Vibration reduction headlines the set of features of this 8-megapixel Coolpix 8700 replacement, which also includes a longer zoom lens (10x versus 8x), support for Nikon's i-TTL SB600 and SB800 external flash units, improved design, and a higher-quality JPEG mode (at a 1:2 compression ratio). Throw in the Nikon Coolpix 8800's extended flash range, faster USB 2.0 camera-to-computer transfer, a beefier battery, a handful of new scene modes, and an included infrared remote control, and you'll see why it's attracting the attention of photo enthusiasts.
There are trade-offs, however. Nikon reduced the top sensitivity setting from ISO 800 to ISO 400, its shutter speeds now top out at 1/3,000 second instead of 1/4,000 second, and its picture quality could be better. Overall, however, this Coolpix improves upon its predecessor and remains a decent 8-megapixel option.
At a little more than 680g with a chunky, 116 by 84 by 122mm, plastic-clad, magnesium-alloy frame, the Nikon Coolpix 8800 has the pleasing heft of a serious photographer's workhorse. It's studded with control buttons and dials that will take a while to learn, but Nikon has significantly improved this camera's design over the 8700's. Most important, the company relocated the stray buttons from the lens barrel to a more fully featured mode dial. Once you've learned the placement and use of the controls, you'll find that trips to the menu are pleasantly few and far between.
The top of the camera houses the flash hotshoe and the flip-up internal flash unit, plus a monochrome LCD status panel (with 8-second backlight option) that displays 12 indicators, including number of exposures remaining, flash status, shutter speed, and battery condition. To the right of the LCD panel is a mode dial used to set exposure modes, image quality, ISO, and white balance; to play back images; to set up the camera; or to activate minimovie mode.
On top of the handgrip is the shutter-release button. This has a concentric on-off lever, an EV adjustment button, a flash-mode key, and a Function button (Func) that can activate a user-defined feature, such as white balance or ISO setting. You can operate some buttons by pressing them repeatedly and others by holding them down while rotating the command dial, so you'll definitely need to study the manual before attempting to fly the 8800 solo.
The most comfortable way to operate this camera is with your right hand curled around the handgrip, your index finger resting on the shutter release, and your thumb alternating between the rear-mounted command dial and the zoom rocker.