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Nikon Coolpix 2000 Digital Camera

 
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Update Date
8/15/02
Review Date
06/28/02
User Level
Novice - Amateur
Product Uses
Family / Travel
Digicam Design
Point and Shoot
Picture Quality
Good, 2.0-megapixel CCD
Print Sizes
4x6, 5x7, 8x10
Availability
Early July 2002
Suggested Retail Price
$249



Introduction
As I've said so often before in my introductions to reviews of Nikon cameras, Nikon is one of the few companies that you can say truly needs no introduction in the world of photography. Their name has been identified with professional and high-end amateur photography for a good 5 decades now, and they've been highly successful in translating that long history of expertise into the digital arena. Their 2.1 megapixel Coolpix 950 and 3.3 megapixel Coolpix 990 and 995 digicams have led the popularity charts at the high end of the "prosumer" market segment since their respective introductions, and their various models announced earlier this year (2002) seem poised to continue that tradition. The key has been the combination of excellent picture quality with an amazing range of features, all calculated to give the photographer the maximum control over the picture-taking process.

In the last year or so, Nikon has been moving to address the digital picture-taking needs of "ordinary people," rather than just focusing on the "enthusiast" crowd. Cameras like the Coolpix 885 and 775 have incorporated "Scene" modes that set up the camera for specific picture-taking situations (such as "party," "beach," "fireworks," etc.). These special modes make it easy for novice users to get usable photos in tricky situations, without having to take an advanced course in photography first. Earlier this year, they extended that line with the introduction of the Coolpix 2500, "The one that swivels," with an unusual internally swiveling lens assembly. Based on the popularity of these models, it looks like Nikon is on the right track in meeting the needs of the masses.

The subject of this current review is the new Coolpix 2000, evidently designed to extend the Nikon product line further down the price curve toward true entry-level consumers. I originally published this review as just a "first look", based on a prototype camera, but have now updated all the information and conclusions to reflect my testing of a full production model.


Camera Overview
The streamlined blue and silver case design of the Coolpix 2000 follows the design aesthetic of the previous Coolpix 2500, moving away from the black & chrome of Nikon's enthusiast and professional models and toward the softer look they seem to be pursuing for their more consumer oriented products. The Coolpix 2000 is housed in a case entirely constructed of plastic, rather than the metal and plastic combination seen in the 2500 and other higher-end Coolpix models. This was doubtless required in order to bring the product in at a retail price that would compete in the entry-level market, but the less substantial case seems only average, not conveying the sense of solidity and ruggedness I've come to associate with the Nikon brand. Nikon has assured me that the Coolpix 2000 is every bit a Nikon camera, but I'm still left wishing they'd at least made the plastic a bit thicker in places.

Built to be portable and compact, the Coolpix 2000 is small enough for travel, with very few protrusions to catch on pockets of purses. Quick on the draw with its forward-facing lens and automatic lens cover, the Coolpix 2000 is ready to shoot quickly, taking only 3.3 seconds from power-on to its first shot. As noted, its silver and blue tones are reminiscent of the previous Coolpix 2500 model, though the camera's dimensions are slightly larger. Still, the Coolpix 2000 will fit comfortably into a larger coat pocket, pants pocket or purse, and comes with a convenient hand strap. The Coolpix 2000 offers a 3x optical zoom lens and a 2.0-megapixel CCD for capturing quality image that can be printed as large as 8x10 inches. Since the camera operates mainly under automatic control, its control layout and menu display are very user friendly, with a host of features controlled externally.

The Coolpix 2000 doesn't have an optical viewfinder, providing only a 1.5-inch color LCD monitor for composing images. This could make it more difficult to see what you're doing in bright daylight, but on a positive note, the LCD viewfinder is very accurate, showing fully 97% of the final frame area. Although the LCD monitor does provide more accurate framing than an optical viewfinder, it also decreases battery life because you have no option but to keep the display running whenever you're shooting. - Definitely plan on carrying an extra set of batteries on any extended outings with the 2000.

