Nikon Coolpix 990 Review
Manual record menu (M-REC Menu)
Pressing the MENU button while in M-REC mode displays the record menu over the live preview, this totally new layout features three tabbed pages of settings. In this mode you can still operate the zoom, however half-pressing the shutter release (or pressing the MENU button) will cancel menu mode.
Most menu options can be scrolled through using the command dial (as seen here, white balance), pressing the Multi selector to the right will expand the menu with full text descriptions. All menus are detailed below.
|Allows the selection of current white balance mode, pressing the right arrow selects the highlighted white balance, rolling the command wheel allows for fine tuning of white balance to be slightly colder (blue) or slightly warmer (red). Fine tuning in Fluorescent mode allows selection of fluorescent bulb type.|
Selects current metering mode:
I'm particularly happy to see a new metering mode on here which in combination with AF Area selection promises to make focusing and metering very flexible on the 990.
Chooses one of five continuous shooting modes:
Nikon, under pressure from other manufacturers have finally included a movie mode (albeit silent movies) now you can shoot 320 x 240 QuickTime movies. Ultra HS was first seen on the Coolpix 800 and can be useful for doing high speed capture (for example raindrops) for animation later.
Enables or disables Best-Shot Selection mode, in this mode the camera shoots continuously as long as the shutter release button is held down (for a maximum of 10 images) then selects the sharpest image and saves this to the CF card.
The flash cannot be used in conjunction with BSS.
Switches the camera into special modes depending on the optional lens attachment used. Each of these modes is intended to work with Nikon Coolpix lenses.
Details of these optional lenses can be found in the Body section of this review.
Note: for some reason only known to Nikon engineers using a lens converter choice disables the external flash trigger. The only option which will still enable the external flash trigger is Wide Adapter.
Enables in-camera post-processing filters which adjust the brightness
and contrast of the image after it's taken but before it's written
to the CF card.
Not something I'd use regularly, I prefer to use the "digital darkroom" of my PC, however for users who wish to do as little post-processing as possible this can be a useful feature. I'm a little troubled by the "Auto" mode as there's little explanation in the manual as to HOW the camera decides what to do (I consider it similar to Auto Levels in Photoshop), so I prefer to leave Image Adjustment set to Normal.
Previously the 950 didn't allow control over the
internal sharpening systems, the 990 now does allow you to control
the amount of sharpening (if any) applied to images before they're
written to the CF card.
Full control over the internal sharpening algorithms will be a welcome addition for the more professional photographers, those who prefer a fairly "raw" image out of the camera to be processed manually later on a PC.
The user settings menu allows you to choose between three different "memories" of settings each memory contains the values of various settings (white balance, metering, continuous mode, BSS mode, lens, image adjustment and sharpening).
This feature can be useful for memorising particular settings for shooting in a particular environment or a style of shot, or if the camera is shared by up to three people.
Set 1 is the default for M-REC on power up.
Exposure options allows you to set or clear the AE-Lock, this locks the exposure and white balance to the first of a sequence of shots (useful for shooting panoramas). Auto bracketing enables the automatic adjustment of exposure compensation across five shots (+0.7EV, +0.3EV, +/-0EV, -0.3EV, -0.7EV) this can be used in combination with Continuous the shots are taken in a row (batch of five).
EXP +/- contains the same setting / value as the exposure compensation available from the exposure compensation button on the body.
AF Area Mode controls the use of the five AF Area focus points, it can be set to Auto (camera picks the best focus point), Manual (focus point is selected using the Multi Selector) or Off (center focus only).
Autofocus Mode can be set to Continuous AF (camera continuously focuses) or Single AF (camera only focuses when you half-press the shutter release).
Focus Confirmation (sharpening of objects in LCD viewfinder which are in focus): MF, On, Off.
It's difficult to explain how useful the Focus Confirmation option is, put simply the camera applies a sharpening filter to the image displayed on the LCD viewfinder which causes parts of the image in focus to appear MUCH sharper than their surroundings (emphasizes the focus) which is extremely useful for confirming the focus and for manual focus mode.
Digital Tele allows you to disable digital zoom (accessible by holding the tele button down for 2 seconds at full zoom).
Startup Position can be set to Last Position, Wide or Tele.
Fixed Aperture maintains the aperture at a value within 1/3 EV of the F number in effect before zooming. This is particularly useful in a studio flash environment where the F number must remain locked.
I can hear the cries of Hoorah! from 950 owners, yep you can now choose the Startup Position of the Zoom, it'll even store the Last Position and startup there. See, they do listen.
Speedlight (Flash) Options
Variable Power allows control over the output of the flash +/-2 EV in 0.3 EV steps. This is a good addition to the common flash wash-out problem found on most digicams.
Speedlight Control allows the internal flash to be turned off if an external flash is being used.
Reset does what it says, it resets all settings to default (record, setup and playback settings).
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