Review: Nikon Coolpix 995
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Thursday, August 2, 2001
Friday, October 26, 2001
biggest project in the year 2000 was the Nikon
Coolpix 990 vs. Olympus C-3030Z review. It was, and still is,
an extremely popular review. It was also a very polarizing review:
when I picked the C-3030Z as my choice, I received many angry letters
from Coolpix fans. My main complaints about the Coolpix were redeye
problems, a lackluster movie mode, and fewer manual controls than
of those things have been resolved on the Coolpix
995 ($899), most notably the flash. The new pop-up flash sits
atop a new 4X optical zoom lens, on the Coolpix's unique swiveling
body. Are all the changes on the Coolpix 995 for the better? Find
out in our review.
in the Box?
Coolpix 995 has a very good bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
3.3 Mpixel Nikon Coolpix 995 camera
Lexar 8X CompactFlash card
Li-ion rechargeable battery
featuring Nikon View 4 and drivers
page manual (printed)
disturbing trend with many digital cameras is the use of proprietary
batteries. The previous Coolpix 900-series cameras all used AA batteries,
but the new 995 uses a small Lithium-ion battery, known as the EN-EL1.
This battery is rated at 650mAh. On the Coolpix 990, you could stuff
in four 1600 mAh NiMH rechargeable batteries. Need I say more? Nikon
claims that the battery will last about 110 minutes depending on
Update 8/4/01: Nikon points out that this isn't a proprietary
battery, and that you can buy (non-rechargeable) 2CR5 batteries
in many places. That's true, but they're still expensive compared
to AA's. Also, testing
done by Digital Photography Review shows that the Coolpix 995 with
the EN-EL1 lasted just as long as the Coolpix 990 with four 1600
mAh NiMH batteries. Very interesting, considering the different
in power output.
charge that battery, Nikon includes a separate charger that holds
one battery. It fully charges the EN-EL1 in about two hours.
from that, there isn't much else to complain about. The 16MB Lexar
8X CompactFlash card is still a bit skimpy for a 3.3MP camera, but
at least they didn't put in an 8MB card.
has the usual lens cap, and they have a strap to keep you (or at
least me) from losing it.
NikonView software is now up to version 4, and it's still pretty
mediocre. If you're looking for a serious photo editing suite, try
something like Photoshop. I did have trouble with it crashing on
my Mac OS 9.1 system on several occasions.
the other 900-series cameras, there are a number of accessories
available. You can get wide-angle, fisheye, and telephoto lenses,
as well as a slide copier, flash bracket, and remote shutter release
the manual is printed and not on CD like it was on some earlier
models. The quality of the manual is above average.
you've ever used a Coolpix 900-series camera before, you'll feel
right at home with the 995. While a few things have changed, overall,
it's the same as its predecessors. The body is made of what I'd
call "quality plastic" -- in other words, it doesn't feel
cheap. The camera is easy to hold, with a big right hand grip and
room for the left as well. The rotating lens mechanism is "tight"
and stays where you put it.
official dimensions of the 995 are 5.4 x 3.2 x 1.6 (L x W x D),
and it weighs 390 grams empty. Let's start our tour of the Coolpix
995 now, with the front of the camera.
you can see the two big new features of the CP995. The first is
the new F2.6 Nikkor lens, which now features a 4X zoom. The focal
range of the lens is 8 - 32mm, which is equivalent to 38 - 152 mm.
I have to say, it's really nice have a 4X zoom instead of just a
3X lens that everyone else has. As I mentioned, the lens is threaded
for accessories such as wide-angle converters and filters.
you want even more zoom, the 995 has a "stepless" 4X digital
zoom as well. But do note that using the digital zoom will reduce
the quality of your photos.
other big new addition to the 995 is the "popup" flash.
