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The Stats

Coolpix 950

DCRP Review of the CP950

Imaging Resource CP950 Review

Phil Askey's CP950 Review

Windows Magazine CP950 Review


Manufacturer: Nikon Electronic Imaging
Product Model: Coolpix 950
Official Website: Coolpix 950 Home Page
Resolution: 1600x1200
Zoom Capability: 3X optical + 2.5X digital
Auto Focus? Yes
Macro Capability? Yes
Flash? Yes
Manual Control of: Exposure compensation, ISO, aperture, shutter speed, focus.
Storage Method: CompactFlash (8MB card included)
Storage Capacity: 1-32
LCD Screen: Yes/2"
ISO Equivalent: 80-100
Video Out?: Yes
Software Included: NikonView 2.0, Hotshots PictureWorks, IPIX Interactive Pictures
Computers Supported: Mac/PC
Miscellaneous Notes: Lightweight magnesium body. Can review a shot before it's saved to the memory card. Uncompressed TIFF mode. Best-Shot Selector (BSS) automatically selects the "sharpest" among up to ten consecutive shots of a subject.

MSRP: $999
Lowest Price*: Visit Shopper.Com to find out now!

DCRP Reader Reviews

Randy Jenkins (6/19/99):
I just received my 950 last week and used it last weekend. I am starting a business in Oak Hill W.Va at a stable that does trail rides in the New River Gorge and will be taking pictures of customers on their horses on the trails and providing prints upon their return. I have been looking at digital cameras for two years and when the 950 came out it seemed to be what I was looking for. My main concern was image quality and the ability to reliably get great exposures in high contrasty situations one of which is a overlook where the horse and customer are in the shade but the background is very bright with mountains and a river valley. I am very pleased with the results i got. Image quality is excellent and the auto exposure handled the overlook much better than the 35mm i was using. I found that by using auto exposure lock, manual focus, and cutting off the monitor i was able to get shots much faster. I would definetly recommend this camera for anyone looking for great image quality. I found that the NikonView software was superslow for downloading but found a $15.00 shareware program names Cameraid that is more than twice as fast plus has a lot of other features.

Peter Inova (6/7/99):
From dime-sized Roman coins on a coffee table to multi-shot mosaic panoramas the Nikon CP950 has such a wide range of capabilities that it constantly is revealing new tricks to me after a month of real picky use.

Digital cameras are a very different beast from film cameras and this is the first one that combines speed, image quality, flexibility and versatility in the way we expect from the highly evolved film eaters. Added to that are a whole boatload of features no film camera will ever have.

This is a camera that can teach a pro new tricks. (Proof: I'm a pro. It taught me tricks.) Like the white balance thing. The 950 has, unlike any other digital camera I've seen, a manually set white balance. The kind found on pro video cameras in that you point the camera at a white card or surface and the RGB sensors adjust themselves to whatever color is on the card, rendering an image of that card as neutral white or gray. No pro video camera would be without it and many prosumer cameras have it, too.

The neat trick here is that you can FOOL the white balance by pointing at a color surface and the camera's circuits will go to extremes trying to balance for that color. The range here is larger than on my video cameras! If you white balance on a red surface, the shot goes cold cyan while the red goes nearly neutral gray. Combined with a severe underexposure you can make a sunny shot look like moonlight.

If you balance through a severe red #25 filter (used mainly for darkening blue skies for B&W film photography) the shot goes EXTREMELY blue. If you balance AND shoot through the #25 filter, you get a full blown special effect shot with high contrast blue/black, aqua/black and bright yellow zones. Now I'm digging into my color gel drawer looking for saturated gels to try next.

There is a teeny little tripod that lives on my 950 most of the time. It's called a Cobra Q-Pod and one place that has it for $8.00 is CKC Power. It's black like the camera and makes an instant desk-top micro copy stand. With this you can shoot INSIDE a 35mm slide in perfect focus or shoot screen-filling dime sized objects.

The Manual mode is a field of dreams. An exposure lock option allows you to shoot a series of images that stay locked to the first exposure. Essential when shooting a multi-shot panoramic. It even stays locked after the camera is switched off and on again. You must kill the effect manually or shoot in-between shots in Auto.

