4800 ($399) is Nikon's first ultra zoom camera,
unless you count their more expensive 5700/8700/8800
models. Specs-wise, the CP4800 doesn't really stand
out from the crowd. It features an unusual 8.3X zoom,
4 Megapixel CCD, and just one manual control (white
balance). With such a crowded field, the 4800 has
to be quite the camera in order to stand out from
the rest of the ultra zoom cameras out there. How
does it fare? Find out now!
What's in the Box?
The Coolpix 4800 has an average bundle.
Inside the box, you'll find:
- The 4.0 effective Megapixel Nikon
Coolpix 4800 camera
- EN-EL1 lithium-ion rechargeable
- Battery charger
- Camera strap
- USB cable
- A/V cable
- CD-ROMs featuring PictureProject
and software manual
- 114 page camera manual + foldout
Quick Start Guide (both printed)
On their lower-end Coolpix cameras,
Nikon is starting to follow some other manufacturers
by having built-in memory, rather than including a
memory card. The Coolpix 4800 has just 13.5MB of internal
memory -- which holds a grand total of 7 images at
the highest quality setting. That means that you'll
need to buy a memory card. The 4800 uses Secure Digital
cards, currently available as large as 512MB (I'd suggest
at least 128MB to start with). MultiMedia (MMC) cards
are not recommended. The CP4800 does take advantage
of higher speed SD cards -- you'll notice this when
the camera is saving a sequence of shots to the memory
The camera uses the good old EN-EL1
lithium-ion battery, which was common on Nikon cameras
of days past. The battery has a decent amount of energy
-- 5.0 Wh to be exact -- which translates to 240 shots
using the new CIPA battery life standard. That's about
average compared to other ultra zoom models. (The current
battery life king is the Minolta DiMAGE Z10 which can
take over 500 shots per charge.)
One nice thing about the CP4800 is
that you can use non-rechargeable 2CR5 lithium batteries
as well. This sure comes in handy when the rechargeable
battery dies, though 2CR5's aren't as ubiquitous as
AA's. By the way, 2CR5 batteries last about 50% longer
than the EN-EL1, though they can't be reused. I would
recommend buying an additional EN-EL1 battery, though
it'll set you back about $35.
When it's time to recharge the battery,
just pop it into the included battery charger. It takes
about two hours to fully charge the battery. The charger
uses a power cable rather than plugging directly into
The CP4800 is one of those cameras
with a lens cover built right into the lens. I did
have trouble with those little plastic pieces getting
stuck, but it's probably just specific to my camera.
The only really interested accessory
for the 4800 is the SB-30 external flash ($85) and
its associated flash bracket ($50). Since the CP4800
doesn't have a hot shoe or flash sync port, the SB-30
works as a slave flash. If you want less redeye and
much better flash photos, this is one option worth
considering. Other accessories include an AC adapter
($25) and soft case ($15).
Nikon includes a brand new software
product with the CP4800 called PictureProject, and
it's nothing to write home about. The main screen is
your typical photo organizer, letting you put photos
in folders, give them keywords for easy searching later,
rotate them, etc.
The edit screen lets you adjust a
few things, such as brightness, color, and sharpness.
The Photo Effects option lets you quickly change the
image to black and white or sepia. There are also buttons
for instant photo enhancement or redeye removal.
E-mail your photos
PictureProject can also be used to
e-mail or print your photos, or share them online via
NikonNet. A slideshow feature lets you put your photos
Although cluttered at times, the manual
included with the Coolpix 4800 is pretty good. Expect
to see lots of "notes" and fine print. I
should also note that the PictureProject software manual
is on CD.
Look and Feel
The Coolpix 4800 is the smallest and
lightest ultra zoom camera on the market. Despite that,
I wouldn't exactly call it compact -- it's still midsize
as far as I'm concerned. The body is made entirely
of plastic, and while it feels pretty solid, it's not
as well built as some of the competition. The camera
is easy to hold, and the important controls are well
Here's a look at how the dimensions
and weight of the CP4800 compare with the competition:
(W x H x D, excluding protrusions)
PowerShot S1 IS
x 3.1 x 2.6 in.
x 3.2 x 3.1 in.
x 3.4 x 3.4 in.
x 3.2 x 3.2 in.
