Nikon Coolpix 990 (click for larger image)Probably one of the most eagerly expected digital cameras of 2000. At last we've got a production Coolpix 990 in house, it's got version 1.0 firmware and is fresh off the production line (Ser no. 5000070). Here's a quick first-look article and some sample images which I'm sure you're all dying to see.

Note: The European and Asian models have a red stripe on the hand grip, US models have blueish/purple.

First Look

Our production model Coolpix 990 arrived today, packed in its box as you'd expect to see it on the shelf. First impressions on handling the camera are that it's slightly thicker than the 950, the hand grip is defintely bigger (batteries are orientated differently too), but thanks to the wrap-around rubber on the grip it feels more stable. The addition of a thumb recess on the back (above the 4-way cursor control) improves grip. The 990 also feels lighter than the 950.

Nikon Coolpix 990 front & back (click for larger image)

At last the CF card slot is in the side of the camera.. using it on a tripod is easy (as long as you don't need to change the batteries, and of course as we know the tripod mount has been vastly improved with a rubber foot and full metal socket.

The swivel has defintely been improved, it not only feels firmer but clicks into each 90 degree lock with much more purpose. Controls are better laid out with the control wheel now moved to the rear of the camera changing those settings becomes much easier. The LCD is smaller than on the 950 (1.8" compared to the 950's 2") but is adequate, reflection from the plastic cover over the screen is still a problem but the LCD does seem brighter in daylight.

The menu system on the 990 is much improved, having been designed to be used without obscuring the live preview, operation is also faster, flicking through the menus is much quicker than the 950 and image process, playback zoom and scrolling also feels faster.

The 990 hasn't lost the 950's macro abilities either, I haven't had a good change yet to measure it precicesly but I'd say it's equally able to get up close as the 950.

Onward to Image Quality, which seems very good.. I haven't had a good chance to test the 990 as the weather here in London is terrible.. A half hour bright patch this afternoon allowed me to dash out and take a few snaps which you'll find below.

Initial impressions are very, very good. I'm about 60% through reviewing the Casio QV-3000EX which I hope to post before the weekend. All things being equal I should get a full in-depth Coolpix 990 review up before next weekend (15th April).

Sample Images

All images below were shot at ISO 100, FINE quality, there are half-sized (1024 x 768) and full-size originals (2048 x 1536) available below each image. Images are (c)2000 Phil Askey and may not be used without permission.

Half-Size 299KB
Original 1,141KB
1/444s, F7.0
Half-Size 359KB
Original 1,020KB
1/334s, F7.0
Half-Size 322KB
Original 1,065KB
1/230s, F7.0
Half-Size 372KB
Original 1,004KB
1/229s, F6.7
Half-Size 372KB
Original 1,055KB
1/247s, F5.5
Half-Size 401KB
Original 1,047KB
1/418s, F7.0
Half-Size 314KB
Original 1,028KB
1/308s, F7.0
Half-Size 231KB
Original 1,173KB
1/8s, F7.2 (AP)