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Conclusion - Pros

  • Unique 24 mm wide-angle 3.5x zoom lens
  • Good image quality, not quite as detailed as the best
  • Excellent automatic white balance
  • Good macro coverage, although perhaps soft corners & distortion
  • Virtually no purple fringing, even when pushed
  • Good ergonomics, sticky rubber on hand grip
  • Excellent build quality, full metal body
  • Smallest and lightest eight megapixel prosumer
  • Timed night exposures of up to 10 minutes
  • Timelapse feature
  • Wide range of accessories available
  • Programmable FUNC button and initial menu
  • Some unique features (Exposure BSS etc.)
  • Excellent Nikon Matrix metering
  • Framing assist lines option on live view
  • Tilt & Twist LCD monitor
  • High resolution electronic viewfinder
  • Quick playback zoom
  • USB 2.0 (Hi-Speed) connectivity
  • Supplied IR remote control
  • Flash hot-shoe supports i-TTL and flash zoom

Conclusion - Cons

  • Slower than expected startup time
  • Limited latitude of image parameter adjustment
  • No record review histogram
  • No CF card included
  • AF Assist lamp not effective, can not be disabled manually
  • Visible noise from ISO 100 upwards, 7mp CCD cleaner
  • Zoom lever not proportional
  • Lens slow at telephoto (F4.9)
  • PictureProject RAW conversion crashes
  • Slightly clunky menu system
  • Play on mode dial, not shooting priority 'single button'

Overall conclusion

The Coolpix 8400's unique lens makes it an interesting beast, it offers a slightly wider field of view (about 10° more; 72° horizontally at 24 mm equiv.) than other prosumer eight megapixel digital cameras which start at 28 mm equiv. That extra 10° can be especially useful if you shoot a lot of architecture, landscapes, real estate etc. At the other end of zoom however it has the least telephoto of any current eight megapixel, its nearest competitor, the Olympus C-8080 WZ offers 28 - 140 mm equiv. (compared to the 8400's 24 - 85 mm equiv.)

From a distortion and artifacts point of view the 8400's lens performed well, fairly low distortion and essentially no detectable purple fringing. However when compared to other prosumer cameras it wasn't quite as sharp at the edges or corners of the frame (center of frame was about the same). Performance wise it's slightly quicker than the 8700 on which it is based, however it can't be seen as a giant leap forward. Every once in a while one camera stands out and sets a trend, the Olympus C-8080 Wide Zoom is one such camera, it's fast, well built and has excellent image quality. In addition the new seven megapixel digital cameras are delivering excellent results. With such tough competition the 8400 had a lot to do, and it didn't quite make it.

All that said I still have no problem recommending this camera to those who need an extra wide angle compact prosumer digital camera with eight megapixels.

Highly Recommended
Detail
Rating (out of 10)
Construction 8.5
Features 8
Image quality 8.5
Lens / CCD combination 8
Ease of use 8
Value for money 7

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