The sheer number of manual possibilities for exposure, display, focus, self timing, flash, colorimetry, viewing angle, external flash, add-on optics, reviewing and editing add up to a huge number of permutations of preference. So they let you save three entire camera setups that let you change the character and functions of metering, white balance, sequence shot, exposure correction, best shot selector, flash, lens, wht bal lock and AE lock in each file.

I work with Photoshop a lot and have completely circumvented the hassle of downloading images into a computer. I take the compact flash card out of the camera, put it in a carrier and plug it into a PCMCIA card slot on my portable Mac G3. At just a couple of seconds per frame the card is ready to be cleared for more action. (At 5 lbs, the new Mac G3's are great portable darkrooms.) The millions of colors screen isn't as color accurate as other monitors but it is very consistent. I've learned how far to trust it and when not to. Prints on Epson color printers (I use the 800, 850 and Photo EX) is from good to excellent depending on the paper used. The heavy weight glossy sheets from both Epson and Kodak are so photographic people are surprised to hear they're inkjet prints.

The boatload of good features on the 950 include the BSS multi-shot option that captures a series of exposures then chooses the one that is sharpest and saves only that one. It works well and makes 1/4 second shooting a viable possibility. Seven (!) white balance options, three metering choices, aperture/shutter speed/program exposure priorities, five variations of multi or single shot, four digital telephoto setups and the option of shooting in really fine black and white join dozens of other options making this camera one of the most capable I've ever handled.

A few things may have to wait for the CP1000 like electronic SLR viewfinding, really bright playback screen, 3.5 megapixel images, 10:1 zooming and six chip imaging sensors (you know, for the accurate infra-red and ultra violet part of the rainbow shots) but until then, this is today's camera to beat.

Travis (6/7/99):
I've had the CP950 for more than a month now and I have taken over 2000 shots! To say the least, I'm very happy with the camera. Despite a few nitpicky quirks/bugs, the camera is very high quality. For me it was the combination of great image quality and loads of features that led me to my purchasing decision. Here's my thoughts:

IMAGE QUALITY: "9"
For me, pictures quality is the most important criteria to consider. A camera with loads of features, ease of use, and great value is worthless if it doesn't take good pictures. Fortunately, this is one of the CP950's greatest strengths. The higher resolution really makes a difference, achieving greater detail and enough data to make a decent quality print.

Colors seem very accurate - not as cold as the CP900, but not as saturated as some of the other cameras that enhance color, which creates an inaccurate representation of the scene. If the colors in the scene are cold because of lighting, then I expect my camera to accurately reflect that. In the end, if I want warmer colors than the scene really had, then I can enhance it myself in post-processing. But by keeping the colors accurate, the pictures remain very sharp.

The compression algorithms used in the camera are exceptional. I expected to use the FINE quality mode to achieve highest image quality, but in actual use, the NORMAL mode exhibits very little artifacts. In fact, the pictures taken in NORMAL mode with the CP950 seemed to have less artifacts than some cameras have in their FINE/BEST mode. Whether this is due to the extra resolution or better compression I cannot say, but it means I can store twice as many pictures by using the NORMAL mode.

I really have few complaints about image quality. I am generally pleased with approximately 9 out of every 10 shots that I've taken with the camera. The pictures are almost always exposed correctly. The focus is normally dead on, except in some low light situations. The flash can have a tendency to throw off the white balance a bit, but this can usually be corrected either by setting a manual white balance or through post-production.

Design: "9"
Some people can't stand the swivel design, and some find it quite useful; I fall in the latter category because I appreciate the flexibility the swivel provides. The joint feels very tight, yet flexible enough to allow for some jolting. By utilizing this design, Nikon was able to make the camera more compact and flexible. Some may worry that the camera could break in two, but the occurrence is not probable - especially if care is taken with the camera.

One very useful design feature is the functionality of the buttons and command wheel. Most of the frequently used features can be accessed without using the LCD: image quality/compression, optical zoom, flash modes, shutter/aperture settings, macro, manual focus, ISO sensitivity, etc. Only the more advanced features like white balance and continuous modes need the menuing system to be changed. This not only saves on battery life, but also provides a quicker way to change settings without requiring the menu/LCD.

