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Nikon COOLPIX S800c

Some initial impressions after opening box (have not used it much yet):

I had the same problem with this as my Nexus 7 — the dadgum MAC address isn't printed anywhere, I can't find it until I get through the setup, and I can't get through the setup without connecting to Wi-Fi (which I need the MAC address for so I can add it to my MAC filter list).

Also like the Nexus 7, the battery came with almost no charge, so I need to charge it before I can do much.

And speaking of charging the battery: The most annoying feature is that you apparently cannot operate the camera while it is charging. Once I plugged in the USB cable and selected the Charge versus USB connection option, that was it, the camera shut down and just sits there blinking telling me it is charging. No way to get its attention short of unplugging the cable. Maybe it will also charge when set to USB, and maybe I can operate the camera in that mode. Only time will tell (but I was counting on being able to use it while on the charger for my book scanner app). [I seem to have verified that it is indeed absolutely impossible to operate when on the charger. It won't charge at all with the USB data connection.]

In the nit-picky error category: The camera has no bluetooth, but the manual contains the same old cut & paste text in the FCC notices about the bluetooth operating frequencies and possible intereference. [Revision: Hey! It does have bluetooth! I could have sworn I saw something on the nikon site saying that it didn't.]

And speaking of the manual, the last time I checked, there was still no PDF version on the Nikon web site and the manual itself is printed in the thinest most spindly font I've ever seen. They apparently want to make baby boomers go totally blind. It does have a good overview of how to use Android (something my phones could have used — It was six months before I discovered that long press was a thing you could do :-). [Revision: There is an online manual, but it is only pointed at by the text in the quick start guide. You can find it at].

I haven't experimented with it yet, but the manual claims you can get to the camera almost instantly and the rest of android comes out of standby a little later, so the camera should be as quick to get to as any other point and shoot. [Yep, this does indeed work. When powered off, use the power button to get to the camera right away, but if you really want to just get to android, use the Home button].

Once slightly annoying thing is that you can't get out of standby using the Home button. If you could, you'd always be able to get android via the home button, but as it is, if it has powered off, you can boot with the home button, but if it is in standby, you have to use the power button. I suppose if you want to get directly to the camera it is also a little inconsistant since the power button will do that when it is off, but will only get you back to android when it is in standby.

Not only is there no PDF manual on the web site, but the Nikon product registration web site doesn't believe the serial number is valid either and has no picture of the S800c to show where the serial number can be found.

That's about all I can say for now, gotta wait for the battery to charge (which the manual says will be about 4 hours).

OK, Got it charged and started playing around with it. The touchscreen camera controls seem reasonable, it is easy enough to take pictures with it, but if you are going to zoom very far, you definitely want a tripod, everything is fuzzy if you are just trying to hold the camera while it is zoomed.

Noticed another annoyance: The USB plug on the camera doesn't look like any standard USB connector I've ever seen. It certainly isn't micro or mini, so spare cables are likely to be a profit item for Nikon. If you want to avoid playing Nikon's game, part number 70564 from seems to be the cable you need (but I have not actually tried one to be sure). I wish I could find a small adapter I could plug into a mini USB cable. That would be simpler to carry around than a whole special cable just for the camera. Together with the mini to micro adapter I already have, carrying one USB cable would be all I needed for a bunch of devices.

It finally stopped raining around here and I was able to try the camera outside in direct sunlight. I won't say the display was really bright, but it was usable (which is more than I can say for my phone, which goes totally invisible in sunlight). The touch screen surface is an even bigger fingerprint magnet than the Nexus 7 though, and they show up really well in bright light.

I've been using this for a while now, and I've found a few more irritating things:

You can connect to a WiFi access point that has a hidden SSID, but it is really difficult to reconnect again. You have to try over and over again. Finally it becomes much simpler just to go ahead and change the access point to broadcast the SSID (at which point, it has no problems at all connecting).

