This isn’t a traditional camcorder. Nikon is a huge name in video and photography, but its website makes clear that it’s moving away from the traditional handheld camcorder and instead catering to adventure seekers. The KeyMission 80 is waterproof, shockproof and portable so you can take it basically anywhere, whether it’s on a rollercoaster or a whitewater rafting trip.
This camcorder shoots high definition video in 1080p. In our tests, we took video inside our offices in both dark and well-lit areas and then took it outside and shot video on a sunny day. The seven reviewers who watched and ranked the footage gave this camcorder an A+ for its crystal clear and perfectly saturated footage. We also watched the footage with video editing software to look at color levels. We attached the camcorders to the top of a silver car during our tests and noticed the KeyMission 80 picked up a lot of blue, but only because it happened to sit at an angle where a lot of the car was in frame, reflecting the blue sky. It tinted skin a bit paler than real life, so it got an overall color balance grade of A-.
Unlike traditional camcorders with a flip-out monitor and hand strap, the KeyMission 80 is a small square no bigger than a credit card and no thicker than most iPhones. At only 2.7 ounces, it’s the lightest camcorder we tested. This could be seen as both a positive and a negative: It’s easily portable and discreet but also easy to lose in the bottom of a backpack or purse. It comes with a case you can attach to a backpack strap or belt to keep the camera secure. The case has a magnet on it that keeps the camcorder off while you’re walking around and then automatically turns it on when you take it out of the holster.
You navigate the KeyMission 80 with a touchscreen on the back. While the 1.75-inch screen is incredibly responsive, it’s small enough to significantly slow down navigation. You can access all the camera’s features through the touchscreen, though, including Wi-Fi capability that allows you to send your videos and photos wirelessly. You can also rotate the camera to take a 12-megapixel selfie. You cannot, however, zoom with this camera, so it’s not ideal for capturing up-close moments from a distance.
According to this camcorder’s manual, Nikon uses testing methodology from the U.S. Department of Defense to make sure this and other durable camera models are indeed tough. This includes dropping five cameras in 26 directions – eight edges, 12 corners and six flat surfaces from a height of 4 feet and making sure at least five pass the test. We didn’t go that far, but we did drop this camera from a height of about 5 feet three times and it continued to work. Like the JVC Quad Proof GZ-R550 EverioR and JVC Quad Proof GZ-R440 EnvrioR, it’s also waterproof up to about 3 feet of water for 30 minutes, so we put it in a bowl of water for 10 minutes and it passed the test easily. This camera is also functional down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit, so those exploring the arctic tundra of North Dakota needn’t worry – at least not until January.
This camcorder uses a microSD card, which makes sense considering its small stature. Keep in mind that if you want to transfer your video by putting the card into your laptop, you’ll need a full-size SD card to do so. This camcorder also shows you how much more recording time you have left as you film, a feature we really appreciated because there’s nothing worse than realizing you’ve run out of space and don’t have an extra SD card when you’re filming something important.
Special effect recording options are available, including time-lapse and slow-motion video. This camcorder is a sleek, stylish and easy-to-use piece of equipment. You can take it out and get it dirty without worrying, which is great for people with young kids who want a turn acting as the family’s documentarian.