The camera's 3x, 5.8-17.4mm zoom lens (equivalent to a 38-114mm lens on a 35mm camera) offers maximum apertures from f/2.8 to f/4.9, depending on the zoom setting. The camera uses contrast-detection autofocus, and focuses in normal mode from 1.0 feet (30 centimeters) to infinity. In Macro mode, the camera focuses as close as 1.6 inches (4.0 centimeters), automatically switching to continuous autofocus operation to adjusts focus constantly (as opposed to only when the Shutter button is half-pressed). (The Coolpix line has always performed very well in the macro category, and the Coolpix 2000's minimum focusing distance of 1.6 inches is outstanding.) Focus remains under automatic control, but an Infinity focus mode is available for quick shots of distant subjects. Turning on the camera triggers the shutter-like lens cover to open, and the lens to extend forward about an inch or so. In addition to 3x optical zoom, the Coolpix 2000 offers a maximum 2.5x digital zoom, which lets you "zoom" in even closer. As always though, so-called "digital zoom" only enlarges the center pixels of the CCD's image, and so directly reduces image quality. The 2.0-megapixel CCD produces high-resolution images, good enough for printing to 8x10 inches with reasonable detail, as well as lower-resolution images for sending via email or for printing as 4x6-inch snapshots.

Keeping with the tradition of the Coolpix line, the Coolpix 2000's exposure control is very straightforward. Operating primarily under automatic control, the Coolpix 2000's user interface is quick to learn. Most of the exposure options are controlled through the multi-page LCD menu system, though a handful of external controls access basic features. A Mode dial on top of the camera controls the operating mode, with five preset "Scene" modes, an Auto setting, and Movie and Playback modes. Aperture and shutter speed remain under camera control at all times, but the exposure menu offers a few options to adjust the image. Exposure Compensation brightens or darkens the image from -2 to +2 exposure equivalents (EV) in one-third-step increments. A White Balance adjustment offers five preset modes, an Auto setting, and a Custom setting for manually determining the color balance. The Coolpix 2000 has three metering modes, which include 60-Segment Matrix, Center-Weighted, and Spot. ISO is rated at 100 during normal shooting, but the Coolpix 2000 automatically raises it to 400 in the Night Portrait mode. You can also adjust the overall sharpness of an image, and access Nikon's Best Shot Selector mode, which automatically chooses the least blurry image in a series. The Coolpix 2000's built-in flash is effective to approximately 8.8 feet (2.7 meters), and operates in Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Anytime Flash, Flash Cancel, and Slow Sync modes.

The five preset Scene modes configure the camera for specific shooting situations. Accessed via the Mode dial, "scenes" include Party/Indoor, Back Light, Portrait, Night Portrait, and Beach/Snow. Each mode optimizes the camera for capturing the best images in what could otherwise be difficult shooting conditions. Exposure times on the Coolpix 2000 range from 1/1,000 to a maximum of one second, the latter of which limits the camera's low-light shooting capabilities somewhat. Still, the Night Portrait mode, which combines flash with slow shutter speeds seems to do a good job of capturing natural-looking photos in limited light. Night Portrait mode also enables the automatic Noise Reduction feature, which reduces image noise from longer exposures. Other camera features include a Self-Timer mode, which provides a three- or 10-second delay between the time the Shutter button is pressed and the time image is actually captured. A Continuous Shooting mode captures a rapid series of images while the Shutter button is held down, with the actual number of images dependent on the size and quality settings, as well as the amount of memory card space. There's also a Multi-Shot 16 mode, which captures 16 thumbnail images in sequence, arranged in rows of four in the final image. A Movie mode captures moving images, without sound, at approximately 15 frames per second. The length of recording time depends on the amount of available CompactFlash card space, and appears in the LCD monitor.

The Coolpix 2000 stores images on CompactFlash (type I) memory cards, and comes with a 16MB Lexar "starter" card. Given the Coolpix 2000's 1,632 x 1,224-pixel resolution size, I'd recommend picking up a larger memory card so you don't miss any important shots. (Memory cards are cheap enough these days that really suggest you purchase at least a 64 MB card along with your camera.) Images are saved in JPEG format, with three compression levels available. A CD-ROM loaded with Nikon View 5 accompanies the camera, compatible with both Windows and Macintosh platforms (including Windows XP and Mac OS X). Nikon View provides minor image editing and organization tools, for downloading, cataloging, and enhancing images. The camera comes with a set of four single-use AA alkaline batteries, but can also use NiMH or NiCd batteries. As always, I strongly recommend picking up couple of sets of rechargeable batteries and a good charger, and keeping a spare set freshly charged at all times. Also included with the Coolpix 2000 is an NTSC video cable (US and Japanese models) for connecting to a television set, and a USB cable for downloading images to a computer. (Download speed is average to a bit slower than average, at 332 KBytes/second.)


