Compared to...

Minolta were the first on the five megapixel scene with the DiMAGE 7, closely followed by Sony with the DSC-F707 and Olympus with the E-20. For comparison purposes I have gathered an E-20 and a DSC-F707. Probably the most significant difference between these three cameras is in size and weight, and in the case of the E-20 in price. (Note, we have not deliberately excluded the DiMAGE 7, you should read its review in comparison to the results below).

The table below provides a quick side-by-side comparison of features and specifications between each of the cameras. Items which are notably better than the other two are highlighted in green, those which are notably worse (or not as good) as the other two are highlighted in red.

Features / Specifications comparison

  Better than the competition   Worse than the competition

For anyone who's confused the highlighting of what I think is 'better' or 'worse' is my own personal opinion, your milage may vary.

  Nikon Coolpix 5000 Olympus E-20 Sony DSC-F707
Street price US$ 1,000 US$ 1,900 US$ 1,000
Body Metal alloy Metal alloy Metal alloy
Body design Compact with flip-out LCD SLR-like with tilting LCD Split body, oversized lens
Ergonomics Good, good hand grip Excellent, just like an SLR Odd at first but better with time
Lens zoom 3x optical, 28 - 85 mm 4x optical, 35 - 140 mm 5x optical, 38 - 190 mm
Lens aperture F2.8 - F4.8 F2.0 - F2.4 F2.0 - F2.4
Lens thread 28 / 46 mm with adapter 62 mm 58 mm
CCD 2/3" 5.2 megapixel 2/3" 5.2 megapixel 2/3" 5.2 megapixel
Max resolution 2560 x 1920 2560 x 1920 2560 x 1920
Aspect ratio 4:3 or 3:2 4:3 4:3 or 3:2
1600 x 1200
1280 x 960
1024 x 768
640 x 480
1792 x 1344
1280 x 960
1024 x 768
640 x 480
2048 x 1536
1280 x 960
640 x 480
JPEG modes Fine, Normal, Basic SHQ, HQ, SQ (programmable) Fine, Standard
Digital Zoom Up to x4.0 in x0.2 steps None Up to x2.0 (smooth steps)
Sensitivity Auto, ISO 100, 200, 400, 800 Auto, ISO 80, 160, 320 Auto, ISO 100, 200, 400
AF mode Single, Continuous Single Single
AF illumination lamp No Yes (IR) Yes (laser)
AF focus areas 5 auto/manual selectable 1 1
AF distance Normal: 50 cm
Macro: 2 cm
Normal: 60 cm
Macro: 20 cm
Normal: 50 cm
Macro: 2 cm
AF / MF confirmation Yes, clearly visible None Magnified during MF
Auto bracketing Yes, 3/5 images, +/-1 EV Yes, 3 images, +/-1 EV Yes, 3 images, +/-1 EV
WB auto bracket Yes No No
WB fine tuning Yes No No
WB manual preset Yes, menu option Yes, dedicated button Yes, dedicated button
Noise reduction Yes, menu option Yes, menu option Yes, automatic
Exposure modes C.Auto
C.1-3: P, AP, SP, Man
Auto, P, AP, SP, Man Auto, P, AP, SP, Man, 3 scene modes
Metering • 256 segment
• Center-weighted Avg.
• Spot
• Spot AF area
• Digital ESP
• Center-weighted Avg.
• Spot
• Multi-pattern (49 segment)
• Center-Weighted Average
• Spot
AE Lock Yes, front AF-L / AE-L button Yes, button on rear Yes, button on lens barrel
AE compensation +/-2 EV in 0.3 EV steps +/-2 EV in 0.3 EV steps +/-2 EV in 0.3 EV steps
Shutter speed 8 - 1/4000 sec (plus Bulb)
(1/4000 sec only @ F2.8)
60 - 1/640 sec
(up to 1/18000 sec in PS mode)
30 - 1/1000 sec
Shutter priority 14 steps IS: 31 steps
PS: 39 steps
46 steps
Aperture priority Wide: 10 steps
Tele: 5 steps
Wide: 16 steps
Tele: 14 steps
Wide: 13 steps
Tele: 12 steps
3 fps, max 3 frames
1.5 fps, max 8 frames
3.6 fps, max 4 frames 3 fps, max 3 frames
Record review Yes, Quick Review button Yes, double-press display button Yes, press 4-way controller to the left
Settings Contrast, Saturation, Sharpening Contrast, Sharpening Sharpening
Movie clips
15 fps - max 60 secs (w audio) None 16 fps - max 15 secs (w audio)
8 fps unlimited (w audio)
User memories 3, selectable 1 1
Self timer 3 or 10 secs 10 secs or IR remote 10 secs
Remote control Optional wired accessory Supplied IR remote Optional wired accessory
LCD 1.8" Flip-Out & twist
110,000 pixels
1.8" Tilt-Out
118,000 pixels
1.8" Fixed
123,000 pixels
Viewfinder Optical TTL Optical EVF
Play magnification Up to 6.0x Up to 4.0x Up to 5.0x
Flash Internal Manual Pop-up Automatic Pop-up
Flash range 3 m (9.8 ft) 8.9 m (28 ft) 5 m (16.4 ft)
External flash Hot-shoe Hot-shoe Sync Terminal
Misc. BSS, Clear Image mode IS/PS mode NightShot mode
Power Nikon EN-EL1 Lithium-Ion 4 x AA batteries Sony NP-FM50 Lithium-Ion
Battery power 4.8 Wh (2 hrs 32 mins) 7.7 Wh (2 hrs 48 mins) 8.6 Wh (4 hrs 20 mins)
Batt/Charger Supplied Not Supplied Supplied
AC adapter Optional Optional Supplied (Charger)
Storage Compact Flash Type I or II Compact Flash Type I or II
Memory Stick
Storage supplied 32 MB 16 MB 16 MB
Microdrive supported Yes, officially Yes, officially N/A
Weight inc battery 414 g (14.6 oz) 1170 g (2.6 lb) 667 g (1.5 lb)
(inc. Grip)
102 x 82 x 68 mm
(4.0 x 3.2 x 2.7 in)
128 x 103 x 161 mm
(5.1 x 4.1 x 6.3 in)
120 x 67 x 148 mm
(4.7 x 2.6 x 5.8 in)
Volume *2 569 cm3 2123 cm3 1190 cm3
Startup speed Average (6 sec) Average (6 sec) Fast (2.6 sec)
Operation speed Fast Slow Very Fast

