Review based on a Production Model Nikon Coolpix 990, Firmware V1.0
Probably the most eagerly anticipated digital cameras of 2000. Last year I made that statement of the Nikon Coolpix 950. This years Coolpix 9xx has already achieved the same cult status and it's not even yet available in the shops! Then why all the attention?
The Coolpix 900
Well, it does come from good breeding. The 9xx range started way back in 1998 with the Nikon Coolpix 900 (E900), soon to be followed by the updated 900s (E910) this was the first time we saw the swivel design and also opened peoples eyes as to what a digital camera was capable of. I admit my first (real) digital camera was a Nikon Coolpix 900s, soon to be followed by a Canon Pro 70.
The Coolpix 950
Last year came the 950 a completely re-engineered camera of a quality over and above what we'd seen in the 900. And it was well received by reviewers and owners alike, despite some shortcomings (chromatic aberrations and design-lame ergonomics) it soon became the de facto 2 megapixel digital camera, and in fact I still use it as my base comparison in reviews (stay tuned). Many other 2 megapixel digital cameras came, despite some very close competition (Olympus C-2000Z & C-2020Z) the Coolpix remained the favorite pro-sumer digital camera.
What does the "megapixel war" mean to the digital photographer? Back in November 1998 when I was shooting with my Coolpix 900s I was stunned by the image quality, looking back on it now our expectations have certainly come a long way in a short time. Now we expect as good-as (if not better than) scanned 35mm slides, the flexibility of a pro-SLR, small enough to carry everywhere and enough pixels to generate prints that can fill your wall.
In the Coolpix 9xx family it's easy to trace the increase in resolution over time:
- 1998: Nikon Coolpix 900s (E910), 1280 x 960, 1,228,800 effective pixels
- 1999: Nikon Coolpix 950 (E950), 1600 x 1200, 1,920,000 effective pixels
- 2000: Nikon Coolpix 990 (E990), 2048 x 1536, 3,145,728 effective pixels
The 950 had 56% more sensors than the 900. The 990 has nearly 64% more sensors than the 950. The 990 has 256% of the image gathering sensors of the 900s. More sensors mean more pixels in the image and that means several things::
- Ability to print larger at the same resolution (10" x 7.5" @ 200dpi for the 990)
- Higher quality images, when the image is reduced in size (down sampled) for normal monitor resolutions (web publishing for example)
- Places higher demands on the quality of the lens system. Many experts agree that we're already close to the limits of standard lens systems to focus a sharp image down onto these tiny very high resolution CCDs (in fact the lenses found in most 3 megapixel digital cameras use glass of the same quality as only the most expensive 35mm systems), thus we're more likely to encounter problems such as chromatic aberrations as pixel count increases
- Increased storage demands, more pixels equals more bytes at the same quality. However, flash memory manufacturers are keeping up with this demand (and rubbing their hands together in the process).
- Increase internal processing demands, more pixels need to be processed in quicker and quicker times as photographers demand "pro-sumer" performance (cycle times) from digital cameras (high spec CPUs and specialised DSP chips)
In my personal opinion we'll reach a maximum pixel count, a level at which pro-sumers (those willing to spend upward of $1000 on a digital camera) will have enough pixels (probably around the 6.6 million pixel point - 3000 x 2200) and already demands are rising for increase CCD dimensions (physical size, to deal with some of the lens expense and problems), higher sensitivities (digital cameras are notoriously poor at higher sensitivities) and even completely new CCD designs (apart from April Fools jokes that is).
The Coolpix 990
In usual Nikon fashion the 990 was announced in unison globally on the 27th January 2000 at 8 AM Tokyo Time. The look was familiar if a little restyled, most significant was the increase in resolution to 3.34 megapixels (2048 x 1536) and the addition of some neat new features and a sigh of relief from 950 owners due to solutions to some long term Coolpix gripes. Adding to some confusion (and still) is the fact that the US models feature a purple/blue insert in the rubberised hand grip and non-US models (Europe / Asia) feature a red insert. As I'm now based in the UK the model I'm reviewing has a red insert, it is otherwise identical to the US Coolpix 990.
Full Circle: vs. Coolpix 950
So the big question on the minds of Coolpix 950 owners will be: Is it worth upgrading? My advice would be to read the whole of this review, analyse the features and image quality, find some more reviews and then decide (the 950 is still a very fine camera). Here's a very quick summary of the 990 vs. 950:
What's Totally New?
- 3.34 megapixels (2048 x 1536 vs. 1600 x 1200)
- 7-blade Iris Diaphragm for better aperture control
- Five-area spot meter and AF points (just like an F100)
- 256 zone matrix color white balance sensing
- Coordinated adjustment of f/stop and shutter speed in Flexible Program mode
- Color adjustment of factory white balance settings
- New flast jog pad for rapid menu access
- USB connectivity
- Improved ergonomics (better button layout, control wheel on back, new menus)
- QuickTime movies (40 seconds at a time)
- Fine tunable white balance
- Sharpening control
- Full manual mode (with under / over exposure meter)
- Histogram and overexposure highlighting (very D1)
What's Changed / been fixed?
