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In the depths of my memory I seem to remember there was a camera cum projector way way back. We’re talking circa 1959 and the camera was the Wittnauer Cine-Twin, an 8mm movie camera/projector made by a Mr Oxberry, creator of the motion picture animation stand and optical printer. Betcha didn’t know that!
Now Nikon have revisited the idea and made the first compact digital camera to feature a built-in projector.
Why? All digicams have AV outputs to show your still and movie picture efforts on a TV screen; so why not make the jump and have the camera itself throw a picture on the nearest white wall?
First, the camera.
Taking 12.1 megapixel pictures with a 5x 5-25mm zoom lens (35 SLR equivalent of 28-140mm) the S1000pj has only two metering options: centre-weighted and spot.
There are 16 scene modes for optimised shooting in various settings. This will enable easy shooting of portraits, sunsets etc … so you can see where this camera is placed in the market: a point-and-shooter.
The maximum image size is a respectable 4000×3000 pixels — and, print-wise, able to deliver a 34x25cm output. JPEG is the still image format, while movies are recorded in AVI/Motion JPEG with a maximum size of 640×480 pixels. Capture is to an SD card or 36MB of internal memory.
There’s no optical viewfinder but the 6.9cm LCD screen serves double duty as viewfinder and access to the menu display, which is for many people mercifully brief and easy to get around.
The surprise is that you can shoot with ISO settings of up to 6400 but of course you’re dealing with a tiny sensor and some noise problems at this high level.
A useful mode tracks a moving subject; you select the desired subject by placing a small frame over it in the LCD screen.
There are also fairly powerful retouch functions for stored images: matter such as contrast and saturation, skin softening (!) and cropping can be performed in-camera, with a new, altered file saved to memory.
With a simple touch of a button, the camera projects photos or movies clips on any flat surface at up to 40 inches in size. Pictures can be projected individually, or as slide shows complete with music and added effects that enhance the experience.
Shot your pictures? It’s show time!
First up, sit the camera on a dinky little stand (supplied in the box); this aims the camera slightly upwards, which I guess gets the projected picture up and over any detritus on the supporting table.
Aim the Nikon at a white card or wall, anywhere between 26cm and two metres away. At the maximum distance you can enjoy an image 80x60cm in size.
Press the PLAY button, then the projector button on the camera’s top surface. Voila! Up comes the picture, beaming out of the camera’s taking lens. Screen focus? There’s a little slider close to the projector button.
I ran a demo during daylight in a darkened room and was surprised to find the picture was sufficiently bright for an audience to enjoy. In a totally dark room or at night it would pass any test.
Vertical format pictures? Easy. You rotate them with a menu setting in-camera before the show starts.
But what really gave me a kick was to shoot and run some movies. Terrific fun! A good sized, bright picture on screen, accurate colour, excellent sharpness. The only hangup is that the sound output from the little Nikon is a little low in output. Perhaps if you ran the output to a hifi … but then you may as well hook it up to a tele, defeating the whole idea of a camera-projector.
BTW the battery will hold up for an hour of projection.
I was surprised at the S1000pj’s high performance at varying ISO settings. At ISO 100 the noise level was low, with little sign of any colour aberrations. Even at the high ISO 3200 setting, the general quality and lack of noise was sufficient to indicate that this would be a good performer. Of course, ISO 6400 is there only if you have to go that far: noise is high, resolution low and artefacts very visible.
Quality: to be honest, this camera does a fine job of capturing snapshots in average conditions; it is not in the top level of quality but it will suit the casual photographer. It’s easy to use, well-balanced, the 5x zoom is excellent. What more can I say?
In appearance, the only fault I could discover was that the power button was almost invisible and because it was recessed not easily found by ‘blind’ fingers.
Image Sensor: 12.1 million effective pixels.
Metering: 256 zone centre-weighted; spot.
Effective Sensor Size: 11mm.
Lens: f3.9-5.8/5-25mm (28-140mm as 35 SLR equivalent)
Memory: SD card. (Internal: 36MB).
Image Sizes (pixels): 4000×3000, 3968×2232, 3264×2448, 2592×1944, 2048×1536, 1024×768, 640×480. Movies: 640×480, 320×240 at 15/30 fps.
Viewfinder: 6.9cm LCD screen.
File Formats: JPEG, WAV, AVI/Motion JPEG.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 6400.
Flash: Auto, red-eye reduction, red-eye reduction slow sync, slow sync, forced on and off.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, AC.
Dimensions: 99.5×62.5×23 WHDmm.
Weight: Approx. 155 g (minus battery and card).
Price: The Nikon Coolpix S1000pj is currently $429 at Amazon.