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I use this camera in relation to my work as a magazine editor and chief writer, photographer etc.
It is first and foremost very compact, light, and fairly easy to use and understand on a basic level. The buttons and controls however I find are a little bit fiddly, and as for the user settings and menus - well I have read the manual and been on a training course yet there are still mysteries that remain.........
I find it produces excellent quality pics if you have a very steady hand.
The on board flash is far too harsh and bleaches subjects terribly and the user settings still do not help with the time delay between pressing the button and the shutter opening - which in some cases is almost a second - a big minus for this camera.
Otherwise battery life excellent and a good model that is a step up from run of the mill digital cameras.
I bought my Coolpix 5700 in March 2004 after a lot of research both on the Net and from talking to friends who owned one. I knew I needed a minimum of 5 mega pixels as I needed to produce exhibition quality prints at A3+ size. This criteria kept the range of options down especially as another must have was total control over exposure. In the end, and to save boring you, the decision came down to the Nikon and the Canon PowerShot G5. The G5 nearly won as it had all the features I wanted, produced superb results and would have continued a 20 year love affair with Canon. However, the deciding factor that tipped me towards the 5700 was the excellent 8x Zoom Nikor lens. the Canon lens is a 4x zoom).
Now, I'm a serious amateur and semi-pro photographer and exhibit my work all round the world, so this purchase, my first venture into digital had to be just right. I couldn't afford a digital SLR, so it had to be the very best 'bridge' camera on the market for around £500. In fact, it cost me £495 with a 32mb Compact Flash card.
I immediately bought a 256mb card and started a series of tests on a variety of subjects which included portraits, landscapes, moving subjects and product photography.
Initial results using auto mode proved most satisfactory, although prints at A3 showed quite obvious signs of over sharpening. Turning off the Auto Sharpening feature on the camera cured this immediately. Colour rendition, white balance and exposure accuracy are more than acceptable.
The ability to have total control is critical to my work. In this the Nikon excels. You have a choice between full auto exposure, aperture priority and shutter priority. Exposure Compensation up to 2 stops either way is available in all modes allowing very easy bracketing of shots.
The built in flash is useful for fill-in, but can be infuriating to use until you get used to all the controls and menus. Even then, carrying the camera's manual around is a must. The autofocus works well and is very accurate. Focus confirmation is clear and easy to see in the viewfinder, as are all other settings if you so choose.
As far as overall ease of use is concerned, the Nikon fairs quite well. A thorough read of the Manual is essential to both understand the myriad of features. Even after more than a year hopwever, I still find myself refering to it quite often.
The software provided is more than adequate for the job. As new, the camera comes packaged with Nikonview and AdobePhotoshop Elements, all of which is fine for basic downloading and photo manipulation. More advanced photographers will benefit from a full-blown version of Adobe Photoshop, particularly if shooting in RAW.
As for results, I rarely shoot in anything other than 'Fine', which produces a JPEG with a compression ratio of 1:4. This gives me just over 100 full size images on my 256mb card. As previously mentioned, the ability to shoot in uncompressed RAW is there, but this limits the 256mb card to just 28 images. In all honesty, I can't tell the difference between the two on an A3 print, despite all the 'experts' telling me that RAW is so much better. With the camera set at 100asa, I can produce exhibition quality prints up to A3+ on my Epson 1290, and thats all I ask.
The Nikon Coolpix is now discontinued but good secondhand examples can be found on Ebay for around £150. Currently, there are a couple of Hong Kong dealers offering new, factory sealed examples for around £245. At these prices this camera is an absolute bargain and I can fully recommend over anything currently at a similar price on the market.
Well, where do you start with the Nikon Coolpix 5700, it is in a class of it's own and if you shop around you can now get a good deal on this beast (approx £549 online). I have bought this camera for more professional work that I do such as weddings and portraits and it is fun and easy to use. It is lightweight, compact and very ergonomic. With a fantastic 8x optical zoom you are not going to miss a detail. I won't go into too much detail as there previous review does that for me but all I can say I am thrilled to bits with mine. You can't ask for much more than this 5million pixel camera.
