer focus) and right (further focus).

Coolpix Help screen; brought up by pushing the controller to ‘zoom in’

Towards the very right side, there’s the power button and shutter button with a zoom controller wrapped around it. Pulling the controller towards the ‘zoom in’ area can also bring up the camera’s help screen in the menu system, just in case you want to know what a menu item does.

On this side of the Coolpix S1000pj is a single port used for both USB + A/V out connectivity (The camera supports USB 2.0 High-speed connectivity).

Nothing to see on this side of the camera. And now, moving on…

At the bottom of the Nikon Coolpix S1000pj are its battery/memory card compartment (the door over it is solid) and tripod mount.

Coolpix S1000pj Projector details

And here’s the part you’ve all been waiting for – let’s talk about the Nikon Coolpix S1000pj’s unique built-in projector. As an imaging company that makes things like cameras, full-size projectors and microscopes, it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that Nikon has the know-how to build and fit this miniaturized projector into the camera. The S1000pj’s projector has a resolution output of 640 x 480 (VGA) and brightness rating of 10 lumens.

Before you whip out your camera and start projecting images/videos for your friends and family to see, there’s just one condition first: you need to be in a fairly dark place and/or have a dark (and preferably, flat) surface in order for projected images to show up clearly. The camera produced fairly contrasty projections (though not that vivid in color) in low-light, but if you want to view them outdoors/in bright light, you can forget about it (extremely poor or no visibility under bright light).

It takes about two seconds (sometimes less) for the Coolpix S1000pj to switch from LCD viewing to projection mode. You can place the camera up to 2 meters away (that’s 6.5 feet) from the projection surface and adjust focus manually via the distance slider at the top of the camera. Images produced will vary in size, depending on how far away the camera is from the projection surface but Nikon says that the camera will produce ‘optimum’ projected images when they’re 13 to 100 cm in size (5 to 40 inches).

You can play back both still images and movies using the built-in projector, but you cannot take pictures while using the projector (I think that’s quite obvious, but just to let you know). Nikon has conveniently included a few transition effects for the camera’s slideshow function to make playback a little more interesting.

The Coolpix S1000pj is a one-of-a-kind digital camera that actually includes a projector built right in. Implementation was very good with no particular hiccups. You just have to be aware of the limitations of projectors in general (you’ll need a flat surface and dark surroundings), and the fact the camera sucks up plenty of power while using the projector (a single battery can power the camera’s projector for about an hour).

Taking pictures (Shooting mode)

The Nikon Coolpix S1000pj isn’t an improvement versus other Coolpix cameras in terms of info display. The camera displays exposure details (shutter speed, aperture and ISO), some shooting details, battery warning icon (only when you’re running low on power) and a zoom indicator (which appears only when zoom is being used). The camera doesn’t show many other details and lacks both framing gridlines and a live histogram.

The Nikon Coolpix S1000 PJ has quite a number of image resolution options as well as two compression settings. Image resolution choices include 12 MP, 8 MP, 5 MP, 3 MP, 2 MP, 1 MP, VGA and widescreen 16:9 (at 8.4 MP). You can also choose between High or Normal image quality (also known as compression) but ONLY for the 12 MP setting. For all other image sizes, it’s fixed to Normal images.

Nikon S1000 PJ Feature Set
The Nikon Coolpix S1000pj has the standard 2009 Nikon menu interface. The menu is split into two tabs: Shooting and setup settings.

  • Picture size/compression
  • White balance (Auto, daylight, incandescent, fluorescent, cloudy, flash, custom)
  • Drive mode (Single-shot, continuous shooting, best shot selector)
  • ISO sensitivity (Auto, fixed range auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400)
  • Color options (Standard, vivid, monochrome, sepia, cyan, pastel)

The Coolpix S1000 PJ has two high-sensitivity settings: ISO 3200 and ISO 6400, where image resolution is lowered to 3 megapixels if you use them. The Coolpix S1000pj also has two fixed range auto ISO options, where the camera essentially selects ISO automatically within the boundaries you set: within ISO 80 – 200 or 80 – 400.

Best Shot Selector and Multi-shot 16 are two drive modes that have been on Nikon’s Coolpix models for years. Best Shot Selector allows you to take up to 10 pictures in a row (you have to hold down the shutter button) and after that, the S1000 PJ will select the best/sharpest shot from the bunch. Multi-shot 16 takes 16 low-resolution pictures in a row, which the camera later stitches into a single, large collage.

Left: Flexible AF in action

  • Focus area (Face detection, auto, center point, flexible)

The Nikon Coolpix S1000pj’s other tab is where you’ll find all the camera’s setup functions, things like image stabilization mode, motion detection (which can boost ISO automatically according to subject movement), date and time.

