A digital camera with a built-in projector? Someone at Nikon's been thinking so far outside the box that they don't even know where the box is anymore. The 12.1-megapixel Coolpix S1000pj might be just the ticket for business types looking to give presentations, old-fashioned slideshow fans and anyone else with about £350 to spare.
The projector's much more fun than you might think. You need a darkened room, because the projector's output is just 10 lumen (1 lumen is the brightness of a candle). Even then, the projected image becomes pretty dim if you move the camera more than a couple of metres away from your projection surface. But the projector's such a novelty that it's easy to overlook the limitations and just gawp with a mixture of nostalgia and fascination. The projected image's resolution is limited to VGA only (640x480 pixels), but the image isn't bright or big enough for anyone to notice.
Nikon's got it all worked out. The S1000pj comes with a projector stand (okay, a tiny piece of plastic to keep the camera upright and steady) and a dinky little remote control. You can close the curtains, sit back in your armchair and subject your audience to hours of holiday photos without having to lift a finger. You can zoom in to look at details, zoom out to check thumbnails and play back movies too.
Apart from that, the S1000pj's a pretty good camera in its own right. You get a 5x wideangle zoom (non-extending, so it'll still slide in your pocket when it's on) and Nikon's latest photo technology.
Among this technology is an anti-blur system, including optical and digital stabilisation, and motion-detection capability; a 'smart portrait' system, including a smile timer and blink-warning feature; and subject-tracking autofocus, which can follow subjects across and around the frame surprisingly well.
Some of the negatives have been covered already. The S1000pj's projections are far too dim and small to compete with a proper digital projector, but then the convenience and the novelty value still weigh heavily in its favour.
Others problems include fairly average image quality and limited manual control. You have to dig into the menus to change the white balance and ISO, for example.
On the subject of ISO, the quoted ISO 6,400 maximum is only achieved at a reduced resolution of 3 megapixels. ISO 1,600 is the top setting at full resolution, and even then the S1000pj's doing so much smoothing and blurring that your pictures are something of a mush anyway.
The projector mechanism makes quite a difference to this camera's size, too. It has a super-slim design with a non-extended lens, but it's on a bigger scale than usual. And, well, the S1000pj's pretty ugly.
Is the Nikon Coolpix S1000pj worth the money? Well, it's an okay camera with a unique feature that will either leave you chortling with delight or utterly unimpressed. It's definitely something to try before you buy. Just remember that you can get the same basic picture quality and features for half the price, so you're paying plenty for that dinky little projector.
Edited by Charles Kloet