Like others who have commented, I do not like the position of the tripod and flash card slot. Although I don't to do much tripod photography, it certainly impedes those who need to access the compact flash card while the camera is on the tripod. The compact flash door is a bit flimsy, although I like the eject button that is similar to those used on laptops. Hopefully this combination will remain durable throughout the life of the camera.

Also, the add-on lenses (the telephoto TC-E2 in particular) are wonderful. Doubling your focal length with this lens is very impressive, although you can't use the viewfinder because it covers it.

Features: "10"
Auto, manual, ISO, shutter/aperture priority, continuous, 16-shot, VGA sequence, amazing macro, manual focus, white balance, metering, slideshow, video output, fast startup/shutdown/image transition, red-eye reduction flash, exposure offset, etc. 'Nuff said.

The CP950 is undeniably one of the most feature-filled cameras in it's class. Although a few of the advanced features have some restrictions (no manual ISO in shutter priority mode, etc), there is no doubt that these features come in handy for a variety of shooting situations. I particularly like the 16-shot continuous mode that shoots 16 pictures and places them in one hi-res 4X4 image. By now, everyone has heard about the amazing macro - this is one of the killer applications of the CP950. And although there is always room for improvements and more features, the CP950 has enough to fully satisfy at this point in the evolution of digital photography.

LCD: "7"
I have found the LCD usable in all indoor situations. Outdoors, I've been able to use it in the shade or when it's cloudy. But forget it if the sun is bright! Although the image quality of the LCD is quite nice, the brightness should have been better. One must be thankful of an optical viewfinder is those situations! I like the informational display that overlays the images on the LCD - the text is easy to read and doesn't constrict viewing.

Value: "10"
In the grand scheme of things, $800 is a lot for a consumer camera. But when compared to other digicams in it's price range, I am convinced that the CP950 delivers. Nikon could have easily priced the CP950 higher and still sold a ton of units, but I'm certainly glad they chose the price point they did. With 2 megapixel resolution and a plethora of features, the CP950 packs a lot of value.

OVERALL: "9"
As close to 10 as I could imagine in this price range and at this point in digital photography's stage of evolution. However, a few flaws prevent me from giving it a 10. I have posted a detailed report on these in the "CP950 - Known Issues" thread, but I will summarize them here:

- sequential numbering resets itself if the first picture taken is in A-REC mode (firmware bug)
- a small green pixel appears in images taken when the swivel is totally flipped around for self portraits (has been reported to Nikontech and has been confirmed to be a firmware bug, not a mechanical problem - whew!)
- ISO setting disappears after 1 shot if set with LCD off. (firmware bug)
- Menu direction setting forgotten in delete image menu right after taking shot (firmware bug)

Those are a few of the main "bugs" that have been reported. A couple of other annoying things are (some repeated earlier in review):

- zoom parks in tele position when powered off and remains when powered on
- no manual ISO setting in shutter priority mode
- LCD screen is hard to view in sunlight
- manual shutter only to 1/500 instead of 1/750 in program mode

I have found most of these things to be very minor except the green dash problem when the swivel is turned around, which Nikontech has confirmed is only a firmware bug and will be corrected soon (see www.nikontechusa.com). The positive things about the CP950 completely outweigh the negative, in my opinion - and I am quite pleased with it after 1 month of use!

Sean Stewart (6/7/99):
I just recieved my CP950 yesterday, my out of box expeirence was great, I was expecting the included batteries to die quickly, they did. However the QUEST GOLD NiMH (1500mAh) batteries I purchased from Thomas Distributing lasted well over 300 Pics a set. I wasn't expecting them to last that long so I purchased 5 sets, serious overkill. The time it takes me to burn up one set is about the same as it takes me to charge another with a MAHA-C204 charger. Although the camera's battery life was well beyond all expectations for a camera of it's nature, there were a few issues that I feel impacted the overall usuability of it.

The Cons:
3.) CF door feels cheap, only held on by a piece of plastic. Major concern because dirt and CF don't really make good friends. I don't feel it would have been to much to ask for a hindged door rather than a piece of plastic.