Digital cameras are getting better all the time. At one time, I'd have said that I'd never forsake my brace of Canon SLR's for solid-state picture taking but now I'm not so sure. Having had a year and a half of using a good quality Casio with 3.4megapixel capacity, I'm even less sure. A few months ago, I was lent the Nikon Coolpix 5700 digital camera to give an amateur view of it to a professional friend of mine. After using it for a couple of weeks, I was completely sold - all that remained was summoning up the financial courage to part with the best part (or should that be worst?) of £1,000. Well, given an eager buyer for my existing digital camera, and a wife just feeling guilty over one of her own indulgencies, I swung it, and a month or so ago, I took delivery of my own! Anyone wanna buy a Canon EOS 500n, a Canon IX7, a Canon IXUS I and even a Nikon F (very 70's, very 'Nam) - wife and credit card habit to support! COOLPIX 5700 ERGONOMICS Viewed from the front, the 5700 does not appear to have a viewfinder in the accepted sense of the word, since there is no optical eyepiece to be seen, except of course the lens itself. This then misleads you into thinking that the camera is a Single Lens Reflex (SLR) similar to the more serious 35mm celluloid cameras. Effectively these work by using a series of mirrors and prisms to look through the actual lens, giving the precise viewing point of the lens itself - the overall effect is that of an upside-down (and not very tall) periscope! Since the Coolpix 5700, along with all other digital cameras, is effectively a "still TV" camera, Nikon have decided to dispose of this complication by installing an internal liquid crystal display (LCD) colour viewing screen, albeit a very good hi-definition one. To a certain extent, this is duplication, since the camera already has a swivelling display on the back of the camera, but I would like to think t
hat the internal version has less battery drain, important when away from your charger for the day. This second display can be swivelled to face inwards, thereby protecting its screen from the scratches that occur, when the camera joggles against belt buckles and buttons. Good news for spectacle wearers - the internal viewfinder lens can be adjusted to allow for your prescription, or, being rubber-rimmed, you can keep your glasses on without fear of scratching them. You are free to choose which viewer you want, but of course, the outer screen comes into its own when sharing your playback with other onlookers, or when taking overhead pictures while stuck at the back of a crowd. My own personal preference is for the internal viewfinder. Holding a camera at arm's length labels you as the owner of something valuable, in the same way as using a cell-phone in a crowd almost shrieks "Mug me!" Also, I much prefer the internal viewfinder because I have it adjusted just how I like it, it's shaded from bright extraneous light and saves me from missed shots just because I can't find my reading glasses! My major criticism of this all-electronic approach is, that you have to waste battery power just to frame-up a shot, however experimentally or tentatively. One of the pleasures of using an ordinary non-digital SLR is its ability to take "pretend" photos, i.e. framing things just to see what they would look like in two dimensions. There are other ways to conserve battery power though. For example, you can set the camera to focus once only on pressure of the release button. Normally, by default, the focussing motor can be heard hunting in and out the whole time the camera is active, which remains a vital feature if you are to capture a moving object coming towards you. The camera has a large black soft rubber grip on the right, giving a firm hold of its body. The shutter release and master switch, which are situated on the
forward part of the grip, fall readily to hand, or rather, to index finger. The lens is encased completely in a tubular housing on the left when the power is off, but extends itself in use, particularly when zooming, which is actuated by a rear-mounted rocker switch. The left hand is still free to work minor controls, four of which are situated on the left of the lens barrel. These enable you, for example to scroll through the various flash modes (Off, Anti Red Eye, Daytime Fill-In etc) and picture quality (3 grades of JPEG file, TIFF uncompressed, and Nikon's own RAW format). With my 340 mb Microdrive on board, the worst quality setting gives me over 500 shots! Just above the lens, is a pop-up flash unit very similar to that fitted to 35mm cameras. You can also supplement this with a range of Nikon "Speedlight" flashguns, fitted to the conventional hot-shoe atop the lens barrel. Curiously, the camera does not throw out a beam of light to aid focussing in dark conditions. Come to think of it, I've now had three digital cameras, and not one has done this, whereas every celluloid camera I've owned in recent years has. Incidentally, Nikon are offering a gift-back, as opposed to cash-back, in the form of a Nikon Speedlight 30, which, whilst only little is probably a damned sight more powerful than the built-in flash. I have one minor criticism of the 5700's layout. The right-hand key-ring loop, which retains the neck strap, digs into the flesh at the back of the index finger - not exactly blister-raising but annoying. SPECIFICATION This camera falls into what some are calling the "prosumer" bracket. Not exactly a professional unit, some of which are now topping the 6 megapixel and £2000 barriers simultaneously, but decidedly above the price range that anyone but a serious amateur would entertain (or one with a dissonance in their money/intelligence ratio i.e. ME!). Jessops price
