projector-equipped camera has broken cover today and we've naturally had a little play around with it. Regrettably, the Japanese DSLR dominator had pretty early firmware on board and refused to let us take any sample pictures or video, but we were able to compile a few impressions anyhow. Firstly, as to the S1100pj's body, it's your typical compact affair -- feeling sturdy and light, it's basically fit for its intended purpose, but no more or less than that. We found accessing the compartment for the battery and memory card a pain, as it doesn't auto-lock when you close it, requiring an unnecessary bit of finger adroitness, and removing and replacing batteries can also be a fiddly affair. There's not much good to say about the built-in "tilt stand" at the bottom, either -- it only alters the angle of projection slightly and feels too plasticky -- but at least it gives you an extra option.
On the plus side of things, the battery is a generous 1,050 mAh unit, and there's a pleasingly instant access scheme for the camera's most regularly used functions. Video recording has a dedicated button, as does switching to projector mode. Both seem to work quite well too, with the 720p video looking smooth and buttery, but then on-camera playback can be deceiving. We got to check out those 14 lumens of projection power in a dimly lit room, and came away with a pair of impressions. Firstly, you should be able to squeeze out a decent-ish 40-inch image out of this shooter if you set the right mood with your lighting, and secondly, focusing is a relative cinch with the included controls on top. All in all, given that it's intended as a quickie display station at parties, we think the S1100pj does what it promises. We rarely praise compact camera software here, but we'd be remiss not to note the saturation adjustment tool on this touchscreen shooter. It was a particular highlight for us and something we could definitely see ourselves getting creative with.
We also spent some time with the S5100, which surprised us with its quick autofocus and generally snappy execution of instructions. Its 720p movie mode also looked competent, but bear in mind that it doesn't allow you to zoom while recording video. Ah well, such is the fate of budget shooters, we suppose. Hit up the galleries for the hands-on imagery or skip past the break for video of the S1100pj's projector in action.