Nikon is famed for its cameras, and the 3.34-megapixel Coolpix 995 means business. Its predecessor, the Coolpix 990, won Editors’ choice in September 2000’s Macworld digital-camera round-up. The 995 maintains this honourable tradition.
Like most sophisticated bits of consumer electronics, learning to navigate its features takes time. It weighs 390g (without the battery). Nikon’s claimed 110-minute battery life is optimistic. The unit eats power if the flash is used often, when doing a lot of digital-zoom work, or accessing functions through the LCD display. In mitigation, it’s possible to shoot the equivalent of a roll or two of film before the power goes.
Nikon keeps the Coolpix’s swivel design. The left- and right-hand halves of the camera revolve away from each other – so each hand is holding a slightly different shape. The advantage of this is that Nikon can bundle many features – for example, the flash – into unusual parts of the device. The disadvantage? I found it a little hard to maintain a steady grip. Conversely, half of those I spoke with thought it helped them keep a stable grip. I recommend testing this feature first to see how it feels for you.
Nikon claims the swivel permits a wider range of shooting angles, and makes the LCD viewer easy to see from almost any angle.
The 995 offers a 4x zoom Nikkor lens – the equivalent of a 35mm camera’s 38-152mm lenses. There’s a macro mode that enables shots at close range – up to 3cm. The pop-up flash (Speedlight) has been developed to minimize red-eye, and placed logically on the chassis. Colour consistency is maintained by the built-in noise reduction and saturation controls. Noise reduction improves the 995’s night-shooting abilities when set for long exposure times.
Shooting speed maxes out at 3 frames per second (fps) with speeds of 8-1/2300 seconds supported. The maximum supported image resolution is 2,048-x-1,536 pixels. It’ll also capture 40 seconds of moving images at 15fps.
The company has put a lot of its R&D Yen into colour management – with White Balance Bracketing automatically choosing between three different white-balance settings for improved accuracy. Nikon continues to develop its mysterious advanced image-processing algorithm – this delivers excellent colour capture. The 995’s colour-capture abilities take this unit into the professional as well as pro-sumer markets. The camera has a Quick Review button, providing swift access to captured images.
Nikon’s swivel feature takes some getting used to, but the 995 is a powerful, well-featured unit with accurate colour-capture, a great zoom lens and an impressive amount of functionality. Its macro feature offers fantastic results, and it’s easy-to-use. However, as the media gets cheaper, I think camera manufacturers should begin bundling CompactFlash cards of a higher capacity than 16MB.