Review: Nikon Coolpix 880
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Sunday, October 1, 2000
Last Updated: Sunday, October 1, 2000
Coolpix 880 is often referred to as the "baby" Coolpix
990. After all, it does have the same 3.34 Mpixel CCD and almost
the exact same functionality, but for less money ($799, street priced
under $700). The most noticeable difference between the 880 and
990 is the body -- the 880 has a body that reminds some of the Olympus
C-2000/3000 series, while the 990 has its trademark swiveling lens.
The lenses are also different -- the Coolpix 880 has a 2.5X optical
zoom, while the 990 boasts a 3X optical zoom. The Coolpix 880 may
be the baby in the family, but it's got lots of grownup features.
in the Box?
Coolpix 880 has a good bundle included with the camera:
3.34 Mpixel Nikon Coolpix 880 camera
2CR5 lithium battery (non-rechargeable)
featuring NikonView 3.0 software
guide, Fast Track Guide, Menu Guide
not a big fan of non-rechargeable batteries, and even less of one
when they're not of the AA variety. The included 2CR5 lithium battery
may last a while, but as soon as it's gone, you've got to buy another
one of these expensive batteries. Here's a better idea: pick up
Nikon's EN-EL1 Li-ion rechargeable battery ($45) and EH-21 AC adapter/battery
charger ($65) instead. It's too bad it adds another $100 onto the
price of the camera. They should include it for the $800 price tag
of this camera.
shown with 2CR5 battery, lens cap, and hand strap
a happier note, Nikon includes a sturdy lens cap with a strap so
it won't fall off. If you turn on the camera without taking off
the lens cap, a message on the LCD reminds you to take it off.
is no serial support available on this camera - USB only.
supplies a Lexar 8MB CompactFlash card with the Coolpix 880 -- definitely
too small for a 3 Megapixel camera. You'll want to pick up a larger
card right away - I'd recommend at least 64MB.
discussed the NikonView software before, and I'm not going to repeat
it here - check out the Coolpix
990 v. Olympus C-3030Z review for more on this.
manuals are just okay -- there's a lot of information here, but
it could be better organized.
Coolpix 880's body reminded more than one person of the Olympus
C-2000/3000Z, and I can see that too. Once big difference is that
the camera is more compact, but more buttons jammed together. Luckily,
these buttons all serve useful functions that save a trip to the
menus in many cases.
camera fits pretty well in your hands, and can be used with only
your right hand if you desire. The body is made from a sturdy-looking
plastic which looks like it will hold up well. Its dimensions are
3.9 x 3.1 x 2.0 inches, and it weighs in at 9.7 ounces empty.
a look at the front of the camera (see the top picture), you can
see the NIKKOR Zoom lens (8-20mm, equivalent to 38-95mm). This lens
can use Nikon's various adapters (wide angle, telephoto, fisheye),
but you'll need to purchase a step-down ring first.
onto the back of the CP880. The 1.8" LCD display is excellent
-- very smooth and bright. You can adjust the brightness via the
setup menu if need be. Of course, as with any LCD, once your in
bright daylight, it becomes difficult to use. Nose smudging will
be a problem when you use the optical viewfinder.
buttons just above the LCD work in both the record and playback
modes. In record mode, they are: exposure settings (exposure compensation,
shutter speed/aperture, ISO), landscape/macro/self-timer (you can
do a macro shot with self-timer), flash settings, and Quick Play.
In playback mode: delete, info, thumbnail mode, movie playback.
Quick Play mode is unique to the Coolpix 880. When you hit this
button, a little window pops up in the LCD, showing the photo you
just took. You can scroll through your photos here, just like in
playback mode. Hitting Quick Play again puts you in full playback
mode where you can do the usual play mode stuff.
buttons to the right of the LCD are for invoking the menu, navigating
the menu, and turning the LCD on and off.
northeast of those buttons are the zoom controls. They don't give
as much "feedback" as I'd like, but they do control the
optical viewfinder covers 80% of the frame, and it lacks diopter
correction for those of us with glasses.
now at the top of the camera: the LCD info display is standard issue,
here showing metering (lower left), quality, flash, battery, and
the right of that is the shutter release and power button. I accidentally
shut the power off a few times, so be careful.
and right of that is the mode wheel, which has more options that
the Coolpix 990's does. Here you've got:
few of these are new and need further explanation. The first is
CSM mode, which is essentially a "create you own" mode.
