Nikon CoolPix 5000

Professional photographers and keen amateurs may at last have found what they have been waiting for in a mid-range digital camera. The Nikon CoolPix 5000 is a highly portable, but seriously technical, device that bridges the gap between high-end photojournalists’ cameras and compact consumer-products. Conforming to traditional case design and handling – with its myriad of buttons, flaps, dials and hideous knobbly bits – the camera will be adored by enthusiasts. The CoolPix 5000 is built around a 2/3-inch CCD, with its 5-megapixel capture supporting image sizes up to 2,560-x-1,920 pixels. The CoolPix 5000’s LCD colour monitor at the back is mounted on dual-action hinge so it can be swung open for normal viewing and then twisted vertically, even facing forwards. Nikon has done its best to cram as many customizable features into the device as possible. You can control everything manually, including shutter speed, white balance, aperture, metering, contrast, flash strength and colour saturation, as well as nifty features such as exposure bracketing, image sharpening and even noise reduction, for those fast exposure and late-night shots. Additionally, you can use the zoom action as a 50-step manual focus control, and lock autofocus between shots. Most of the camera settings are selected through the LCD using clear menus, although basic settings such as flash mode, image size and shots remaining, are presented on a monochrome LCD window just above. The rechargable lithium-ion battery pops into the base, while a CompactFlash card can be inserted behind a door on the right – a 32MB card is included. Nikon is supporting the CoolPix 5000 with a range of optional add-ons, including teleconverter, wide-angle and fish-eye lenses, and even a slide-copy adaptor for shooting 35mm transparencies. In use, we found the camera rather complicated, so the dense 200-page printed manual was a god-send. We especially liked the multi-shot features and the ability to capture one-minute videos with sound. On the other hand, you can buy good DV camcorders for less than this. Another disappointment was the discovery that none of the software utilities run under Mac OS X’s Classic mode, but we were brightened to find that Apple’s iPhoto recognized the camera without drivers.

OUR VERDICT

£999 was a bargain five years ago, but it’s expensive for a sub-professional camera these days. However, its vast array of hands-on features, top-quality image capture and pro essentials, such as the hot-shoe and lens options, put the CoolPix 5000 ahead of anything else in its class.

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