Digital Cameras - Nikon Coolpix 2000 Test Images
(Original test posting: 08/15/02)
|I've begun including links in our reviews to a Thumber-generated index page for our test shots. The Thumber data includes a host of information on the images, including shutter speed, ISO setting, compression setting, etc. 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!|
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 never shoot it with a fill flash, as some readers have suggested. The object is to hold highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the Coolpix 2000 handled the challenge pretty well. The shot at right was taken with a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which brightens the midtones at the cost of a little highlight detail. I chose the Auto white balance setting as the most accurate overall, as the Daylight setting resulted in a cool, bluish image and the Manual adjustment produced a warm, yellowish image. Skin tones are a bit warm, but pleasing overall. "Purple" is a more accurate description of the blue flowers in the bouquet, a problem that many digicams seem to have with this shot. Overall color is bright and well saturated. The image looks a bit soft overall, but it seems to be more a case of slightly understated in-camera sharpening as opposed to lost detail. Shadow detail is quite good, with pretty low noise.
To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.0 EV, see files C20OUTAP0.HTM through C20OUTAP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.
Slightly cool color cast and minor underexposure, but good detail.
The Coolpix 2000's 3x zoom lens helps prevent distortion of Marti's features, important in close-up shots like this one. (Wide angle lenses distort people's features in close-up portraits.) The camera responded to the harsh sunlight by underexposing the shot slightly, also producing a slightly blue cast and magenta skin tones. The shot at right has a +0.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment. (The default exposure setting was just a touch too dark.) Midtones are bright, and highlights are under control with good detail. The model's face and hair show stronger detail than in the wider portrait above, though details are again slightly soft. Detail is moderate in the shadow areas, and noise is low.
Indoor Portrait, Flash:
Good flash intensity, and good color with default exposure setting, but odd color shifts with exposure compensation.
The Coolpix 2000's flash performs well here, with good intensity even at the default exposure setting. The background incandescent lighting results in an orange cast on the back wall, and the flash produces blue tints on Marti's white shirt, but the overall exposure is good, and the color is pretty accurate in the flower bouquet.
When I shoot this test, I always run through a range of exposure settings, to make sure I get one that's just right. On the Coolpix 2000, varying the flash exposure resulted in a range of color casts, apparently due to a variation in the balance between room and flash lighting. Here's what that series looked like:
Indoor Portrait, No Flash:
Some difficulty with the incandescent light source.
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. The Coolpix 2000 had a fair amount of trouble with this common light source, producing warm casts at each white balance setting tested. The Auto setting produced the warmest image of all, with a strong orange cast. Both the Manual and Incandescent settings also resulted in warm casts, though with more of a brownish, sepia tone. I chose the Manual setting for the main series, and noticed that the warm cast only decreased slightly with brighter exposures. The main shot has a +1.0 EV exposure adjustment. (Here's an example at the default exposure setting.) Apart from the overall warm cast, skin tones look about right. The warm cast affects Marti's skin tones as well as the flowers in the bouquet, but saturation is pretty good.
To view the entire exposure series from +1.0 to +1.7 EV, plus the default exposure, see files C20INMP0.HTM (the default exposure) and C20INMP3.HTM through C20INMP5.HTM on the thumbnail index page.
Good color, with average resolution and detail for a 2 megapixel camera.
The Auto white balance setting produced the best color here, with an accurate white value in the trim, and good color in the rest of the frame. Both the Daylight and Manual white balance settings resulted in warm, yellowish images, with the Manual setting producing the strongest cast. Resolution and detail are about typical for a two megapixel digicam. (Spending as much time as I do looking at output from 3, 4, 5, and 6 megapixel cameras these days, I first thought that the Coolpix 2000's output was very soft. When I compared it with that from competing two megapixel cameras though, it seems about average. It actually doesn't lose as much sharpness in the corners as some.)
Very good color, average 2 megapixel resolution, but soft overall. Slight overexposure loses detail in the highlights.
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, and the Coolpix 2000 again turned in a roughly average performance relative to other two megapixel cameras I've tested. As I observed on some of the other test shots, the 2000 seems to have slightly under-aggressive in-camera sharpening, as you can bring out a fair bit more detail with judicious use of unsharp masking in Photoshop. (Try 130%, 0.4 pixel radius.) Purchasers of this camera aren't likely to go to such lengths though, given the point & shoot focus of the product, so I'd like to see better sharpening overall. The 2000 slightly overexposed the shot, which lost detail in the strong highlights of the white trim on the bay window, but resulted in very good shadow detail.
Although the Auto white balance resulted in a slightly cool color balance here, I felt the Coolpix 2000 did an excellent job on the color overall. All the colors are accurate, with no glaring "preference" by the camera for certain hues. A pretty good job all in all.
