Coolpix 5200 ($499) is a compact point-and-shoot
5 Megapixel camera. Notable features include in-camera
redeye reduction (using more than just a pre-flash),
numerous scene modes, a VGA movie mode, an AF-assist
lamp, and a very impressive macro mode.
4 Megapixel version, known as the Coolpix 4200, is
also available. It has less impressive continuous
shooting and movie modes, though.
are a whole lot of similar cameras out there -- how
does the CP5200 hold up? Find out in our review!
in the Box?
Coolpix 5200 has an average bundle. Inside the box,
5.1 effective Megapixel Nikon Coolpix 5200 camera
lithium-ion rechargeable battery
featuring PictureProject and software manual
page camera manual + foldout Quick Start Guide
their point-and-shoot Coolpix cameras, Nikon is starting
to follow some other manufacturers by having built-in
memory, rather than including a memory card. The
Coolpix 5200 has a paltry 12MB of memory -- which
holds a grand total of 4 high quality images. That
means that you'll need to buy a memory card. The
5200 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.
camera uses the EN-EL5 lithium-ion battery, and one
is included with the camera. This compact battery
has a decent 4.0 Wh of energy, which translates to
150 photos per charge according to Nikon -- nothing
like to complain about proprietary batteries: they're
expensive and you can't stuff in alkaline AAs when
your rechargeables die. On the 5200, the first complaint
is true, as additional batteries are $30 a pop (I'd
recommend buying a spare). As for the second complaint,
things are a little better on the CP5200 than other
cameras, as it can use the Duracell CP1 disposable
lithium battery. The problem with the CP1 is the
price ($13), and more importantly they they are nearly
impossible to find at this time.
it's time to recharge the EN-EL5 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 wall.
CP5200 is one of those cameras with a lens cover
built right into the lens. As you can see, it's a
very compact little camera!
are limited on this small camera. All I could find
are an AC adapter ($30) and a soft case ($15).
includes a brand new software product with the CP5200
called PictureProject. 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.
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.
your photos in 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 to music.
cluttered at times, the manual included with the
Coolpix 5200 is pretty good. Expect to see lots of "notes" and
fine print. I should also note that the PictureProject
software manual is on CD.
Coolpix 5200 is an ultra compact 5 Megapixel camera
made almost entirely of metal. It feels very well
constructed with the exception of the cheesy plastic
door covering the battery compartment. The camera
is easy to hold and operate with just one hand, and
it fits into any of your pockets with ease.
x 2.2 x 1.1
x 2.4 x 1.3
x 2.5 x 0.8
x 2.4 x 1.4
x 1.9 x 1.2
Minolta DiMAGE G500
x 2.2 x 1.2
x 2.3 x 1.3
x 2.4 x 1.4
x 2.3 x 1.6
x 2.1 x 1.0
x 2.4 x 0.8
x 2.4 x 1.3
a look at how the size and weight of the CP5200 compare
with the competition:
a little larger than most of the cameras on the list,
the CP5200 is one of the lightest. Don't let the
size differences fool you -- this is still a very
that out of the way, we can begin our tour of the
Coolpix 5200 has an F2.8-4.9, 3X optical zoom Nikkor
lens. The lens has "ED" (extra-low dispersion)
elements which are used to reduce purple fringing
in images. The focal range of the lens is 7.8 - 23.4
mm which is equivalent to 38 - 115 mm. The lens is
not threaded and conversion lenses are not supported.
above-right from the flash is the camera's microphone.