is a bus fare short of £1,000. Even discounted, it costs around £870. This may be a trifle rich for most people I fear, especially, considering that a "celluloid" Nikon SLR can be had for about £600 less! a) Picture Definition It boasts a maximum picture definition of 5 megapixels, although lesser qualities can be specified to cram more shots into your precious memory chip. You can see a thumbnail sketch of shots taken at maximum quality picture on the Coolpix 5700 at www.steves-digicams.com/2002_reviews/nikon5700_samples.html. To view or download one of them, click on the picture. In fact, I would recommend anyone to visit Steve's Digicams site if in the market for a digital camera - chances are that they'll have reviewed it. My own experience with test shots was excellent. These were taken at the finest JPEG setting, and printed initially at A4 size on a 1440 dpi printer. Colour and sharpness were excellent. I THOUGHT I could detect the tiniest hint of "barrel" and "pin-cushion" distortions on shots taken at the extremes of the zooming range, but I may be imagining it. Following a short holiday in New York over New Year, and the purchase of a 4800 dpi printer when I got back, the results at A4 size truly do exceed my expectations, and it's now a big temptation to print every damned thing in this size! This is starting to look (even more) expensive! Just a thought not strictly relevant to this camera alone - in an era where widescreen media are becoming the norm, thanks to DVDs and digital television, what do the manufacturers of digital cameras do? They stick to the 4:3 format ration of the PC monitor and "ordinary" TV's. This ratio is even "squarer" than 35mm photography's format, and feels a bit porthole-like after getting used to an APS camera's full negative HDTV. An anamorphic facility (i.e. where a deliberate widthways distortion makes everyone loo
ks tall and thin) would have been a useful adjunct to allow for the stretching of the picture in the printing stage. My camcorder already does this to allow for 16:9 wide screen TVs, and very effective it is. One small sop to us wide-eyed lads though, comes in the form of a 3:2 format option, which does make prints fit A4 that bit better. It also reduces the amount of memory needed by each shot since the top and bottom of a normal 4:3 frame are cropped. b) The Lens With its closest equivalent rival, a Minolta Dimage job "maxing-out" at 7x zoom, the 5700 has a uniquely powerful 8x zoom lens, roughly the equivalent of a 35-280mm (in 35mm parlance). Except for an add-on wide-angle adapter to give me the equivalent of a 28mm lens, I don't anticipate needing any other lenses. With a zoom this powerful, there is no need to rely on digital tricks to get close (some cameras, my camcorder included, claim a 100x zoom - great until you realise that it's only a 20x optical zoom, the rest being achieved by magnifying the middle of the frame electronically, with ensuing loss of definition). The 5700 will, however, using "digital tricks", move in closer still, (up to 32x) but in my view, you can do this at your PC after the event, so why compromise your shot permanently at source? c) Memory Capacity Designed to use Compact Flash I & II memory modules, it will also accept the IBM Microdrive, which fits the same slot. IBM Microdrive capacities are currently up to at an impressive 1 gigabyte. Mind you, there is a quid-quo-pro here, and it manifests itself in extra battery drain - the Microdrive is literally a tiny hard drive with a motor in there somewhere. The solid-state CF I & II modules use considerably less current and even they can now reach half of the IBM's capacity (512 megabytes). The camera comes with a puny 32 megabyte CFII starter chip, barely enough to shoot a dozen of top-definition JPEGS or
even a clutch of "RAW" data frames. I use a 340 mb IBM Microdrive which gives me a perfectly adequate 145 shots at Finest JPEG setting and when only the VERY best will do, 44 pictures at the RAW uncompressed setting. d) Power Supply The 5700 uses a dedicated Lithium-Ion battery and comes with its own special charger which can operate on AC voltages from 100 to 250 covering most foreign locations. As a standby alternative, for example when operating away from the mains for a lengthy period, it will also run from Lithium 2CR5 cells but these can be very expensive. Using these starts to make digital photography cost as much a film camera, although I did track down a bargain pack of 6 for £13.50, which is the price of one and a half normally! Officially you are SUPPOSED to get 90 minutes continuous use from the Nikon battery, but I've got my doubts. That all-electronic viewfinder doesn't help, I'm sure, and neither would an IBM Microdrive. I took the precaution of buying an extra rechargeable battery. Nikon do however make a bolt-on battery pack for the serious "away from the mains" merchant, which will run on a pack of conventionally-shaped AA sized rechargeable cells. One thing I have noticed, which may be a cause of extra battery drain, is that the uncompressed file formats like TIFF or RAW take forever to save to the Microdrive, and in many cases, prevent you from turning off the camera until done. Not knowing what to expect from the battery when used in anger, I purchased another for £24 before setting off for NY. e) Build Quality Unlike a lot of cameras which, despite best appearances, turn out to be disappointingly plastic, black-matt magnesium alloy seems to figure quite strongly in the chassis build of the Nikon, although some of the openings like the battery and memory chip flaps are still plastic. I've taken the precaution of ordering the soft leather case to avoid chipping the enamel.
