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Sitting towards the top of the Nikon lineup, the Coolpix 5400 is a well-featured digital compact. It shares similarities to the Coolpix 5000 and Coolpix 5700 but has its own unique features. We take a look to see how it performs.
Nikon Coolpix 5400 specifications
- 5.1 effective megapixel CCD
- 4x Zoom-Nikkor lens. 5.8-24mm (35mm equiv: 28-116mm), f/2.8-4.6.
- Accepts CompactFlash Types I and II
- Continuous, Single and Manual focus modes
- Macro mode as close as 1cm
- Scene modes
- Histogram function
- Five shot buffer (1.5fps)
- 256 Segment, center-weighted, spot and AF spot Metering.
- Nikon Speedlight Hotshoe
- USB interface
- Uses Li-ion battery (EN-EL1)
- Dimensions: 108x73x69mm
- Weight: 320g
- Accessories Included: Lens Cap, Camera Strap, AV Cable, 16MB CompactFlash Card, USB Cable UC-E1, Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL1, Battery Charger MH-53, Nikon View CD-ROM
The thing that stands out most on this specifications list is that 28-116mm lens. There are only a handful of digital cameras at such a low price point that are capable of such a wide angle.
Handling and controls
The first thing that strikes you when you pick up the Coolpix 5400, as it does with other cameras in the Coolpix 5xxx line, is the very strong build. Made of a lightweight magnesium alloy body it is not only rigid and tough, but reasonably light also. It certainly puts a lot of similarly priced plastic compact cameras to shame in terms of build quality.
Whilst Nikon can excel at producing easy to use cameras, the Coolpix 5400 by its complicated nature is not very easy to use at first. That's not to say Nikon have done a bad job with this camera as it does have some sensible easy to use controls. It's just that the layout is not so easy to 'digest' as a newcomer to the camera as perhaps some other competing cameras are.
Once you've got used to the control layout though, the Coolpix 5400 is a good camera to use. The menus and controls are all fast and easy to operate and the main mode dial provides quick access to all the most important modes and settings. Adjacent to this mode dial is a jog-dial which can be used to change settings in the menu and various other camera options. All this might seem a bit complicated to someone upgrading from a basic point and shoot camera, but after reading the manual and getting used to how the camera works it can be a quick and easy camera to use.
The LCD is a flip-out type, making it far easier to frame shots of awkward to reach subjects such as an insect crawling along the ground. The joint between the camera and LCD seems to be quite tough, but with these things it's better to be cautious than sorry. The LCD is a plain optical one, not like the Electronic viewfinder (EVF) on the Coolpix 5700. It is average for a viewfinder, but it does at least offer diopter adjustment for spectacle wearers.
The lens is quite fast to extend out of the body and in about four seconds from the camera being off you can take a shot. The lens is a 4x optical zoom and provides a good wide-angle focal length of 28mm and a maximum zoom of 116mm (35mm equivalent). There are only a few other consumer digital cameras with a fixed-lens that can offer this 28mm wide angle (E.g. Minolta Dimage 7/7i/7Hi).
Being a prosumer camera the menu system on the Coolpix 5400 is quite complicated to allow access to all the various functions, of which there are many. The menus use a good control system, combining the use of the four-way pad with the jog-wheel on the top of the camera for quick changing of controls.
|This is a particularly useful feature as it allows you customise your own menu system, putting the controls for the settings you use most onto one page.|
|This allows access to the main camera settings, including: White-balance, Metering, Continuous, BSS, Image Adjustment, Saturation Control, User Settings, ISO, Image Sharpening, Lens Setup and specific menus for Exposure, Focus and Zoom options. You can also modify Auto Bracketing and Noise Reduction settings and perform basic tasks such as card formatting, setting up the 'My Menu' and reset the menus.|
|This menu lets you alter the following settings: Language, Date, Folders, Monitor Options, Seq. numbers, Shutter sounds, Auto Off, Card Formatting, Controls, Shot confirmation, Info txt, USB, Video Mode, Reset All, Date Imprinting and the viewing of the firmware version.|
|When in playback mode a quick rotate of the jog dial on top of the camera brings up screens showing a histogram for the image and also information on which settings were used for the shot.|
The Coolpix 5400 is placed towards the high-end of the Nikon digital range. Photographers investing in camera like this will not only expect a versatile and powerful tool, but one that produces a very high standard of image quality too. Fortunately for Nikon few photographers will be very disappointed with the kind of images the Coolpix 5400 is capable of producing.
The lens and CCD combination produces a sharp enough image for large print sizes. There are enough settings in the camera menus to alter the sharpness and colour levels to your own liking and even the default settings yield high quality results. Focussing speeds in low light were let down by the lack of any assisted focussing systems that you'd find on some competing cameras. Generally though the focussing speeds are adequate and the camera doesn't feel too slow to use thanks to the general high speed of operation.
When using higher ISO settings we experienced an undesirable amount of noise at ISO 400, but through the other lower settings image noise is acceptable. In terms of colour accuracy the Coolpix 5400 is very capable and produces well-saturated colourful images. The metering system is very reliable, the macro mode excellent and other than the occasional annoyance with the focussing system the Coolpix 5400 is a very capable, versatile and fun camera to shoot with.
The image below is a 1:1 crop of a section from the image above.
The image below is a 1:1 crop of a section from the image above.
The Coolpix 5400 SRP is £150 less than the Coolpix 5000 and it is a superior camera. This alone suggests it is good value for money and indeed it is. It provides a very good feature set, a sharp wide-angle lens and good image quality in a tough and compact body for a reasonable price.
However at this price point there are some other very good cameras for you to consider and although the Coolpix 5400 can compete with the best of them, you need to weigh up the pros and cons of the different models to decide which suits you best. The following summary of the Coolpix 5400 will help you make that comparison.
In summary the main positive points of the Nikon Coolpix 5400 are:
Tough lightweight body
Good image quality
Versatile wide-angle lens
Good macro mode
Negative points are:
Poor focussing in low light
No RAW mode
Noise levels at highest ISO
Not the best control layout around
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