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Manual record menu (M-REC Menu)

Pressing the MENU button while in M-REC mode displays the record menu over the live preview, this totally new layout features three tabbed pages of settings. In this mode you can still operate the zoom, however half-pressing the shutter release (or pressing the MENU button) will cancel menu mode.

Most menu options can be scrolled through using the command dial (as seen here, white balance), pressing the Multi selector to the right will expand the menu with full text descriptions. All menus are detailed below.

White Balance

Allows the selection of current white balance mode, pressing the right arrow selects the highlighted white balance, rolling the command wheel allows for fine tuning of white balance to be slightly colder (blue) or slightly warmer (red). Fine tuning in Fluorescent mode allows selection of fluorescent bulb type.

Metering

Selects current metering mode:
Matrix (256-segment matrix metering)
Spot (meters only a small central portion of the image as indicated on the LCD preview)
Center-Weighted (meters the entire frame but weights 80% to the central quarter)
Spot AF Area (spot meters only in the selected AF Area - works for manually or automatically selected AF areas).

I'm particularly happy to see a new metering mode on here which in combination with AF Area selection promises to make focusing and metering very flexible on the 990.

Continuous

Chooses one of five continuous shooting modes:
Single (single frame at a time)
Continuous (shoots as many full size shots as possible as quickly as possible - about 1.5fps, max 5 frames)
Multi-shot 16 (sixteen thumbnail images onto a full frame image)
VGA Sequence (640 x 480 at about 2fps, max 44 frames - NORMAL quality)
Ultra HS (320 x 240 at very high speed 30fps - each batch saved into its own directory on the CF card)
Movie (320 x 240 QuickTime Movie at 15fps, max 40 seconds)

Nikon, under pressure from other manufacturers have finally included a movie mode (albeit silent movies) now you can shoot 320 x 240 QuickTime movies. Ultra HS was first seen on the Coolpix 800 and can be useful for doing high speed capture (for example raindrops) for animation later.

Best-Shot Selection

Enables or disables Best-Shot Selection mode, in this mode the camera shoots continuously as long as the shutter release button is held down (for a maximum of 10 images) then selects the sharpest image and saves this to the CF card.

The flash cannot be used in conjunction with BSS.

Lens

Switches the camera into special modes depending on the optional lens attachment used. Each of these modes is intended to work with Nikon Coolpix lenses.

Details of these optional lenses can be found in the Body section of this review.

Note: for some reason only known to Nikon engineers using a lens converter choice disables the external flash trigger. The only option which will still enable the external flash trigger is Wide Adapter.

Image Adjustment

Enables in-camera post-processing filters which adjust the brightness and contrast of the image after it's taken but before it's written to the CF card.
Auto - Camera automatically chooses an image adjustment (hmmm.. dodgy ground)
More / Less Contrast - adjust contrast
Lighten / Darken Image - adjust brightness
Black & White mode - discard colour information and write image out as black and white (ignores white balance and digital zoom)

Not something I'd use regularly, I prefer to use the "digital darkroom" of my PC, however for users who wish to do as little post-processing as possible this can be a useful feature. I'm a little troubled by the "Auto" mode as there's little explanation in the manual as to HOW the camera decides what to do (I consider it similar to Auto Levels in Photoshop), so I prefer to leave Image Adjustment set to Normal.

Image Sharpening

Previously the 950 didn't allow control over the internal sharpening systems, the 990 now does allow you to control the amount of sharpening (if any) applied to images before they're written to the CF card.
Auto - Camera decides how much sharpening to apply (hmmm... again)
High - Alot of sharpening is applied
Normal - A similar amount of sharpening as found in the 950 is applied
Low - Less sharpening is applied
Off - No sharpening is applied (purists rejoice!)

Full control over the internal sharpening algorithms will be a welcome addition for the more professional photographers, those who prefer a fairly "raw" image out of the camera to be processed manually later on a PC.

User Setting

The user settings menu allows you to choose between three different "memories" of settings each memory contains the values of various settings (white balance, metering, continuous mode, BSS mode, lens, image adjustment and sharpening).

This feature can be useful for memorising particular settings for shooting in a particular environment or a style of shot, or if the camera is shared by up to three people.

Set 1 is the default for M-REC on power up.

Exposure Options

Exposure options allows you to set or clear the AE-Lock, this locks the exposure and white balance to the first of a sequence of shots (useful for shooting panoramas). Auto bracketing enables the automatic adjustment of exposure compensation across five shots (+0.7EV, +0.3EV, +/-0EV, -0.3EV, -0.7EV) this can be used in combination with Continuous the shots are taken in a row (batch of five).

EXP +/- contains the same setting / value as the exposure compensation available from the exposure compensation button on the body.

Focus Options

AF Area Mode controls the use of the five AF Area focus points, it can be set to Auto (camera picks the best focus point), Manual (focus point is selected using the Multi Selector) or Off (center focus only).

Autofocus Mode can be set to Continuous AF (camera continuously focuses) or Single AF (camera only focuses when you half-press the shutter release).

Focus Confirmation (sharpening of objects in LCD viewfinder which are in focus): MF, On, Off.

It's difficult to explain how useful the Focus Confirmation option is, put simply the camera applies a sharpening filter to the image displayed on the LCD viewfinder which causes parts of the image in focus to appear MUCH sharper than their surroundings (emphasizes the focus) which is extremely useful for confirming the focus and for manual focus mode.

Zoom Options

Digital Tele allows you to disable digital zoom (accessible by holding the tele button down for 2 seconds at full zoom).

Startup Position can be set to Last Position, Wide or Tele.

Fixed Aperture maintains the aperture at a value within 1/3 EV of the F number in effect before zooming. This is particularly useful in a studio flash environment where the F number must remain locked.

I can hear the cries of Hoorah! from 950 owners, yep you can now choose the Startup Position of the Zoom, it'll even store the Last Position and startup there. See, they do listen.

Speedlight (Flash) Options

Variable Power allows control over the output of the flash +/-2 EV in 0.3 EV steps. This is a good addition to the common flash wash-out problem found on most digicams.

Speedlight Control allows the internal flash to be turned off if an external flash is being used.

Reset

Reset does what it says, it resets all settings to default (record, setup and playback settings).

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Comments

Total comments: 2
Tord S Eriksson
By Tord S Eriksson (11 months ago)

Still in use by some ;-)!

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Ashley Pomeroy
By Ashley Pomeroy (11 months ago)

By coincidence I won one of these on eBay yesterday, with the original box n'ting. Then I popped over to DPReview to see how they covered it, and a day later your comment appeared!

It was the first digital camera I ever used. It'll be interesting to see how it's held up. I remember it ate batteries *but* I'm sure battery technology has moved on since then. I hope it reads 2gb cards, that's the smallest size I have.

Comment edited 48 seconds after posting
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Total comments: 2