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Nikon Coolpix 3700 Digital Camera

Camera QuickLook
Review Date 03/04/2004 
User Level Novice - Amateur
Product Uses Family / Travel / Special Events
Digicam Design Point and Shoot
Picture Quality Good, 3.2-megapixel CCD
Print Sizes Up to 8x10
Availability Now
Suggested Retail Price
(At introduction)
$399

 

Introduction

Review Links
Overview
Picky
Details
Design
Operation
Recommended Accessories
Test Images
Specifications
Conclusion
The Nikon Coolpix 3700 is one of the latest in a long and successful line of Nikon digital cameras. One of the true leaders in the world of photography, Nikon has successfully translated their long history of expertise into the digital arena. Their "Coolpix" line of cameras have been solid favorites of enthusiast-level photographers for years now, but Nikon has lately been making inroads in the "point and shoot" market for more casual users. Nikon's key has been the combination of excellent picture quality with an amazing range of features, all calculated to give the photographer maximum control over the picture-taking process.

Newest, one of the smallest in the line, the Coolpix 3700 model sports a sleek metal body and compact dimensions. This pocket-friendly camera offers a 3.2-megapixel CCD, 15 preset Scene shooting modes, and a handful of standard Nikon digicam exposure features. The result is a camera that snaps excellent photos under a wide range of shooting conditions, and looks good while doing it. Read on for all the details.

 

Camera Overview

Representing a sleek new look for the Coolpix line, the Nikon Coolpix 3700 is compact, trim, and sophisticated. A retractable lens leaves the front panel smooth when retracted, perfect for shirt pockets. The metal body is light weight and durable, and should withstand heavy usage. Still, a small camera case would be ideal for protecting the attractive silver finish, although the camera does come with a wrist strap. With a point-and-shoot design, the 3700 is convenient and easy to use, but offers a nice selection of features to choose from (including a generous collection of 15 preset scene modes for special situations). The camera's 3.2-megapixel CCD produces high resolution images suitable for making sharp prints as large as 8x10 inches, as well as lower resolution images suited for e-mail attachments. With Nikon's reputation for quality, the 3700 will definitely draw many consumers, and the compact size and attractive looks combined with versatile shooting modes and exposure options will make the camera a crowd-pleaser.

The 3700 is equipped with a 3x, 5.4-16.2mm Nikkor lens (equivalent to a 35-105mm lens on a 35mm camera), made up of seven elements in six groups. A shutter-like lens cover automatically opens and closes when the camera is powered on or off, and eliminates the need for a lens cap. The maximum aperture ranges from f/2.8 to f/4.9, depending on the lens zoom position. Focus ranges from one foot (30 centimeters) to infinity in normal mode, and a Close Up shooting mode (available through the Scene menu) focuses as close as 1.6 inches (four centimeters) for excellent macro shots. The five-area autofocus (AF) system automatically adjusts focus based on the proximity of the subject to one of the five AF areas. You also have the option of manually selecting the AF area from one of the five. Turning the AF Area setting off fixes focus at the center of the frame. In Movie mode only, you can opt for either Single or Continuous AF modes. In addition to the 3x optical zoom, the 3700 also offers as much as 4x digital zoom, although I always remind readers that digital zoom decreases the overall image quality because it simply enlarges the central pixels of the CCD's image. The 3700 offers both a real-image optical viewfinder and a 1.5-inch, color LCD monitor for composing images. The LCD monitor includes a limited information display, but does not report aperture or shutter speed settings. It does, however, offer a grid display mode, which divides the image area into thirds horizontally and vertically. Additionally, two diagonal lines crisscross the grid, making it easy for you to line up shots with a variety of angles.