Unlike some other cameras I've tested recently, the flash pops up
only when you want it to. The whole point of moving the flash further
from the lens was to reduce redeye -- which was one of the big complaints
with the 990. I couldn't seem to find the working range for the
flash anywhere. You can adjust the strength of the flash via the
setup menu. If you want more flash power, you can use an external
flash (more on this later).
there's something missing on the front of the camera, it would be
an AF assist lamp - for focusing in low light situations.
the lens back reveals some more items of interest:
flash sync port (to the right) works with Nikon Speedlight models
SB-28DX, SB-28, SB-26, SB-25, SB-24, SB-22s, and SB-22. You will
need the optional SK-E900 Multi-Flash Bracket Unit to mount the
flash onto the camera. The 995's manual insists that you only use
Nikon-brand Speedlights, and nothing else.
the flash sync port is the diopter correction dial, so those of
you with glasses can see through the optical viewfinder.
on the other half of the body is the power adapter. You can plug
in the AC adapter (optional) or a powerpack right here.
is the button-filled back of the Coolpix 995.
1.8" LCD is bright and fluid, and useable in most situations,
except outdoors, when all LCD's are useless. Hoodman
USA sells LCD hoods which may help you use it outdoors.
on the other half of the body is the optical viewfinder. I already
mentioned the diopter correction knob, which is underneath. Since
the optical viewfinder is off by itself, you won't be getting any
nose smudges on the LCD. The optical viewfinder has a few framing
guides inside it, for composing pictures. There are also flash and
focus lock lamps next to it.
buttons above the LCD include:
(turns LCD on/off)
(invokes menu system)
the Quick Review button once will put a thumbnail of the photo you
just took in the top left corner of the LCD. Pressing it again will
make it a full-screen image, where you can do all normal playback
operations on it.
the right of the LCD is the four-way switch, mostly used for navigating
the menu system.
the LCD you'll find buttons that illustrate the term "multifunction".
These things do a million things each. This table should explain
once (record mode)
once (play mode)
down and turn dial on top
have more about many of these functions later in the review. Two
notes about the self-timer mode. First, when turned on, pressing
the shutter release once gets a 10 second countdown; pressing twice
quickly starts the countdown at 3 seconds. The second issue, which
I found annoying, is that putting the camera in self-timer mode
forces the camera into macro mode. What if you want to do a regular
shot without macro?
Update 8/6/01: Okay, here's how to get around this. In M-REC mode,
put the camera into macro/self-timer mode. Then, hold down the macro
button and turn the wheel, and you can set the focus manually. So
in the case of my night shots, I could set it to infinity. Thus,
you'd have the right focus, as well as self-timer turned on. Thanks
to Bradford Bohonus for this tip.
onto the top of the Coolpix 995. The LCD info display is large,
and chock full of information. Here, it's showing:
sec shutter speed
the right of the LCD info display you'll also find:
dial (Off, Auto-Rec, Manual-Rec, Playback) / Shutter release button
and Exposure compensation buttons (which can be changed to whatever
one side of the Coolpix 995, with nothing to see.
here's the other side. You can see the CompactFlash Type II slot,
the included Memory Card, as well as the I/O ports for Video and
Digital (USB), which are under a rubber cover.
of the big question marks with the CP995 is Microdrive compatibility.
The official word from Nikon is that they are not supported. Steve's
Digicams, in their review,
mentions that the 1gb worked fine for them. Since I don't have a
Microdrive lying around, I couldn't test it to be sure.
here's a look at the bottom of the Coolpix 995, shown with the included
EN-EL1 battery. Down here you can see the battery compartment, metal
tripod mount, and a lock to prevent the lens from swiveling more
than 90 degrees in each direction (useful when accessory lenses
are used). You can also see the flash mechanism, towards the left
of the photo.
the Nikon Coolpix 995
camera takes five seconds to start up before you can start taking
photos (in A-REC mode). In M-REC mode, where the lens position starts
where it was left when the camera was shut off, it can be faster.
the shutter release button results in locked focus in under a second.