2.) LCD is too dim even in a well lit room. The best explanation I could figure out for this one is that the brighter the LCD the fewer the pictures, does not seem to be a game stopper as of yet, although adjusting some of the features outide in the sun can be interesting.

1.) Delay in shooting. This in my opinion is the hardest thing to adapt to. There is anywhere between a .75 to a 2 second delay when shooting. This makes it impossible to shoot anything moving at a high speed. It would seem that with the "HUGE RAM BUFFER" that the delay would be less, but it is there none the less.

And now some of the things that makes this the best digital cam in it's price, or should I say the best digi-cam in the 0-1500 dollar range...

1.) Picture quality is of a photographic level. I have never seen such detail from a D-cam. Quite frankly, I haven't seen so much detail in most point and shoot cams either. Even when the shooting conditions are less than the greatest the camera performs.

2.) Best Shot Selector: The camera takes successive shots until the memory buffer was full. I had read in previous reviews that this feature may not have been all it's cracked up to be, some stating that it never takes the full amount of shots before it stops. Well when I did it it took like 10,9,10,10,8. In that order. All of the shots came out perfect.

3.) Macro focus is amazing. I think the closest object I was able to lock into was 1.7cm. You can pretty much make an object the size of a pencil eraser fill the entire frame.

4.) Easy of use. All of the menus are text based, so there is no guess work. I had read reports of "Cryptic" menu icons, well it appears that they have done away with them.

5.) Button placement: Unlike the Oly 2000z there are no "similar" buttons in close proximity to the shutter release. This is a perk considering that the other "comperable" 2.11MP camera has 3 buttons similar to the shutter release right next to it and one of them is the power.

6.) Has all of the external connectors one could want. It has a serial, video out, power and speedlight. All of which are protected from the elements by rubber plugs and for the speedlight there is a screw on cap.

7.) This one is mixed, they included a lens cap, which was great but there is nowhere to put it. How hard would it have been for them to drill a hole in frame someware?

Well, for the first day I would have to say that this camera has the best out of box experience of any I have tried. It is definitely the most competivily priced D-Cam with it's feature package. If I could do it all over again, I would.

Gary Chan (5/26/99):
I've had my Coolpix 950 for a little over a week now and have been going crazy taking all sorts of pictures with it. So far, I must say that the camera has exceeded my expectations on most fronts including image quality, the number of available shooting options (shutter or aperture priority modes, iso sensitivity, best shot selector, continuous shooting modes, and contrast/white balancing adjustments). The major complaint that I have about the camera is that images tend to turn blue when shooting under the "incandescent" mode, under the white balancing option.

Contrary to what most 950 users feel, I personally find the camera not too power-hungry. I would suggest that instead of using NiCd batteries, users may perhaps consider switching to using NiMH batteries. With my NiMH batteries, I could consistently take about 70 shots at night, with the LCD on at all times, and flash on for every single shot. I have never really had a problem battery life so far.

As far as its ergonomics goes, I agree with most other owners of the camera that Nikon needs to improve the navigation of its menu. The fact that we need to turn the command dial while pressing a button on either the back or top of the camera to activate an option is very awkward and difficult. Also, the lens cap should have been attached to a little string that is in turn attached to the camera itself so that we won't lose it or have to find a place to put it while shooting pictures. Of course, ideally Nikon should have made an automatic lens cap that closes when the camera is off.

The last complaint that I have is the quality of the nylon case that it comes with. For a digital camera is this price range, I feel that Nikon could have included a better-looking case with higher quality.

Overall, I'm very happy and impressed with what Nikon has done with this camera. Image quality are simply terrific, and the range of available options is impressive as well. The casing feels sturdy, and the LCD is accurate and clear. The only complaint that I have about the camera itself is the way the menus have to be accessed and the options activated. I also own a Sony DSC-F2 (the improved Japanese version of the original F1), and I can surely tell the difference between a 2.11 megapix digicam with that. However, I feel that my Sony has a more ergonomic design than my 950, so Nikon definitely needs to improve on in this area.

Dave Anderson (5/26/99):
I've read the other reviews,and agree with most things already said about this camera. I've had mine about a week now (ordered it at 11:00pm EST from outpost.com, and received it the next morning!).