Minolta DiMAGE Z3
x 3.1 x 3.3 in.
Minolta DiMAGE Z10
x 3.2 x 3.7 in.
x 2.9 x 3.4 in.
x 2.6 x 2.1 in.
C-765 Ultra Zoom
x 2.4 x 2.7 in.
C-770 Ultra Zoom
x 2.7 x 3.3 in.
x 3.4 x 4.2 in.
With that out of the way, we can begin
our tour of the Coolpix 4800.
The Coolpix 4800's 8.3X optical zoom
lens is on the short end of the range for ultra zoom
cameras. The maximum aperture is F2.7 at wide-angle
and F4.4 at telephoto, which isn't spectacular. The
lens has "ED" elements to help reduce the
purple fringing that plagues ultra zoom cameras. The
focal range of the lens is 6 - 50 mm, which is equivalent
to 36 - 300 mm. The CP4800 does not support conversion
To the upper-right of the lens is
the built-in flash. The flash has a decent working
range of 0.4 - 4.3 m at wide-angle and 1.0 - 2.6 m
at telephoto. As I mentioned in the previous section,
Nikon offers an external slave flash for the 4800.
Just above the lens is the AF-assist
lamp, which doubles as the self-timer lamp. It's so
nice to finally see Nikon putting the AF-assist lamp
on all their cameras. This lamp helps the camera focus
in low light conditions.
The back of the 4800 features a decent-sized
1.8" LCD display with 118,000 pixels. The screen
is bright, images are sharp, and motion is fluid.
As with every other ultra zoom camera,
the CP4800 uses an electronic viewfinder (EVF) instead
of an optical viewfinder. This is like a small LCD
screen that you look at as if it was the real thing
(unfortunately, it's not even close). The EVF here
has 235,000 pixels which results in a sharp image.
The EVF shows the same things as the LCD, though do
note that you can't use both at the same time. A diopter
correction knob focuses the image on the EVF screen.
Both the LCD and EVF "gain up" in
low light conditions so you can still (sort of) see
what you're looking at.
Directly to the right of the EVF is
the button for switching between the EVF and LCD. The
next item over is the mode dial, which has the following
- Auto record - everyday point-and-shoot
- Scene mode - choose a situation
and the camera chooses the proper settings. You
can choose from:
- Night landscape
- Back light
- Panorama assist
- Portrait Assist
- Landscape Assist
- Sports Assist
- Night Scene Assist
- Setup - more later
- Movie mode - described later
Those four "assist modes" are
like advanced scene modes. The camera will overlay
things on the LCD/EVF which help you properly frame
the photo. In case you haven't noticed so far, the
CP4800 is a totally point-and-shoot camera.
To the right of the mode dial we find
the zoom controller. The button has two "notches" which
allow you to choose between fast and slow lens movement.
At "full speed" you can move from wide-angle
to telephoto in about 1.3 seconds. At the slower speed
that number rises to about 1.6 seconds. Quick presses
on the button will make precise adjustments to the
To the right of the LCD are three
buttons as well as the four-way controller. The buttons
are for entering the menu or playback mode as well
as for deleting a photo. The four-way controller is
used for menu navigation, plus:
- Up - Flash setting (Auto, auto
w/redeye reduction, flash off, flash on, slow sync)
- Right - Exposure compensation (-2EV
to +2EV, 1/3EV increments)
- Down - Macro (on/off)
- Left - Self-timer (on/off)
- Center - Transfer (mark photos
for auto transfer to PC)
The only things to see on the top
of the Coolpix 4800 are the speaker, power button,
microphone, and shutter release button. You do need
to take care to keep your fingers away from the microphone
while recording sound.
On this side of the camera, you'll
find the USB and A/V out port (one port for both functions)
as well as the DC-in port (for optional AC adapter).
A rubber cover protects them from the elements.
Over here you'll find the SD card
slot, which is behind plastic cover of so-so build
The tour ends with a look at the bottom
of the camera. Here you'll find a plastic tripod mount
as well as the battery compartment. While not horrible,
the door covering the battery slot could possibly bust
off if forced.