When you fully depress the button, the photo is taken with a minimal
delay. Shot-to-shot speed is good -- you'll wait about two seconds
at normal quality before you can take another shot.
feature that seems less common these days is the 995's ability to
pause and delete photos just after they were taken. Where most cameras
only show you a preview, Nikon lets you pause and/or delete the
photo as well.
an uncompressed TIFF file to the CF card will take roughly 35 seconds.
You can do the same pause and delete with TIFFs as well, though
you'll have to wait about 10 seconds before you can do so.
Coolpix 995 has a myriad of quality and resolution choices -- take
a look at this chart for more information:
Hi (TIFF) on 16MB card
2048 x 1536
2048 x 1360
1600 x 1200
1280 x 960
1024 x 768
640 x 480
Coolpix 995 is a manual control lover's dream. It has more manual
controls than any other consumer-priced camera out there. Of course,
if you just want to point-and-shoot, you can do that too -- that's
what's what A-REC mode is for.
if you want more control, turn the dial to M-REC. One of the first
choices you can then make is the mode: program, shutter priority,
aperture priority, or full manual. Here's a look at each:
Mode (camera chooses best exposure settings)
priority mode (you choose shutter speed, camera picks appropriate
aperture): choose from shutter speed range of 8 sec - 1/2000 sec
priority mode (you choose aperture, camera picks appropriate shutter
speed): choose from aperture range of F2.6 - F10
manual mode (you choose both aperture and shutter speed): same
aperture values; shutter speeds up to 60 seconds in BULB mode.
let's take a look at the extensive menu system, which contains all
those manual controls. The menu system can be overwhelming at first
with lots of weird icons, but you get used to it. Take a deep breath
- here goes.
balance (Auto, Preset, Fine, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Cloudy,
Speedlight) - for many of these, you can do fine adjustments using
the command dial, from -3 to +3. For fluorescent, you can choose
between 3 different selections. You can also shoot a white piece
of paper to choose what you want to be white, using preset mode.
(Matrix, Spot, Center-weighted, Spot AF Area)- Spot AF Area measures
the exposure at the point which you choose to focus on
(Single, Continuous, Multi-shot 16, VGA Sequence, Ultra HS, Movie)
mode shoots at 1.5 frames/sec until memory buffer becomes
16 takes 16 shots in a row and puts them into one Full sized
image (like a collage)
Sequence - Takes 640 x 480 sized images at 2 frames/sec until
the buffer is full
HS - Takes 320 x 240 sized images at 30 frames/sec for 70
- up to 40 seconds of 320 x 240 video at 15 frames/sec. More
later on this.
Shot Selector (on/off) - take up to 10 pictures, and camera picks
the sharpest one and saves it. Best for macro and low-light shots.
Adjustment (Auto, Normal, Contrast, Brightness)
control (+1 to -2, plus black & white)
- select your accessory lens here
Setting - camera can remember up to 3 combinations of settings
that you choose
options (AE Lock, EXP +/-. Exposure mode)
Lock - locks exposure settings after the first shot. Useful
compensation (-2.0EV to +2.0EV, in 1/3EV increments)
mode (Program, Shutter priority, aperture priority, manual)
- described earlier
Options (AF Area Mode, Auto-Focus Mode, Focus Confirmation, Distance
Area Mode - in manual mode, you can choose one of 5 areas
on the LCD that you want the camera to focus on
Mode - you choose whether camera is focusing constantly, or
just when you press the shutter release halfway
Confirmation - If turned on, the outline of the in-focus area
of the image is emphasized on the LCD
Sharpening (Auto, normal, high, low, off)
Bracketing (on/off/WB bracketing)
- take 3 or 5 continuous shots with different exposure compensation
Bracketing - takes 3 shots: one with chosen white balance,
one reddish image, and one bluish image. I haven't seen this
feature on any other camera.
reduction (on/off) - helps to reduced hot pixels in long exposure
shots. See night shot test below for examples. Note that turning
this on doubles the time it takes to write the image to the card.
