Nikon S8100 Compared to Fuji Finepix JZ310 / JZ300
Dec 7th, 2010
If you are in the market for a compact camera with a long range zoom that will fit in a pocket or purse, two options for consideration are the Nikon Coolpix S8100 and the Fujifilm Finepix JZ310 / JZ300.
Both the Nikon Coolpix S8100 and the Fuji Finepix JZ310 offer similar top line specifications with 12.1 megapixel resolution, a wide angle 10x optical zoom lens, offer HD movie recording, feature a number of automatic Scene modes for user friendly picture taking, and come supplied with a Li-Ion rechargeable battery and charger. The Nikon Coolpix S8100 is priced however at a considerable premium (as much as 60% more based on the manufacturer's recommended retail price) compared to the Fuji JZ310 / JZ300.
We have now done a side by side comparison review between the Nikon Coolpix S8100 and the Fuji Finepix JZ310 / JZ300, taking a closer look at what might make the Nikon S8100 command the higher price, and why it may be worth spending more on a premium priced compact camera versus a more budget priced model (although with many similar features) like the Fujifilm JZ310 / JZ300.
We begin by presenting a side by side specifications comparison between the Nikon Coolpix S8100 versus the Fuji Finepix JZ310 showing the main similarities and differences. Further below that we take a closer look at the major features of each camera and examine them in more detail.
Nikon S8100 versus Fuji JZ310 / JZ300: Major Features Compared
The advantage of a backside illumination sensor structure is that it improves image sensor sensitivity and noise reduction, providing better results when capturing night scenes or in darker indoor situations. The side by side images below compare the sensor output from the Nikon Coolpix S8100 versus the Fuji Finepix JZ310 at 400 ISO.
At smaller image sizes the difference is not that noticeable, although when viewed at 100% (as seen in the crops below) it is very clear that the back illuminated sensor technology in the Nikon S8100 helps minimize digital noise (graininess effect) versus the CCD type sensor found in the Fuji JZ310.
ISO Sensitivity Settings: The improved sensor technology in the Nikon S8100 allows the camera to shoot full size images at up to a maximum of 3200 ISO. The Fuji Finepix JZ310's maximum ISO setting is limited to a 3 megapixel file size when using 3200 ISO.
Both camera's offer an Auto ISO setting were the camera will determine the most suitable ISO value for the scene at hand. The Auto ISO setting on the Nikon S8100 can be limited to a fixed range between 160 to 400 ISO if so desired.
On the Nikon S8100 you can manually select ISO values from 160, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200 ISO compared to manual ISO settings from 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200 (3M) ISO on the Fuji Finepix JZ310.
10x Optical Zoom Lens: Both camera's offer a 10x optical zoom lens with the Nikon S8100 providing a focal range from 30-300mm in 35mm terms versus the Fuji Finepix JZ310 / JZ300 offering a focal range from 28-280mm in 35mm terms.
Based on our tests the Fuji Finepix JZ310 does offer a slightly wider field of view compared to the Nikon S8100 which in turn provides a little stronger telephoto ability. Not a huge difference between the two. Both lenses also offer similar aperture ranges with the Nikon Coolpix S8100 rated as a F/3.5-F/5.6 and the Fuji Finepix JZ310 at F/3.3-5.6.
The Nikon S8100 offers a macro close up capability down to 1cm away from the subject versus the Fuji Finepix JZ310 with a minimum focus distance of 5cm from the subject.
One advantage that the Fujinon lens offers over the lens in the Nikon S8100 is in terms of corner sharpness. Images from the Nikon S8100 taken at the wide angle setting are considerably softer in the corners compared to the Fuji JZ310 / JZ300 lens as seen in the sample image crops below (viewed at 100% image size).
That being said the corner shaprness on the Fuji Finepix JZ310 / JZ300 is also fairly pronounced. Soft corners especially at wide angle settings is a fairly common trait to compact cameras although we have seen better performance from other models on the market like the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 (similar price point to the Nikon S8100).
