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|Product:||Nikon CoolPix 885|
Nikon CoolPix 885 - There is a wealth of 3 megapixel cameras available and Nikon have introduced this CoolPix 885 into the group with a price of 550, putting it up against other new models like the Canon PowerShot S30 and Minolta Dimage S304
There is a wealth of 3 megapixel cameras available and Nikon have introduced this CoolPix 885 into the group with a price of 550, putting it up against other new models like the Canon PowerShot S30 and Minolta Dimage S304. The 885 is one of Nikon's (and its competitors) smallest and lightest cameras - the CD illustrates the size. Unlike some cheaper compacts available this camera packs a lot of functionality into its small plastic body.
- 1/1.8-inch Interline Charge-Coupled Device (CCD)
- Total pixels: 3.37 million (Effective pixels: 3.21 million)
- 3x Zoom Nikkor Lens; 8-24mm (35mm camera format equivalent to 38-114mm); f/2.8-f/4.9, 9 elements in 8 groups
- 1.5-inch 110,000-dot, low-temperature polysilicon TFT LCD
- Light weight 225g
What you get in the box:
- E885 Digital camera
- Video cable
- USB cable
- 16Mb CompactFlash Memory Card
- Rechargeable Li-ion Battery (EN-EL1)
- Battery charger
- CD with Nikon View 4.0 and Fotostation Easy Software
Compact cameras are generally not as ergonomic as their larger brothers. Occasionally manufacturers strike a good balance between producing a small size camera and an easy to hold one, and the 885 sits in this category. The hand grip is quite chunky, allowing you to get a good firm grip. Thumb and forefinger sit naturally onto the zoom controls and shutter release respectively. In fact with one hand it is possible to control all buttons on the camera except for one, which could be useful in some circumstances.
The body is all plastic, but still manages to feel quite solid and all the covers and buttons maintain this quality feel. In this price range, most cameras will have plastic bodies, as the manufacturers put more resources towards features and image quality, so rest assured it's a sacrifice worth making.
Throughout most of their consumer digital cameras over the years Nikon have stuck with a similar lay-out and system to their user interface and it works well. Labels explain clearly what each of the small icons do, but don't get in the way when you've learnt where everything is. The table below shows a guide to the main menus available:
1. Portrait, Party/indoor, Night portrait, Beach/Snow, Landscape, Sunset.
2. Night landscape, Museum, Fireworks show, Close up, Copy, Back light.
1. Delete, Folders, Slide show, Protect, Hide image, Print set.
2. Transfer, Small pic, Auto off.
1. Image quality, Image size, Folders, Monitor options, Auto Off, Seq. Numbers, CF Card Format.
2. Remember controls, Shot confirm lamp, Pic Data/transfer, Date, Video mode, Language, Reset all.
The menus are all clearly laid out and easy to operate. Of particular use is the ability to remember particular settings so that you don't have to set them again each time you turn the camera on. The camera manual is over 200 pages, with settings such as ISO and noise reduction being well explained for those new to photography.
Not surprising on a compact camera there aren't as many manual functions available as on some larger cameras, the dial allows you to select from:
- Auto - For point and shoot photography.
- Scene - Offering 12 modes optimised for scenes of specific types such as sunsets or portraits (Great for beginners).
- CSM (Custom) - Which gives you control of all the settings.
- Movie - Allows you to record movies without sound up to 40 seconds in length.
- Setup - For configuring the basic camera settings.
- Playback - Reviews and deletes pictures.
Viewfinder and LCD screen
Unfortunately the LCD display and the viewfinder are a little disappointing. The LCD is difficult to view clearly from some angles, and the viewfinder doesn't have any focus targets or diopter adjustment. Redeeming features are that the LCD display is sunken into the camera body so shouldn't be scratched too easily and it is also sharp enough to accurately check focus, as you'd expect on a camera costing this much.