Basic Features

  • 2.0-megapixel CCD delivering image resolutions as high as 1,632 x 1,224 pixels.
  • 1.5-inch color LCD display.
  • 3x, 5.8-17.4mm zoom lens (equivalent to a 38-114mm lens on a 35mm camera).
  • 2.5x Digital zoom.
  • Automatic exposure control, with five preset Scene modes.
  • Built-in flash with five operating modes.
  • CompactFlash memory storage.
  • Power supplied by four AA batteries or optional AC adapter.
  • Nikon View 5 software for both Mac and Windows.

Special Features

  • QuickTime movies (without sound).
  • Continuous Shooting and Multi-Shot 16 modes.
  • Self-timer for delayed shutter release.
  • Best Shot Selector mode.
  • Sharpness adjustment.
  • Macro (close-up) lens adjustment.
  • White balance (color) adjustment with seven modes, including a manual setting.
  • Three metering modes.
  • ISO equivalent of 100 (changes to 400 in Night Scene mode).
  • DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) compatibility.
  • USB cable for quick connection to a computer.
  • NTSC video cable for connection to a television set.


Recommendation
Small and compact, the Coolpix 2000 combines the power of a Nikkor 3x optical zoom lens, a 2.0-megapixel CCD, and a range of automatic and preset shooting modes into a very consumer-friendly digicam. With automatic exposure control, you can let the camera do all the work, though a handful of exposure options provides creative tools when you need them. The Coolpix 2000's portable size is great for travel, and the range of preset shooting modes anticipates common but tricky shooting conditions most amateurs would face. The 1,632 x 1,224-pixel maximum resolution is high enough for making 8x10-inch photographic prints, and lower resolution settings are perfect for sending email attachments over the Internet. The uncomplicated user interface means you won't spend much downtime learning the camera, and a good array of external controls eases common settings changes, letting you avoid the menu system much of the time. Perfect for novice users or anyone looking for a point-and-shoot camera with a few extra features, the Coolpix 2000 is also a great "second" camera for more advanced photographers.


Design
With its smooth, flowing lines and very few protrusions, the Coolpix 2000's design has an organic quality. The rounded shapes across the front echo the rounded edges on the camera, contributing to an overall "soft" design aesthetic. The Coolpix 2000's silver body and metallic blue accents give it a modern look, matching the color scheme of the previous Coolpix 2500 model. Small and compact, the Coolpix 2000 should fit into most coat pockets and purses, and the few protruding parts let it slide into tight spaces with ease. The Coolpix 2000 measures 4.2 x 2.7 x 1.5 inches (108 x 69 x 38 millimeters), and weighs 6.8 ounces (190 grams) without batteries or memory card. The light weight is due in part to the all-plastic body, a detail I'm not personally fond of, but a necessity to keep the cost down.

The camera's front panel contains the 3x zoom lens, built-in flash, photocell, and the self-timer lamp (directly beside the flash). A shutter-like lens cover protects the lens when not in use, and automatically slides out of the way when the camera is powered on (eliminating the hassle of keeping track of a lens cap). When powered on, the lens telescopes out a half inch or so into its operating position. A curved, sculpted ridge beneath the Shutter button acts as a finger grip.

On the right side of the camera is the CompactFlash memory card compartment and an eyelet for attaching the wrist strap. (The latter in the upper right hand corner.) The CompactFlash compartment door opens from the back of the camera, flipping back toward the front of the camera to provide access to the card. Inside the compartment, a small eject button releases the card from the slot.

On the opposite side of the camera are two connector compartments, both protected by soft plastic covers attached to the camera by flexible tethers. The top compartment holds the Video Out and USB jacks, with the DC In jack in the bottom compartment.

The Shutter button, Mode dial, and power switch are the only features on the Coolpix 2000's top panel.

The remaining external controls are all located on the camera's rear panel, along with the 1.5-inch, TFT color LCD monitor. Across the top of the panel are several buttons with multiple functions, which access various Record and Playback mode settings. A small LED next to the Flash / Erase button lights to indicate that the flash is charged, or blinks if the flash is charging. Two other function buttons line the right side of the monitor, and a multi-directional rocker pad dominates the lower right corner. Along the far right side of the rear panel is a gently sculpted groove that accommodates your thumb as you hold the camera in your right hand. (You can also see the edge of the CompactFlash compartment door in this view, on the right hand side of the camera.)