Face Detection (Nikon Smart Portrait)
The Nikon Coolpix S1000pj has Nikon’s Smart Portrait feature set for people photos (I think most of Nikon’s Coolpix cameras have this standard). Smart Portrait consists of a few ‘detection’ features related to people photos, including face detection (up to 12 faces in a frame), software-based redeye removal and blink detection.

Blink detection comes in two forms: The passive blink warning, which displays an on-screen notice if someone blinked, or the more pro-active Blink Proof mode, which takes two pictures in a row and picks the shot with your subject(s)’ eyes open. There’s also smile detection in the form of Smile Timer mode, where the camera starts counting down to take a picture when a smile is detected.

New to Nikon’s Smart Portrait suite is a skin softening function, which allows you adjust from 3 levels of softening so your subjects have smooth skin.

Macro and scene modes

  • Program mode
  • Scene modes
  • Smile detection mode
  • Subject tracking
  • Movie mode

The Nikon Coolpix S1000 PJ has a macro mode that lets you go as close as 3 cm to your subject at wide-angle. The camera allows you to zoom in slightly as well.

The Nikon Coolpix S1000pj has quite a number of scene modes, which include portrait, landscape, sports mode, night portrait, party/indoor, beach/snow, sunset, dusk/dawn, night landscape, close-up, food, panorama assist, museum, fireworks, copy and backlight. If you find yourself having a hard to time trying to pick a scene mode, you can let the camera choose for you using the scene auto selector mode.

Video Recording

The Coolpix S1000pj’s movie mode isn’t something to boast about. The camera has rather ordinary VGA (640 x 480) video mode that records at 30 FPS with sound up to 2 GB per clip (around 30 minutes at the highest settings). You can extend recording times by lowering the resolution to QVGA (320 x 240). All movies are recorded in AVI Motion JPEG format.

The only two things you can do to movies is utilize optical image stabilization and select a color option – full color, black & white or sepia. Overall movie quality was just average with still remnants of the audio sync problem left here.

Performance

All performance testing of the Nikon Coolpix S1000 PJ was performed using a high-speed 4 GB SanDisk Ultra II SDHC (90X) card.

The Nikon Coolpix S1000pj has a fairly fast boot up time of 1.4 seconds; there’s no lens to extend since the lens operates internally. The camera’s auto focusing performance was pretty good too; at wide-angle, it takes around 0.2 to 0.5 seconds while it can take up to 0.9 seconds in low-light/telephoto. Focusing in low-light was a bit slow but accurate thanks to the AF-assist lamp.

  • Shot-to-shot speed – 1 shot every 1.8 seconds, fast
  • Flash recharge time using a fully charged battery – 4 seconds

The camera has just on regular continuous shooting mode that shoots up to 14 photos at 1.3 frames per second. Not exactly the best burst mode around, as you can see. The camera moves its lens from wide-angle to telephoto in 2 seconds.

The Nikon Coolpix S1000pj is just an average performer with fairly good autofocus performance and decent shot-to-shot times but poor burst mode. The camera sure could’ve used some more buffer and/or faster writing of images to the memory card.

Image Quality

Moving on, we’re gonna look at the Coolpix S1000 PJ’s image quality now:


ISO 80 (f3.9, 1/4 sec)


ISO 100 (f3.9, 1/4 sec)


ISO 200 (f3.9, 1/9 sec)


ISO 400 (f3.9, 1/18 sec)


ISO 800 (f3.9, 1/36 sec)


ISO 1600 (f3.9, 1/72 sec)


ISO 3200 (f3.9, 1/144 sec)


ISO 6400 (f3.9, 1/252 sec)

Throughout ISO 80 to 200, the Nikon Coolpix S1000pj produces consistently clean photos. Though images have a teeny bit of visible noise if you look closely, to my surprise, the output here is drastically cleaner than results I saw on previous Nikon compact cameras – that’s a nice improvement. Going up to ISO 400, images remain fairly clear with very low amount of noise.

Going up to ISO 800, image quality takes a sudden steep drop; looking sludgy and soft as a result of noise reduction. You could probably use ISO 800 for small prints and display, but nothing more. ISO 1600 just gets a whole lot worse with plenty of lost details and poor image quality. At ISO 3200 and 6400, image resolution is lowered to 3 megapixels; and the situation here with image quality isn’t much better.

The Nikon Coolpix S1000pj’s lens produces fairly little lens distortion with a decent level of corner sharpness. Color fringing (chromatic aberration) was kept under good control, however. Overall image sharpness was just average. Redeye was also a non-issue as the camera automatically removes any it detects in photos.

