you first turn on the C-3030Z, it takes less than four seconds to
be up and running. The LCD doesn't turn on by default -- you have
to hit the LCD button once to do that. The camera is exceptionally
fast between shots, as well, with around three seconds between shots
in HQ mode. There is no noticeable shutter lag.
you're going to zoom in, you'll find the response very fast, and
the control precise.
Program (auto) mode, you can tweak almost every setting, from white
balance to ISO to manual focus.
you want more control, put it in A/S/M mode, where you can choose
from shutter priority, aperture priority, or full manual mode. In
aperture priority mode, you can choose from between f2.8 and f11.
Shutter priority mode allows for speeds as slow as 1 second, or
as fast as 1/800 sec. In full manual mode, you can tweak both aperture
and shutter speed to your hearts content. You can also get the shutter
speed to go for 16 seconds in this mode.
can review photos before they are saved to the memory card, but
you have to do some menu olympics to get there. Hit the menu button,
go to Mode Setup, scroll down to the next page, choose Rec View
first, I was annoyed that the camera forgot its settings when you
turned it on. After some good reader feedback, I found that in Mode
Setup, you can choose to have it remember the last settings it used,
or to custom them to your liking. Now that's a lot nicer! [Updated
C-3030Z is an extremely capable shooter, as is the...
CP990 turns on just as fast as the C-3030Z, except that the LCD
display turns on too. When taking pictures, the CP990 is a bit slower
than its competitor -- it's a bit less than five seconds between
shots in Normal mode on the CP990. There is no shutter lag on the
CP990 always lets you review the photo you have just taken, whereas
the option is well hidden in the C-3030's menus.
Auto mode is pretty limited as to what you can change - just flash,
macro, and quality settings are available.
you want to adjust things like ISO, manual focus, metering, white
balance, and more, you use Manual Mode. By the way, the choices
for ISO are the same as the C-3030Z: Auto, 100, 200, or 400. However,
these are only accessible in Manual mode. In Auto mode, the ISO
are five shooting options available on the CP990 in manual mode:
Mode (P) - the camera decides what's best
Program Mode (P*) - you can choose between a few sets of aperture/shutter
settings that the camera thinks are best
priority - choose from f2.5 to f7.0 in wide, or f4.0 to f11.0
in full telephoto [Updated 5/1/00]
priority - choose from 8 seconds to 1/1000 sec
Manual - Set both the aperture and shutter speed yourself
between all of these is very easy, using the wheel and the MODE
flash is on by default in Auto mode, and it remembers your last
setting if you're in manual mode, which is nice since I rarely use
provides a feature called BSS (Best Shot Selector), which lets you
fire off as many pictures as the buffer can hold, after which it
compares them and chooses the sharpest one. This is good for macro
shots, where the slightest movement can blur your photo. [Added
cool feature is that when you lock focus on a picture, it tells
you what it was focusing on (note the red brackets in the photo
The C-3030Z offers faster shooting, a better range of shutter
and aperture, and it gives you more control in point-and-shoot situations
in Program mode.
C-3030Z has a very responsive, easy to use playback system, with
a few annoyances.
can scroll between HQ quality photos in 2 seconds. It doesn't
use a low-res version, either -- so the image you see on the LCD
is high res.
can zoom into your photos, up to 3X, and you can move around once
you've done so.
can get basic info on the photo you took, such as the date, and
other useful settings.
can do the usual slideshow and thumbnail features, and you can
view the movies you took (though without hearing the sound).
a single photo is easy.
can record up to 4 secs of audio with every picture
can't select a group of photos to delete.
you want to scroll in a zoomed-in photo, you have to keep hitting
the buttons to do it. You can't hold it down to keep scrolling.
CP990 scrolls through photos twice as fast as the C-3030Z, but it
uses a trick: it shows a low res version, and then draws the high
res version over it. So while it may take a half a second to go
between photos, it takes a little less than 3 seconds to actually
go between high res versions.
scrolling between photos
can zoom in as much as 4X on your photos, and then scroll around
them in real-time. Holding down the four-way switch scrolls continuously.
of 4 or 9 thumbnails per page
easily delete one, selected, or all photos
extra info on photos (see below)
view movies on LCD
mode and all the other stuff is there too
you hit a movie while browsing through your photos, there's a
long delay before you can do anything else (more on this in the
Movie section below)
audio recordings with photos, unlike the C-3030Z
CP990 has a lot more info that the C-3030Z provides -- check it
This is the standard view in playback mode. Nothing unfamiliar
Turn the wheel one click, and you've got this page. Besides
the info about your camera, you've got all kinds of other pieces
Turn the wheel another click and you've got this page. Note
the brackets that show where the camera was focused.
