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Design

All round view (click for larger image)

Previous owners of the 900s will be instantly familiar with the swivel design. At first glance it appears that very ilttle has changed since the old 900s, however the construction of this camera is significantly improved. Nikon have listened, to the complaints, to the comments and to the longing of consumer digital photographers to be taken seriously.

The 950 is made of a magnesium alloy casing which is not only strong and solid feeling (and cold to the touch) but gives the camera a really professional look. Joins between body sections are tighter and the whole camera just feels better put together. And gone is the flimsy and prone to failure zoom button replaced with two separate but much more solid buttons.

Nikon have improved the swivel joint not only does it appear to be of larger diameter, it's much stiffer than the previous type but still manages to have some natural flexibility (as though you're pushing against a very stiff rubber grommit), this will probably improve the strength of the joint by soaking up jolts and knocks between the main body half and lens half.

The all new rubber grip (click for larger image)

One other welcome addition to the case is the new rubberised finger grip on the front of the hand grip, something which is starting to become a representitive mark of the latest line of Nikon cameras (the red rubber streak). It's amazing the difference this makes to holding the camera but it can now be happily carried in one hand with a feeling of complete security.

You'll also notice the new command wheel, it is one of the most important controllers on the whole camera as it is used in conjunction with the holding down of other buttons to change settings such as image quality, flash modes, picture modes, menu options, ISO etc. It is also responsible for manual focus (more later).

I personally found it a little fiddly to use at first (as it is recessed) and would have preferred to see it on the back below the zoom controls and "under my thumb".

CP950 Flat (click for larger image)

From this "top down" (actually lying down) view you can see the body is much more ergonomically shaped than the previous 900s and feels very comfortable in your hands, with the right hand doing most of the work and the left hand steadying the camera during shooting (it's a bit like holding a sandwich in your left hand and an ice cream cone in your right ;). I would have liked to have seen one or two controls make their way over to the left hand portion (w/t zoom control?) as the right hand can feel a little "overloaded" with controls at times (and there are alot of controls on this camera).

Rear LCD Display

LCD (click for larger image)
(Camera in playback mode)

The LCD is a 2" 130,000 pixel unit which is clean clear and gives a very "smooth" picture (compared to other LCD's which have a noticeable hexagonal grid pattern). It is however very difficult to use in bright light situtations (that's what the viewfinder is there for).

Often I found that the image review looked much better than the preview image shown before I took the shot, especially as regards white balance. Once you get used to this you just confidently shoot but it can be slightly off-putting at first. LCD referesh rate is good, although I couldn't measure it exactly it appeared to be around 15-20fps.

A constant display of the various camera modes, estimated free "frames" and exposure information is shown on the LCD.

This (at last!) is a great boon to those photographers who are actually interested in what shutter speed and aperture the camera is operating at (and it literally updates instantly).


Optical Viewfinder

Viewfinder (click for larger view)

The viewfinder is pretty much the same as the one previously found in the 900s and many other digicams (as will be the case until we get true TTL viewfinders).

There is a dioptric adjuster on the bottom of the case directly below the viewfinder. My pet hate about this adjuster is that it's quite free and easy to move (it really should be quite stiff so as not to be moved by brushing it) and it has no "dead zero" indicator or notch.

This image indicates the view through the viewfinder, it's painted on which means the center markers don't change if you switch metering / macro modes. The lines on the left hand side indicate the left edge of the image when taking shots close-up (caused by the parallax error because the viewfinder is slightly left of the main lens).
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