As I mentioned in the first section
of the review, the 4800 can use the EN-EN1 rechargeable
lithium-ion battery or a 2CR5 disposable lithium battery.
The EN-EL1 is shown at right.
Using the Nikon Coolpix 4800
It takes about 2.5 seconds for the
CP4800 to extend its lens and "warm up" before
you can start taking pictures.
to be found here
The 4800 isn't going to win any awards
for its focus speeds. Quite often it took 0.8 - 1.2
seconds for the camera to lock focus after pressing
the shutter release halfway. The camera focuses better
than average in low light but not as good as I was
expecting from a camera that has an AF-assist lamp.
The CP4800 seems to have a problem
with shutter lag, as well. It was noticeable at all
times, even at faster shutter speed. This isn't a great
camera for action or pictures of the kids!
Shot-to-shot speed is below average,
with a delay of about 2.5 seconds before you can take
another picture. Like other Nikon cameras of late,
the 4800 is a little fussy about performing operations
while an image is being saved to the memory card. This
includes opening the menus or changing a setting via
a button on the camera. If the image is still being
written, you'll have to wait.
To delete a photo after it is taken,
you must wait for it to be saved to the memory card.
You can then press the delete photo button to remove
Keeping with its easy-to-use theme,
the Coolpix 4800 has just a few image quality choices,
||# images on 13.5MB internal
||# Images on 128MB card
2288 x 1712
1600 x 1200
1024 x 768
640 x 480
The Coolpix 4800 does not support
TIFF or RAW file formats. Then again, neither does
most of the competition.
Images are named DSCN####.JPG, where
# = 0001 - 9999. The file numbering is maintained even
if you replace and/or format memory cards.
The Coolpix 4800 has a very simple
menu system, different than the one on Nikon's higher-end
cameras. Note that this menu is not accessible in the
scene or assist modes. Here are the options in the
full record menu:
- Image mode (see above chart)
- White balance (Auto, preset, daylight,
incandescent, fluorescent, cloudy, speedlight) -
- Continuous (Single, continuous,
multi-shot 16, 5 shot buffer) - see below
- Best Shot Selector [BSS] (Off,
- Sensitivity (Auto, 50, 100, 200,
- Image adjustment [contrast] (Auto,
normal, more contrast, less contrast)
- Image sharpening (Auto, high, normal,
- AF area mode (Auto, manual, off)
- the manual option lets you choose one of five focus
points; auto does it automatically; off is center-frame
- Color options (Standard, vivid,
black & white, sepia, cyanotype)
As you can see, the CP4800 has a manual
white balance feature, which lets you get perfect white
balance in any lighting by using a white or gray card
as your reference. Sadly, this is the only manual control
on the camera.
The continuous shooting feature will
take up to 4 pictures (at best quality setting) at
a rate of approximately 1.5 frames/sec. The 3 shot
buffer feature keep shooting at 1 frame/second -- when
you release the shutter release button the last three
images taken will be saved. Multi-shot 16 takes sixteen
shots in a row (at 3.5 frames/sec) and assembles them
all into one 2288 x 1712 collage. Do note that the
LCD and EVF are turned off while shooting in these
modes, making it a pretty useless feature if your subject
is moving (which is probably why you're using this
Nikon's trademark Best Shot Selector
(BSS) does double duty on the 4800. The original BSS
feature is still here: take up to 10 pictures in a
row, and the camera magically picks the sharpest one,
and tosses the rest. But wait, there's more: now there
are three exposure-related BSS modes:
- Highlight BSS: picture with the
smallest area of overexposure is selected
- Shadow BSS: picture with smallest
area of underexposure is selected
- Histogram BSS: picture with least
under and overexposure is saved (in other words,
the best exposure)
Do note that the camera takes five,
rather than ten, images in the exposure BSS modes.