The Fuji Finepix JZ310 also applies a stronger level of in-camera sharpening compared to the Nikon Coolpix S8100. This means that when viewing images from the Nikon Coolpix S8100 at full size resolution the images can come across as being a little bit soft. In terms of print quality this is generally not as noticeable especially when printing regular sized prints at 4" x 6" or 5" x 7".
The major difference between the respective zoom lenses is found in terms of construction, with the Nikkor lens in the S8100 incorporating an optical vibration reduction unit versus the non image stabilized Fujinon lens in the Fuji JZ310 / JZ300. In the Fuji Finepix JZ310, the image stabilization mechanism is instead built around the camera's sensor (CCD-shift image stabilization technology).
Image Stabilization Technology: The difference between optical lens based image stabilization and CCD-shift image stabilization is that lens based image stabilization typically offers a greater degree of correction for camera shake, and that the live view that is displayed on the LCD monitor is already stabilized when framing your shots.
With CCD-shift stabilization the image is not corrected until the time of capture, so any camera shake is visible while looking at the LCD monitor which can make accurate framing a little more difficult especially when using the telephoto end of the zoom range.
The comparison images below represent our test of the respective image stabilization technologies built-in to the Nikon Coolpix S8100 and the Fuji Finepix JZ310.
The crops below show that the optical vibration technology found in the lens of the Nikon S8100 does offer some added shake reduction compensation compared to the CCD-shift image stabilization found in the Fuji JZ310.
Typically budget priced compact cameras do not incorporate as advanced image stabilization technologies compared to more premium priced digital camera models.
The Nikon S8100 offers the added advantage of providing a "Hybrid" image stabilization setting, where the camera supplements the optical vibration reduction correction with an electronic (digital) correction to further improve the degree of vibration reduction compensation. This feature is selectable in the camera's menu.
A user can hand hold a camera like the Nikon S8100 at lower shutter speeds under lower light conditions and get better results compared to a model like the Fuji Finepix JZ310 with less advanced image stabilization technology.
LCD Monitor: The Nikon S8100 features a 3.0-inch high resolution 921,000 dot LCD screen monitor with a wide viewing angle and anti-reflective coating and a 5 step brightness adjustment for improved viewing under bright light conditions.
The Fuji JZ310 offers a 2.7-inch LCD monitor with 230,000 dot resolution and does not provide a wide viewing angle and anti-reflective coatings like the S8100.
Looking at the screen at angle it is almost impossible to see an image when played back on the Fuji JZ310's LCD monitor. It can also be harder to frame your shot under brighter lighting conditions.
The enhanced LCD screen on the Nikon Coolpix S8100 is definitely one reason the camera comes at a premium compared to the price of the Fuji Finepix JZ310 / JZ300.
Shooting Modes: The camera shooting mode dial is located on the top of the Nikon S8100 compared to on the back on the Fuji Finepix JZ310. We personally prefer the top control layout from an ergonomic point of view, finding it easier to make camera setting adjustments with the thumb control wheel design on the Nikon S8100.
The rotary multi-selector just above the menu button on the S8100 is also easier to use compared to the four way touch pad featured on the Fuji JZ310 (located on the bottom back right of the camera). The Nikon's rotary selector makes it easy to quickly scroll through images in playback mode.
The Nikon Coolpix S8100's shooting modes include:
In comparison, the settings that are available on the Fuji JZ310 / JZ300 shooting mode dial include:
Scene Modes: Combined with a standard 'Auto mode' setting for point and shoot simplicity, the Nikon Coolpix S8100 and the Fuji Finepix JZ310 / JZ300 both feature a number of user-friendly Scene modes that optimize camera settings for the selected subject or shooting conditions.
The Nikon S8100 offers a total of 16 Scene mode options, three of which are selectable directly from the mode dial (Night Landscape, Night Portrait, Backlighting).
The other 13 Scene modes are available from the camera menu. Once a specifc Scen mode is selected it is assigned to the 'Scene' position on the mode dial for future quick access. The available options that can be assigned to the 'Scene' setting on the S8100 include; Portrait, Landscape, Party / Indoor, Beach, Snow, Sunset, Dusk / Dawn, Close-up, Food, Museum, Fireworks Show, Copy, Panorama Assist
The Fuji Finepix JZ310
offers 14 Scene modes to choose from. Three of the modes are available
directly on the mode dial (Natural and Flash Lighting, Natural Light).
