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Auto Bracketing

Automatic bracketing is the exposure of an odd number of frames, typically three or five, over and under exposed by equal steps to enable the photographer to select the best exposed frame at a later time. The 995 offers six different combinations of 3 or 5 exposures at 0.3, 0.7 or 1.0 EV steps. The sample below was shot using the 3, +/-0.7 option.

+0.7 EV 0.0 EV -0.7 EV

Peter iNova has a neat trick on how to squeeze more dynamic range out of a scene using exposure bracketing. Click here.


White Balance Bracketing

The 995 has a new and (potentially) useful feature, when White Balance bracketing is enabled the camera saves three images for every one shot taken, the first with a slightly warmer white balance (towards red), the second the normal white balance shot and the third with a slightly cooler white balance (towards blue). This unique feature is extremely useful if you're not sure (or can't tell from the LCD) if the current white balance is exactly right, you can then select the image you deem most accurate once the images are loaded onto your computer.

Slightly warmer WB
White patch: (R G B)
78% 75% 65%
Normal WB
White patch: (R G B)
76% 75% 68%
Slightly cooler WB
White patch: (R G B)
73% 76% 70%

NOTES: White balance bracketing cannot be used in AE Lock, continuous or BSS modes. It takes three times longer to write each shot away with WB bracketing enabled (obviously).


White Balance Fine Tuning

The 995 inherits a great feature from the 990 and D1 (and something we've not, to my dismay, seen on any other brand digital camera), that is the ability to fine tune the camera's pre-programmed white balance settings (Fine, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Cloudy, Flash) by up three levels positive (cooler; bluer) or negative (warmer; redder)

 
Incandescent +3 Incandescent +2  
Incandescent +1 Incandescent 0 Incandescent -1
 
  Incandescent -2 Incandescent -3

A few people have commented that this feature isn't useful for them, well for me at least it is. It allows me to set up the pre-programmed white balances to be most closely matched to the lighting I use every day, for instance Incandescent +3 is virtually spot on for use with my studio lights without their dichroic filters.


Aperture Priority (DOF control)

Aperture priority is where you designate the aperture and the camera calculates the best shutter speed. Used properly Aperture Priority can be invaluable as it has a direct effect on depth of field (the distance in front and behind the focal point which will be in focus when taking the shot). The 995 allows the selection of the following apertures in aperture priority mode:

  • Wide: F2.6, F3.0, F3.3, F3.7, F4.2, F4.7, F5.3, F6.0, F6.7, F7.5
  • Tele: F5.1, F5.8, F6.5, F7.3, F8.2, F9.2, F10.3

The sample below is a simple demonstration of how aperture can effect depth of field.

1/27 s, F3.3, narrow DOF
1/3s, F9.3, larger DOF


Macro Focus

The previous "9 series" Coolpix cameras are well known in the digital photography world as being the kings of macro, the ultra close 2 cm focus distance at middle-position zoom combined with the relatively large depth of field offered by digital camera's small focal lengths resulted some stunning macro shots you'd be hard pressed to reproduce using 35mm SLR equipment. The 995's new 4x optical zoom lens does not let the series down, it too has a minimum focus distance of 2 cm (in macro focus mode) and feature where the macro indicator (on the LCD monitor) turns yellow at the optimum zoom distance.

We measured the minimum possible frame coverage as 19 mm (0.7 in) which is identical to the performance of the 990.


Manual Focus

The 995 provides 50 manual focus positions from 2 cm (0.8 in) to Infinity. Selecting the correct focus position is made easy by the excellent focus confirmation feature which sharpens the focus position on the LCD monitor to make it more obvious, a sort of digital ground glass effect. In the sample below we have chosen to focus on the beginning of the ruler on the first shot and the yellow crayon on the second.


Low Light Focus

In a new addition to our reviews we'll now be measuring the minimum amount of light under which the camera can still focus. The focus target is our lens distortion test chart (shown here on the right), camera is positioned exactly 2 m (6.6 ft) away. Light levels are gradually dropped until the camera can no longer focus.

This test target is the optimum type of subject for most "contrast detect" AF systems (as it has a vertical line at its center), if the subject were less easy to focus upon then you would need more light.

* At any ISO sensitivity

It really is a shame Nikon didn't put an AF assist lamp on the 995, there must now be some room in the lens portion since the repositioning of the flash. By contrast Canon's G1, which has an AF assist lamp, can focus accurately up to approx. 6 m (20 ft) in complete darkness.


Digital Zoom

Readers of my reviews will know I'm not a huge fan of digital zoom as it's often a badly implemented and seldom used (by owners) marketing "ploy" to sell cameras which don't have an optical zoom. The 995 does indeed have optical zoom, and a range of digital zooms which can be used on top of the standard 4x optical zoom. They are however simply cropping (selecting the mid part of the image) and sampling-up, the only advantage in doing digital zoom inside the camera is (a) if you don't have any photo software to magnify (and interpolate) the image or (b) to digitally zoom without zooming the JPEG artifacts. Digital zoom positions available:

  • x1.2, x1.4, x1.6, x1.8, x2.0, x2.2, x2.4, x2.6, x2.8, x3.0, x3.2, x3.4, x3.6, x3.8, x4.0

The samples below are 100% crops of an image shot at different levels of digital zoom.

Full optical zoom (152mm equiv.)
Full optical zoom (152mm equiv.) plus 2x digital zoom
Full optical zoom (152mm equiv.) plus 4x digital zoom

Digital Zoom can be useful when shooting at lower resolutions: Shooting XGA images, any digital zoom magnification factor less than 2.0X will benefit the shot without causing enlarged pixels. And at VGA you can use a digital enlargement of up to 3.2X while maintaining the original pixel quality or better. It's only when the ratio of digital zoom exceeds the ratio of the smaller format frame compared to the full frame that digital zoom produces less-detailed results.

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