There is also a setup menu, which
is accessed via the mode wheel. The choices here include:
- Welcome screen (Disable, Nikon,
animation, select an image) - the "select an
image" mode lets you pick a photo on the memory
card to use
- Date (set)
- Time zone - choose a home
and travel time zone
- Date imprint (Off, date, date & time)
- print the date/time on your photos
- Monitor settings
- Start-up display (Viewfinder,
monitor) - which one is on by default
- Review options (on/off) -
- Brightness (-2 to +2)
- Sound settings
- Button sound (on/off)
- Shutter sound (Off, 1-3)
- Startup sound (on/off)
- Volume (Off, normal, loud)
- Auto off (30 sec, 1, 5, 30 min)
- Format memory/card
- Language (German, English, Spanish,
French, Italian, Dutch, Swedish, Japanese, Simplified
- USB (PTP, Mass Storage)
- Video mode (NTSC, PAL)
- Reset all
- Firmware version - displays the
firmware version of the camera
Everything up there should be self-explanatory.
Let's move on to photo tests now.
Macro shooting has always been one
of the trademarks of the Coolpix series, and the 4800
continues that tradition. You can get as close as 1
cm to your subject, which basically means "right
up against it". In order to get that close, you'll
need to adjust the zoom to just until the little flower
on the LCD turns green, which is near the wide end
of the lens.
The 4800 took a great photo of our
usual macro subject. The subject is very sharp and
colors are accurate. I have no complaints!
I do, however, have some complaints
about the night test shot. You see, the only way to
get to the slowest shutter speed on the camera is to
use one of the scene modes (night landscape, to be
specific). In regular auto mode, 1 second is the slowest
speed used, which isn't slow enough for my usual test
shot. So, I used night landscape which used a 1.6 second
exposure. Normally that's not enough either, but since
the camera automatically increases the ISO sensitivity
in all modes except Auto, it brought in more light
at the expense of noise. If you view the full-size
image you'll see what I mean about the noise -- it's
pretty bad. But, since the only mode in which you can
select the ISO is Auto mode (which limits you to 1
sec exposures), there's not much you can do about it.
Bottom line: the CP4800 isn't great for long exposures.
There's mild barrel distortion in
our distortion test and just a slight hint of vignetting
(dark corners). Vignetting was not a problem in my
real world test photos.
While not perfect, the CP4800 did
a fairly good job in our redeye test. There's some
red here, but it's not the "demon eyes" that
I see quite a bit.
Overall, the image quality on the
CP4800 was very good. Images are well-exposed, colors
are accurate, and everything is nice and sharp. Noise
levels are a bit above average and some details were
a little fuzzy (I saw a few "jaggies" as
well), but these things disappear when you print the
photos or downsize them. Nikon has done a great of
eliminating the purple fringing that is often seen
on ultra zoom cameras like this. There just isn't much
of it to speak of.
Don't just take my word for all this.
Have a look at the gallery and
decide if the 4800's photos meet your expectations.
I encourage you to print the photos, as well.
While the Coolpix 4800 has a VGA resolution
movie mode, the truth is that it's really not 640 x
480. Rather, the video has been vertically interlaced
up to that size. The real native resolution of the
movie mode is 320 x 240 A smaller 160 x 120 mode is
also available. Regardless of what resolution you choose,
the camera records at 15 frames/second until the memory
card is full. Sound is recorded as well.
Since the built-in memory doesn't
hold more than a few seconds of video, I recommend
a larger memory card if you're serious about taking
You cannot use the zoom lens during
filming. Something to watch out for is the autofocus
mode that's used in movie mode. Unless you like a clicking
background noise in your movies, you'll want to set
it to S-AF (single AF) instead of C-AF (continuous
Movies are saved in QuickTime format.
Here's a sample movie that I took
at the fake VGA setting (oops) -- and you'll be able
to tell right away. I apologize for the wind noise.
to play movie (6.2 MB, 640 x 480, QuickTime format)
Can't view it? Download QuickTime.
The Coolpix 4800 has an easy-to-use,
yet complete playback mode. The standard playback functions
include slide shows, DPOF print marking, thumbnail
mode, image protection, and zoom & scroll. The
camera is PictBridge-enabled for direct printing to
compatible photo printers.
