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Design

As you can see the Coolpix 5000 borrows more design hints from the 885 than previous prosumer Coolpix models. It introduces several new design features, some of which we've seen on other Coolpix cameras, some of which are completely new. From the front the camera looks almost square, with the lens sitting in the bottom right corner and the chunky hand grip on the left. Around the back is the very distinctive flip-out and twist LCD, up until now this design was solely the preserve of Canon's Pro70, Pro90IS, G1 and G2. Trying to keep with previous Coolpix design there are three buttons below (or above depending on orientation) the LCD, these relate to 'soft buttons' the function of which are shown on the LCD.

Unlike previous the twist-body Coolpix digital cameras the 5000 has an extending lens, this of course means a few things: Firstly you can't mount a filter directly on the end of the lens, secondly there will be a delay at startup while the lens extends and lastly the lens mechanism is less protected than the 'internal focusing' twist-body Coolpix cameras. It's also worth noting the D1 style neck strap eyelet's (more of this later).

Side by side

Here's the Coolpix 5000 flanked by two of the five megapixel competition, Olympus's E-20 and Sony's DSC-F707. As you can see the Coolpix 5000 is considerably smaller and also has the smallest lens (both in dimensions, diameter and zoom).

In your hand

The shots below should give you a better impression of the camera's compact dimensions. Thankfully Nikon haven't ignored ergonomics in the challenge of producing a small camera. The 5000's hand grip is arguably one of the nicest of any prosumer digital camera. It's deep enough to tuck even the longest fingers and is coated in grippy soft rubber. My major gripe here is not with the hand grip but with the location and type of the strap eyelet's.

On the side of the hand grip is a large D1 style eyelet, and while this may add to the 'professional look' of the camera it does get in the way, especially with the neck strap attached. A camera of this size doesn't really need a neck strap, it would have been better to use a smaller eyelet nearer to the top of the camera and supply a good thick wrist strap.

In your hand the 5000 is comfortable, well designed and well balanced. All of the major camera controls are within reach of your right hand and the small moulding hints on the metal body ensure a good grip. Because of the fact that the entire body is metal and that the battery is contained in the hand grip the left / right balance of the camera is very good, even with the LCD flipped out to the left.


LCD Monitor (rear)

The Coolpix 5000's flip-out and twist LCD is of identical design to that of Canon's Pro70, Pro90IS, G1 and G2. The actual LCD is 1.8" and has an anti-reflective coating (yay!). The LCD case and hinge cover is plastic. At the top (or bottom depending on orientation) are three 'soft button' which correspond to monitor, menu and quick view in record mode. By default the LCD would be folded in towards the body (and thus is protected), opening it outwards 180 degrees it can then be rotated through 180 degrees (until its facing forwards) or 90 degrees downwards. If you wish the screen can then be folded back on itself and 'clipped' into place just like a conventional digital camera LCD.

Side by side the G2's fold-out and twist LCD seems to be better constructed (although the 5000's hinge is stiffer). I was also uncomfortable with the 5000's three 'soft keys' which are difficult to use (you have to 'pinch' them) when the LCD is folded outwards (second image below).

What you can't see in these pictures is that there's a small speaker built into the LCD's hinge, this speaker is used for the playback of short video clips with an audio soundtrack. One item of note is that the LCD's vertical viewing angle is quite narrow, when folded back against the camera (last image above) it can appear either dark if viewed from 15 degrees 'above axis' or washed out if viewed from 15 degrees 'below axis' (or visa versa if flipped out).

LCD overlay (Record: Auto Func mode - A)

The diagram below indicates the maximum information overlaid in Auto exposure mode.

LCD overlay (Record: User Func mode - 1,2,3)

In addition to the information above the following diagram shows other information which may be overlaid in one of the User Function modes.

Reproduced with permission from Coolpix 5000 manual.

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