You can choose all kinds of settings, from exposure to flash to
focus, and save them here for easy retrieval. In CSM mode, you actually
choose between M, A, and P modes, so it's kind of a mode instead
a mode. Confused?
mode lets you set both the aperture (f2.8 or f7.8) and shutter speed
(8 sec - 1/1000 sec). Aperture priority lets you choose the aperture
(same choices), and the camera decides the shutter speed for you.
In Program mode, the camera chooses both of those options. A "bulb"
mode is also available, where the camera keep the shutter open for
up to 60 seconds, as long as you keep the shutter release held down.
Nikon recommends a tripod and a remote shutter release for bulb
mode is very much like Program mode, except that you can't enter
the menu system. This is the ultra point-and-shoot mode.
mode that is new to the Coolpix line is the scene mode, first done
by Casio (and still done better). Here, you can choose between various
situations, and the camera will choose the best settings for you.
The scenes available on the Coolpix 880 include:
show (why didn't they have this back on July 4?)
only one of these I tested was night landscape, and it did a good
job. Of course, if you delve in to the manual settings, you can
do this too -- but if you don't want to deal with it, scene mode
is for you.
a look at one side of the camera, which sports the video out port.
now, the other side, which has these two port, as well as the CompactFlash
slot. The port on the top is for USB, and the one of the bottom
a closer look at the CompactFlash slot, which is under a sturdy
plastic door. Unfortunately, just like the Coolpix 990, this camera
doesn't support CompactFlash Type II, which means no Microdrive.
A little button below the card easily ejects the card, without launching
it across the room.
finally, the bottom of the Coolpix 880. Down here we see the battery
compartment (left), and the tripod mount (center). The tripod mount
appears to be metal.
the Coolpix 880
going to discuss record mode (with the movie function) and playback
mode in this section.
Coolpix 880 takes about four seconds to extend the lens and "boot
up" before you can start taking photos. Shot-to-shot speed
is also in the four second range. It takes probably half a second
for the camera to focus when you first depress the shutter release,
and another half second for the picture to be taken. It's definitely
not as fast as the Coolpix 990, but then again I wouldn't expect
that for $200 less.
menus are extensive, and give you complete control over all the
cameras functions. Here's a rundown of everything you can change:
balance (Auto, manual, sunlight, incandescent, fluorescent, cloudy,
speedlight) - in many cases, there are fine adjustments for each
(matrix, spot, center-weighted, Spot AF Area) - in Spot AF Area,
the camera only measures the light where the camera is currently
shooting (single, continuous, Multi-shot 16, VGA sequence, Ultra
HS, Movie) -- more on this below
Shot selector (on/off) - this will take multiple photos as long
as you keep the shutter release button down, and it will pick
the best one.
- for using lens adapters
adjustment (Auto, normal, more contrast, less contrast, lighten
image, darken image, black and white)
sharpening (auto, high, normal, low, off)
(hi, fine, normal, basic / full, XGA, VGA) - "Hi" here
is the uncompressed TIFF mode
(auto, 100, 200, 400) - you can also change this using the buttons
on the back of the camera
options (AE lock, Auto bracketing, exposure compensation) - all
options (AF Area Mode, Auto-Focus mode, Focus Confirmation) -
AF Area Mode lets you pick the spot in the photo where the camera
focuses. Focus Confirmation visually shows you what the camera
is focusing on.