The zoom and scroll feature (my term)
lets you zoom into your image by as much as 10X, and
then scroll around in the enlarged photo. This feature
is very well implemented on the 4800.
The small pic option lets you downsize
your image to 640 x 480, 320 x 240, or 160 x 120. The
original image is saved. A copy feature lets you move
photos between internal memory and a memory card, and
Other features include the ability
to sort your pictures into folders based on the date
they were taken, and an "index image" function
which makes a collage of the photos you've taken so
far (like an index print at the photo lab). The Coolpix
lets you mark photos that you want to be automatically
transferred when you connect the camera to your PC.
One last nice feature that's all too uncommon these
days is the ability to delete a group of photos, rather
than just one at a time or all of them.
The camera doesn't give you any useful
exposure information about your photos, unfortunately.
The camera moves through images very
quickly in playback mode. A lower resolution image
is shown instantly, with the high resolution version
appearing about a second later.
How Does it Compare?
As I mentioned at the start of this
review, the ultra zoom field is as crowded as it gets.
And while it takes good pictures, there's really nothing
about the Nikon Coolpix 4800 that makes it stand out
from the crowd. It has less zoom, fewer manual controls,
and poorer performance than most of the competition,
making it a tough camera to recommend enthusiastically.
But first, the good things. The CP4800
takes sharp, colorful, and well-exposed images. Nikon
has also kept redeye and purple fringing levels down.
The 4800 is compact and fairly well built for a plastic
camera. It has a great selection of scene modes for
the beginner and everything is easy-to-use. The CP4800
has an AF-assist lamp and the LCD and EVF "gain
up" in low light conditions -- both of which are
valuable features. The camera has one of the best macro
modes on any camera -- ultra zoom or not. Battery life
is pretty good as well, and I like how you can use "regular" lithium
batteries in addition to the proprietary one.
Now the bad news. While 8.3X zoom
is nice, most ultra zooms have 10 or even 12 times
zoom lenses. The CP4800 has just one manual control:
white balance. And while that's appreciated, the majority
of the other ultra zooms on the market have control
over things like shutter speed. The CP4800 decides
the shutter speed for you, which turned out to be a
problem in the case of my night test shot. Performance
was probably the camera's weakest point, with slow
AF times, noticeable shutter lag, and annoying delays
between photos. In continuous shooting mode, the LCD/EVF "black
out" so you can't see what you're taking pictures
of. Finally, the movie mode (which really isn't VGA)
leaves something to be a desired.
There are a lot of choices out there
in the ultra zoom market, and I think there are better
cameras available than the Coolpix 4800.
What I liked:
- Compact body for an ultra zoom
- Very good photo quality (though
a bit noisy)
- AF-assist lamp
- Top-notch macro ability
- Many scene modes
- LCD/EVF usable in low light
- Handy BSS feature
- Supports proprietary and "regular" batteries
- Optional slave flash
What I didn't care for:
- Slow AF speeds, noticeable shutter
lag, shot-to-shot delays can be annoying
- 8.3X zoom is on the low end of
things in the ultra zoom market
- Aside from white balance, no manual
- To get to slowest shutter speeds
you must give up control over ISO sensitivity
- LCD/EVF turn off during continuous
- No real exposure information in
- Movie mode could be better
- Skimpy 13.5MB of on-board memory
Other low-cost ultra zooms worth looking
at include the Canon
PowerShot S1 IS (image stabilizer), Fuji
FinePix S5100, HP
Photosmart 945, Kodak EasyShare DX6490 and DX7590,
Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z3 (image
stabilizer) and Z10, Kyocera
Finecam M410R, Olympus C-765/770 Ultra
Zoom, and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ3 and DMC-FZ15 (both
have image stabilizers).
As always, I recommend a trip down
to your local reseller to try out the Coolpix 4800
and it's competitors before you buy!
Check out the sample photos in our photo
Want a second opinion?
Check out another reviews of the Coolpix
4800 at Steve's
Digicams and Imaging
Feedback & Discussion
If you have a question about this
review, please send them to Jeff.
Due to my limited resources, please do not e-mail me
asking for a personal recommendation.
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