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Nikon CoolPix 990

Nikon updates the hugely successful Coolpix 950, with 3.34 megapixels and numerous enhancements

(Next): Executive Overview>>

Page 1:Intro and Highlights

Review First Posted: 3/1/2000

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Full 3.34 megapixel sensor delivers 2048x1536 images
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Exceptionally well-designed user interface and controls
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32 Megabyte SDRAM buffer for 2 second cycle time
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Enormous creative control and flexibility
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Excellent color and tonality
   


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Manufacturer Overview
By carefully applying their camera-building expertise honed in the professional and advanced-amateur segments of the film-camera market, Nikon has developed a commanding position in the digicam world, even though their consumer digital camera lineup has consisted of only two models. The key has been the exceptional image quality and picture-taking feature set embodied in their cameras, which have obviously struck a responsive chord with digicam enthusiasts. When the 1.3 megapixel Coolpix 900 first burst on the digicam scene almost two years ago, it was an immediate hit. The 2.1 megapixel Coolpix 950 a year later extended the winning streak, and now the 3.34 megapixel Coolpix 990 appears poised to do the same again. (Meanwhile, the Coolpix 800 has been a popular choice for an inexpensive 2 megapixel digicam with a slightly less robust feature set.)
Besides increasing the 990's resolution to a full 3.34 million pixels, Nikon has also upgraded several camera functions, added numerous features, and improved the camera's physical design.
Highlights

  • 3.34 megapixel, 1.13 inch, high-density CCD delivering image sizes up to 2048 x 1536 pixels (including a 3:2 aspect ratio 2048 x 1360 pixel size).
  • 1.8 inch, 110,000 dot, low temperature, polysilicon TFT LCD display.
  • 3x optical zoom, 8 to 24mm lens (equivalent to a 38 to 115mm lens on a 35mm camera).
  • User activated digital telephoto in incremental steps from 1.1x to 4.0x.
  • Continuous and Single autofocus modes with multiple focus areas and manual focus with peaking and distance readouts.
  • Infinity and Macro focus modes.
  • Variable ISO at Auto, 100, 200, 400 or dEF.
  • Full Automatic and Manual exposure modes with several manual options (Program, Flexible Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and full Manual).
  • Single, Continuous, Ultra High Speed Continuous, VGA Sequence, Multi-Shot 16 and Movie shutter modes.
  • White balance with Auto, Manual, Fine (Outdoors), Incandescent, Fluorescent, Cloudy and Speedlight options.
  • Shutter speeds from eight to 1/1000 seconds as well as a Bulb setting for longer exposures.
  • 10 or three second self-timer.
  • Built-in flash with Auto, On, Off, Slow Sync and Red-Eye Reduction modes.
  • External flash sync terminal.
  • USB and Serial interfaces.
  • Image capture in compressed JPEG or uncompressed TIFF.

What's New

Since many people reading this review will be familiar with the previous Coolpix 950, it makes sense to begin with a list of the new features Nikon has included on the 990. As you can see, engineering the 990 was more than a matter of just slapping a larger sensor into an existing design. Here's a (doubtless partial) list of what's new:

  • 3.34 million pixel sensor, up from 2.11 on the 950.
  • 5-zone autofocus system, for greater AF accuracy (inherited from Nikon's pro film and digital SLR cameras.
  • 50-step manual focus, with "peaking" indicator.
  • 7-blade iris diaphragm, providing true 1/3-stop aperture control.
  • 256-element Matrix white balance for improved auto white balance accuracy.
  • Optional user "fine tuning" of white balance settings.
  • Both full-manual and auto-bracketing exposure options.
  • A rugged, side-opening CompactFlash memory slot. (BIG kudos for that!)
  • "Stepless" digital zoom, from 1.1 to 4.0x magnification
  • USB interface option for high-speed file downloads
  • Easier menu navigation via a rear-panel jog control
  • Spot metering optionally linked to area autofocus system
  • Variable image sharpness settings
  • Ability to use self-timer function while in macro focusing mode. (A top request!)
  • User-selectable NTSC or PAL video output
  • Histogram-based exposure confirmation option
  • Smaller, but higher-resolution LCD panel
  • "Memory" for last-used zoom lens setting
  • Optional fixed-aperture zoom mode


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