As a pro photographer, I was waiting for an affordable, high-quality camera to "break in" to digital and hopefully make some money. I think the 950 is just what I was looking for, after I add some options and make some changes.

The good stuff:
- The image quality is great! I've printed 8x10's on my new Epson Photo 750 that are sharper than traditional prints!

Things I don't like:
- I would prefer a more "traditional" camera shape without the swivel lens.
- Can't believe Nikon sells a 2.1 megapixel camera with only an 8mb card.
- The flash-out jack takes a proprietary cable ... not a standard PC cord. Makes it hard to hook to studio lights.
- The "red-eye" reduction system doesn't do much. Redeye is terrible with the built-in flash. That's why I'd like a std. PC-sync cable connection, without having to buy Nikon's Speedlight bracket and cable for $60.
- Image downloading to a computer is long and tedious. A USB port would have been nice, but I guess I'll get a card reader to solve that problem.
- Unlike others, I received a manual with my camera, but it only had 25 of the 47 pages it was supposed to have.
- I found the included software to be confusing to set up and use.

Despite the problems, overall, I like the camera and am looking forward to hopefully making a few dollars with it. However, I feel Nikon could use a few lessons in packaging the software and manuals for ease-of-use.

Mike Berger (5/10/99):
I have had my CP950 for a little over a week now, and I am so, so impressed with this camera. This is my first digital camera. Although my expectations were high from all the hype over the 950, I must say that this camera has exceeded these expectations.

In addition to the camera itself, I also purchased the Sandisk USB Card Reader, NiMH batteries and charger (from Thomas Distributing) and the Nikon AC Adapter.

I have now taken a number of different photo sets with the camera. Some were detailed shots of objects. Others were photos taken indoors in a dimly lit room during a charity event. Lastly, I have taken outdoor shots of my car for some web pics. In just about every instance, this camera has made me look good! It is difficult to take a bad shot. I have taken shots directly into a bright light source, in dark rooms, etc. The camera does a fantastic job of turning bad shooting conditions into good photos.

So far, I have taken all my shots in Auto mode. I have yet to even begin tapping into the cameras various features. Somewhat of a surprise to me is the fact that I have migrated to using the optical viewfinder almost exclusively. Once you get the feel of framing the shot as far as its true size (by cross-referencing the shot in the extremely accurate LCD until you get the feel), the optical viewfinder has become the preferred method of taking shots. Also, when the camera is twisted, it is very comfortable to hold. Your hands naturally fit over the camera, the right hand over the fat contoured section and the left over the thin cross-section of the lens/viewfinder portion.

When taking shots of people with the flash, the red-eye-reduction mode works very effectively. The LCD display is very, very sharp. When you preview in the display, it first shows a low-res image so that it loads quicker. This lets you breeze through the shots you have taken. The menu system is very easy and intuitive. I have yet to read the manual (which only came on CD), and feel that I have a good command of the cameras basic functionality.

When I first got the camera, I went through the Toshiba alkaline batteries that were included with the camera in about 2.5 hours or so. I put in the NiMH Nexcell batteries that I charged up with the MAHA charger and they worked MUCH longer than the alkalines. If you leave the LCD off while you are snapping pics, the batteries last a long time. Long enough that I have yet to require putting in a second set on a particular day or night of shooting! These batteries are not a luxury, but an absolute necessity!

I think the Sandisk USB Card Reader is also a necessity. The amount of time to load pics from the camera into the PC over the direct serial connection seems excruciatingly slow once you have experienced the download with the USB card reader. The card reader shows up just like another disk (like a zip drive), and you can even modify, delete and rename the files straight from the PC.

The camera itself is very, very solid. The only complaint I have is the flimsy plastic cover that goes over the compact flash card slot. It pops open relatively easy, and doesn't seem that robust.

The other thing I am quickly realizing is the fact that for the way I use this camera, I need ("want" may be a better word) a bigger compact flash card. I have been taking shots in either normal (16 shots on the std. 8MB card) or Fine (8 shots on the std. 8MB card). I will be closely monitoring the compact flash card prices and will probably want at least a 32 or 48MB card.