are a few items of interest in the setup mode as well:
Mode (preview and review features on/off)
- remember camera settings when it's shut off
1 & 2 - customize what these buttons do
position (last position, wide, tele) - choose where the lens
is positioned when you start up the camera
aperture (on/off) - aperture remains the same when zooming
Power - change flash strength from -2.0EV to +2.0EV in 1/3EV
confirm lamp - turn off light that blinks when a shot is taken
(on/off) - image file numbers and a range of photography data
is recorded as a file called "info.txt".
more options, activated by those multifunction buttons below the
LCD are manual focus and ISO. With manual focus activated, you can
turn the command dial to select a focus distance. The ISO setting
(also known as sensitivity) lets you choose from Auto, 100, 200,
400, and 800. Keep in mind that the higher you set it, the more
"noise" will be in your image.
there you have it. Enough of that -- let's talk photo quality.
of the hallmark features of the Coolpix 900 series has always been
its macro abilities. The 995 continues the tradition, making it
a top choice for those of you shooting lots of close-ups. For this
test, I have not only our usual test shot, but a real world macro
photo I took in Hawaii.
think the results above speak for themselves. No adjustment (in-camera
or otherwise) was made to these photos. You can get as close as
2 cm (at middle zoom position) in macro mode on the Coolpix 995.
was pleased with the quality of the night shot I took (above). The
ever-present summer fog made this worse than I was hoping for, but
I think you get the idea. I took the same shot with the noise reduction
feature on and off, and saw no difference. Fooling around wtih noise
reduction in other situations did show a reduction in noise.
the photo quality on the Coolpix 995 is nothing short of excellent.
Past Coolpix's have been the benchmark for photo quality, and the
same is true here. Take a look at the regular
photo gallery, plus the special Hawaii
gallery for tons of samples.
area in which the Coolpix 995 hasn't improved is its movie mode.
You still get up to 40 seconds of 320 x 240 video, at 15 frames/second.
There's still no sound recording, but at least you use the zoom
lens during filming.
an exciting movie (finally!) that I took while in Hawaii. This is
Akaka Falls on the Big Island.
to play movie (4.3MB, Quicktime format, no sound)
that movie was rotated for better viewing.
Coolpix 995 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.
you want more information about a photo you've taken, you'll love
the Coolpix 995. You get all kinds of statistics, plus a histogram.
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?
Nikon Coolpix 995 continues to be one of the cameras to beat in
the 3 Megapixel field. It's excellent photo quality, amazing macro
mode, and wealth of manual controls make it an excellent choice
for the amateur photographer. The biggest complaint about the Coolpix
990 was redeye; with the flash moved up away from the lens, those
problems should be substantially reduced. On the downside, I wasn't
too happy to see a proprietary battery in the box, and the movie
mode is still not as good as other similarly priced cameras (but
this won't bother most photographers). Many will wonder why they
should buy a 3.3 Megapixel camera when you can get a 4.0MP camera
for the same money? Most people, unless they're making very large
prints, don't need al those extra pixels -- and with all the features
and quality Nikon lens, the Coolpix 995 is a great choice.
camera for macro shots
manual control ever conceived
4X optical zoom lens
flash reduces redeye
for external lenses, filters, and flashes
of info about your photos in playback mode
I didn't care for:
sound in movie mode
complex- takes lots of time to learn
3 Megapixel cameras I recommend taking a look at include the Canon
PowerShot G1, Casio
FinePix 6900 Zoom, Olympus
DSC-S75, and the Toshiba
always, I recommend a trip to your local camera store to try out
the Coolpix 995 and its competitors before you buy!
how does the photo quality stand up? Check out the sample photos
in our photo gallery!
a second opinion? How about a third?
sure to read Steve's
Digicams review of the Coolpix 995. If that's not enough,
Resource has one too!
welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Due to my limited resources, please do not e-mail me asking for
a personal recommendation.