Barrel and Pincushion Distortion
The Coolpix 4500 uses an updated version of the 4x optical zoom lens we saw on the Coolpix 995. Unsurprisingly we measured identical distortion levels. At wide angle (38 mm equiv.) the lens exhibits 1.5% barrel distortion, at full telephoto (155 mm equiv.) the lens exhibits 0.8% pincushion distortion.
|1.5% Barrel Distortion at wide angle||0.8% Pincushion Distortion at telephoto|
Purple Fringing (Chromatic Aberrations)
Good news, it looks as though the engineers at Nikon have finally got on top of the purple fringing problem. Some previous Coolpix models suffered from purple fringing (to differing degrees), the 4500 exhibits only the slightest hint of a fringe (nothing you would normally see). We have no way of knowing if this improvement has been made in the lens, coatings or software but sufficient to say it's a considerable step forward. Kudos Nikon. (To see the difference check out the Coolpix 5000).
|Even in areas we would expect to see some purple fringing there is none.|
|Our now standard chromatic aberration test shot, only the smallest hint of fringing|
Overall Image Quality / Specific Issues
The Coolpix 4500 is a worthy successor to the now long line of split bodied prosumer level Coolpix digital cameras. Image quality is good, with very good metering (thanks to Nikon's Matrix metering system), tonal balance is natural with good colour (which you can tweak if you prefer) and good resolution. Purple fringing appears to have been all but eradicated and noise levels are acceptable for a four megapixel digital camera (about what we'd expect). Lens distortion (see above) and small maximum aperture (F2.6 - F5.1) is the price you pay for a compact internal-zoom internal-focus lens. The Coolpix 4500 also shares one trait with other Coolpix digital cameras.
Clipping of highlights
One complaint we've had for a while about the 'look' of Coopix images is the clipping of image highlights. This exhibits itself as a harsh edge between overexposed highglights and surrounding detail which can also sometimes look jagged. Other digital cameras tend to produce a smoother transition from detail to highlight. Although the 4500 still has this trait it tends to be slightly less obvious because of a lack of any kind of fringing (which used to emphasize the clipped area).