Above that is the built-in flash, which has a working
range of 0.3 - 4.5 at wide-angle and 0.3 - 3.5 m
at telephoto. You cannot attach an external flash
to this camera.
two items to the left of the flash are the optical
viewfinder and AF-assist lamp. The latter is used
for focusing in dim lighting situations. It took
a long time, but Nikon is finally putting these lamps
on their cameras.
a look at the back of the camera. The main thing
to see here is the 1.5" LCD display, which is
bright and fluid. It has a resolution of 110,000
pixels so it's plenty sharp, too. If you're framing
shots in low light, you'll like the fact that the
camera boosts the screen sensitivity, so you can
see what you're looking at.
the LCD is the optical viewfinder, which shows 75%
of the frame. It's about average-sized for a camera
this small. There's no diopter correction knob, though,
which is used to focus what you're looking at.
the LCD are three buttons: delete photo, menu, and
playback. Those should be self-explanatory. To the
right of those is the speaker.
up now, we find the four-way controller, which is
used for menu navigation, plus:
- Flash setting (Auto, auto w/redeye reduction,
flash off, flash on, slow sync)
- Exposure compensation (-2EV to +2EV, 1/3EV increments)
- Macro (on/off)
- Self-timer (3 or 10 sec)
- Transfer (mark photos for auto transfer to PC)
CP5200 has an in-camera redeye reduction feature
that uses a in-camera software as well as a pre-flash
to get rid of this annoying phenomenon. More on this
final item on the back of the camera is the zoom
controller. This moves the lens from wide-angle to
telephoto in just one second. I counted nine steps
throughout the zoom range.
the top of the Coolpix 5200 you'll find the mode
dial, shutter release, and power button. The items
on the mode dial include:
mode - choose a situation, camera uses the appropriate
- more later
mode - more later
you can see, the 5200 has quite a few scene modes.
The five assist modes go a step further, helping
your frame the shots (see screenshot above).
the lack of any manual modes -- this is a totally
this side of the camera, you'll find the USB and
A/V out port (one port for both functions) which
is kept under a plastic cover.
here you'll find the SD card slot, which is behind
a fairly sturdy plastic door.
thing on the bottom is what the AC adapter power
cord feeds through.
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 bust off if
the Nikon Coolpix 5200
takes about 2.5 seconds for the CP5200 to extend
its lens and "warm up" before you can start
in record mode
the shutter release halfway and the camera locks
focus in 0.5 - 1.0 seconds in most cases. If the
camera has to hunt, or if you're shooting in low
light, it'll take longer. Thanks to its AF-assist
lamp, the 5200 focused well in low light. I also
liked how the LCD was still visible in those situations.
lag was not a problem at fast shutter speeds, but
noticeable at slower shutter speeds (where you should
probably be using the flash or a tripod, anyway).
speed is good, with a 1.5 second delay between shots.
You'll probably have to halfway-press the shutter
release button to get the camera out of the post-shot
review mode first, though. One annoyance on this
and other recent Nikon cameras is that you can't
open the menu, change settings, or enter playback
mode until the camera is finished writing the images
to the memory card.
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 it.
with its easy-to-use theme, the Coolpix 5200 has
just a few image quality choices, including:
Images on 12MB internal memory
Images on 256MB card
2592 x 1944
2048 x 1536
1600 x 1200
1024 x 768
640 x 480
Coolpix 5200 does not support TIFF or RAW file formats.
are named DSCN####.JPG, where # = 0001 - 9999. The
file numbering is maintained even if you replace
and/or format memory cards.
Coolpix 5200 has a very simple menu system,
similar to those on the CP3200 which I reviewed previously.
Note that this menu is not accessible in the scene
modes. Here are the options:
mode (see above chart)
balance (Auto, preset, daylight, incandescent,
fluorescent x2, cloudy, shade speedlight)
(Matrix, center-weighted, spot)
(Single, continuous, 5 shot buffer, multi-shot
16) - see below
Shot Selector [BSS] (on/off)
adjustment [contrast] (Auto, normal, more contrast,
sharpening (Auto, high, normal, low, off)
(Auto, 64, 100, 200, 400)
bracketing (Off, auto bracketing, white balance
bracketing) - see below
(Enhanced [vivid], normal, moderate)
area mode (Auto, manual, off) - see below
mode (Continuous AF, single AF) - see below
reduction (on/off) - reduces noise in long exposures
you can see, the CP5200 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. This is the only manual control on
continuous shooting feature will take up to 7 pictures
(at 5M/Fine setting) at a rate of approximately 2.5
frames/sec. The 5 shot buffer feature keep shooting
at 2.5 frames/second -- when you release the shutter
release button the last five 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
2592 x 1944 collage.