Finally, histogram mode, which shows the distribution of tones
in an image. The horizontal axis shows pixel brightness, and
the vertical axis gives numbers of pixels.
Nikon Coolpix 990
can never be too much information! Aside from the long delay when
you pass through a movie, the CP990's playback mode is superior.
found the menu system on the 3030 to be cumbersome and unintuitive
It takes too many button pushes to do things that takes maybe two
on the Coolpix. The example illustrated in a recent PC
World review of this camera is partially true: their review
claimed that it takes 16 button pushes to get from aperture priority
to shutter priority mode. Fair enough, but there's a faster way
to do it, as I'll show below:
1. Push the menu button on the back of the camera
2. Here's the first screen of the menus. Instead of moving down
like in the PC World test, I'm going to scroll up instead.
3. Okay, so I moved up one click and here I am. One push to
the right on the four-way switch and...
4. I've got my choice. Let's say I'm going to switch into aperture
priority mode now (I'm currently in shutter priority mode).
That's one click up.
5. Ok, we're almost there. Now I've got to click the OK button.
6. Okay, one more push of the OK button and we're done.
we've just switched from shutter to aperture priority mode in six
button pushes, not 16. I'll do the same example for the Coolpix
in a bit.
what options await you in the menus? Here goes for record mode:
(Single shot, continuous shooting, continuous shooting with exposure
and white balance adjusted for every shot, self-timer/remote control,
Auto bracketing mode will take 3 or 5 shots sequentially, using
different exposure compensation values. This is especially helpful
for night or low-light shots.
balance (Auto, daylight, cloudy, tungsten, or fluorescent)
There is no manual white balance on this camera
(Auto, 100, 200, 400)
When in A/S/M mode, the ISO default is 100. You cannot use
strength (-2.0EV to +2.0EV)
This is adjusted just like exposure compensation, in 1/3EV
shutter flash sync mode (Off, Slow 1, Slow 2)
This is useful for creative night shots. You can set the flash
to fire either at the beginning or the end of a long exposure.
flash options (internal + external, external only)
If you're using the FL-40 extension flash (more on this later),
you can choose if you want the internal flash to fire too.
zoom (On, Off)
The 2.5X digital zoom will reduce the quality of your photos,
effects (Off, Black & White, Sepia, White Board, Black Board)
I will discuss the White Board mode a bit later in this review.
recording (On, Off)
You can record up to 4 seconds of sound with each photo
See the Other C-3030Z Features section later in this
review for more.
setup (erase or format a SmartMedia card)
setup (sharpness, TIFF, SQ1 and SQ2 settings)
setting (TIFF, SHQ, HQ, SQ1, SQ2)
You can define what resolution TIFF, SQ1, and SQ2 use in the
Mode setup window
mode (aperture priority, shutter priority, full manual mode)
that's enough about the 3030Z's menus, I think you get the idea.
does a better job with their menus, making common operations easy
to do. As promised, here's how you change the CP990 from Shutter
to Aperture priority -- compare this with the C-3030Z:
1. Hold down MODE button, turn wheel once
2. Done! Note the change in the LCD info display.
Much better. I found this to be the case with most functions on
the CP990. The menus can be accessed in the "traditional"
way, by moving the four way switch through the menu hierarchy (below
left and right). You can also just select one (See below left, that
little disc with the arrows under it? That means you can use the
wheel. The icon just to the left will change) and use the wheel
to change them, making it even easier. You have to know what the
symbols mean, though, in order for this to be useful.
a rundown of the menu choices available in Manual mode-- your choices
are far more limited in Auto mode:
balance (Auto, Manual, Sunlight, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Cloudy,
(Matrix, Spot, Center-weighted, Spot AF Area)
The Spot AF Area function will link spot metering to the area
that the camera is focused on. You must be in AF Area Mode to
Mode (Single, Continuous, Multi-shot 16, VGA sequence, Ultra HS,
Multi-shot, VGA sequence, and Ultra HS will be discussed at
the end of this review.