Both cameras also offer an 'Scene Auto Selector' setting, where the camera will detect for one of six different types of scenes and then select the appropriate scene mode based on the subject or shooting conditions. (Nikon S8100: Auto, Landscape, Night landscape, Backlighting, Portrait, Night Portrait, Close-up versus Fuji JZ310: Portrait, Landscape, Night, Macro, Backlight Portrait, Night Portrait.)
Exposure Metering: The
Nikon S8100 and the Finepix JZ310 / JZ300 both incorporate a 256-segment
metering system. On the Nikon S8100 users can also opt to select Center-Weighted
metering (used in the Christmas Light 'Tree' sample test image further
When set to Center-Weighted
metering, the Nikon S8100 meters the entire frame but assigns greatest
weight to the subject in the center of the frame. Classic metering for
portraits. This feature can be used with the camera's focus lock to meter
for off-center subjects.
Nikon Coolpix S8100, Auto Mode with 256-segment Matrix metering
Fuji Finepix JZ310, Auto Mode with 256-segment metering
The sample images below show how the respective 256-segment metering systems found in the Nikon S8100 and the Fuji JZ310 perform under general daylight conditions.
In our side by side tests between the Nikon S8100 and the Fuji JZ310 we found that the Nikon S8100 generally did a better job at metering the scene. The Fuji Finepix JZ310 has a tendency to underexpose images in bright daylight conditions (make darker).
Auto Focus: The Nikon S8100 offers a number of AF modes, including 9-area Auto AF and the option for the user to manually select the focus area (one of 99 points). The Fuji JZ310 offers Center focusing (default) that can be used with focus lock to focus on off-center subjects. Both camera's offer Face Priority AF where the camera will automatically focus on a detected face(s) and prioritize exposure accordingly.
The Nikon S8100 and the Fuji Finepix JZ310 also offer Focus Tracking, an AF mode in which once you lock focus on the subject the camera will track the subject as it moves around the frame (works well as long as subjects are not moving too erratically).
Focus tracking is easier to activate on the Nikon S8100 since this feature is available directly on the shooting mode dial compared to having to select this option in the Fuji JZ310 ' JZ300's camera menu. The Nikon S8100 also incorporates an AF assist beam to help the camera focus in low light situations. The Fuji Finepix JZ310 does not offer an AF assist beam.
Continuous Shooting: The Nikon S8100 offers a number of Continuous shooting mode options compared to the Fuji Finepix JZ310.
In Continuous L mode the Nikon S8100 can shoot approximately 26 images at a rate of up to 1.8 frames per second (fps), compared to three frames at approximately 1.1 fps with the Fuji Finepix JZ310.
Combined with the camera's faster start up, the Nikon Coolpix S8100 offers the ability to capture up to 5 full resolution frames in one second (Continuous H mode) providing users with a better chance to capture the moment as it unfolds.
Nikon's exclusive Best Shot Selector (BSS) mode is a handy feature found in the S8100 which is practical in low light situations. In this mode the camera captures a series of up to five images and the sharpest image is automatically selected and saved. A feature that helps combat camera shake that can occur when using slower shutter speeds while hand holding the camera.
White Balance Settings: The Nikon Coolpix S8100 and the Fuji Finepix JZ310 / JZ300 offer a standard Auto White Balance (default) setting for user-freindly operation. Both cameras also provide a number of White Balance preset options that can be manually selected to match the scene at hand.
In our tests the Fuji Finepix JZ310 did a pretty good job at determining Auto White Balance (WB) under normal daylight conditions, although under incandescent and fluorescent lighting conditions the camera's Auto WB setting did not provide very good results.
The 'Christmas Light Tree' comparison sample images above are a good example of how the AWB technology in the Nikon S8100 does a better job under more difficult lighting conditions versus the Fuji JZ310 / JZ300.
The Nikon S8100 also offers a manual preset white balance option allowing the user to take a white balance reading of the subject (using a white card) before taking the picture, providing even more accurate white balance control.