Break this camera out in a crowd of people and it suddenly becomes the hit of the party. It is quite funny how most people who aren't that familiar with digital photography react to the camera. I say "here, take a shot of this or that" and they say "oh, I wouldn't want to waste a shot on that!". I say "don't worry, we can just delete it". Suddenly a lightbulb goes off in their head and they say "Wow! That's really neat!".

This Nikon has become the only camera that I plan on using for a while. The photos are just so nice when displayed on screen that I cannot justify having regular photos developed! For printed shots, I will eventually get an inkjet and am leaning toward the new 1440dpi Epson unit that you see in stores for $249. The Alps 5000 at a higher cost also looks interesting.

Well, I am a real amateur when it comes to digital photography (or photography in general). So if there are any amatuers out there like me, I can almost guarantee that this camera will be to your liking. It's ease-of-use and phenomenal picture-taking capabilities will make a pro out of just about anyone!

Mark A. Dellinges (5/10/99):
I've been a Nikon disciple for many years. I've used a Nikon 35mm, 2020 camera body with a Vivitar 105mm Macro lens and Vivitar point light on a Adolph Gasser rotating bracket for over twelve years, (hundreds of exposures), and I've had nothing but reliable results. I recently purchased a Nikon 6006 body, 105 micro-nikkor lens and Nikon macro flash and after a little calibration I've been getting beautiful results. I'm a dentist and a teacher and I illlustrate dental technical manuals with lots of photo's for my students.

I ordered my Nikon 950 on 4/24/1999 and I was amazed that it was sent to my home on 4/27/1999. I was sure I'd have to wait 4 to 6 weeks for the camera.

I must admit, I was a little disappointed initially. First, the batteries sent with the camera lasted only long enough to take one flash picture of my son. Then I had a little difficulty figuring out the software that came with the camera.

I printed the Nikon software manual from the web and that seemed to solve all of my problems. I was able to take pictures and use the Nikon view software with relative ease to get incredible pictures! I'm more than impressed with the Nikno 950, I'm amazed! This camera will definitely be a useful tool to help me illustrate technical manuals and course syllibi! Thanks Nikon!

Bill Ehmke (4/25/99):
I've only had the camera a little over a day but have a few impressions based on the features I was most interested in. I'm a Coolpix 900 owner and have shot well over 1000 photo's with it so I have a base to make comparisons with.

The items I was most interested in using on the Coolpix 950 were Shutter/Aperture priority modes, Manual focus, adjustable ASA and photos using the RAM buffer. I was also interested in how quickly things happened on the camera compared to the 900. Startup, shutdown and especially how long it takes before the camera is available to take another photo.

I found that 8 second exposures produce numerous stuck pixels. If you take a picture of the night sky they look like extra stars. Exposures of 1 or 2 seconds are acceptable.

I was inititally disappointed in the fact that I couldn't get the camera to take photo's one after the other with little delay unless I was using continuous mode. I then found in the manual an LCD setting called FAST REVIEW which doesn't display the image after it is taken. This allowed a fairly quick time between shots. About 2-3 seconds in Fine mode. I then re-read Phil Askey's review on the 950 and found a sentence which indicated that pressing the shutter button half way after a photo is taken will clear the image and allow another image to be taken. I had tried this on another occassion but it didn't work. I found that I must have pressed it too quickly. You have to wait until the image is displayed in the LCD before pressing the shutter half way. In FINE mode at 1600x1200, I can take up to 5 photos in fairly rapid succession (2-3 second delay between shots)before the buffer is full.

The startup, shutdown and mode changing times that Phil Askey posted in his review appear to be fairly accurate. It takes about 3 seconds from power off before the camera is ready to take a photo. A fine mode photograph takes about 6 seconds to write on my Lexar 32MB card.

The 950 is about an inch shorter than the 900 and feels much more solid. I have to admit that my 900 is now starting to look and feel like an inferior product next to the 950.

I would rate this camera a 9 out of 10. The only downside is its problem focusing in low light. This is the same problem the 900 had. The manual focus settings help somewhat but I was expecting the 950 to have a more sophisticated method of focusing than the 900. I would recommend reading the PDF Reference guide that comes with the camera if you don't have the patience to figure things out on your own. There are allot of menu choices and less obvious button functions that are more easily explained through the manual.

