Review: Nikon Coolpix 5000
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Thursday, December 13, 2001
Sunday, June 2, 2002
Coolpix 5000 ($1099) is probably the most anticipated digital
camera of the year, up there with the Sony
DSC-F707 and Minolta
DiMAGE 7. After all, it's Nikon's first consumer-level 5 Megapixel
Coolpix. The Coolpix line has long been known as the benchmark for
digital photo quality. For the CP5000, Nikon has abandoned the traditional
swiveling lens design that many of us grew to love on the 900-series.
Instead, the 5000 looks like a cross between the Coolpix 885 and
a PowerShot G2. The lens is back to a 3X optical zoom compared to
the 4X zoom on the CP995, though here it's a bit wider.
the Coolpix 5000 worth the wait? Read on and find out.
in the Box?
Coolpix 5000 has an excellent bundle, with everything you need right
in the box. It includes:
5.0 (effective) Mpixel Nikon Coolpix 5000 camera
rechargeable Li-ion battery
featuring NikonView 4 and other software
page manual (printed)
gives you everything you need to get started. The 32MB CompactFlash
card is pretty small for a 5MP camera though, so consider picking
up something larger (maybe even a Microdrive).
now familiar EN-EL1 rechargeable battery returns on the CP5000.
Nikon estimates that the battery will last for about 100 minutes
in "average use". With the IBM Microdrive installed, I
found the battery life to be well below that number.
a bit critic of most proprietary batteries for two reasons: 1) they're
expensive and 2) if you're in a bind you can't just buy another
at Walgreens. The Coolpix 5000 is somewhat spared, since you can
also use a non-rechargeable 2CR5 battery if you are desperate. I
know I'm not the only one who would like to see AA batteries return
to the Coolpix line.
optional power sources for the camera include an AC adapter, as
well as the MB-E5000 power pack ($140), which holds 6 AA batteries.
includes an external charger for the EN-EL1. They also give you
a lens cap and strap to protect the lens.
like on other Coolpix models, there are tons of optional accessories
available. That includes lenses, flashes, filters, and hoods. You
can get wide-angle (19 mm!), fisheye, and telephoto lenses (all
require a step-down ring). There are lens and LCD hoods, and a wired
remote control is available too. I should note that the Canon PowerShot
G2 and many Olympus cameras include wireless remotes in the box.
CP5000 includes version 4.3.0 of NikonView, which is what you'll
probably use to transfer photos. While it runs in Mac OS X, it is
not native. This version is faster than v. 4.1.0, but it's still
really slow, and I've got a fast computer too. But it does the job.
12/17/01: If you directly plug the camera into a Mac running
Mac OS X 10.1 or above, the Image Capture application will start
up, and you can transfer photos that way.
Coolpix's manual is fairly confusing, but everything you need is
inside, if you can find it. It's also nice to see that Nikon is
including printed manuals again, instead of making you view a PDF
Coolpix 5000's body is a totally new design, reminiscent of the
Coolpix 885. The body is made of a magnesium alloy and it feels
very solid. It's a small camera that is easy to hold with one hand,
thanks to a large right-hand grip. The camera is a bit too large
to fit in most pockets, however.
official dimensions of the CP5000 are 4.0 x 3.2 x 2.6 inches (W
x H x D) and it weighs 360 grams empty.
start our tour of the Coolpix 5000 now.
always, we start with the front of the camera. The lens has changed
since the Coolpix 995, and depending on your point-of-view, this
is good or bad. On the CP995, it was an F2.6, 38 - 152 mm lens (4X).
On the CP5000, it's an F2.8, 28 - 85 mm lens. So you get a slower
but wider lens, with a shorter focal range on the CP5000. If I'm
not mistaken, you won't find a more wide-angle lens on a consumer
digicam than right here on the CP5000.
CP5000's lens barrel is threaded, but I do not know the measurements
as of this writing. As I mentioned before, there are a number of
lens accessories available. You can boost the zoom with a 4X digital
zoom feature, but doing this will reduce the image quality.
the top of the photo is the flash, though I don't know its working
range. If you need more "juice", then pick up an external
flash for the CP5000. As you'll see in a moment, there's a hot shoe
on the top of the camera. Most of Nikon's Speedlights are fully
below the flash is the microphone -- yes, this Coolpix records sound
below that is the AE/AF lock button. Holding this down will lock
the exposure values.
case you are wondering what that circle is just below the shutter
release button (top left), that's the self-timer light.
rather glaring omission on the Coolpix 5000 is any sort of low-light
focusing aid. In most cases, this is an "AF illuminator"
-- a little light that helps the camera focus. The Sony DSC-F707
actually uses a laser grid to accomplish the task.
