Nikon Coolpix 5000Nikon moves into the 5 megapixel era with a new chip, new lens, and new body, but no retreat from the legendary Nikon feature set!
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Coolpix 5000 Test ImagesReview First Posted: 9/18/2001
|I've begun including links in my reviews to a Thumber-generated index page for my test shots. The Thumber data includes a host of information on the images, including shutter speed, ISO setting, compression setting, etc, extracted from the JPEG file headers. Rather than clutter the page below with *all* that detail, I'm posting the Thumber index so only those interested in the information need wade through it!|
Click here for a mini-gallery of random, "non-test" images!
Portrait: (1560 k)
The extreme tonal range of this image makes it a tough shot for many digicams, which is precisely why I set it up this way, and why I don't use fill-flash on it. The object is to hold highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the Nikon Coolpix 5000 performed very well. It lost the strongest highlights on Marti's shirt, and the highlights on her forehead and cheek are a bit hotter than I'd like, but overall it isn't too bad relative to other cameras I've tested. (Note that because of the lower sun angle in the sky due to the late fall/early winter daylight, the sun is hitting the left side of Marti's face much more directly than in versions of this shot taken in the summertime.) We shot with the Auto (1558 k), Daylight (1541 k), and Manual (1546 k) white balance settings, choosing the warmer, more natural skin tones of the Daylight setting. Manual white balance produced similar results, though the Auto setting was a little cool. (Here, I'm using the color of the house siding in the background to judge what the proper, neutral color balance is. - It has a slightly warm cast, which the Daylight WB setting got about right.)
The shot at right required no exposure adjustment, unusual among the cameras I've tested - Most require some positive exposure compensation on this shot, so in that respect, I'd say the 5000's metering system does better than average, at least on this shot. Skin tones look about right, but there's more yellow and red in there than I'd personally like to see. The always-difficult blue flowers are also about right, only slightly dark, but with little of the purplish tinge many cameras tend to add to them. (This is a difficult blue for many digicams.) Excellent resolution, with a lot of fine detail visible throughout the frame. Shadow detail is strong, with a low level of noise.
To view the entire exposure series from zero to +0.7 EV, see files C50OUTDP0.HTM
through C50OUTDP2.HTM on our thumbnail page.
Portrait: (1574 k)
Results are similar to the wider shot above, and the 3x zoom lens helps prevent any distortion of the model's features. Excellent detail in Marti's face and hair (you can almost count the strands). Shadow details are clear and sharp as well, with low noise. My main shot was taken without an exposure adjustment, as the highlights are already starting to get blown out here.
See files C50FACDP0.HTM through C50FACDP1.HTM on our thumbnail
page to view the exposure series (from zero to +0.3 EV).
Portrait, Flash: (1494 k)
Good exposure, very good color.
The Coolpix 5000's flash illuminated this subject very well, with good intensity without any exposure compensation (1494 k). The model's shirt has a good white value, and there's only a slight orange cast in the background from the household incandescent lighting. The 5000's exposure compensation adjustment seems to have a fairly subtle effect on the flash exposure, as seen when I boosted it +1.3 EV (1505 k). - This definitely increased the flash exposure, but it didn't seem like nearly 1.3 f-stops worth. I also tried shooting with the Slow Sync (1519 k) flash mode, which resulted in an overexposed image with washed-out color, due to the fairly bright ambient light in the room. (I probably should have tried some shots in slow-sync mode with negative exposure compensation, but frankly, Marti was starting to wear a little thin by this point, and my desire for domestic harmony won out over my pursuit of the perfect flash exposure...)
(Oh DUH - RTFM, Dave - the flash exposure adjust is in the LCD menu system, something I should know by now, after having tested *how* many Nikon digicams? - I'll be reshooting most of my test images again, when I get a replacement 5000 without the 4-pixel bad spot on it, so I'll play with flash exposure again then. - And Marti will have gotten some rest from posing in the meantime!)
Finally, I tried a stronger, external flash unit, which resulted in the
best image overall, as we were able to bounce the light evenly over the
subject. The result was better color (no orange tinge from the room lighting
anymore) and a brighter image. (This was just my little Sunpak cheapie
flash unit, but it illustrates how much even an inexpensive external strobe
can improve your flash photography.)