Built-in Flash: The Nikon Coolpix S8100 incorporates an automatic pop-up flash that can also be raised manually. The Fuji Finepix JZ310 features a flash that is integrated into the camera body, and as a result is positioned closer to the lens.
One advantage with a flash that is positioned further away from the lens is that it helps minimize the red-eye effect that can occur when taking pictures of people.
The flash on the Fuji Finepix S8100 is approximately 50% more powerful than the flash built-in to the Fuji JZ310. The flash range on the Nikon S8100 is 0.5 to 4.0m (wide) compared to 0.5 to 2.6m with the Fuji JZ310.
The Nikon S8100 also fires a short monitor preflash (similar to Nikon SLR technology) milliseconds before the actual image is taken, providing the camera with the ability to determine a more accurate flash exposure.
When holding the Fuji Finepix JZ310 in a natural fashion with both hands, you have to be careful not to place your fingers to close or over the camera's built-in flash which can otherwise obscure part of the flash output. If this happens it can create a shadow cast as seen in the Fuji JZ310 sample image above (lower left corner).
Playback Options: Both the Nikon Coolpix S8100 and the Fuji Finepix JZ310 offer a number of Playback options. The Nikon S8100 provides the option of viewing more detailed shooting information, including a histogram and highlight warning, compared to the information that is available when playing back an image on the Fuji JZ310.
When using the Nikon Coolpix S8100 you simply press the OK button in full-frame playback mode to display the highlight, histogram, and the shooting information (must first be enabled in the camera menu and is not possible with movies). With the Fuji JZ310 shooting information is superimposed over the image in full-frame playback mode.
The Nikon S8100 and the Fuji JZ310 also offer a number of ways to search and sort your images that are either stored in the camera's internal memory or on the memory card.
Both camera's offer a slideshow feature which can be viewed on the camera's LCD monitor or by connecting to a TV. The Nikon S8100 does offer an HDMI connection (cable optional) for attaching the camera to an HD TV for a better viewing experience.
The Nikon S8100 and the Fuji Finepix JZ310 / JZ300 provide a standard VGA output connection to a TV, and the necessary cable comes supplied with the Nikon S8100 and is an optional accessory for the Fuji Finepix JZ310.
Both camera's offer some in-camera editing options like image resizing and cropping, and with either camera you can also record a voice memo to attach to an image.
The Nikon S8100 adds some additional options like a Quick Retouch menu which allows the user to easily create retouched copies in which contrast and saturation have been enhanced, and the ability to apply Nikon's D-lighting technology to enhance brightness and contrast in dark portions of an image as seen below.
Nikon D-Lighting: The images below show the effect of applying the Coolpix S8100 D-Lighting feature to an image that was taken with flash.
Using D-Lighting creates a copy of the original image with enhanced brightness and contrast, brightening darker portions of the image. Enhanced copies are saved as separate files.
HD Movie Recording: Both the Nikon S8100 and the Fuji Finepix JZ310 offer HD movie recording to complement your still photos.
The difference between the two cameras is that the Nikon S8100 provides for a higher quality recording capability with the ability of capturing 1080p HD resolution movies compared to the Fuji JZ310 / JZ300 which offers HD movie recording at 720p. The images below show the relevant difference in file size created by movies captured in 1080p HD (1920 x 1080) compared to 720p (1280 x 720).
The Nikon S8100 also offers the option of recording 1080p HD movies at either a 12 bit or 14 bit rate (better quality) and records at 30 frames per second versus the slower frame rate of the Fuji Finepix JZ310 HD movie recording at 24 frames per second.
Computer screen grab from a Coolpix S8100 1080p HD movie played back in QuickTime (resized)
monitor screen grab from a Fuji Finepix JZ310 720p HD movie
The difference between the movie recording abilities of the Nikon Coolpix S8100 compared to the Fuji Finepix JZ310 are considerable, which can be seen in the cropped images below (taken from a screen grab image when viewing the respective movies in full size on a computer monitor). The Nikon S8100 produces cleaner movie files with less jaggies versus the Fuji JZ310.