The standard sockets are included for 8.4V DC power input, USB and a video out is provided on the other side. A plastic tripod mount is provided central to the base of the camera.
Battery and CompactFlash holders have plastic covers and seem quite toughly constructed.
The supplied battery takes approximately two hours to fully charge. When using the camera the battery-life can be extended by minimising the use of the LCD display and by turning on the power save feature. For a small camera with a Li-ion battery performance was good, just as well considering replacement batteries are around 40 each.
Kudos to Nikon for providing an external charger with the camera. Many manufacturers cut corners by integrating the charging system into the camera, this makes it impossible to use the camera if you want to charge a spare battery.
Nikon include some software in the box, Fotostation and Nikon View. Fotostation allows you to upload photos to Nikon's Fotoshare website, with up to 50Mb storage included. Fotostation also functions as a image database, allowing you to edit information about each photograph and then search through the entire collection using key words.
Nikon have concentrated on making this an easy to use camera, to help users copy photographs to their computers there is a dedicated 'transfer' button. This works in tandem with the Nikon software to effortlessly copy all data on the CompactFlash card to your computer.
Another good feature is the inclusion of several continuous modes, these are:
- Continous - Records picture at a rate of about 3 photos every 2 seconds. Not available when image quality is set to HI.
- Multi-shot 16 - Takes 16 consecutive 'thumbnail' images and combines them into a collage.
- VGA sequence - Takes a series of pictures 640x480 pixels in size. Image qualty is set to NORMAL, allowing picturs to be taken at approximately 2 frames per second.
- Ultra HS - Camera takes 70 picturse 320x240 pixels in size each time the shutter button is pressed.
- The camera can also record 40 second movie clips without sound.
On the outside of the CoolPix 885's box is the statement 'The 885 offers the powerful trinity of superior optics, a 3 Megapixel CCD and Nikon's advanced image processing technology, all working in harmony to deliver astounding image quality'. Now this is obviously the work of Nikon's marketing department, and we wouldn't call the image quality astounding in this age of 5 megapixel cameras with superior lens's. However for a mid priced compact digital camera, with quite a lot of features the Nikon's performance is certainly better than average.
There are common failings in compact cameras such as this, lens's are usually compromised because of size restraints, and many people may want a larger zoom range than 3x. The flash is quite small and Nikon quote up to 3.7m effective range, which we found too optimistic outdoors, which may lead to some disappointing results.Sample Pictures
|In common with several cameras we've tested recently there is evidence of purple fringing. This is only usually going to be evident in a small number of photos taken, where there is particularly high contrast. It is possible to edit it out using an editing program such as Photoshop, but this can be time consuming or too complicated for those new to digital imaging. Elsewhere in the photo the 885 has managed to capture the subtle shadows of the statue picking up a good amount of fine details. Noise is evident but not enough to seriously affect the image quality.|
|The standard flower shot shows the Nikon's ability to accurately capture colour, it has also done a good job of metering the subject correctly and focussing at a close range using the macro mode.|
|Using the Landscape mode from the 12 scene modes available the 885 shows off the quality the lens and CCD are capable of. The red square in the center of the image is shown blown up in the lower right of the photograph. Most impressive is the fine details captured, and the subtle shades of colour picked up in the line of trees.|
|Switching to custom mode allowed the effect of blurring the water. This is the kind of shot the beginner photographer might not be able to capture using simply the 12 scene modes. The manual explains well how the custom mode works though, and it's not difficult to master.|
The CoolPix 885 is not a particularly fancy or attractive camera, it's aim is to be functional and to get its job done. It achieves this aim well, combining portability, good image quality, and ease of use for around 550 on the high street. This makes it well suited for the beginner digital photographer, who perhaps has never used a camera before, and would find the scene modes particularly useful until they've got the hang of the custom mode.
Those who consider themselves more serious photographers may want more features, a better zoom range, or manual focussing, for example, and will have to look elsewhere