Portrait, No Flash: (1554 k)
This shot is always a very tough test of a camera's white balance capability, given the strong, yellowish color cast of the household incandescent bulbs used for the lighting, and the Coolpix 5000's Manual (1567 k) white balance setting produced the most accurate results, although there was still a greenish cast to the shot. The Auto (1654 k) white balance resulted in a very warm image, with a strong sepia tint, while the Incandescent (1578 k) setting produced a warm, yellowish image. I chose the Manual setting for the main selection, with an exposure compensation adjustment of +1.0 EV. Skin tones look good, though the blue flowers are dark and somewhat purplish, thanks to remnant effects of the color balance of the room's incandescent lighting.
See files C50INMP0.HTM through C50INMP4.HTM on our thumbnail
page to view the exposure series (from zero to +1.3 EV).
Great detail, nearly accurate color.
I shot this target with the Auto (1696 k), Daylight (1695 k), and Manual (1683 k) white balance settings, choosing the Manual setting as the most accurate overall. The Auto setting seemed a bit warm overall, with a strong magenta cast in the red bricks and in the white trim, while the Daylight setting produced a warmer, more yellow image. Even though the Manual setting (again) has a slight greenish cast, I felt overall color looked best here. Resolution is high, with strong detail in the fine foliage surrounding the house (even the shrubbery in front of the house has good definition).
Overall, the 5000 seems to tend towards a greenish cast with its manual
white balance setting, which I'm fairly certain is not an effect of the
particular white point reference chosen, as I used several different pieces
of paper and a grey card with similar results. - This is actually fairly
easily dealt with by using a very lightly green tinted sheet of paper
as the "white" reference. (Here's a Dave-tip: Make a slightly
green-tinged off-white sheet with your inkjet printer.) I don't think
you should have to do this with a camera of the 5000's caliber and price
Test (1651 k)
This image is shot at infinity to test far-field lens performance. NOTE that this image cannot be directly compared to the other "house" shot, which is a poster, shot in the studio. The rendering of detail in the poster will be very different than in this shot, and color values (and even the presence or absence of leaves on the trees!) will vary in this subject as the seasons progress. In general though, you can evaluate detail in the bricks, shingles and window detail, and in the tree branches against the sky. Compression artifacts are most likely to show in the trim along the edge of the roof, in the bricks, or in the relatively "flat" areas in the windows.
This is my ultimate "resolution shot," given the infinite range of detail in a natural scene like this. The Coolpix 5000 captures great detail throughout the frame, with excellent definition in the tree limbs above the house and in the shrubbery in front. The bright sunlight on the white bay window causes the Coolpix 5000 to lose a lot of detail, although in fairness, the low north/south sun angle in late fall/early winter like this presented the 5000 with a much tougher subject than the more glancing angle in the summertime. On a positive note though, the shadow area above the front door shows stronger detail, with a well-defined brick pattern above the door.
Since I know there's going to be a lot of scrutiny of this shot amongst people sizing up competing high-end prosumer cameras, I spent a fair bit of time looking at this shot and the ones from the Sony F707 and Canon G2. Overall, it seems to be a bit of a toss up between these three cameras, resolution-wise, at least on this shot. - After spending a fair bit of time squinting at the images, I'd frankly caution readers from drawing any strong conclusions from this particular test subject on these three cameras - There's an awful lot of seasonal variation between the shots, such that it's really pretty hard to find exactly corresponding elements in all three images. It seems to me that there's similar absolute amounts of detail present from all three cameras, but the specifics of how the images are rendered are rather different. The 5000's images look a bit softer, but I'm inclined to attribute some of that to its in-camera sharpening being a little less aggressive. The Canon G2's images are very crisp and sharp-looking, but when I squint at them, I don't see a lot of actual detail present in them that isn't also visible in the other two. Tough call, I think each camera buyer is going to have to look at the images from all three cameras and make up their own mind. - I'd say it's likely that most purchasing decisions will be made based on a spectrum of performance issues, not just on resolution alone...
The table below shows a quality series for the 2,560 x 1,920-pixel resolution size, followed by ISO, Sharpness, Saturation, and an Image Adjustment series.
Image Adjustment Series
|Lens Zoom Range
A typical 3x zoom range, shifted toward the wide angle end, very nice performance from the telephoto adapter.
In response to frequent readers requests, I now routinely shoot this series, showing the field of view with the lens at full wide angle, at full 3x telephoto, and at full telephoto with the 4x digital telephoto enabled. I also attached Nikon's accessory 2x telephoto lens adapter, and shot at full telephoto with excellent (!) results. - I'm accustomed to seeing significant image degradation from add-on lenses for digicams, but Nikon's 2x tele-extender delivers a very sharp image, with good contrast and good corner sharpness. The Coolpix 5000's built-in lens covers a range equivalent to a 28-85mm zoom on a 35mm film camera. Following are the results at each zoom setting. (As always, the digital telephoto trades away resolution for zoom - it isn't a true telephoto in the normal sense of the word.)
