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Nikon S5 Operation

The Nikon S5 has only a modicum of buttons, so operating the camera is done primarily through the menu system. Though it's a little tricky to navigate at first with multiple menus required to access certain features, the camera's jog dial selector is a smart addition that helps you blaze through all the various settings. The jog dial -- which I hope will soon make the "four-way multi-selector" obsolete -- is also great for speeding through 10 images per second in playback. My biggest gripes in operating the camera are the tiny size of the on/off button which makes it difficult to power on the camera quickly when you want to catch a spontaneous moment, and the teeny-weeny zoom lever which causes the camera to shake slightly when operating. The small size of both these controls does have a purpose though -- it makes sliding the camera into your pocket that much easier.

Record Mode LCD Display: In Record mode, the Nikon S5's LCD reports limited status information, including camera mode, the resolution/quality setting, number of available images, flash status, and a number of other options that vary based on current settings. Half-pressing the Shutter button displays a green circle on the top of the screen and green hash marks in the middle when focus is achieved. The Nikon S5 doesn't show aperture or shutter speed information as some do. It does tell you when it thinks the image might become blurred by camera shake when it's forced to use a slow shutter speed. The display mode can be changed from the Setup Menu, letting you choose between a viewfinder display of the subject by itself, or the subject with overlaid status information. Some scene mode options provide an overlaid grid as an aid to orienting the camera to your subject, while others offer subject outline as alignment aids for portraits.

Playback Mode LCD Display: In Playback mode, the LCD reports the image series number, resolution/quality setting, file name and folder it's stored in on the memory card, and the date and time of image capture. It also displays an icon if the image is one that's been selected for quick download with Nikon's host software, as well as an icon indicating that you can record an audio note to accompany the image. You can hide the information overlay (except for the storage medium icon) from the Setup menu via the Monitor settings. (Not easy to find, actually.) A standard slide show option lets you see the images sequentially, with no overlay on top of them, too. The more sophisticated Pictmotion slideshow (explained in the User Report) is accessed by pressing the Mode button and scrolling to the music note icon. Pressing the Nikon S5's zoom toward "W" zooms out to a four-image thumbnail view of photos stored on the card. Pressing it a second time shows a nine-image thumbnail display. Pressing the zoom control in the telephoto direction zooms in as much as 10x on the subject, handy for checking image details and focus.


Nikon S5 Modes and Menus

Auto Record Mode: Activated by pressing the Mode button and selecting the Shooting mode (grey camera icon) via the jog dial, this mode places the camera in control of both aperture and shutter speed, as well as most other exposure features. Pressing the Nikon S5's Menu button displays the following Shooting menu:

Scene Exposure Modes: The word "Scene" indicates this mode on the circular Mode menu. Eleven preset scene modes are available on the Nikon Coolpix S5, by pressing the Menu button. All of the scene modes preset a variety of camera options for you automatically. Four scene modes with Scene Assist to help with framing your shots -- Portrait, Landscape, Sports, Night Portrait -- are located on the circular Mode menu for easy access; modes from Party/Indoor on down are available under the SCENE icon when you first select that mode, then press the Menu button to select among the options.

Voice Recording Mode: This mode is also located on the circular mode menu. It is denoted by a small microphone icon. This mode Transforms Nikon S5 into a digital voice recorder that can hold several hours of audio on an SD card.

Movie Mode: Denoted by a movie camera icon on the circular Mode menu. Movie mode captures moving images at 15 frames per second for as long as the memory card has available space. (Provided that you have a fast enough memory card.) Pressing the Menu button pulls up the following options:

Playback Mode: Pressing the Playback button on the Nikon Coolpix S5's back panel instantly enters Playback mode. Here, you can review captured images and movies, erase, enlarge, copy, and protect images, and also set them up for printing. Pressing the Menu button offers the following options:

Setup Mode: The following Setup menu is accessible from the top of almost all the Coolpix S5's menus: