Conclusion - Pros

  • Excellent metering, great neutral color response, above average resolution
  • Control over internal processing algorithm parameters: contrast, saturation, sharpness
  • Relatively low ISO 100 noise
  • Very clever 'Quick Response' shutter release mode
  • Excellent build quality, full metal case
  • Smaller body than you think, big 8x lens fully retracts into camera
  • Good macro capability considering the lens zoom range
  • Fast operation, good shot to shot times (especially in Quick Response mode)
  • Three user memories (although current firmware has a bug)
  • Great control over 'photographic' features such as selection of AF point
  • Spot metering can be tied to AF point
  • Fast wide angle auto focus, slower at telephoto
  • Unique focus confirmation (LCD live view sharpening) option
  • Fine-tunable white balance
  • Detailed exposure information available in playback mode (roll the command dial)
  • Re-programmable FUNC button (user set / focus / flash / white balance / metering)
  • Noise Reduction mode for clean long exposures
  • Illuminated top LCD status panel
  • New LCD is smaller but sharper and brighter with anti-reflective coating
  • Love it or hate it the 5700's EVF is one of the best around
  • USB mass storage device connectivity

Conclusion - Cons

  • Some lens barrel distortion at wide angle and some pincushion distortion at telephoto
  • Average startup times (due to the extending lens)
  • Video camera like clipping of highlights ('video camera' look to some images)
  • Magenta and Yellow Bayer artifacts sometimes visible
  • Poor low light Auto Focus and no AF assist lamp
  • Average battery life
  • Manual focus mode is now missing a distance readout
  • Command dial - two clicks for outside camera settings, one click in menus - confusing
  • Maximum 8 second camera timed long exposure (Bulb offers up to 5 minutes)
  • Limited range of apertures and shutter speeds available for manual exposures
  • Looses Coolpix 5000's popular 28 mm wide angle
  • Histogram still not implemented in record review mode
  • Weird 'Clear Image Mode' noise reduction seems to worsen image quality
  • Long write time for RAW files (longer than the larger TIFF files)
  • No support for external Speedlight features such as AF assist or flash zoom

Overall conclusion

Here's my rating of the Nikon Coolpix 5700: (5 megapixel prosumer)

Detail Rating (out of 10)
Construction 9
Features 9
Image quality 8.5
Lens / CCD combination 8.5
Ease of use 8
Value for money 8

With its eight times optical zoom the 5700 becomes an extremely practical 'shoot anything' camera. Image quality is excellent, with that great matrix metering, good tonal balance and colour (accurate and vivid without blowing out colours) plus above average resolution. Purple fringing is down but the overall look of the image is still very 'Coolpix'. Noise levels are good, especially when compared to other five megapixel digital cameras (as indicate by our comparison to the Minolta DiMAGE 7i).

Nikon take a slightly different approach to sharpening than other manufacturers, take a look at the resolution chart of the 5700 and note how much more clean and smooth diagonals and curves are. This is the same conservative sharpening and 'film like' image processing which is a trademark of Coolpix images. The few image quality details we picked up on; barrel distortion, highlight clipping and Bayer artifacts aren't the kinds of problems which affect every day shooting and won't spoil your overall enjoyment of the 5700's image quality.

Camera design and control layout is also good, if a little overbearing at first. The new lens barrel control buttons may take a bit of getting used to, but as soon as you do they become second nature. The flip-out LCD makes for shooting from all sorts of angles as well as waist level and low-to-the-ground effects. The electronic viewfinder is also probably one of the best around, although it still can't deliver an image at very low light levels. The 5700 is also smaller and lighter than you would think.

Just like other prosumer Coolpix digital cameras another of the 5700's strengths is in its excellent flexibility and manual control, there's almost nothing you can't tweak or change which means getting the camera set up to your personal taste is fairly easy. The lens turned out to be better than I'd expected, sharp even up to its maximum telephoto. I'm sure there will be some users who will miss the Coolpix 5000's 28 mm wide angle (adding wide angle to the 5700 is possible but makes it quite bulky).

Price could be an issue, especially with the six megapixel D-SLR's at around $2000. However, consider that the 5700 has a high quality ultra-compact 8x optical zoom lens built into the camera and you'll soon see that you'd have to spend quite a bit more on top of the price of a D-SLR to get that zoom range and probably a bag to carry it all in.

Highly Recommended

So which one should I buy? A question I get asked several times a day, and I wouldn't like to say. In a new addition to my reviews (after the amount of feedback I normally get) I've added a link to a specific forum in which you can discuss the review or ask me specific questions which I've not answered in these pages.

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