We like some tech because it lets us get more done in a day. We like some tech because it produces excellent results. And we like some tech, such as this outwardly unassuming compact digital camera from Nikon, because it surprises and delights.
In addition to a solid-if-unexciting list of specifications (12.1 megapixels, 5x zoom, digital and optical image stabilisation, a 2.7-inch display on the rear), the COOLPIX S1000pj also packs a built-in – drumroll, please – projector.
Yes, as soon as you've shot a picture or a video, you can wallow in 70's nostalgia by projecting it onto a nearby wall and invite everyone nearby to look. If you're feeling unimpressed right now – a state unlikely to be altered by the knowledge that the projector is capable of just 10 lumens output – we have some sympathy.
The reaction of everyone to whom we showed the projector in action, however, was unanimous: a grin and a request that they be shot and projected too.
Sure, the dimness of the projector means the room has to be dark before the projected images can be comfortably viewed – the 'denseness' of the image, of course, drops as you try to move the camera further away from the wall to try to make it bigger – and the battery can power the projector for no more than an hour and a half, but it doesn't feel like it's just a gimmick; we can imagine using it a year hence.
The camera itself is a little chunky, but it remains an astonishing feat of miniaturisation. It's not especially easy to use, but a slew of tech – Smile Timer, Blink Warning, Blink Proof, and even a system that keeps the camera focussed on your subject as it moves around – helps minimise the possibility of any inevitable rookie mistakes. Manual controls are buried away in the menu system.
Still, the sensor at the heart of the camera is no more than 'good'. Give it plenty of light and the images and movies it captures are competent enough, but it can get noisy and smeary in low light, and the flash can be painfully harsh.
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