The first time you turn on the camera after power up, it will sometimes be completely out of focus, and will stay that way till you exit the camera app and restart.

On a really obscure note: I'm developing an app for the camera. My development cycle involves downloading the new version of the app via the browser (much simpler to access a bookmarked web site on my local LAN development machine than to plug in USB cables and push files with adb). These files will sometimes get stuck somehow in the sdcard's downloads directory. Attempt to delete them, and they won't go away. Usually if you download newer versions, some of the older one will eventually be possible to delete. I don't even have a random theory for this one :-). It is possible to plug the camera into a computer, activate the USB storage, and delete the files from the mounted sdcard on the computer (as a last resort when you really want the directory cleaned up). [OK, turns out this isn't just downloads. I recorded a movie just to have some data to upload, then tried to delete the movie from the gallery, and it couldn't do it till I rebooted.]

When you do plug the USB cable in for using adb, the screen never seems to blank (no, I don't have the keep screen on option enabled). This, plus all the network activity, plus taking lots of pictures and video (all of which are involved in testing my app) uses up the battery quite rapidly.

I got one of these so I'd always have a spare battery to swap in, but I might have been better off getting one of these instead.

Yikes! Speaking of sucking the life out of the batteries, take a look at this screen shot:

I have now put the camera into Airplane mode and manually started up Wi-Fi again. I hope the battery stats start looking better in the future :-). You'd think that any cell related code would already be disabled in a version of android designed for a device without a cell radio, but apparently not... Fortunately, these settings seem to survive a power down and reboot, so hopefully I won't have to keep remembering to turn on airplane mode.

Nope. Airplane mode (other than drawing a little plane icon in the status bar) has absolutely no effect, I still get all the time being used by cell standby.

In the quest to eliminate this stoopid cell standby battery drain, I figured out how to root the S800c. I did eventually get it to stop saying cell standby was using all the power:

These are pretty believable numbers since I have Wi-Fi enabled all the time, and it was in standby for a lot of the time when accumulating these stats. Since I stopped hiding my SSID and it can reconnect quickly now, I can probably go ahead and let Wi-Fi turn off when it is in standby and save more power that way. I could also reduce the screen blanking time to save on display power, and I think that will be about as much as I can do.

AARGH! Nikon has missed the entire point of having an android camera! Look at this debug output from a custom camera app I'm working on enumerating all the possible image resolutions in the standard Android Camera API:

I/Preview ( 3764): size set to 640 480
I/Preview ( 3764): size set to 1024 768
I/Preview ( 3764): size set to 1600 1200
I/Preview ( 3764): size set to 2048 1536
I/Preview ( 3764): size set to 2272 1704
I/Preview ( 3764): size set to 2560 1920
I/Preview ( 3764): size set to 3264 2448

Note that the highest resolution is 3264x2448. That is only 8MP. The native Nikon camera app offers 16MP (4608x3456) as the highest resolution! Nikon apparently has undocumented APIs to their camera not available to the standard Camera API. How can an army of android developers turn out the sort of fancy apps that will make android cameras sell like hotcakes if they can't actually get to the full capabilities of the camera? Nikon deserves a derisive raspberry for this one: Ppppbth!!

I get lots of google hits for “android reverse engineering”. I'm sure it would be a massive undertaking to reverse engineer Nikon's camera app, but if they never provide SDK details, it may be necessary to try...

Well, one good (sort of) thing happened: I picked the camera up, and somehow the wrist strap had gotten looped over the corner of the table I was sitting at, so naturally the camera jerked out of my hand and fell on the hard floor. Fortunately, it survived and doesn't seem any the worse for wear, so it does appear to be fairly solidly constructed :-).

Here are the camera related apps I am working on for this thing:

Up With php A file sharing app that lets you upload images to your own local web server without going through anyone's cloud marketing information gathering systems :-).

AndyScan A custom camera app designed for use in a book scanner with lots of interesting ways to trigger the camera.

Page last modified Mon Oct 22 20:36:33 2012