Accurate color with the manual white balance setting, great resolution.
For this test, I shot with the Auto (1661
k), Daylight (1633 k) and Manual
(1638 k) white balance settings, choosing the Manual setting for the main
selection. The Auto white balance setting produced a reddish image, with
strong magenta in the skin tones, perhaps in reaction to the large amount
of blue present in this image. Daylight white balance resulted in more
accurate color, though it was just a tad too yellow for my tastes. Despite
the slightly pale skin tones of the Manual setting, I felt it was the
closest to correct. The Oriental model's blue robe is about right, with
only faint purplish tints in the dark shadows. (This is another tough
blue for many digicams to get right.) Resolution is very high, with great
detail in the embroidery of the blue robe, as well as in the beaded necklaces
and musical instruments. (Really, the resolution of cameras like the 5000
is starting to get beyond the limits of the poster I use for this test
- It's a good, perfectly consistent basis for comparing skin tone rendition,
but no longer a good reference for image detail.)
|Macro Shot (1544
the rest of Nikon's Coolpix line, the Coolpix 5000 performs very well
in the macro category, capturing a tiny minimum area of just 1.29 x 0.96
inches (32.7 x 24.5 millimeters), among the better macro areas I've seen.
Resolution is outstanding in the details of the dollar bill, and the printing
details are very sharp. The close shooting range renders the brooch details
out of focus (this is normal, due to the limited depth of field this close),
and I noticed some minor corner softness from the lens in the left corners.
(Corner softness is also common in extreme macro shots with digicams.
- You really need to go to a high-end macro lens on an SLR to avoid this
curvature of field for extreme macro shooting.) Color is good as well.
While the Coolpix 5000's flash (1514 k) has
trouble throttling down for the macro range, it actually did better than
we initially expected, given the very close proximity of the camera to
Pretty darn accurate color - slight bobbles in tone, but really good color accuracy overall. Noise in flat tints is higher than in competing models.
I shot samples of this target with the Auto (1416 k), Daylight (1441 k), and Manual (1617 k) white balance settings, this time choosing the Auto setting as the most neutral. Daylight white balance resulted in a warm, yellowish image, while the Manual setting produced a greenish cast.
The Coolpix 5000's hue accuracy looks very good (to my eyes, at least) - All the colors look spot-on for hue when I compare them against the original MacBeth chart. The magenta and cyan squares are a bit light in tone relative to the original, and the yellow block is a tad dark or muddy, but overall this is a very accurate rendition of the colors in the original scene.
The shadow area of the charcoal briquettes holds good detail, with a
low noise level. - Noise is actually somewhat of a mixed bag: Looking
at the individual color channels noise in the blue channel (almost always
the worst color for noise in digicams) is fairly low in areas of neutral
color, but escalates quite a bit in colors for which blue is a "contaminant"
color - The yellow block and other warm-hued color blocks. Overall, image
noise is far from the worst I've seen, but also a goodly notch above that
in competing high-end prosumer cameras.
Excellent performance, with low noise and good color.
The Coolpix 5000's full manual exposure control and maximum shutter time of 60 seconds (up to *5 minutes* in bulb mode via a menu option) resulted in excellent low-light performance. The camera captured bright, clear images at light levels down to the 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux) light limit of my test at all four ISO settings (100, 200, 400, and 800 equivalents). Color looked good as well, even at the darkest light levels. Noise remained low at the 100 and 200 ISO settings, increasing slightly at ISO 400. Noise was much higher at ISO 800, even with the camera's Noise Reduction feature turned on. I also shot sample images without Noise Reduction at the 1/16 foot-candle light level, and noticed much more "hot pixel" noise. The table below shows the best exposure I was able to obtain for each of a range of illumination levels, at each of the ISO settings. Images in this table (like all of our sample photos) are untouched, exactly as they came from the camera. (Click on the thumbnails to see the full resolution images.)
|REAL Low Light Test
The Coolpix 5000 has a bulb exposure mode that can shoot exposure up to 5 minutes(!) in length. I was interested to see how well the camera would do with a *really* long exposure, so I grabbed the shot below with a 2 minute exposure at f/3.5, on a moderately bright moonlit night in my backyard. This is the same general shot I've used occasionally in the past for very long time exposures. It will vary enormously from camera to camera, with phases of the moon, etc. The point though isn't to show a real qnantitative comparison, but rather to get some idea of what the camera's noise level looks like on very long exposures. In this case, the moon was brighter than it often is, so I stopped the lens down to f/3.5, to get a longer exposure without blowing out a lot of the image. The backyard is also different here, as we've added a fence around it. (The dog toys on the cluttered lawn are clues as to why the fence was needed.;)
Another uncontrolled variable in these shots will be camera temperature. This one was taken in winter, albeit during a relative heat wave. Air and camera temperature were a relatively cool 50-55 degrees F or so. In the summertime, you'd see a lot more noise here, with the camera temperature more like 80-90 or so.
