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Design

The Coolpix 8400 doesn't look too dissimilar to the 5400 it replaces, it continues the simple square-front shape and offset mounted lens system. Two of the most noticeable changes are the slightly enlarged hand grip (with the new red Nikon 'fleck' near the top) and the pop-up flash which flicks up and out 90 degrees. More subtle than this is the lack of a viewfinder window and the addition of the Hybrid AF sensor to the right of the flash (from the front). Around the back we have a slight re-arrangement of controls as well as the shaping of the rear 'thumb grip'.

Construction

As you can see from the image below the case of the 8400 is made from two solid magnesium alloy moulds (one for the front, one for the rear).

Side by side

Below you can see the Coolpix 8400 between its 'big brother' the Coolpix 8800 and the current eight megapixel King (in our opinion) the Olympus C-8080 Wide Zoom. As you can see the 8400 is noticeably smaller than the 8080 who's size is mostly dictated by its fast F2.4 - F3.5 5x zoom lens. The table below the image shows the basic specifications, dimensions and weight for the current range of 'prosumer' eight megapixel digital cameras (as you can see the 8400 is the smallest and lightest).

Dimensions and weight compared

Camera Specifications Dimensions
Weight (inc.
batt & CF)
Nikon Coolpix 8400 8 mp, 3.5x zoom 113 x 82 x 75 mm 480 g
Nikon Coolpix 8700 8 mp, 8x zoom 113 x 78 x 105 mm 512 g
Canon PowerShot Pro1 8 mp, 7x zoom 118 x 72 x 90 mm 640 g
Minolta DiMAGE A2 8 mp, 7x zoom AS 117 x 85 x 114 mm 654 g
Nikon Coolpix 8800 8 mp, 10x zoom VR 116 x 85 x 121 mm 690 g
Olympus C-8080 WZ 8 mp, 5x zoom 124 x 85 x 99 mm 724 g
Sony DSC-F828 8 mp, 7x zoom 134 x 91 x 156 mm 906 g

In your hand

The Coolpix 8400 has a nicely shaped front grip with plenty of depth and a soft rubber coating, around the back the sculpting of the thumb grip is also just right and the combination provides a nice stable platform. The 8400 is the lightest eight megapixel so far and feels it too.

Control Panel display

On the top of the 8400 is the "Control Panel" LCD display which provides a range of information about current exposure mode, quality settings, aperture / shutter speed, remaining frames and other camera functions. The Control Panel has a green backlight which comes on for approximately eight seconds after pressing the backlight button.

LCD Monitor

The Coolpix 8400 has a larger 1.8" LCD monitor (compared to the Coolpix 5400) which is mounted in a flip-out and twist hinge system. The hinge allows for a wide range of freedom for the monitor which is very useful for macro, self-portrait, waist level and overhead shooting. The screen is bright and clear with a good anti-reflective coating, it also appears to be being driven at a high refresh rate which gives it a very fast 'video camera like' response. Kudos Nikon.

Electronic Viewfinder

The 8400 has a 0.44" 235,000 LCD electronic viewfinder. This appears to be the same unit used on the 8700 and on many other digital cameras. The view is sharp, detailed and smooth. As with most viewfinders it's less than ideal in low light situations. The EVF automatically comes on when the LCD is folded closed against the camera body, with the LCD visible you can switch to the EVF by pressing the small display button to the right of the eyepiece.

Battery Compartment

The 8400's battery compartment is built into the camera's hand grip, the door fits flush to the base of the camera and is held closed by sprung sliding clip. The 8400 uses Nikon's new EN-EL7 Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery (more below). In addition the 8400 is compatible with the new MB-CP10 portrait grip / battery pack which attaches to the bottom of the camera.

Battery & Charger

As noted above the 8400 uses the new EN-EL7 Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery which provides 1100 mAh at 7.4 V (8.1 Wh). It is charged in the provided MH-56 battery charger, according to the 8400's manual it should take around two and a half hours for a full charge (from flat).
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