Selector (On, Off)
This mode will take keep shooting as long as you hold the shutter
release button down, and will then decide which of them was the
best. Good for close-up shots where slight movements may blur
(Normal, Wide, telephoto, and fisheye)
If you're using a lens adapter, this is for you.
Adjustment (Auto, Normal, Contrast, Brightness, Black and White)
Sharpening (Auto, High, Normal, Low, Off)
Settings (the camera can memorize up to three sets of camera settings)
Settings (AE Lock, Auto Bracketing, Exposure compensation)
Options (AF Area Mode, Auto Focus Mode, Focus Confirmation, Distance
If you really like to tweak focus settings, that one is for
you. AF Area Mode lets you choose which area of the image the
camera should focus on.
options (Digital Tele, Startup Position, Fixed Aperture)
The most welcome thing here is that you can choose to have
the lens startup in full wide, full telephoto, or where it last
was. No more zooming back out every time you turn it on, like
on the CP950.
options (Variable power, speedlight control)
Exactly like the C-3030Z's options: control the power of the
flash using EV units, and disable the internal flash when you're
using an external one.
camera settings: folders, date, card formatting, etc.
you have it!
Nikon Coolpix 990
make it easier to change the important settings, enough said.
this isn't usually something I cover, I'm going to keep this brief.
I'm only going to mention the basic software used to get the photos
off of the camera. For a change, this software is very similar on
both the Mac and Windows platforms. Also for a change, I'm going
to cover both the Mac and PC versions!
CAMEDIA Master v2.0
the software is pretty easy, especially on the Mac. On Windows 98,
I had to hunt down the USB drivers on the CD after the computer
rebooted. I guess Windows can't automatically install USB drivers.
On the Mac, everything was ready to go right away. The software
itself is almost identical on both platforms:
CAMEDIA Master for Windows
CAMEDIA Master for Macintosh
you can see, they're pretty similar. On the top left of each, is
your local hard drive. Just below that is the camera -- you can
browse it like another disk. If you double-click on the camera (on
the Mac) or the folder "100OLYMP" (on Windows), it'll
open up the other window that you see above the picture of the flowers
-- it features thumbnails, the filename, and the date you took the
photo. If you double-click on the thumbnail, you'll get the larger
version that you see above. You can select the photos you want to
transfer, and download them to your hard disk via a menu command.
with NikonView, you can do a lot more with the CAMEDIA software
besides just downloading the photos off of the camera. Besides basic
stuff like rotating and flipping your photos, you can also do basic
retouching, like adjusting color, contrast, and brightness, as well
as more complex filters like sharpen and blur. You can also do an
"instant fix" of your photos, or use the redeye tool to
help reduce troublesome redeye If you have panoramic photos, you
can stitch them together in the software, as well. Keep in mind
that this software isn't on the same level as Photoshop or PaintShop
Pro, but it's not bad. One thing that you can't do on both platforms
is browse the camera on the Finder/Windows Explorer level, like
top it off, Olympus also tosses in Adobe Photoshop 5.0LE, which
is kind of a watered down version of the real thing. So if you need
to do some fancier retouching, you've got something for that too.
doesn't include any software comparable to CAMEDIA. There is the
IPIX Wizard software for making IPIX panoramas, Quicktime for video
viewing, Cumulus 5.0LE for organizing your photos, and Genuine Fractals,
a Photoshop plugin for interpolating or reducing photos. Even though
you can't edit photos in NikonView, that's okay with my usage: When
I edit my photos, it's strictly in Photoshop, so NikonView works
great for me. After an easy install (again, you have to locate the
drivers on the CD in Windows), you reboot and are ready to go. You
just plug in the USB cable and turn on the camera, and either the
camera appears on the desktop (Mac), or a Coolpix window opens (Windows
98) on the Windows desktop.
NikonView for Windows
NikonView for Macintosh
you open up the Coolpix folder, you're presented with a window of
thumbnails... double-clicking on one brings up the full-sized version.
If you want to download photos, you just select them and drag them
to where you want to them go. And that's all NikonView does, though
it does it well.
was an easy one -- Olympus' CAMEDIA software beats out NikonView,
and then they throw in Photoshop LE too.
to page three for more tests and the conclusion >>