- The CF card slot is now on the side of the camera making it easier to load/unload on a tripod
- The CF compartment door is now sensibly designed
- New 3:2 image ratio mode
- Brightness +/- and Contrast +/- improved
- Zoom lens parking selection of wide/tele/memory
- Flash EV compensation menu +/- 2.0 EV
- Continuous zoom digital zoom
- Continuous zoom playback magnificiation
- Massively improved tripod mount with metal thread and rubber base
- The swivel, though not lose on the 950 is even stiffer and more solid on the 990
- Improved hand grip, bigger makes it fit in the hand more snug, all rubber now
- Bigger and better internal buffers (no waiting)
- Self-timer now operational in Macro mode
- Sensitivity (ISO) control in Shutter Priority mode
- Fixed aperture mode for studio flash shooting (aperture stays fixed throughout zoom range)
- Improved LCD, better controls over LCD brightness and hue
- Larger top information LCD with more detail
- New "info.txt" photo information dumped on CF card (contains exposure info for each frame)
- A string for the lens cap (whoopee! - ahem)
- Switchable Video output (PAL/NTSC can be chosen from menu - one global firmware?)
What's still missing? (ever wonder why they didn't call it the Coolpix 1000?)
- CompactFlash Type II support!
- Wrist Strap! (Hand camera.. not a neck camera)
- Belt soft case (there was one with the 950...)
- Anti-reflective coating on the LCD (that plastic cover is still shinny)
- Histogram mode in image review / record mode - histogram only available in playback
- Supplied rechargeable batteries and charger
|Saddle Bronc by Gerry Frederick|
from horsing around
|diamonds are forever by summicron|
|Reflections by Birdman50|
from No 6
After shaking up the Lightroom ecosystem with Lightroom CC last year, Adobe has released version 2.0 of the cloud-centric photo organizer and editor. We look at new features like People View, how far Lightroom CC has come in its first year, and where Lightroom is headed.
Today, at Adobe MAX 2018, Adobe previewed Photoshop CC on iPad, a full-featured, desktop-class version of Photoshop for iOS.
The weather and has most definitely taken a turn toward fall here, and our shooting opportunities have followed suit. We brought the Canon RF 35mm F1.8 along to a harvest festival of sorts and a few of our usual haunts.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has signed House Bill 1346 into effect, which imposes a fine upwards of $300 to drone operators who invade the privacy or harm the physical wellbeing of citizens.
Sigma is a company in flux, but CEO Kazuto Yamaki is undaunted by the upcoming prospect of developing lenses for eight lens mounts. The challenge will be keeping the company's identity along the way.
If you've been meaning to convert all of your old photos, video, and audio to digital formats, but simply lack the time or willpower to get through it all, a new service from Kodak will help you get the job done.
Almost all new cameras include impressive video features, but for the best results you'll often need an off-camera recorder. Chris and Jordan take a look at the brand new Ninja V from Atomos, and explain why it might just be one of the most useful tools you can add to your camera.
Collect allows you to transform 360-degree into a more easily digestible format by transforming it into directed traditional videos.
Sick of using your plain ol' keyboard to edit your photos in Lightroom and Photoshop? TourBox is hoping to expedite your post-production workflow using a clever combination of dials, buttons, and knobs.
Bag and accessory manufacturer Hex has launched two bags as part of its latest collection: the Clamshell Backpack and DSLR Sling.
Crank out instant photos with Holga Digital's new analog printer, currently being funded on Kickstarter.
We got some hands-on time with Leica's new S3 medium format camera, which boasts a new higher-res sensor as well as other improvements.
Luna Display started its life as a crowdfunding project on Kickstarter. Now, it's available to purchase directly online.
We sat down with the Google Pixel camera team to learn about key new camera features on the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, and an explanation of the sophisticated software advancements that power them.
A lawsuit filed on Tuesday claims the cameras in Apple's iPhone 7 Plus and newer dual-camera models infringe on a patent that was granted in 2003.
Nikon's Coolpix P1000 has moved the zoom needle from 'absurd' to 'ludicrous,' with an equivalent focal length of 24-3000mm. So far, it's a fun camera to shoot with – if a bit over the top.
Like the LG V40 ThinQ the A9 combines a super-wide-angle, regular wide-angle and tele camera, but adds a depth-sensor to the mix as well.
The FAA has issued a warning to drone pilots in anticipation of disaster response following Hurricane Michael, noting that fines for interfering with emergency operations can exceed $20,000.
According to a report from Fortune, Apple acquired Danish masking technology startup Spektral in December 2017 for "more than $30 million."
Insta360's latest model comes with a range of features that allow for the creation of unique action cam footage.
The Photogrip can be used as a camera grip, mini tripod or phone stand and comes with a detachable remote.
At a time when manufacturers are adding triple and even quad-cameras to their flagship smartphones, Google is sticking with one main camera. But given the sophistication of the company's computational efforts, we think it's the right approach for now.
DPReview is hiring! We're seeking three Software Development Engineers at a range of experience levels to join our Seattle-based team.
The University of Dayton Research Institute created a video detailing what damage is caused when a drone strikes the wing of an airplane.
Lenovo's upcoming high-end smartphone will be the first model to feature four cameras on the back.
The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL offer a second front-facing camera and a host of improved computational features such as digital zoom based on super-resolution capture, better depth mapping and a fill-light effect for low light portraits.
Canon has ported a large chunk of its Digital Photo Professional (DPP) Raw processing software's feature set to iOS and launched the DPP Express app.
The Panasonic LX100 II offers a higher-resolution sensor over its predecessor, but it's the addition of a touchscreen that makes the Mark II so gosh-darn enjoyable to shoot with. We've got some fresh samples from Panasonic's new premium compact camera.
Sony has announced a new "Alpha Female" program, a creator-in-residence opportunity that will award six-month grants to five female filmmakers and photographers.
The new 490, 492 and 492LCD are targeted at amateur photographers and come with a 4kg/8.82lbs payload.