CP5000 takes a page from the Canon PowerShot G1/G2 by having a flip
out, swiveling LCD display. You can have it like you see above,
or flip it the other way so it's facing the subject. You can also
put it in the more traditional position. If you don't want it, you
can close it altogether.
annoying thing with the swiveling LCD (that I wasn't bothered by
on the G2) is that the optical viewfinder is difficult to use when
the LCD isn't flipped out of the way. This is especially annoying
if you use your right eye.
said, the 1.8" LCD is typical of the high end Coolpix cameras:
bright and fluid. The three buttons below the LCD are "live"
and change depending on the situation. In record mode, they are
Monitor, Menu, and Quick Review. In playback mode, they are Monitor
and Menu. The Quick Review feature lets you see a tiny thumbnail
of the photo you just took in the top left corner of the LCD. Pressing
it again puts you into full playback mode.
above the LCD is the optical viewfinder, which shows 82% of the
frame. There is diopter correction for those with glasses.
the right of that is the LCD info display. I think this is the first
time I've seen this on the back of the camera rather than on the
top. Here it shows battery life (not much left), mode (manual),
quality (fine), metering (matrix), shots remaining (346, no thanks
to the Microdrive), flash (off), and shutter speed (1/4 sec). The
only way this could be nicer is if it were backlit.
I say it -- the controls on the back of the camera are a cluttered
mess. If you aren't confused just by looking at them, wait until
you see the table in the manual that tries to explain what they
are two ways in which the buttons function: you push them and it
changes on thing, or hold it down and turn the command dial (top
of camera) to change something else. So the button with the flash
symbol will change flash setting when you press it, or ISO when
you hold it down. The three buttons directly to the right of the
LCD are (press button / hold button, top to bottom):
(Auto, Off, Auto with redeye reduction, fill flash, slow sync)
/ ISO (100, 200, 400, 800, Auto)
Focus Mode Selection (Auto Focus, Infinity, Macro, Macro + Self-timer)
/ Manual Focus (fifty preset distances from 0.02 m to infinity)
- this button also deletes photos in playback mode
quality (Hi, Fine, Normal, Basic) / Image Size (Full, UXGA, XGA,
VGA, 3:2) - more on these later
additional information on some of these: When you put the camera
into ISO Auto, it will usually stay at 100, but if it needs to,
it will boost the sensitivity. See the gallery
for an example of what higher ISO settings look like. The self-timer
can be 3 seconds or 10 seconds -- you just double-press the shutter
release button to get the 3 second timer. One annoying thing about
self-timer is that it's a one-shot deal. You've got to press-press-press
the button again to get back to it for the the next shot.
the right of those three buttons is the usual four-way switch, used
for menu navigation mostly.
all that is the switch for record and playback mode. Above that
is the zoom control, which smoothy and accurately controls the lens.
here's the top of the CP5000. The big thing here is the hot shoe.
This will work with most Nikon Speedlights, including the new SB-50DX
model and the SB-28DX that I had on the D1X (see
our review). For those interested in using an external flash,
here's an important quote from the manual: "The CP5000 does
not support power zoom, AF-assist illumination, or redeye reduction
using the redeye reduction lamp on the external Speedlight."
the right of the hot shoe is the Func(tion) button. By default,
this holding this down while rotating the command dial (seen here,
lower right) will change the user set (you can have three different
groups of settings). You can redefine the button to allow you to
easily change things like white balance or metering without a trip
to the menus.
the right of those are buttons for mode and exposure compensation.
mode button switches between:
Mode - camera picks best exposure settings
Priority Mode - you choose shutter speed, camera picks appropriate
aperture. Shutter speed range is 8 sec - 1/2000 sec.
Priority Mode - you choose aperture, camera picks shutter speed.
Aperture range of F2.8 - F8.0 in 1/3 step increments
Mode - you choose aperture and shutter speed. This enables bulb
mode, which will keep the shutter open for as long as the shutter
release button is pressed, for up to 5 minutes (!). This pretty
much requires the remote shutter release cable.
compensation is the usual -2EV to +2EV in 1/3EV increments.
above those buttons is the shutter release button, with the power
switch wrapped around it. I found both to be too small for my fingers.
Again, that clear thing just above the button is the self-timer
is one side of the camera. Under a rubber cover is the port for
A/V output. Right below the screw on the right side is the speaker.
the other side of the camera you'll find two more I/O ports and
the CompactFlash slot. The two ports are for "Digital"
(USB) and DC in.