Click on the cropped image below to bring up the full-sized file, exactly as it came from the camera.
Even allowing for the relatively low camera temperature, noise is very low and there are virtually no "hot pixels" to be seen. The Coolpix 5000 looks like a good candidate for long-exposure night shots!
A word about how this was taken:
|Flash Range Test
The Coolpix 5000 showed good flash range, but... It pulled a slightly sneaky move on me that I didn't discover until I'd finished with my testing and sent the eval unit back: It switched ISOs in mid-stream! Notice below how the test target starts to get dim at 10 feet, then brightens noticeably at the 11 foot mark. Note too that the ISO jumped from 100 to 200. I don't know if these shots were taken with the ISO set explicitly to 100 (my usual practice) or if it was inadvertently left in the "Auto" position. I'm a bit of two minds as to whether this is a good thing or not. On the one hand, I really dislike cameras doing things behind my back. On the other hand, it's handy to have the camera boost the sensitivity if I'm a bit too far away. Overall, I guess I'd come down on the side of this being a good thing. Whatever the case, without the ISO boost, the camera just barely gets to 10 feet, and really has a range more like 9 feet. With the boost, it's fine out to the 14 foot limit of my test.
(WG-18) Resolution Test (1681 k)
The Coolpix 5000 performed very well on my "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 1,000 - 1,100 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions, but I found "strong detail" out to about 1,250 lines. "Extinction" of the target patterns occurred at about 1,500 lines. (These results were somewhat interesting relative to the Sony F707, which uses the same chip, but a different lens and different image processing. - The 5000 edges the 707 slightly in terms of the maximum frequency it can cleanly resolve (the 707 showed more aliasing at the 1200-1300 line level), but the 707 shows at least some image activity to much higher levels (the "extinction" point). - This supports my earlier conclusion that the 5000 seems to be capturing as much actual detail, but just isn't displaying it as crisply in its files. Ultimately, it'll come down to personal preference (as it always does anyway), which camera any given user will prefer...)
Optical distortion on the Coolpix 5000 is a bit high at the wide-angle end, where I measured about 0.88 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared slightly better, though I measured roughly 0.19 percent barrel distortion. Both distortion figures are slightly higher than average for cameras with 3x zoom lenses in this class. Chromatic aberration is moderate, showing about three or four pixels of red coloration and five or six pixels of green coloration on either side of the target lines. (This distortion is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.) The Chromatic Aberration doesn't seem much worse than average (on this test at least), but IMHO, "average" is too high for a high-end camera like the Coolpix 5000. (For what it's worth, the G2's lens had less, while the F707's lens had the same amount or more.)
Resolution Series, Wide Angle
Sharpness Series, Wide Angle
Here's an interesting comparison reader Sean Keegan made using some of
our resolution target samples, from the Canon G2, Sony F707, Nikon 5000,
and Nikon 990. (The opinions shown in the file are Sean's, not mine, but
the comparisons are interesting.) - Click to see the full-sized image.
Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity
A very accurate LCD viewfinder, average optical VF accuracy.
The Coolpix 5000's optical viewfinder is somewhat tight, as I measured approximately 87 percent frame accuracy at wide angle, and about 82 percent at telephoto. The LCD monitor fared much better, showing approximately 98 percent of the frame at wide angle, and about 99 percent at telephoto. That said, I noticed a tendency for the LCD monitor to cut off the edges of the standard lines of measurement in the final image, specifically the vertical lines. Still, since I prefer LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, I give the Coolpix 5000 good marks here. Flash distribution at wide angle shows strong falloff at the corners and edges of the frame, with much more even coverage at telephoto.
Here are some shots writer/photographer gal Stephanie snapped with the Coolpix 5000 production camera. She didn't have as much time with the 5000 as some of the other cameras we've tested, so this gallery is a little smaller than some of the others. Still gives you some idea of how the 5000 does witn more "ordinary" photos, as opposed to our standardized test images.
Click on each image to view the full-sized, unaltered image straight
from the camera.