The Coolpix 2000 has a flat bottom panel, with rounded edges that curve up toward the rest of the camera. The battery compartment door and threaded plastic tripod mount line up side-by-side, making quick battery changes while mounted to a tripod impossible. This won't likely be a problem for most Coolpix 2000 users, however, given that few point & shoot users are likely to leave their cameras on tripods for very long. A hinged, plastic door covers the battery compartment, with a lock release button to open it.


Camera Operation
A good collection of external control buttons make the Coolpix 2000's functions and operating modes easy to navigate. Flash mode, focus mode, zoom, record mode, and a quick review function are all accessible via external controls, with most buttons serving dual functions for Playback and Record modes. The Mode dial on top of the camera accesses the main operating modes, and a multi-directional Arrow pad on the back panel navigates through on-screen menus. Because there's no optical viewfinder, the LCD monitor remains active at all times, increasing battery drain, but making quick settings changes easier. The LCD menu system is short and sweet, with a Setup menu available in all camera modes, in addition to the usual shooting or playback menus. This Coolpix 2000 is so straightforward in operation that I doubt you'll need the manual for much more than reference, and it shouldn't take more than a few minutes to get comfortable with its controls.


Shutter Button
: Oblong with a matte-silver finish, the Shutter button sits on the right edge of the top panel. This button sets the camera's exposure when halfway pressed, and opens the shutter when fully pressed.


Power Switch
: Just behind the Shutter button, this sliding switch turns the camera on and off.


Mode Dial
: Directly to the left of the Power switch, this notched dial selects the camera's main operating mode. Choices are Auto, Party/Indoor, Back Light, Portrait, Night Portrait, Beach/Snow, Movie, and Playback.


Zoom (W and T) Buttons
: Located beneath the Mode dial on the camera's back panel, this set of buttons controls the optical and digital zoom in any record mode. In Playback mode, the "W" button activates the index image display mode (displaying four or nine thumbnail-sized images at a time), while the "T" button lets you magnify captured images up to 16x, to examine fine detail.


Flash / Erase Button
: Adjacent to a small LED on the back panel, this button controls the camera's flash mode in most record modes. Available flash modes are Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Anytime Flash, Flash Cancel, and Slow Sync.

In Playback mode, this button activates the single-image erase function, which lets you delete the currently displayed image. (There's an option to cancel, if you hit the button accidentally.)


Focus Mode / Transfer Button
: To the left of the Flash / Erase button, this button cycles between normal AF, Infinity, and Macro focus modes in any record mode.

When the camera is connected to a computer via the USB cable, this button activates one-touch image downloading.


Self-Timer / Small Pic Button
: Directly above the far left corner of the LCD monitor, this button enables the Self-Timer option in any record mode. Pressing it repeatedly cycles through 10-second timer, three-second timer, and normal record modes. The 10-second option is useful when you want to get into the picture yourself, while the three-second interval is handy when you want to prop the camera on something to snap a picture in dim lighting, without having the pressure of your finger jiggle the camera during the exposure.

In Playback mode, pressing this button creates a small (320 x 240-pixel) resolution copy of the displayed image, suitable for emailing.


Quick Review Button
: Adjacent to the top right corner of the LCD monitor, this button activates a quick review display of the most recently captured image. This is handy when you want to check the photo you just took, to make sure you got the shot you wanted. A second press returns the camera to record mode.


Menu Button
: Just below the Quick Review button, this button displays the settings menu in any camera mode. It also dismisses the menu display.


Multi-Directional
Arrow Pad: Located in the lower right corner of the rear panel, each of the four arrows on this rocker button point up, down, left and right. Within any mode menu, the arrow keys navigate through menu options. In either capture or playback modes, the left arrow controls the information overlay display on the LCD monitor, turning it off or on.

In Playback mode, the up and down arrows scroll through captured images. When an image has been enlarged, all four arrows navigate within the view.


Batt Open Latch
: In the center of the battery compartment door, on the bottom of the camera, this button unlocks the compartment door so that it can slide forward and open.

Camera Modes and Menus

Auto Record Mode: Activated by turning the Mode dial to the Auto position (green camera icon with an "A"), this mode gives the camera complete control of both aperture and shutter speed. The user maintains control over all other exposure options.