exclusive Best Shot Selector (BSS) feature will let
you take up to 10 shots in a row, and then the camera
chooses the best of the bunch -- and that's the one
that is saved to the memory card. This feature is
useful in situations where "camera shake" may
be an issue.
are two bracketing modes on the Coolpix 5200. The
first, auto exposure bracketing, takes three shots
in a row: one has the normal exposure, while the
other two have are exposed at +0.5EV and -0.5EV.
This is a good way to ensure proper exposures, those
a smaller interval would've been nice. White balance
bracketing also takes three shots in a row, this
time with one shot being normal, the next being bluer,
and the third being redder.
for autofocus modes. At the Auto AF Area setting,
the camera will automatically choose one of five
points in the frame on which to focus. Switching
to Manual AF Area will let you choose one of 99 points
in the frame to focus on. Turning this feature off
will cause the camera to always focus on the center
frame. The Single AF mode will only focus the lens
when you halfway press the shutter release button,
while Continuous AF is always focusing. This speeds
up focusing times at the expense of battery life.
is also a setup menu, which is accessed via the mode
wheel. The choices here include:
screen (Disable, Nikon, animation, select an image)
- the "select an image" mode lets you
pick a photo on the memory card to use
zone - choose a home and travel time zone
settings (Show info, auto info, hide info, framing
grid, monitor off) - choose what is shown on the
LCD, or turn the whole thing off; a 3 x 3 framing
grid is also available
imprint (Off, date, date & time) - print the
date/time on your photos
sound (Loud, normal, off)
sound (Loud, normal, off)
off (30 sec, 1, 5, 30 min)
(German, English, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch,
Swedish, Japanese, Simplified Chinese, Korean)
(PTP, Mass Storage)
mode (NTSC, PAL)
version - displays the firmware version of the
up there should be self-explanatory.
enough about menus, let's do photo tests now.
shooting has always been one of the trademarks of
the Coolpix series, and the 5200 continues that tradition.
You can get as close as 4 cm to your subject. 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.
standard test shot looks pretty good, though I wasn't
able to get the depth-of-field I was hoping for (manual
aperture controls would've been helpful) -- check
out the blurry ears to see what I mean. Colors were
some reason I ended up using the night scene mode
for this shot -- I think that auto record mode just
wasn't giving me a good exposure. Since the ISO is
set to auto (64 - 200) in the scene modes, that let
to the noise you can see in the picture. Since there's
no way to set the shutter speed manually, you're
stuck with what the camera wants to do.
from the noise, the shot is well-exposed and there
is no purple fringing to speak of.
distortion test shows very noticeable barrel distortion
at the wide-angle setting. I also see some blurriness
in the corners, which I saw in my real
world shots as well. I did not see any vignetting,
or dark corners.
brags about the new in-camera redeye reduction feature
on the CP5200, and I can't see that it does much
good. I did the usual redeye test and well, it's
still there. I wouldn't expect miracles from this
the CP5200's image quality is good, but not great.
While color and exposure are very good, there are
three issues worth mentioning. The first is noise
-- it's above average and eats away at details in
your photos. Issue number two is affected by issue
one: images are already a bit soft to begin with,
so the noise can make things worse. The third issue
I mentioned a few seconds ago is the occasional blurry
corner. One thing Nikon does have a handle on is
purple fringing -- it's not a problem.
just take my word for all this. Have a look at the gallery and
decide if the 5200's photos meet your expectations.
I encourage you to print the photos, as well.