Movie files on the Nikon S8100 are also recorded in the better quality MPEG-4 format versus the AVI movie format used by the Fuji Finepix JZ310.
It is possible to take a fairly useable still frame from the 1080p HD movies recorded with the Nikon S8100, suitable for small prints, web or email applications. You can also capture a still frame at the time you are recording movies with the Nikon Coolpix S8100 (the image size will be the same as the selected movie file size).
The Nikon S8100 offers the additional advantage of recording stereo audio sound compared to mono sound recording on the Fuji JZ310 / JZ300.
Construction and Design: As far as general construction the Nikon S8100 is a little larger and heavier than the Fuji Finepix JZ310 / JZ300. The Nikon S8100 offers a richer more solid feel than the Fuji Finepix JZ310, which undoubtedly contributes to the Nikon S8100's higher price point. For example, the zoom control lever on the Fuji JZ310 feels a bit loose versus the lever on the Nikon S8100.
As mentioned previously we also like the top thumb mode dial control layout on the S8100 versus the rear rotary mode dial on the Fuji JZ310.
The dedicated movie shooting button found on the top right on the back of the Coolpix S8100 makes it faster and easier to start recording movies compared to having to rotate the mode dial on the Fuji JZ310 to the dedicated movie setting.
Battery System: The Nikon S8100 comes supplied with a Nikon EN-EL12 Li-Ion rechargeable battery rated at approximately 210 shots per charge. The Fuji Finepix JZ310 / JZ300 comes supplied with a Fujifilm NP-45A Li-Ion rechargeable battery rated at approximately 230 shots per charge.
The Nikon S8100 comes supplied with a Nikon charging AC Adapter EH-68P, which means that the battery has to be in the camera to charge.
The Fuji JZ310 comes supplied with a stand alone battery charger which can be plugged directly into a wall outlet (North America) meaning that there is no power cord to bring along when traveling. The Nikon EH-68P AC adapter with power cord takes up more space than the compact Fuji alternative.
The other advantage with the Fuji JZ310 / JZ300 battery charger is that you can have a battery in use in the camera while a back up battery is sitting on the charger being recharged.
Memory Card Type: The Nikon Coolpix S8100 and the Fuji Finepix JZ310 are compatible with Secure Digital (SD) type memory cards. Nikon recommends SD Speed Class memory cards with a rating of 6 or faster for recording movies, and Fuji recommends memory cards with a class 4 write speed or better (indicates difference in HD movie recording quality and file size between the two cameras).
The Nikon Coolpix S8100 is compatible with SD, SDHC, and the faster SDXC type cards compared to the Fuji Finepix JZ310 / JZ300 which can use regular SD and SDHC type cards although does not support the SDXC type cards.
Conclusion: Again, when you simply look at the top-line specifications of the Nikon Coolpix S8100 and the Fuji Finepix JZ310 / JZ300 the two cameras come across as being very similar in many respects. Upon closer examination it can be seen that there are a number of reasons that the Nikon S8100 commands a premium price versus the more budget priced Fuji Finepix JZ310 / JZ300.
The Nikon Coolpix S8100 provides the following advantages over the Fuji Finepix JZ310; an improved sensor design with lower noise characteristics, a lens based optical image stabilization system, a better imaging processing system, a larger and improved LCD monitor with wide viewing angle, enhanced metering and auto white balance (AWB) for different lighting situations, faster start up and continuous shooting modes, higher quality 1080p HD movie recording in the MPEG-4 format with stereo sound, and offers improvements in terms of construction and operational design.
Considering its $120 Canadian price point premium versus the Fuji Finepix JZ310 (based on MSRP Dec 4th, 2010), in our opinion the Nikon Coolpix S8100 offers worthwhile added value for the money considering the improved functionality and quality provided versus the Fuji Finepix JZ310.
In the same class as the Nikon S8100, we would also recommend taking a look at the popular Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H55 To buy the Nikon Coolpix S8100 in the US see here, and to buy the Fuji Finepix JZ300 check for the latest price here.
Below we have provided a small sample image gallery captured with the Nikon S8100 (the Fuji Finepix JZ310 loaner camera was not yet available to us when most of these pictures where taken).