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Conclusion - Pros

  • Good metering, good automatic white balance, average resolution capability
  • Control over all processing algorithm parameters: contrast, saturation, sharpness
  • Good build quality, small and compact design
  • Wide angle zoom (28 mm)
  • Concept of three user memories is very useful
  • Still largest control feature set (but the competition is catching up, fast)
  • Great control over 'photographic' features such as AF point
  • Spot metering can be tied to AF point
  • Unique focus confirmation option
  • Wide range of continuous shooting options, good buffer size
  • Superb fine-tunable white balance presets
  • Detailed exposure information available in playback mode (roll the command dial)
  • Good processing speed and responsiveness, slow startup
  • Re-programmable FUNC button (user set / focus / flash / white balance / metering)
  • New record / play switch is a welcome addition
  • Excellent macro focus ability
  • Good battery performance considering battery's small size and capacity
  • Noise Reduction mode for long exposures
  • Flip-out and twist LCD
  • Good range of accessories, new wide-angle lens is excellent
  • USB mass storage device connectivity
  • Smaller and lighter than all the other five megapixel digital cameras


Conclusion - Cons

  • Slow startup time
  • Chromatic aberrations just as visible as previous Coolpix digital cameras
  • High noise levels from ISO 200 upwards
  • Video camera like clipping of highlights ('video camera' look to some images)
  • Stuck pixel (on the camera I had for review)
  • Useless 'Clear Image' mode
  • Rear "Control Panel" LCD is dark and difficult to see in anything but good sunlight
  • LCD 'soft button' labels use up some of the LCD screen
  • Slow lens (F2.8 - F4.8)
  • Poor low light Auto Focus and no AF assist lamp
  • Limited telephoto (compared to the competition)
  • Corners of image are sometimes unsharp
  • Mediocre Microdrive performance
  • Maximum 8 second camera timed long exposure (Bulb offers up to 5 minutes)
  • Limited range of apertures and shutter speeds available for manual exposures
  • Disappointingly cheap feeling CF compartment door
  • Histogram (still) not implemented in record review mode
  • No RAW file format
  • Lots of flash issues (internal flash not shutting off, no support for several external Speedlight features)
  • Strap eyelet made hand grip uncomfortable (personal preference)


Overall conclusion

Here's my rating of the Nikon Coolpix 5000: (5 megapixel prosumer)

Detail Rating (out of 10)
Construction 8.5
Features 10
Image quality 8
Lens / CCD combination 8
Ease of use 8
Value for money 8

Based largely on the Coolpix 995 'engine' the 5000 carries all of its great features and builds on them. The quick access user settings concept is a great way to have the camera set up for different situations, it's also a good way to work around things you may see as limitations (programming one user setting for movie clips for example). There is not other prosumer digital camera which provides as much control over the cameras internal image processing algorithms, and so Nikon should be praised for that (but again, this is nothing new to the Coolpix line).

The overall design and layout of the camera is good, if a little cramped. Build quality is good but not the best I've seen (small details let down the overall design). Then there are the funny little niggles, some of which have been around since the Coolpix 990 and some of which have cropped up in this camera. Lets hope at least some of these (notably Speedlight issues) can be addressed by a firmware update.

But again, here is another well specified and well featured Coolpix with an average lens. Rather surprising from a company which makes its own lens and has such good 35mm glass. The lens proved to be soft in certain circumstances, plagued with chromatic aberrations, slow (max. aperture) and with a limited zoom (compared to the competition). This was probably the primary reason for the 5000's lacking resolution, but image quality problems were also compounded by the clearly visible highlight clipping which really does leave some images with a 'video camera' look.

If you're looking for a compact high megapixel digital camera with an extensive feature set and manual control some cameras can only dream of then the Coolpix 5000 is definitely something that should be on your radar. But look out Nikon, those manufacturers which used to be a distant dot in your rear view mirror are now overtaking you. Try harder.

Recommended
(but size up the competition)

So which one should I buy? A question I get asked several times a day, and I wouldn't like to say. In a new addition to my reviews (after the amount of feedback I normally get) I've added a link to a specific forum in which you can discuss the review or ask me specific questions which I've not answered in these pages.

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