It weighs half a kilo or so despite being quite dinky in size. Although a really heavy camera like my old Nikon F can be a pain to lug around, you don't want something too flimsy when it comes to telephoto shots, since the mere act of clicking the shutter can wobble the camera, and if you've just run to the right spot to take your action masterpiece, your own pulse can figure in the equation too. At £870-£1000 it damned well ought to be better built! f) Control & Useability When you first get the camera, you feel the immediate need to bang off a few shots. That's fine, the default exposure mode is "Programmed", i.e. the camera works out all the exposure details (the equivalent of film speed, shutter speed and aperture, in "celluloid-speak"). There is however, a full set of exposure modes; shutter-priority, where you chose a shutter speed, possibly to freeze, OR deliberately blur movement, aperture priority which gives you control over "depth-of-field" - the smaller the aperture, the more tolerant the focussing is to a range of objects at different distances (also useful for throwing the backgrounds to portraits out of focus), and fully manual for the ultimate click freak who thinks he knows better than the camera's light meter! The shutter speed range starts at 8 seconds and ends at 1/4000th of a second. The maximum aperture is f2.8 - not bad for a zoom lens. Speaking of clicking, Nikon do seem to have gone someway to addressing my major criticism of all the digital cameras I've used so far. This one ALMOST fires when you press the shutter release, making action photos more of a practicality. Nikon claim the lag is 70 milliseconds and I've no reason to argue. Do bear in mind that I'm talking about the time the camera takes to fire from actual pressure on the button. If you are unlucky enough to be charged by a rhino with your camera turned off, better hope h
e takes more than 7 seconds to get there, because, from cold, that's how long it will take you to get ready for action. Of course, the Nikon is not alone here - I've seen it recommended that you switch the camera on well in advance, and then use its "sleep" facility to save battery life. This minimises the time needed to get up to speed, and merely requires a light tap on the shuuter release to bring it back to life. g) Movie Capability Beyond trying this out, I've not got a lot of use for this - the action is jerkier than a true camcorder, being only 15 frames per second and depending on memory capacity, you could shoot up to 1 minute's worth of epic (having filled the memory up, you'd need somewhere to download it to, if you want to take stills as well). Mind you, it would stop me boring the pants off relatives when I get home! I thought I could detect the noise of the zoom lens motor (or was it the auto-focus?), on my test film, and this wouldn't surprise me, since the microphone is built-in to the camera body, and my camcorder suffers ever so slightly from this too. FINAL ANALYSIS There's a lot to learn yet, and thank goodness there's a "programme mode" to take the strain while you discover what all the other knobs do! Don't be fooled by the thick instruction manual - it really is all in English, as opposed to those that are only thick through being multi-lingual. If you want to get to grips with it prior to parting with £900, you can download it from the Nikon website, all 192 pages of it! The pictures really are indiscernible from "real" ones except to the most "picky" and those that insist on using a magnifier to spot the pixels. For best results, I'll try an internet photo printing serve like www.Internetcamerasdirect.co.uk , although you might want to think twice about uploading large file sizes if you are without broadband. For small
er shots, my new HP 5552 4,800 dpi colour printer really does them justice. On the downside, it's a pity about the lack of real viewfinder and the battery life though (oh yes and that price!). Mine cost £868 from the aforementioned Internetcamerasdirect, with an additional £20 for a very reasonable (I thought) extra year's warranty. They also throw in a tripod and 60 post-card prints-worth of credit with their photo-printing service. In addition to the "free" flashgun that Nikon are including (OR a Leatherman pocket toolkit, OR a training course of some kind), you get 50mb of space at the new Nikon Photoshare web site, which, like Internetcamerasdirect, has a professional printing service. If you baulk at the price, it might be worth investigating the new and much cheaper Fuji S602 which is similar in concept, but with a less powerful zoom and slightly lower in ultimate picture quality, before laying out this kind of money. Nikon also make the Coolpix 5000 which is capable of the same 5 megapixel picture quality of the 5700, but lacks such a powerful zoom. I realise many people will read this and remark "£900? I could buy a decent PC for that!" Having something to sell meant that I "only" had to account for £600. All I can say is, "£900 for a PC? I could buy a really good camera for that!"