CompactFlash slot is Type II, and the IBM Microdrives (512MB and
1gb only) work fine. The Microdrive really burns through the battery
a lot quicker than the regular flash memory cards. The included
32MB card is shown at right.
me also add that the plastic door that covers this slot is quite
flimsy, and I can see it breaking off if forced.
here is the bottom of the camera, where you'll find the metal tripod
mount and the battery compartment. The EN-EL1 battery is shown at
the Nikon Coolpix 5000
CP5000 starts up in about five seconds. It will take even longer
if you're using the Microdrive. When you press the shutter release
button halfway, the camera locks focus in about a second, which
seems a little slow. Pressing the button fully results in a picture
after a short, but noticeable lag. The shot-to-shot speed is pretty
good -- you'll wait under three seconds before you can take another
shot. The exception is, of course, TIFF shots. These will take upwards
of 30 seconds to write to the memory card, and the camera will be
locked up during this process. On all shots, you have the ability
to delete photos as they are being recorded to the card. One dumb
thing is that you use the Flash and AF buttons to pause and delete
photos like this, rather than the buttons that are right on the
a chart of the various image size and quality choices available
on the Coolpix:
of images on included 32MB card
2560 x 1920
2560 x 1710
1600 x 1200
1280 x 960
1024 x 768
640 x 480
are those N/A's doing there? You can't record TIFFs in any mode
but the full and 3:2 sizes. This is a good spot to point you to
some analysis of file sizes over on Steves
Digicams. Steve notes that the CP5000 file sizes are a lot smaller
than other 5 Megapixel cameras.
let's talk Coolpix menus. You can have up to three separate sets
of settings. Maybe a set for outdoors, and another for the studio.
While the menus are hierarchical and easy to navigate, the little
icons can be confusing. Here's what you'll find in the CP5000 menus:
Setting (1, 2, 3) - holds 3 different sets of camera settings
balance (Auto, preset, fine, incandescent, fluorescent, cloudy,
speedlight) - more info below
(Matrix, spot, center-weighted, spot AF area) - in spot AF area
metering, the camera samples the light only in the current focus
High - 3 frames/sec, up to 3 frames
Low - 1.5 frames/sec; can go for quite a while (14 shots in
16 - puts 16 consecutive shots into one full size image -
like a collage
sequence - 3 frames/sec, 1280 x 960
HS - 30 frames/sec, 320 x 240
- more later on this
Shot Selector (on/off) - takes up to 10 consecutive shots, then
chooses the sharpest image
Adjustment (Auto, normal, more contrast, less contrast, lighten
image, darken image)
Control (Maximum, normal, moderate, minimum, black & white)
- why B&W is here, I have no idea
(Normal, wide adapter, telephoto 1 and 2, fisheye 1 and 2, slide
copy adapter) - use this if you bought a conversion lens
Lock (on/off/reset) - turning this on will lock the exposure
settings after the next shot taken
Bulb Duration (1 min / 5 min)
Area Mode (Auto, manual, off) - in manual mode, you can use
the four-way switch to pick the area to focus on
Mode (Continuous AF, Single AF) - how the camera focuses (always
or when the button is pressed halfway)
Confirmation (MF, on, off) - shows what areas in the image
are in focus
units (m, ft)
Sharpening (Auto, high, normal, low, off)
Bracketing - 3 or 5 shots in a row with varying EV values
Bracketing - 3 shots with varying white balance. One normal
image, one "bluish" image, one "reddish"
Reduction (on, off, clear image mode) - Noise reduction will reduce
the appearance of noise or grain in your images. It is only used
at shutter speeds slower than 1/15 sec. Clear Image Mode is for
images 1280 x 960 or smaller - it takes two shots with the shutter
open, and one with it closed, and reduces the noise. Note that
a tripod or very steady hands is recommended for these features.
is also a setup menu, which allows you to do basic things like set
the date and time, power saver settings, and LCD brightness. You
can also assign functions to the Func and AE/AF-lock buttons, and
decide which settings are saved when the camera is turned off. Strangely,
flash exposure compensation is also found in the setup menu (-2EV
to +2EV in 1/3EV increments).
also wanted to comment on the white balance features. The preset
mode allows you to shoot a white or gray card/paper to get the perfect
WB setting. On all of the WB modes except Auto and Preset, you can
fine tune the setting ±3. You can also use the WB bracketing
feature that I mentioned before. In other words, it's hard to have
bad white balance on this camera.
more about photo quality!
you'd expect on a high end camera, the Coolpix did a very good job
with the night shot test. Noise reduction was used in the above
shot. My only real complaint is that the lights on the bridge kind
of look like one big line, instead of multiple lanes. Who knows
what another camera would've done at that moment, though. I should
add that it was cloudy and about to rain, hence the sky.
few days earlier, I took an alternative low light shot -- this candle.