setup functions (folders, card format, date/time)
A glimpse at the menus in record mode
Coolpix 880 gives you a number of choices for continuous shooting
mode, most of which I've covered in previous reviews. Here are your
choices in detail:
- three photos every two seconds while the shutter release is
16 - takes 16 images and puts them into a collage.
sequence - takes 2 photos/second at 640x480
HS - takes 70 photos at 320 x 240 and dumps them into a separate
"folder" on the memory card
- record a Quicktime movie for up to 40 seconds at 320 x 240 with
can see some samples of a few of these on the Coolpix
950 gallery page from May 1999 (has it been that long?).
to view Quicktime movie (warning: 9MB)
of movie mode, above you'll find a sample. I must say that Sony
spoils you with their movie mode-- the sound and video quality is
great, though only for 15 seconds. While you can record an impressive
40 seconds of Quicktime video on the Coolpix 880, it'll be silent,
since there's no microphone on the camera.
mode is impressive on this camera (it is a Coolpix after all). You
can get as close as 1.6" (4 cm) on this camera. In the shot
above, I was able to get decent white balance by using the manual
weather made for a nice shot from Twin Peaks. While it could be
sharper (using the camera's sharpening menu, or Photoshop), there
aren't any mysterious stars in the sky that the camera created.
Since the camera gives you full control over aperture and shutter
speed, you can really experiment to make these shots work. Since
it's usually pretty cold up there, there's little time for that.
the photo quality was exceptional. Don't take my word for it-- check
out the gallery and decide for yourself.
it's not the fastest playback mode out there, I still regard Nikon's
as one of the best. You get every option imaginable, and it's all
easy to figure out.
The playback mode covers all the basics
usual options are all there (thumbnails, DPOF print marking, zoom
& scroll, etc), so I'll focus on what stands out.
first thing that I love about Nikon's playback mode is the amount
of information they provide about a picture. From the basic info
(above, left), you can hit a button and scroll through 4 more pages
of information, including exposure info, image properties, focus
area, and even a histogram (above, right). The Coolpix 880 writes
this data into a file on the memory card (INFO.TXT) -- here's what
was written in that file for the photo shown above.
CAMERA : E880V1.0
METERING : MATRIX
MODE : P
SHUTTER : 1/3sec
APERTURE : F3.5
EXP +/- : 0.0
FOCAL LENGTH : f13.9mm(X1.0)
IMG ADJUST : STANDARD
SENSITIVITY : AUTO
WHITEBAL : PRESET
SHARPNESS : AUTO
DATE : 2000.10.01 21:42
QUALITY : FULL FINE
nice feature which other camera manufacturers seem to skip over
is the ability to delete a group of photos. On all cameras you can
delete one, or all photos. But what about 4 or 5? Nikon makes it
easy to do this with just a few buttons.
few final notes on playback mode: when you scroll between photos,
you are first given a low res version of the photo, and then the
high res version is drawn over it. It takes less than a second to
go between between a photo and a new low res photo, and about 5
seconds between two high res photos.
can zoom into a photo by a factor of 4, and scroll around in them
once you've done so. While it's not as smooth as Casio or Canon's
implementations, it's certainly very useable.
Does it Compare?
as you can hopefully see now, the Coolpix 880 isn't much of a "baby
brother" at all to the Coolpix 990 -- it's almost a twin. The
major differences are: the lens, slower processing and less buffer
memory, and no support for external flashes. The CP880 does have
some tricks that the 990 doesn't, like scene and CSM modes. All
in all, if you're looking for a camera with all the manual controls
you desire, but don't want to break the bank, then the Coolpix 880
is for you!
manual control you can think of
controls and menus
batteries add another $100 to cost of camera
sound in movies
CompactFlash Type II
closest competitor to the Coolpix 880 is undoubtedly the Olympus
C-3000Z, which is a scaled down version of the excellent C-3030Z.
Some other cameras worth looking at include the Sony
PhotoPC 3000Z, and the upcoming Canon
PowerShot G1 (crowded field, eh?).
always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try these
cameras yourself before you make any purchases.