Coolpix 5200 has a very nice movie mode. You can
record VGA quality video (640 x 480) at 30 frames/second,
with sound, until the memory card is full. For the
built-in memory, that's only 8 seconds, but if you
get a larger card, you can have longer movies. Do
note that a high speed SD card is recommended for
recording at this setting.
640 x 480 resolution is overkill, you can also choose
from 320 x 240 or 160 x 120 resolutions, as well.
The frame rate on both of those is 30 frames/second.
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 AF).
are saved in QuickTime format.
have a very special sample movie for you today. Hopefully
you know where this is. This movie is huge -- modem
users stay away!
to play movie (23.8MB, 640 x 480, QuickTime format)
Can't view it? Download QuickTime.
Coolpix 5200 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
zoom and scroll feature (my term) lets you zoom into
your image as much as 6 times, and then scroll around
in the enlarged photo. This feature is very well
implemented on the 5200.
small pic option lets you downsize your image to
640 x 480, 320 x 240, or 160 x 120. The original
image is saved.
Coolpix lets you mark photos that you want to be
automatically transferred when you connect the camera
to your PC. Another 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.
copy feature lets you move photos between internal
memory and a memory card, and vice versa.
default the camera gives you no exposure info about
your photos. Press the "ok" button in the
center of the four-way controller and you'll get
the screen above-right, which is only slightly more
camera moves through images very quickly in playback
mode. A lower resolution image is shown instantly,
with the high resolution version appearing less than
a second later.
Does it Compare?
not the best camera in its class, the Coolpix 5200
is a good point-and-shoot camera for those who need
a lot of resolution. Its biggest weaknesses are the
soft and somewhat noisy images as well as the lack
of manual controls (then again, my favorite cameras,
the Canon S500 and Sony W1 don't really have them
either). The image softness is really only an issue
for large prints or on-screen viewing, though.
CP5200 is a compact, stylish metal camera that can
go anywhere. Its well built for the most part and
the ergonomics are good. Performance is about average
for a camera in this class. Beginners will love all
the scene modes, though enthusiasts will be longing
for manual focus, shutter speed, and aperture controls.
The camera focuses well in low light (thanks to an
AF-assist lamp), and the LCD is still usable in those
situations unlike on some cameras. The camera does
offer nice continuous shooting and macro modes, and
the movie mode is excellent.
few other complaints: while Nikon has hyped up their
in-camera redeye reduction feature, it didn't seem
to help in my redeye test. The 12MB of on-board memory
is appallingly low, so be prepared to buy a memory
card. I'm not a huge fan of how the camera won't
let you adjust settings or enter the menu while its
saving images to the card, either. Finally, some
real exposure info in playback mode would be nice
(though I appreciate the histogram).
not the best choice, the CP5200 is worth a look if
you're after a high resolution point-and-shoot camera.
Just be sure to research the competition carefully!
(30 fps) movie mode
usable in low light
I didn't care for:
are soft and somewhat noisy; some corner blurriness
reduction feature didn't seem to help much
and camera settings inaccessible while camera saves
photos to memory
from white balance, no manual controls
real exposure information in playback mode
12MB of on-board memory
use Duracell's CP1 battery, but good luck finding
other compact 5 Megapixel cameras worth considering
include the Canon
PowerShot S500, Casio
FinePix F450, HP
Photosmart R707, Kodak
EasyShare LS753, Konica
Minolta DiMAGE G500, Kyocera
Finecam S5R, Pentax
Optio 555, and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P100, DSC-T1,
you want to save some money, check out the similarCoolpix
4200 model. Do note that you'll lose a Megapixel
of resolution, the 30 fps frame rate in movie mode,
and the fast continuous shooting rate.
always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller
to try out the Coolpix 5200 and it's competitors
before you buy!
out the sample photos in our photo
a second opinion?
out another review of the Coolpix 5200 over at Steve's
Feedback & Discussion
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