Not only is the lighting low, but it's a macro shot to boot.
friend asked me about redeye tests, so I took a portrait and cropped
it down to the eyes. It was taken with the redeye reduction feature
turned on. As you can see, the CP5000 doesn't have any major redeye
issues like some of its predecessors.
to readers: Is this kind of test something you'd like to see
in all reviews? It's obviously not very scientific, but does it
add value? Let
TIFF file of this
image - 6MB
Coolpix cameras have always been the very best at macro shots, and
the 5000 continues the tradition. The shot above is very detailed,
sharp, and the colors are right on. I've included a TIFF version
for the TIFF connoisseurs out there. You can get as close as an
incredible 2 cm in macro mode, at full wide-angle.
by and large, the photo quality was excellent on the camera, it
frustrated me on many occasions. The biggest problem in my eyes
was its tendency to blow out the sky in certain situations, especially
with spot metering. If it happened just once I could forgive the
CP5000, but it happened several times on different days. The other
issue was chromatic aberrations, or purple fringing. By no means
is the CA terrible on the CP5000, but it's noticeable in many shots.
In most situations (especially with matrix metering) the shots are
very good. As usual, I'm going to point you to the photo
gallery, where you can see some real-world photos and judge
the quality for yourself.
I have added a Coolpix
5000 shootout page, where I have side-by-side photos of some
difficult subjects taken with the CP5000 and my Olympus E-10.
movie mode has finally been updated on the Coolpix 5000.
Gone are the days of short, silent movies! You can record up to
60 seconds of video at 320 x 240, with sound. The optical zoom is
disabled during filming, and you can use the digital zoom (groan)
up to 2X.
are saved in Quicktime format.
a quick sample movie for you:
to play movie (3MB, Quicktime format)
Coolpix 5000 has a complete playback mode that has all the basics
plus a few other nice features.
basic features include 4 or 9 thumbnail mode, slide shows, DPOF
print marking, image protection, and "zoom and scroll".
zoom and scroll feature allows you to zoom in as much as 6X into
your photo, and then scroll around in it.
about those cool extra features? One of my favorites is the ability
to delete a group of photos at once. You just mark the thumbnails
you want to delete, hit a button, and they're gone.
interesting feature is the Auto Transfer function. You can mark
photos as "Auto Transfer" and NikonView will automatically
copy them to your Mac or PC when you connect the camera.
nice feature that is missing is the ability to rotate images in-camera.
rotating the command dial, you can find out a lot more information
about your photos, as you can see above. A histogram is also available.
While that is being shown, the camera will show which areas of the
image are overexposed by making them blink.
between photos takes about a second. At first, a lower resolution
picture is shown, and about two seconds later, the high resolution
Does it Compare?
I recommend the Nikon Coolpix 5000, though I have some serious issues
with it. On the plus side, the photo quality is usually excellent,
the feature-set is top notch, and the hot shoe and Microdrive support
are welcomed. My problems with the camera are in three areas: 1)
the tendency to blow out the sky; 2) the cluttered rear controls;
3) the lackluster battery life, especially with a Microdrive installed,
combined with the costly proprietary battery. I must admit that
I also miss the old Coolpix 900-series design. This is one of those
cameras where you really need to weigh what is important to you,
based on what I've brought up in this review, and what you'll read
in others. And like I always say, try it out in the store first
before deciding. Definitely consider the CP5000, but look closely
at the competition.
the manual controls you'll ever need
excellent photo quality
Type II slot - Microdrive works fine
is very "wide" for a consumer digicam
shoe for external flash
of external lens options
I didn't care for:
out the sky in too many pictures, especially with spot metering
viewfinder hard to use when LCD is not flipped out
battery costs a lot and doesn't last long, especially with Microdrive
other high-end cameras I would consider include the Canon PowerShot
G2 and S40,
FinePix 6900Z, Minolta DiMAGE 5
C-4040Z, E-10, and E-20, Sony DSC-F707
and the Toshiba
always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try out
the CP5000 and it's competitors before you buy!
how does the photo quality stand up? Check out the sample photos
in our photo gallery!
check out the Coolpix
5000 shootout, for more photos.
a few more opinions?
Digicams and Imaging
Resource reviews of the Coolpix 5000.
welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Due to my limited resources, please do not send me requests
for personal camera recommendations.