As of whole, I think the Nikon Coolpix S1000pj marks quite an improvement in the image quality for Nikon’s compact cameras. Though not ‘fantastic’ or class-leading in any manner, at least image quality is now on par with most of the competition. I’m glad to report that image are usable up till ISO 800 most of the time. There are few lens-related issues (minimal color fringing, decent sharpness), no redeye problems and clean images that are suitable for large prints from ISO 80 – 400.

Photo gallery

View full-sized photos straight out of the camera in the Nikon Coolpix S1000pj photo gallery.


Playback

The Nikon Coolpix S1000pj has a standard playback mode. Most of the standard features you’d expect to find are here, including print marketing, image protection, voice clip attachment, slideshow view and playback zoom (up to 10X).

You can copy images between the camera and your memory card, or choose to create a ‘small pic’ version of any image. The Coolpix S1000pj has three simple editing tools: Quick Retouch adjusts brightness, contrast and saturation to apparently make photos look better, D-Lighting brightens up dark areas in photos and skin softening, which is self-explanatory.

The Coolpix S1000pj doesn’t tell you much about your photos in playback mode. There’s no exposure or shooting details, neither is there any histogram.

Conclusion

The Nikon Coolpix S1000pj is one of the more unique digital cameras of year 2009. Besides having the 12 megapixel sensor, 5X optical zoom lens and 2.7 inch LCD, along with other bells and whistles like your average point-and-shoot camera, the S1000pj also features a built-in projector.

I was pretty surprised at how well Nikon implemented a mini-projector into the Coolpix S1000pj. Last year, it was the pleasant to use touchscreen user interface, and this year, it’s a projector – Kudos to Nikon for getting most of their ‘first-time’ features right nowadays! The output is everything you’d expect from your average projector, only on a smaller, miniaturized scale.

The Coolpix S1000pj has plenty of point-and-snap features: from Nikon’s elaborate Smart Portrait system to plenty of scene modes with auto scene selection to the camera’s straightforward operation with help menus. However, there appears to be a severe lack of manual controls and information display.

The camera has a pretty ordinary movie mode that records VGA video clips; nothing too striking about that. I was surprised that Nikon decided to include HD movie capabilities in the touchscreen-equipped Coolpix S70, but not the S1000pj – especially considering the price.

Performance in terms of speed and image quality were just average as well. The camera had fairly good autofocus and shot-to-shot times but poor burst mode. Also, a larger buffer and faster image writing could’ve benefited the camera quite a bit. Image quality was good, not great, with output that is suitable for most of the casual picture-taking crowd.

The Nikon Coolpix S1000pj is unique – it’s much like an average compact camera with a mini projector thrown in for some image playback fun. The projector is initally something to toy with, but after a while, it kinda gets old. The Nikon Coolpix S1000pj is really a niche camera – to justify the average performance and price premium, you’ll have to really NEED a built-in projector, or at least the desire to showoff.

What’s hot:

  • Fairly good image quality; on par with much of the competition and few issues
  • Built-in projector with good performance
  • 5X optical zoom lens with optical image stabilization
  • 2.7 inch LCD with decent visibility
  • Automatic scene selection, elaborate face detection/portrait features and built-in help tooltips
  • Easy to use; three useful playback editing tools
  • Very good bundle: includes projector stand and wireless remote

What’s not:

  • Images look a touch too soft
  • No HD video recording
  • So-so battery life for taking pictures; power-hungry projector will further reduce runtime
  • On-screen display lacks info about photos both in shooting/playback modes
  • Lack of manual controls
  • Limited burst mode

Recommended Accessories:

  • 2 GB or 4 GB high-speed SD/SDHC memory card
  • Extra lithium-ion rechargeable battery

Camera rating: (Ratings guide)

  • 4.0 – Design and build quality
  • 4.5 – Bundle in the box
  • 3.5 – Lens (Zoom, aperture range, image stabilization)
  • 3.0 – Feature set and manual controls
  • 3.2 – Ergonomics and ease of use
  • 3.0 – Performance and speed
  • 3.2 – Image quality
  • 6.96 over 10.0 – Overall rating: DECENT


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4 Comments

  1. Frank October 31, 2009 Reply

    I’ve ordered a lot of equipment for my camera, being that I’m involved with photography

  2. Kim November 5, 2009 Reply

    I like the Nikon and all but 10 iumes and 30:1 contrast? A 40″ tall image is nice, but my somewhat inexpensive 24″ Dell monitor will be more colorful and provide better contrast to display images. Sure i can;t take it anywhere, but you can’t just set the camera anywhere either. Not all walls are white.

  3. James Martyn November 9, 2009 Reply

    Onboard projector is useful easy operation 28mm wide-angle lens with 5x optical zoom bundled remote control and projector stand.

  4. ashy October 26, 2010 Reply

    i want to now the rate of this camera

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