Party/Indoor Mode: Indicated on the Mode dial by a confetti and party hat symbol, this mode optimizes the camera for indoor photography. The user controls only file size and quality, flash mode, focus mode, the Self-Timer, and zoom.

Back Light Mode: An icon of a person with the sun behind them marks this mode on the Mode dial. It puts the flash in "Anytime" mode so that it fires with every shot. The always-on flash eliminate shadows on the fronts of subjects standing in front of bright backgrounds, or with strong lighting at their backs.

Portrait Mode: Labeled on the Mode dial with a woman in a hat, this mode is best for portraits. The camera uses a larger aperture setting to decrease the depth of field, slightly blurring the background behind the subject. The combination of a sharp subject and slightly blurred background increases the emphasis on the subject in your photos. User control is similar to Party / Indoor mode.

Night Portrait Mode: Indicated by an icon of a person in front of a star, this mode is for twilight and dusk portraits. The flash is automatically set to Auto Red-Eye Reduction mode, combined with a slower shutter speed. This allows more ambient light into the photo, balancing the light from the flash and producing a more natural-looking image. The camera's ISO setting automatically adjusts as high as ISO 400, depending on the light level. (The automatically selected ISO value is not reported on the LCD screen, however.)

Beach/Snow: Beach and snowman icons mark this mode on the Mode dial, which is best for bright subjects. Cameras generally underexpose subjects that are very bright overall, and this setting automatically compensates for that tendency. The user can adjust flash mode, focus mode, and the image file and quality settings.

Movie Mode: Marked by a movie camera icon, this is the final record option on the Mode dial. Movie mode captures moving images (without sound) up to twenty seconds in length (assuming there's sufficient space on the memory card. No menu options are available in this mode.

Playback Mode: The traditional "arrow" playback symbol marks this mode on the Mode dial. Playback mode lets you review captured images and movies, as well as erase, enlarge, copy, and protect images, as well as set them up for printing.

Shooting Menu: Most of the following options are only available in Auto Record mode, with the exception of File Size and Quality settings, which are available in all record modes except Movie mode.

  • Image Quality: Sets the JPEG compression to Fine, Normal, or Basic.
  • Image Size: Sets the resolution of still images. Choices are 1,632 x 1,224, 1,024 x 768, and 640 x 480 pixels.
  • White Balance: Controls the overall color balance of images. Modes include Auto, Preset (manual adjustment), Fine, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Cloudy, and Speedlight (for flash images).
  • Metering: Determines how the camera reads the exposure from the scene. Choices are 60-segment Matrix, Center-Weighted, and Spot. The 60-Segment Matrix option compares light readings from 60 areas throughout the frame to determine the best overall exposure. Center-Weighted measures a large area in the center of the frame, while the Spot option reads only the very center of the frame.
  • Continuous: Activates the Coolpix 2000's Continuous, Single, or Multi-Shot 16 modes. Continuous mode captures frames for as long as the Shutter button is held down, with the total number of images depending on the amount of available CompactFlash space. Multi-Shot 16 mode captures 16 thumbnail-sized images, which are recorded in a four-by-four array as one large image. Single shot mode is the default one shot per shutter-button-press mode.
  • Best Shot Selector: Turns the Best Shot Selector mode on or off. When enabled, the camera picks the sharpest image from a series captured in rapid succession. This is tremendously helpful when you have to handhold the camera at slower shutter speeds, as it takes a series of images and then picks the sharpest for recording. The net result is that you can capture sharp images at shutter speeds way slower than you'd normally be able to handhold for. (Not good though, for situations where you care about the exact instant of the exposure, since any of several exposures may actually be recorded.)
  • Exposure Compensation: Brightens or darkens the overall exposure from -2 to +2 exposure equivalents (EV), in one-third-step increments.
  • Image Sharpening: Controls the amount of in-camera sharpening applied to images. Choices are Auto, High, Normal, Low, or Off.

Playback Menu:

  • Delete: Erases either selected images or all images from the memory card. (Doesn't erase write-protected ones though.)
  • Slide Show: Initiates a slide show of still images on the memory card. You can choose to include either All Images or only Selected Images, and adjust the frame interval from two to 10 seconds.
  • Protect: Write-protects individual images to protect them from accidental erasure or manipulation. An index display of the images on the card appears, letting you scroll through and select images to be "locked." Protected images may only deleted through card formatting.
  • Print Set: Sets the DPOF ("Digital Print Order Format) settings for captured images, for printing on a DPOF-compatible output device. An index display appears, letting you mark individual images for printing. Once images are marked, you can choose the number of copies to print, as well as whether any text is overlaid on the image (such as a caption or the date and time). You can also cancel print settings here.
  • Auto Transfer: Marks all images for auto transfer, which instantly transfers images to a computer running the Nikon View software when connected.

