Nikon Coolpix 5900 review

Started May 2, 2005 | User reviews thread
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JohnEwing Junior Member • Posts: 31
Nikon Coolpix 5900 review

I bought the 5900 as a back-pocket camera for use when cycling. Having used a Canon Ixus 300 for this up to now, the differences are, to put it mildly, vast - my shirt pocket no longer rubs on the back wheel, for one (I exaggerate, but that's how it felt) and the pictures don't look as if they were painted by Van Gogh. What else do I like?

- the flexibility. My other camera is a D70, which allows an old SLR freak to indulge all his "it's-all-about-speeds-and-apertures-stupid" fixations. The 5900 doesn't let you get near these, but it offers so much in exchange that even I don't mind not being able to twiddle a speed dial. Bracketting is excellent, so is backlight compensation, the metering is even similar to that on the D70! And I love the casual manner in which the manual remarks that the matrix metering "compares measurements from various areas in the frame with a library of typical images", as if this were a trivial accomplishment that any fool could manage.

- the image quality. I was looking at a Pentax S50 as a possible alternative, but I found the test images on various review sites to be mushy - soft to the point of vagueness, especially in the corners. All the other user reviews of the 5900 praised image quality, which tipped the balance for me: I'm glad to say they're correct.

- the ease of control. When you've just done a 12% climb and the view takes what's left of your breath away, the last thing you want is wee twiddly doodahs for your trembling fingers to fumble. 120 km into a ride, I found that I could use the top dial with ease, and the pics were just as good as they were in the lounge at home. The exposure comp is a bit too fiddly, though, particularly the 2-second timeout, but if you preset the "Scene" option to "Backlight compensation" this covers the most common exp.comp situation.

- auto bracketing, spot metering, appearance and logical arrangement of menus - I could use most of them without looking at the (excellent) manual. And nice cheap SD cards - I've always used CF up until now, but pricewise there is not much difference, and they make for a much smaller camera.

In sum, I am delighted - tickled pink, in fact. Highly recommended. Unless, of course, you want to spring for the 7900 with the 7.1 Mp sensor. I would have, but I didn't want to embarrass the D70...


- the USB connector strikes me as rather fragile. I don't know it it's a new standard or a Nikon effort, but that tiny plug gives me the willies. It's a crying shame it's not the same as the D70 plug, which is definitiely an industry standard - if it were I wouldn't have to swap round, and I would have a backup if this one got itchy feet.

- the cover of the USB connector is a pesky little thing that looks as if it could break off in a high wind. It also tends to get caught under the pesky little plug.

- the siting of the "playback" button, which falls very close to where your right thumb goes when you take a pic. OK, you get used to it pretty quickly, but in an "excuse me, could you take a pic of us?" situation you have to be careful to explain it every time - boring.

- viewfinder coverage is not the greatest I've seen, but again, you can get used to it.

 JohnEwing's gear list:JohnEwing's gear list
Olympus E-100 RS Fujifilm FinePix X100 Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 Sony RX100 Nikon 1 V1 +12 more
Nikon Coolpix 5900
5 megapixels • 2 screen • 38 – 114 mm (3×)
Announced: Feb 16, 2005
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