As you can see despite being largely based on the Coolpix 995 engine the 5000 can still hold its ground from a specifications and features point of view. The Coolpix feature set has always been the envy of other manufacturers (who are catching up) and one of the reasons consumers choose a Coolpix over others. Olympus seem to be the odd man out in the comparison above, big, bulky, expensive and relatively slow the E-20 just can't keep up with the lighter, cheaper and better featured Nikon and Sony.

Image Quality Comparison: Outdoors (Boat Scene)

This first comparison was taken from a tripod with as near as possible identical settings for each camera. Options such as White Balance were set to Automatic, as was Sharpening on the Coolpix 5000. Each of the crops shown below the thumbnail are of a 160 x 160 area of the image at 100%. (Note: New review format, all the crops are pasted together as one image - loads quicker).

Nikon Coolpix 5000 Olympus E-20 Sony DSC-F707
ISO 100, F5.2, 1/361 sec ISO 80, F5.6, 1/200 sec ISO 100, F5.6, 1/400 sec

There are several things which stand out about this comparison:

  • The Sony DSC-F707 exhibits visibly more resolution, especially for distant objects (clearly a good lens in combination with good image processing)
  • The Sony DSC-F707 lens is sharp right up to the edges (unlike the Coolpix 5000)
  • The Olympus E-20 has the best white balance closely followed by the Nikon Coolpix 5000
  • The Nikon Coolpix 5000 has clipped highlights (turned them into pure white - RGB 255,255,255) which the other cameras have maintained as detail (the Sony DSC-F707 more so than the Olympus E-20)
  • Colour balance is quite similar between the three cameras (the Nikon is the only camera which can have its colour saturation adjusted)