Nikon coolpix s8200 side view front
Nikon coolpix s8200 side view front

If you're familiar with the design of the Nikon Coolpix S8100, then you'll quickly realise that Nikon's made no move to mess with its tried-and-tested formula when sculpting the S8200. With near-identical dimensions, the new model is the spitting image of its predecessor, save for tipping the scales at a bulkier 213g, compared to the S8100's 180g weight.

The top panel houses a small power button that illuminates green on powering up the camera, along with a zoom-lever-encircled shutter release and a mode dial - all of which are colour-coded to match that of the body.

You can choose from sedate silver or black, as well as a more distinctive white or - as with our review camera - a vibrant cherry red version if you're a bit more of an extrovert.

The centre of the top panel features the compact camera's stereo microphones, and on the far left you'll find the diminutive built-in pop-up flash, which sits flush to the body when not in use.

Nikon coolpix s8200 top view
Nikon coolpix s8200 top view

The front panel is clad in a soft-touch finish that makes the Nikon Coolpix S8200 feel very tactile, as well as improving grip.

The chunkier-than-average dimensions - although arguably still pretty compact for a camera with such a big zoom lens - coupled with a raised colour-coordinated strip on the front panel further enhance the grip.

These features, when added to the weight of the Nikon Coolpix S8200, lend a robust, well-balanced feel to the camera, and make it easier to hold steady when shooting at the telephoto end of its expansive focal range in particular.

Around the back, the 3-inch 961,000-dot LCD screen is clear and bright, featuring a wide viewing angle from all sides, plus a decent anti-reflective coating. All of this adds up to a particularly versatile screen that suffers from only minimal glare in all but the brightest of lighting conditions.

Nikon coolpix s8200 screen
Nikon coolpix s8200 screen

The controls are set out to the right of the LCD, with a relatively large dedicated movie button positioned right next to the textured rear thumb grip, for easy access. The four-way D-pad is well-proportioned and features a rotating wheel design, enabling you to scroll through options and images at speed. The textured surface of this wheel makes it easy to locate and turn with your thumb.

The four directional keys can be depressed for more precise navigation through menus, while they also offer time-saving shortcuts to frequently-used settings comprising flash, exposure compensation, macro AF and self-timer.

Chunky buttons surround the D-pad, calling up the Nikon Coolpix S8200's playback, main menu and delete options respectively.

Underneath, there's an off-centre metal tripod mount and the lockable spring-loaded door that protects the battery and memory card slots.

With a clear, logical menu system that's very easy to navigate, and well-placed, sensibly-sized controls, the Nikon Coolpix S8200 is both simple and speedy to operate: it's easy to start shooting with straight out of the box.