Overall a very nice camera with excellent image quality.

Stevey Tang (Follow-up 5/10/99):
After 2 weeks and 600 pictures taken with the 950, I would like to add a few new comments to my previous review.

PROs:
1)Macro capability is unbelievablely good!
2)With 64MB CF card, I can snap away and take many pictures sort of like professional photographers in a wedding. It is great way to capture some precious moments. This is the general advantage of digital cameras I guess, 600 pictures I took so far would cost me $300 in film and developing cost already.
3)Shutter priority works well for sporting event shot (and I wish I got the telephoto lense!)
4)Continous shots are fun, paronama pictures can be so impressive!

Problems:
1) Now my NUMBER 1 problem with 950 is it's dim LCD. It is so difficulty to see anything on the LCD under the sun. With so many setting changes you must look at the LCD so this is a very bad limitation.
2) CF memory door is really 'tupperware' like. I have a small piece of black plastic tape on the door to keep it shut now.

I think other problems are tolerable. But I have found that it is a necessity to get an external flash (redeye is severe, redeye reduction mode helps only somewhat), I am also going to get telephoto and wide angle lense. After all the accessories, it will be good enough for me to take pictures for all the occations and I will be able to leave my 35mm SLR home.

Original Review:
Looks like other lucky 'first batch' 950 owners are too busy playing with their 950. So let me briefly summarize my first experiences after 3 days.

Pros:
1) GREAT pictures! Higher resolution pays apparently. Pictures are sharp, color is so 'true' that it is simply beautiful. (I like the skin tones, they are realistic colors not oversaturated. I read some prefer more saturated colors.)
2) Under most conditions just leave it at Auto and you don't have to worry at all. Low light and fast action shots require some manual setting.
3) Great macro shots: macro shots details just jumps out at you. Unbelievable! (I did not do much macro mode shooting with my normal 35m cameras. Now I can see the results right away with no cost at all, I am doing it all the time. Great advantage of DC in general. 950's macro capabilities are truly superb.)
4) Great flexibility and control: ISO setting to 360, manual focusing, Shutter priority and Aperture priority make it possible to shoot in conditions impossible for fully auto DCs.
5) Several fun 'continuous shots' mode that has great potential though I have not tried them out.
6) Good battery life: NiMH is a must. One set of NiHH last me about 50 shots. Half with flash.
7) Constant realtime feedback of speed and apeture showing on LCS is great.

Of course this is not PERFECT. My complaints in the order of importance:
1) Zoom length parking position: it always started at the far telephoto positon. It is annoying. Someone said Nikon is considering a fix in firmware for this??
2) Two hands operations required for many settings: with the bottons and wheels all cluttered together, you need one hand on the botton, another on the wheel.
3) Motor noise: autofocus motor is quite noisy for my taste. Never seen a camera or even video camera making so much noise.
4) LCD dimming after focus before picture. This is obvious in low light conditions, you can't see the LCD when you hold the shutter down so you do it by faith. This is reported to Nikon and hopefully they can fix it via firmware?
5) Documentation: I had Oly400Z before. That was a better 'out of the box' experience than 950. Nikon's software is not as polished as Oly's.
6) Size/Shape: May be I am asking too much for 950 feature in a Oly400Z package?

Overall: I love it. I highly recommend it. Will there be better DCs then 950? Of course. At this point in time though, this is simply THE BEST.

Greg Speck (4/25/99):
In the first hour, I went crazy taking everything in sight. The resolution and colors are truly impressive. It took a little time to get used to new menus and this is a very sophisticated camera when compared to my Kodak DC210z which I have used for the last year. The pictures are so much better thand the DC210. Close up of a dafodil and an early morning shot of a stream were very impressive [see sample photos section]. This is not the type of camera you can become an expert with in a day or two. So far my only complaint is the manual is on a CD Rom, which makes learning all the capabilities a little slow. At the 1600x1200 resolution, photos were stunning. This was worth waiting for. It is going to be a pleasure to explore the possibilities. A telephoto convertor is not yet available from Nikon, but the zoom does a good job.

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