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Nikon CoolPix 880

Advanced features, and "Assisted Creative Photography" in a compact 3.3 megapixel package!

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Page 2:Executive Overview

Review First Posted: 8/26/2000

Executive Overview
From it's model number, you'd expect the Coolpix 880 to be a simple upgrade of the earlier Coolpix 800. In fact though, the 880 has much more in common with the top of the line 990 than the earlier 800. It presents itself as an extremely compact, feature-laden camera that can tackle just about any shooting situation. Additionally, the more extensive control layout remains well laid out and uncomplicated to use. The camera still maintains both a real image optical viewfinder and an LCD monitor display for image composition, with a very detailed LCD information display reporting a lot of exposure information, including aperture and shutter speed settings. In Playback mode, the LCD gives an equally informative readout on captured images, and offers an index display of thumbnails and a playback zoom option.

Optically, the Coolpix 880 is equipped with an 8 to 20 mm, 2.5x zoom lens (equivalent to a 38 to 95 mm lens on a 35 mm camera), made up of nine elements in eight groups (all made from environmentally friendly glass, we might add). Zoom is controlled via the W and T buttons on the back panel and two different lens apertures, ranging from f/2.8 - f/4.2 or f/7.8 - f/11.3 in the Aperture Priority and Manual exposure modes, with actual values depending on the lens zoom setting. A 4x digital zoom can be turned on and off through the settings menu and offers an incremental zoom range in 0.2x steps. The Coolpix 880 also provides a wide array of focusing options, including Continuous and Single autofocus as well as a manual control. Under the autofocus setting, you can set the desired focus area, or let the camera decide on its own (which displays a set of five possible focus targets on the LCD panel and bases focus on the object closest to the actual lens). You can also activate a focus confirmation mode, which outlines the area of the image that the camera is focused on.

Exposure-wise, you get fairly extensive control under the Manual exposure setting. When you turn the camera on, you have the option of Full Automatic, Scene, Programmed, Aperture Priority, Manual or Custom exposure modes, in addition to the Play and Setup modes. Under the Full Automatic exposure mode, the camera handles everything, from the shutter speed to the white balance. The Scene exposure mode lets you choose from a variety of preset "scene types," such as Beach, Portrait, etc., where the camera automatically adjusts the exposure to handle specific lighting situations. Programmed mode puts the camera in charge of shutter speed and aperture, but gives you increased exposure control over ISO, white balance, focus, etc. Aperture Priority gives you the same amount of exposure control, only you can adjust the lens aperture setting while the camera chooses the appropriate shutter speed. Manual gives you total control over everything, which is something we really like. Shutter speeds are adjustable from eight to 1/1,000 seconds (with a bulb setting for longer exposures) and you have two choices of aperture, varying slightly with lens focal length as described above. Finally, the Custom exposure mode works along the same lines as Manual mode, only you get to determine a series of exposure presets for shooting in the same conditions frequently. The camera remembers all the settings for each preset, allowing you to recall them quickly.

The Coolpix 880 continues with Nikon's other outstanding features like Auto Bracketing, the Best Shot Selector, and a variety of continuous shooting modes. In addition to the Continuous and Multi-Shot 16 shooting modes, the 880 also offers an Ultra High-Speed Continuous (approximately 30 frames per second with a total of 80 QVGA shots) and a Movie mode (up to 40 seconds of QVGA sized images at 15 frames per second). There's also a VGA Sequence mode which captures approximately two frames per second as long as the shutter button is held down. We also enjoyed the extensive white balance menu (Auto, Preset, Fine, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluorescent and Speedlight) and the variety of metering options (the famous 256 Matrix mode, Center-Weighted, Spot and Spot AF Area). The camera also provides several image enhancement tools, including the ability to alter the in-camera sharpening, increase or decrease the contrast and brightness, or turn the image into monochrome black and white.

The Coolpix 880 uses CompactFlash for image storage and runs off of a rechargeable Nikon EN-EL1 lithium-ion battery (charger included) or a 2CR5 lithium battery. The camera supports both USB and standard serial connections (using a dual purpose port), for quick connection to a PC or Mac. There's also an NTSC video cable (European models ship with PAL) for connecting to a television set.

We've always liked Nikon's Coolpix line, and we have to say that the 880 is a welcome addition to the family. The Coolpix 880 gives you as much control as you want, with the luxury of putting the camera in charge of everything as well. It's well suited as a "bring along" camera for photo enthusiasts, yet easy to use for the non-photographer. - And it takes great pictures to boot!


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