White Balance

As we soon discovered the Coolpix 4500's Auto white balance was best used under natural light, I was slightly disappointed to see the very strong pink/yellow cast to incandescent shots taken with Auto white balance, this is a problem the Coolpix 995 also suffered from. Manual preset white balance was very good and produced virtually identical results under a variety of light sources.

Outdoors, Auto Outdoors, Sunny (or Cloudy) Outdoors, Manual
Incandescent, Auto Incandescent, Incandescent Incandescent, Manual
Fluorescent, Auto Fluorescent, Fluorescent Fluorescent, Manual

White Balance fine tuning

White Balance fine tuning is a feature which has been available on prosumer level Coolpix digital cameras and Nikon D-SLR's for some time. It allows you to tune the built-in white balance presets by up to 3 levels plus (cooler - blue) or minus (warmer - red) the default. In the example below you can see that under an Incandescent studio lamp the Incandescent +3 setting produces a near perfect color response.

Incandescent WB +3 Incandescent WB +0 Incandescent WB -3

Macro Focus

As we've come to expect of Nikon's split bodied Coolpix range the 4500's macro capabilities go way beyond any other prosumer digital camera. Engage macro mode and zoom into the macro 'sweet spot' at about half zoom (indicated by the macro icon turning yellow). You can now focus as close as 1 cm from the subject and that produces an amazing frame coverage of just 17 mm (2/3 in). Better still because you're at half zoom you'll get no distortion and very little corner softness. Absolutely superb.

Macro with the SL-1 Coollight

In addition to the 4500's existing macro capability Nikon has launched the SL-1 Coollight macro light, this screws directly onto the 4500's lens thread and illuminates the subject with a ring of white LED's. Useful for field use and flower photography it does have its limits, primarily it reduces the minimum focus distance (and thus magnification) and also produces highlights on reflective material.

Flash Performance

The Coolpix 4500's pop-up flash has a specified range of 1.6 m (5.25 ft) at wide angle and 3.0 m (9.8 ft) at telephoto. Our tests seem to support these figures. What this means is that if you intend to take group shots at wide angle you really should think of getting an external flash (see below). In our experience flash output was on the conservative side, luckily the 4500 does allow you to compensate flash power output by +/-2.0 EV in 0.3 EV steps.

The 4500 also features a flash sync terminal which connects to the dedicated SK-E900 flash bracket, on which you can mount SB-series Speedlights 80DX, 50DX, 30, 28DX, 28, 26, 25, 24, 22, and 22s. The sync terminal doesn't retrieve any information from the external speedlights nor does it zoom the flash head.

Skin tone test: Good colour, no cast, conservative metering and flash power. As noted above, a good exposure with some drop off in the bottom corners. Color patch test: Good exposure, well metered with good colour.

Night exposures / Noise reduction

The Coolpix 4500 features a noise reduction system which when enabled will automatically remove noise from images which have a shutter speed of 1/15 sec or slower. For long exposures this means a second 'dark frame' exposure immediately after the first shot. This dark frame is used to subtract hot pixel noises from the first exposure. The slowest available timed shutter speed is eight seconds, however you can take Bulb exposures up to five minutes (optional USB remote recommended).

The (early evening) samples below show the difference between an exposure with noise reduction turned off and with noise reduction turned on. As you can see Nikon's noise reduction system works well with no black 'pits' of missing image information and no leaking hot pixels.

ISO 100, 8 sec, F2.6, Noise Reduction Off
ISO 100, 8 sec, F2.6, Noise Reduction On