Setup Menu: This menu is available in all camera modes:

  • Brightness: Adjusts the brightness of the LCD display.
  • CF Card Format: Formats the CompactFlash card, erasing all files (even protected ones).
  • Date: Sets the camera's internal clock and calendar.
  • Auto Off: Turns on the Auto Off feature, which automatically shuts down the camera after a period of inactivity. Times are 30 seconds, or 1, 5, or 30 minutes.
  • Video Mode: Sets the video mode to NTSC or PAL.
  • Language: Changes the menu language.
  • USB: Sets the USB protocol to Mass Storage or PTP. The PTP option is best for Windows XP and Mac OS X systems, while Mass Storage is best for older operating systems.


Sample Pictures
See my sample pictures and detailed analysis here. The thumbnails below show a subset of my test images. Click on a thumbnail to see the full-size photo.


Specifications
See the specifications sheet here.


Picky Details
Cycle times, shutter lag, battery life, etc can be found here.


Test Results
This section has now been updated based on results obtained from a full production-level camera. See the Coolpix 2000's sample pictures page for a full analysis.

  • Color:The Coolpix 2000 produced good to excellent color under a wide variety of shooting conditions. It had some difficulty with the household incandescent lighting of my "indoor portrait" test though. Under incandescent lighting, only the Manual white balance option produces really usable color, IMHO. The camera also had a little difficulty with the frequently troublesome blue flowers on the outdoor portrait shot, rendering them with a distinct purple hue. (A surprisingly common problem among digicams I've tested, so only minor negative marks for this.) Apart from these minor bobbles though, the Coolpix 2000's color was accurate and appropriately saturated.
  • Exposure: The Coolpix 2000's automatic exposure system did a good job in most instances. It had a slight tendency to overexpose some shots, although it responded to the very bright and harshly lit outdoor portrait shot with the roughly 0.7 EV underexposure that most camera arrive at. Contrast and tonality is pretty good, as the camera managed to hold highlight detail pretty well under contrasty lighting, without overly darkening the midtones and shadows. A good performance overall, with only slightly more contrast than I personally prefer.

  • Resolution/Sharpness: The Coolpix 2000's shots were all slightly on the soft side, relative to other two megapixel cameras I've tested. It turned in a solid "average" performance on the laboratory test target though, showing that it captures all the essential detail (The test target showed resolution of 800 lines per picture height, a typical 2 megapixel value.) I found that careful unsharp masking in Photoshop(tm) brought out a surprising amount of detail, but few owners of this camera are likely to go to those lengths to get the most from it. Overall, image detail isn't bad, it could just be a bit better. Bottom line, prints up to 5x7 inches should look fine, it'll just be your 8x10s that will come out a little soft.
    .
  • Closeups: The Coolpix 2000 performed better than average in the macro category (like most Coolpix models), capturing a tiny minimum area of 1.84 x 1.38 inches (46.6 x 35.0 millimeters). Resolution was moderately high, with good detail in the dollar bill, coins, and brooch. The camera's flash also throttled down well for the macro area, leaving only a small shadow at the bottom of the frame. This would be an excellent, inexpensive, easy-to-use camera for snapping shots of tiny objects for eBay and other online sales.
  • Night Shots: With automatic exposure control and a maximum shutter time of one second, the Coolpix 2000 could only handle light levels as low as one foot-candle (11 lux). This is about the light level you'd encounter on a well-lit city street at night, so the Coolpix 2000 should do fine under such conditions. Color was good, and noise was very low.
  • Viewfinder Accuracy: The Coolpix 2000's LCD monitor is only a little tight, showing approximately 97 percent of the frame at both wide angle and telephoto. Given that I generally prefer LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the Coolpix 2000 did pretty well here. (Although I really miss having an optical viewfinder.)
  • Optical Distortion: Optical distortion on the Coolpix 2000 was higher than average at the wide-angle end of its zoom range, where I measured 1.03 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared a better, as I found 0.25 percent barrel distortion at that focal length. Chromatic aberration is moderate, showing about three or four pixels of 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 strongest optical distortion was in the form of corner softness, most visible on the House poster and outdoor house shot. I'd really like to see a bit less distortion and sharper images, so I'll give the 2000 a "B-" grade in the optics department.
  • Battery Life: The Coolpix 2000 runs from a set of four standard AA batteries. Battery life was surprisingly good for a camera with no optical viewfinder. (Optical viewfinders let you avoid the power-hungry LCD monitor much of the time, greatly extending battery life.) In its worst-case power consumption mode (capture mode with the LCD on), you should get about 2 hours and 24 minutes of run time off a set of true 1600 mAh NiMH rechargeable batteries. Run time in playback mode stretches to a bit over three hours. While these are excellent run times, I still strongly recommend buying a couple of sets of high-capacity NiMH batteries and a good charger. Click here to read my "Battery Shootout" page, to find which of the current crop of NiMH cells perform the best. Click here to read about my favorite NiMH battery charger.



