There all kinds of pitfalls for a camera with such a long lens - the more glass elements inside a lens the more opportunities there are for distortion and chromatic aberrations to appear.
The S8000 takes generally excellent pictures, though. The lens doesn't distort significantly and there's a real benefit to having such a long zoom available.
Colours are captured vibrantly and, although there's no dedicated manual mode for controlling shutter speed or aperture size, the S8000 was generally on the money when it came to exposing our shots. For those times that it isn't, scene modes such as Beach/Snow and Fireworks should see you right.
We did occasionally feel that chromatic aberrations were an issue - these were particularly evident on wide-angle shots.
Strongly backlit subjects - such as tree branches photographed against a bright sky - turned a fairly noticeable shade of purple. The in-camera sharpening occasionally cost us a little detail too.
In general, though, if you can avoid cropping your images too severely, the S8000's minor foibles are easily overlooked or avoided.
It's a shame, as the 14.2-megapixel sensor should make heavy cropping a real possibility, but, as ever, it's best to frame the shot right at the time rather than relying on editing it later.
Noise is controlled all the way up to ISO 1600. Between ISOs 100 and 400 image quality is virtually indistinguishable, and ISOs 800 and 1600, while suffering from a little softness and distinctly un-film like noise, will still produce usable shots.
Using Zoom...See full-res image
The maximum setting in every-day use is ISO 3200. At this point we saw a marked reduction in the amount of detail captured, as well as reduced contrast and rather heavy noise.
There is a further stop of ISO available, but 6400 is only an option if the S8000 is set to Sport Continuous mode, which reduces the available image size to 3 megapixels.
Using zoom...See full-res image
The movie mode is good. The stereo microphones proved adept at picking up sounds clearly, while the image stabiliser - more or less a given on most compact cameras these days - was more than a match for our shaky hands, even with the lens zoomed all the way in.