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Nikon CoolPix 5700

Nikon expands their 5 megapixel offerings, with a long zoom, a new body, but the same legendary Nikon feature set!

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Page 2:Executive Overview

Review First Posted: 5/29/2002

Executive Overview
(This is a quick digest of the rest of the review. If you plan on reading the whole review, you can skip this page and continue on with the Design section that follows.)

Released as an update to (but not replacement of) the Nikon Coolpix 5000, the new Coolpix 5700 builds on the 5000's prowess with an 8x zoom lens and an "electronic optical viewfinder" (EVF). Internally, the Coolpix 5700 offers the same five-megapixel CCD and very similar exposure options, though externally it has a rather different control layout and appearance. A pop-up flash unit replaces the 5000's fixed internal flash, and the longer lens barrel dominates the new body design. Where the 5000 model seemed slightly tall (due to the top-mounted optical viewfinder window and flash unit), the Coolpix 5700 has a lower-slung appearance, appearing more compact, despite the large lens. Too big for either shirt pocket of purse, the 5700 really begs for a camera bag to be transported in, but its neck strap eyelets are well positioned to let the camera hang level when suspended by them.

The biggest news on the 5700 is its 8x Nikkor 8.9-71.2mm ED lens, which provides a zoom range equivalent to a 35-280mm lens on a 35mm camera. Focus can be automatically or manually controlled, with an adjustable, five-point AF area. In addition to the 8x optical zoom, the Coolpix 5700 also provides up to 4x digital zoom, depending on the image size selected. (Keep in mind that digital zoom compromises image quality because only the central portion of the CCD's image is enlarged, decreasing resolution.) An electronic viewfinder offers a miniaturized version of the LCD monitor for TTL (through the lens) framing, complete with a detailed information display. (Much as I like seeing the long-ratio zoom lens, I'm a little dismayed by the need for an EVF, even though the 5700's is better than many. - See my discussion in the Viewfinder section of this review for more details.) For a larger view, the 1.8-inch LCD monitor has an articulated design similar to that of the 5000, popping out from the back panel and swiveling around approximately 270 degrees. The LCD can also flip around and fold flat against the back panel, giving it the familiar rear-panel position common to most digicams. Finally, it can be closed (turned with its face against the camera body) when not in use, protecting the monitor from dirt and scratches.

Following the standard of prior high-end Nikon Coolpix models, the Coolpix 5700 offers a very extensive set of exposure controls. Program AE, Flexible Program AE, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual exposure modes are available, each with a wide range of features. Shutter speeds range from 1/4,000 (1/2,000 in most modes) to eight seconds, with a Bulb setting for exposures as long as five minutes. An optional Noise Reduction system decreases the fixed-pattern image noise that would normally be present in long exposures. The maximum aperture ranges from f/2.8 - f/4.2, depending on the zoom setting, and is adjustable in one-third EV steps. Four metering options include 256-Segment Matrix, Center-Weighted, Spot, and AF Spot (which ties the metering spot to the selected AF area). An ISO adjustment provides options that include Auto, 100, 200, 400, and 800. The camera's adjustable White Balance setting offers Auto, Fine (daylight), Incandescent, Fluorescent, Cloudy, Speedlight, or Preset (which allows you to manually adjust the white value by using a white object as a reference). Additionally, all white balance settings other than Preset can be adjusted from -3 to +3 units on an arbitrary scale, letting you fine-tune them to your liking. A White Balance Bracketing mode captures three images with slightly different white balance adjustments, letting you pick the best image when you view the photos on your computer.

Exposure compensation is adjustable from -2 to +2 exposure equivalents (EV) in one-third step increments, and is controllable in all exposure modes. The Auto Bracketing feature takes three or five shots of the same subject with varying exposure values determined either by the photographer in Manual mode or by the camera in all other modes, with variable exposure steps between shots. Best Shot Select snaps multiple images and then automatically picks the sharpest, making it feasible to handhold the camera for surprisingly long exposures. The "Quick Review" button lets you quickly check the last shot taken without leaving Record mode, going so far as to make most of the Playback mode options available, while permitting a very quick return to shooting. Through the camera's settings menu, you can also adjust the image sharpness and color saturation. An Image Adjustment menu offers Contrast, Lightness, and Monochrome adjustments as well. Additionally, the Coolpix 5700 allows you to save up to three sets of user settings for focus, exposure, and other camera options, for rapid recall via the setup menu. A Self-Timer mode offers a three or 10-second countdown before firing the shutter. The camera's built-in flash operates in Auto, Flash Cancel, Anytime Flash, Red-Eye Reduction, and Slow-Sync modes. An external flash hot shoe is also included in the camera's design, and accommodates a more powerful external flash unit.

Like the 5000 before it, the Coolpix 5700 offers a wide range of "motor drive" rapid-exposure modes for capturing quick sequences of images. Continuous L, Continuous H, Ultra High Speed Continuous, and Multi-Shot 16 modes are available through the settings menu, and offer a range of sequence shooting speeds. (Multi-Shot 16 mode subdivides the image area into 16 sections and captures a "mini-movie" of small images at 400 x 300-pixel resolution.) Finally, Movie mode records moving images (with sound) for a maximum of 60 seconds, at approximately 15 frames per second. Movies are recorded in the QVGA (320 x 240 pixels) resolution size.

The Coolpix 5700 stores images on CompactFlash cards (Type I or II), and a 16MB "starter" card comes with the camera. File formats include several levels of compressed JPEG files as well as an uncompressed TIFF mode (Hi quality setting), and an NEF (RAW data) format. Available image sizes are 2,560 x 1,920, 3:2 Ratio (2,560 x 1,700), 1,600 x 1,200 (UXGA), 1,280 x 960 (SXGA), 1,024 x 768 (XGA), and 640 x 480 (VGA) pixels. A Video Out jack connects the camera to a television set or video monitor, for larger screen image review.

A rechargeable EN-EL1 lithium-ion battery pack powers the camera, and an AC adapter is available as a separate accessory. (The battery and charger are included in the box with the Coolpix 5700.) The camera connects to a computer via a USB cable (included), and the accompanying software provides image downloading and organizing capabilities. The Coolpix 5700 downloads its images fairly quickly, as I clocked it at a transfer rate of 577 KB/second, definitely in the upper range of digicams I've tested.

Newly designed with an 8x optical zoom, an electronic optical viewfinder, and pop-up flash unit, the Coolpix 5700 is a dramatic update to the earlier Coolpix 5000 model. The rotating LCD monitor makes shooting at odd angles a lot more comfortable, and I found the new control layout to be slightly more intuitive than the previous design. The new 8x lens is a significant enhancement to the earlier model, but the requisite EVF that accompanies the longer lens is less welcome in my opinion. Based on my tests of a production sample of the 5700, image quality and color rendering appear very much on a par with previous Coolpix models. - The 5700 looks like it's going to be another strong member of the Coolpix line.


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