In the Box
The Coolpix 2000 ships with the following items in the box:

  • Coolpix 2000 digital camera.
  • Wrist strap.
  • 16MB "Starter" Lexar CompactFlash card. (This is a fully functional 16MB memory card, the "starter" designation is just Nikon's attempt to call attention to the fact that you're almost certainly going to want a larger card to use for routine shooting.)
  • Video cable.
  • USB cable.
  • Four single-use AA alkaline batteries.
  • CD-ROM loaded with Nikon View 5 software and drivers.
  • Instruction manual and registration kit.

Recommended Accessories

  • Larger capacity CompactFlash card (at least 32 or 64MB).
  • AC Adapter.
  • Two sets of high-capacity rechargeable AA batteries and charger. (Click here to read about the recommended charger.)
  • Small camera case for outdoor protection.


Recommended Software: Rescue your images!
Just as important as an extra memory card is a tool to rescue your images when one of your cards fails at some point in the future. I get a lot of email from readers who've lost photos due to a corrupted memory card. Memory card corruption can happen with any card type and any camera manufacturer, nobody's immune. A surprising number of "lost" images can be recovered with an inexpensive, easy to use piece of software though. Given the amount of email I've gotten on the topic, I now include this paragraph in all my digicam reviews. The program you need is called PhotoRescue, by DataRescue SA. Read our review of it if you'd like, but download the program now, so you'll have it. It doesn't cost a penny until you need it, and even then it's only $29, with a money back guarantee. So download PhotoRescue for Windows or PhotoRescue for Mac while you're thinking of it. (While you're at it, download the PDF manual and quickstart guide as well.) Stash the file in a safe place and it'll be there when you need it. Trust me, needing this is not a matter of if, but when... PhotoRescue is about the best and easiest tool for recovering digital photos I've seen. (Disclosure: IR gets a small commission from sales of the product, but I'd highly recommend the program even if we didn't.) OK, now back to our regularly scheduled review...

 

Conclusion

The Coolpix 2000 represents Nikon's most recent effort to address the needs of "entry level" digicam buyers. Consistent with Nikon's general concern about the quality of the picture taking experience, the Coolpix 2000 isn't a stripped-down, defeatured model, but actually a fairly capable product with a good range of options and features. As noted earlier, I'm not wild about the somewhat "plasticky" feel of the case, but recognize the need for cost control in designing products for the broader consumer market. Case material aside, the Coolpix 2000's feature set certainly takes it out of the "bare bones" class, providing unusual flexibility for an entry-level model.The Coolpix 2000's image quality was pretty good overall: Color was good to excellent, but image resolution was a bit of a mixed bag: Plenty of detail, but a somewhat soft rendering. Not a problem on prints up to 5x7 inches or so, but 8x10 enlargements will be a bet less sharp than the best of the 2 megapixel market. (Note too though, that those "best of market" two megapixel cameras will also likely cost more than the Coolpix 2000.) Overall, the Coolpix 2000 should be a strong player in the entry-level two megapixel marketplace. It's easy to use, with a fair number of preset "scene" modes, yet has a surprising range of features. Color is excellent, and there's enough resolution to make 8x10 prints that will look good sitting on a table or mantlepiece. With a street price as of this writing (in mid August, 2002) under $249, it deserves serious consideration for anyone looking for a capable, affordable two megapixel camera to get themselves started in digital photography.

 

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