Lens Zoom Range
A pretty typical 3x zoom range.
I routinely shoot this series of images to show the field of view for each camera, with the lens at full wide angle, at maximum telephoto (3x, in this case), and at full telephoto with the digital zoom enabled. The Coolpix 2000's lens is equivalent to a 38-114mm zoom on a 35mm camera, very slightly biased toward the telephoto end, relative to the typical 35-105mm range of most zoom-equipped digicams. Following are the results at each zoom setting.
Strong color casts, but good detail and overall exposure.
The Coolpix 2000's Daylight white balance setting performed well on this typically difficult shot, producing only a slight warm cast. The camera's Auto setting reacted oddly for this shot, producing a very cool image with pale, bluish skin tones. (The auto white balance settings of many cameras result produce a very warm cast on this shot, overreacting to the abundance of blue in the image.) For some reason, the Manual setting produced a very warm cast. Despite the slight warmth produced by the Daylight setting, skin tones look pretty good. The blue background has faint reddish tints, and the blue robe shows purple tints in the shadow areas (this blue is difficult for many digicams to get right). Resolution is moderate, with a reasonable level of detail in the embroidery of the blue robe. Details are again a little soft throughout the frame, with increased softness in the corners.
A very tiny macro area, with good color and detail.
Like the rest of the Coolpix product line, the Coolpix 2000 did very well in the macro category, capturing a tiny minimum area of only 1.84 x 1.38 inches (46.6 x 35.0 millimeters). Resolution is good, with good detail in the dollar bill, coins, and brooch. Details are soft on the brooch and coins, likely due to the limited depth of field when shooting this close. As in several other test shots, I noticed significant corner softness, but this is a very common failing of digicams in extreme macro shots. Exposure is a little bright, but color is good. The Coolpix 2000's flash throttles down for the macro area very well, though a the bottom of the frame is shadowed slightly.
The Coolpix 2000 would be an excellent choice for an inexpensive camera to snap photos of small objects for eBay!
"Davebox" Test Target
Excellent color, though exposure is a little bright.
I liked the Coolpix 2000's color rendering quite a bit, and its performance on my "Davebox" target shows why. The colors here are bright but not oversaturated, and the hue accuracy looks very good as well. The Auto white balance setting produced the most accurate color on this shot, while the Daylight and Manual settings resulted in warm, nearly identical images. Exposure is slightly bright, most evident in the mini-resolution target and details of the white gauze. Still, the Coolpix 2000 distinguishes the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target up to the "B" range, and captures good detail in the vertical grayscales. The large color blocks look about right, with good saturation overall. The shadow areas of the charcoal briquettes show good detail as well, with low noise.
Just sensitive enough for average city street lighting.
The Coolpix 2000 offers only automatic exposure control, and a maximum shutter time of one second, limiting its low-light capability. The camera captured usable images at light levels only as low as one foot-candle (11 lux), though the target remained visible at the 1/2 foot-candle (5.5 lux) light level (the dimmer shot also had a pink color cast). Typical city street lighting equates to about one foot-candle, so darker exposures will require the built-in flash. Color looks good at the one foot-candle light level, though saturation is a bit weak. Noise is low. The table below shows the best exposure we were able to obtain for each of a range of illumination levels. Images in this table (like all of our sample photos) are untouched, exactly as they came from the camera.
Flash Range Test
Very limited flash range: Low flash intensity at all distances tested. (Nikon's stated range of 4 feet (!) at telephoto and 8 feet at wide angle is probably about right.)
The Coolpix 2000's flash had low intensity, even at the shortest test distance from the target (eight feet) that I test for. Flash power continued to decrease with each additional foot of distance, becoming very weak at the 14 foot distance. Nikon rates the 2000's flash range as about 8 feet with the lens at its wide angle setting, but only a bit over 4 feet (!) with the lens at telephoto. (This is a rather limited flash range. Really too short, in IMHO.) Below is our flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.
The Coolpix performed about average on the "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 500 lines per picture height vertically and around 400 lines horizontally. I found "strong detail" out to at least 800 lines vertically, possibly 850 lines horizontally. "Extinction" of the target patterns occurred at approximately 950 lines.
Optical distortion on the Coolpix 2000 is high at the wide-angle end, 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.
Resolution Series, Wide Angle
Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity
No optical viewfinder, but a pretty accurate LCD monitor.
The Coolpix 2000's LCD monitor is only slightly 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 does pretty well here. Flash distribution at wide angle is slightly uneven (but better than most), with slight falloff in the corners. At telephoto, flash distribution is more even, but dim.
Questions, comments or controversy on this article? Click this link to see what other Imaging Resource readers have had to say about Nikon Coolpix 2000, or add comments of your own!
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