Nikon KeyMission 80 Review

This isn’t a traditional camcorder.

Our Verdict

The KeyMission 80 is a lightweight, durable camcorder that is likely to survive your adventures. It’s the closest thing to an action cam in our comparison.

For

  • The Nikon KeyMission 80 is very durable.

Against

  • It’s so small that you might lose it.
Image 1 of 23

The Nikon KeyMission 80 is the smallest camcorder we tested.

The Nikon KeyMission 80 is the smallest camcorder we tested.
Image 2 of 23

The screen is 1.75 inches across, so if your vision is poor you might struggle to use it.

The screen is 1.75 inches across, so if your vision is poor you might struggle to use it.
Image 3 of 23

The Nikon KeyMission 80 has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities.

The Nikon KeyMission 80 has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities.
Image 4 of 23

The KeyMission 80 can film in up to 1080p resolution.

The KeyMission 80 can film in up to 1080p resolution.
Image 5 of 23

The most noticeable button on the Nikon KeyMission 80 is the button to record or take a photo.

The most noticeable button on the Nikon KeyMission 80 is the button to record or take a photo.
Image 6 of 23

The Nikon KeyMission 80 is small and only weighs 2.7 ounces, the lightest of any camera we tested.

The Nikon KeyMission 80 is small and only weighs 2.7 ounces, the lightest of any camera we tested.
Image 7 of 23

You flip between the Nikon KeyMission 80’s video and camera functions with a small toggle switch on the side of the camera.

You flip between the Nikon KeyMission 80’s video and camera functions with a small toggle switch on the side of the camera.
Image 8 of 23

The Nikon KeyMission 80 uses a microSD card, which is inserted on the side of the camera.

The Nikon KeyMission 80 uses a microSD card, which is inserted on the side of the camera.
Image 9 of 23

The ports on this Nikon are protected by a plastic flap to keep water and dirt out.

The ports on this Nikon are protected by a plastic flap to keep water and dirt out.
Image 10 of 23

The Nikon KeyMission 80 is thin and lightweight, so while it’s easily portable, it could also be easy to lose.

The Nikon KeyMission 80 is thin and lightweight, so while it’s easily portable, it could also be easy to lose.
Image 11 of 23

The microSD card and other ports on the side of the Nikon KeyMission 80 are tiny, so people with large hands might struggle a little with them.

The microSD card and other ports on the side of the Nikon KeyMission 80 are tiny, so people with large hands might struggle a little with them.
Image 12 of 23

The KeyMission 80 is the only camera we tested without any zoom capability.

The KeyMission 80 is the only camera we tested without any zoom capability.
Image 13 of 23

The Nikon KeyMission 80 is waterproof and shockproof.

The Nikon KeyMission 80 is waterproof and shockproof.
Image 14 of 23

The touchscreen on the KeyMission 80 is very responsive, reminiscent of an iPhone.

The touchscreen on the KeyMission 80 is very responsive, reminiscent of an iPhone.
Image 15 of 23

The KeyMission 80 continues to record video even after being totally submerged in water.

The KeyMission 80 continues to record video even after being totally submerged in water.
Image 16 of 23

The KeyMission 80 is a lot like a GoPro and is waterproof down to about 3 feet and shockproof from a drop of 5 feet – we tested to make sure.

The KeyMission 80 is a lot like a GoPro and is waterproof down to about 3 feet and shockproof from a drop of 5 feet – we tested to make sure.
Image 17 of 23

The Nikon KeyMission 80 is our best adventure cam pick partly because you could drop it off a boat and not worry about losing your footage.

The Nikon KeyMission 80 is our best adventure cam pick partly because you could drop it off a boat and not worry about losing your footage.
Image 18 of 23

Our reviewers gave the Nikon KeyMission 80 an A+ for video quality and clarity and an A- for color balance.

Our reviewers gave the Nikon KeyMission 80 an A+ for video quality and clarity and an A- for color balance.
Image 19 of 23

The KeyMission 80 is easy to transport and keep in your pocket, but that also means the buttons are rather small.

The KeyMission 80 is easy to transport and keep in your pocket, but that also means the buttons are rather small.
Image 20 of 23

You can hang the Nikon KeyMission 80 by a cord through the small slit on the bottom.

You can hang the Nikon KeyMission 80 by a cord through the small slit on the bottom.
Image 21 of 23

The KeyMission 80 comes with a carrying case you can affix to a belt or backpack strap.

The KeyMission 80 comes with a carrying case you can affix to a belt or backpack strap.
Image 22 of 23

We walked all of the camcorders around inside our offices to gather indoor footage.

We walked all of the camcorders around inside our offices to gather indoor footage.
Image 23 of 23

The Nikon KeyMission 80 seemed to favor blues when filming outside, but this was because the placement of the camera meant it had more of the top of the car in the shot and caught the reflection of the sky.

The Nikon KeyMission 80 seemed to favor blues when filming outside, but this was because the placement of the camera meant it had more of the top of the car in the shot and caught the reflection of the sky.

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.