Nikon Coolpix 995 Review
Overall Image Quality
The 995 carries on the "9 series" tradition of excellent image quality. Images are sharp and detailed, well balanced and show a relatively (for a consumer grade camera) good dynamic range. Metering is near faultless thanks to Nikon's excellent matrix metering system and of course metering and exposure options are aplenty, so if you're feeling creative you'll never be limited.
One of the great things about the 995 is the large amount of control you have over the camera's internal processing algorithms. You can adjust contrast, colour saturation and sharpening to best suit your taste, final output or scene type. And of course you can then store these settings under one of the three user memories for quick retrieval later. That said, the camera makes some good decisions if you just leave these settings in their Auto position, tending to opt for lower sharpening most of the time (thankfully) and maintaining the maximum amount of dynamic range (without leaving the image looking dull).
Colour saturation was always an area of debate with the 990. The 995 goes some way to solving this by having better saturated colours as default and also the +1 saturation adjustment which produces bright, vibrant colours. Indeed this was the setting I used as my default.
It's not without the odd problems, lens distortion is visible at both full wide angle and full tele (detailed below) and chromatic aberrations are still here, though no worse than before. The old red channel noise is also still present and doesn't appear to be any better (though the number of times it would cause you a problem in a "real life" shot is minimal).
As with all my reviews opinions expressed are my own, the advice would be to download some samples from our gallery and decide for yourself.
Purple Fringing (Chromatic Aberrations)
Chromatic Aberrations are "as expected". Despite this being an updated lens system it's still based around the 990's 3x optical zoom and thus suffers from almost identical chromatic aberrations. These are most noticeable near the corners of the frame and when the lens focal length is at or near to full wide. We understand that chromatic aberrations are not just a lens phenomena but is related to the interaction between the lens and the microlens over each pixel of the CCD.
|Visible chromatic aberrations in an "every day shot"|
|Our now standard chromatic aberration test shot|
Barrel and Pincushion Distortion
The 995's new 4x lens seems to have compromised a little with the introduction of even more lens distortion. At full wide angle (38 mm equiv.) we measured barrel distortion as 1.5% and at full tele pincushion distortion of 0.8% (comparible to the 990). It looks as though 995 owners would need to take a look at our technique for correcting lens distortion.
|Barrel Distortion, 1.5% @ Wide Angle||Pincushion Distortion, 0.8% @ Full Tele|
NOTE: We have slightly modified our lens distortion chart to ensure accurate auto focus.
First thing that's noticeable is the strong magenta cast using Auto white balance under Incandescent light, it's fair to say that the auto white balance system works best under natural light. Nikon commented that the white balance system has been tuned to perform best in natural light.
Otherwise, things seem to be relatively good. The pre-programmed white balance settings are fairly accurate (and you can of course always fine tune them) and the manual preset option produces consistently accurate balance and colour hue.
|Outdoors, Auto||Outdoors, Cloudy||Outdoors, Manual|
|Incandescent, Auto||Incandescent, Incandescent||Incandescent, Manual|
|Fluorescent, Auto||Fluorescent, Fluorescent||Fluorescent, Manual|
First word indicates type of light shot was taken in, second the selected white balance mode.
Dynamic range simply defines the range of light the camera is able to capture before it either loses detail in darkness (shadows for example) or blows out a highlight (edges of chromed metals are good examples of this). Most consumer digital cameras only have a 8-bit analog to digital converters, plus their CCD's are not built to have a particularly large dynamic range.
Using our new dynamic
range measurement method we measured the Coolpix 995's dynamic range
as (higher numbers are better except for noise):
Nikon Coolpix 995
Compared to Coolpix 990
Native JPEG (FINE)
* In-camera sharpening set to "Off"
On the whole things seem to have improved. Certainly the 995's automatic sharpening setting seems to be selecting a lower sharpening level (thus less noise and better dynamic range) and actual reproducable range is increased from ISO 200 upwards. These results match what we saw in our ISO tests, clean noise-free up to ISO 200 with good dynamic range. It's clear though that ISO 800 is only for emergency situations.