Exposure is automatically controlled on the 3700, making it great for snapshots, family events, and vacation photos. The camera's 256-segment matrix metering system divides the image area into segments and evaluates contrast and brightness values across the entire frame for accurate exposures in situations that would confuse a less sophisticated metering system. As a further aid to accurate exposure determination, the metering system places the greatest emphasis on the selected AF area. Although not user-adjustable, the 3700's light sensitivity is equivalent to approximately ISO 50 under bright lighting, with an auto gain function that increases sensitivity to ISO 200 if necessary. Shutter speed ranges from 1/3,000 to four seconds, although the camera doesn't directly report shutter speed while shooting. A Mode dial on the rear panel selects the camera's exposure mode, offering Auto, Manual, Scene, Movie, and Voice Recording. (The Mode dial also accesses the Setup menu, while a Playback button activates Playback mode.) Manual exposure mode in this case refers to the availability of exposure features such as White Balance, Sharpness, etc., not manual control of shutter speed or aperture. Although the camera controls aperture and shutter speed at all times, you can manually adjust White Balance, Exposure Compensation, Sharpness, Image Size, and Image Quality settings. White Balance options include an Auto setting, plus Daylight, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Cloudy, and Speedlight presets. There's also a Preset setting, which determines the proper color balance based on a gray card held in front of the camera, a very useful feature, but relatively rare on digicams intended for novice users. Exposure Compensation is adjustable from -2 to +2 exposure equivalents (EV) in one-third-step increments. The 3700 also features no fewer than 15 preset "Scene" shooting modes, which program the camera for specific shooting conditions. The 15 modes include Portrait, Party/Indoor, Night Portrait, Beach/Snow, Landscape, Sunset, Night Landscape, Museum, Fireworks Show, Close Up, Copy, Back Light, Panorama Assist, Sports, and Dusk/Dawn. Most of the modes are fairly self-explanatory, but the instruction manual offers full descriptions for each. The 3700's flash operates in Forced (always on), Suppressed (off), Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, and Slow Sync modes, and is effective to almost 10 feet (3 meters).

In Movie exposure mode, the camera captures moving images without sound at 640 x 480 pixels, though a selection of smaller resolutions is available, as well as Black and White and Sepia color modes. Depending on the mode, movies are recorded at either 30 or 15 frames per second, for as long as the memory card has available space. (Assuming, that is, that the memory card being used has a high enough write rate to keep up with the data rate. Look for speed-rated cards with speeds higher than "16x" to insure maximum recording time.) A Time-Lapse Movie mode captures a series of still images (as many as 1,800 total) at set intervals, so that you can play back the images as a silent movie file. (This is a great way to capture slow events such as clouds moving, a flower blooming, or an egg hatching.) The 3700 features a Self-Timer mode, which provides either a three- or 10-second delay between the time the Shutter button is pressed and when the camera actually takes the picture, great for self-portraits. An interesting feature here is the Sound Release option, which lets you trip the shutter in response to a sound (a clap of your hands, for instance) rather than a press of the Shutter button. The shutter releases about one second after a specified sound trigger. Through the Record menu, shooting options include Low and High-Speed Continuous Shooting, Multi-Shot 16, and Interval Timer modes. The two Continuous Shooting modes capture a rapid series of images with maximum frame rates of 2.5 and 1.5 frames per second, respectively. Multi-Shot 16 mode captures 16 thumbnail-sized images in a rapid series, which are then displayed as a matrix, occupying a single 2,048 x 1,536-pixel image. Similar to the Time-Lapse Movie mode described above, Interval Timer mode captures a series of still images at preset intervals, mimicking the effect of time-lapse photography. There's also Nikon's signature "Best Shot Selector" (BSS) feature, which captures a series of images and then automatically saves only the sharpest one to the memory card. Finally, the Voice Recording mode lets you record as much as five hours of sound, depending of course, on the amount of available space on the memory card.

The 3700 stores images on SD/MMC memory cards, available separately in capacities as large as 1 GB (1,000 MB). A 16MB "starter" card comes with the camera, which only holds a maximum of nine full resolution, fine quality images. You should plan on buying a much larger memory card along with the camera. - I'd recommend at least a 64MB card. The camera is powered by a single EN-EL5 lithium-ion battery pack for power, and comes with one rechargeable battery and charger. To ensure you don't miss an important shot, I'd recommend picking up an additional battery and keeping it freshly charged and on-hand at all times. The optional AC adapter is useful for preserving battery power when reviewing and downloading images, and utilizes a "dummy" battery that inserts into the battery compartment and has a power cord extension for plugging into an outlet. The 3700 features a USB jack for downloading images to a computer, and an "Auto Transfer" option sets the camera to automatically begin downloading images as soon as it is connected to a computer loaded with the supplied Nikon software. Two CD-ROMs accompany the camera: one containing the Nikon View 6.1 software for downloading and editing images and one with a copy of the software reference manual. The updated version of Nikon View offers a one-touch Red-Eye fix for images, as well as one-touch uploading to the nikon.net website, which lets you create albums, order prints, etc. The 3700 is DPOF compatible, with Print Setup options available through the Playback settings menu (as well as a handful of post-capture image effects).

Basic Features

  • 3.2-megapixel CCD delivering images as large as 2,048 x 1,536 pixels.
  • 1.5-inch color LCD monitor.
  • Glass, 3x, 5.4-16.2mm lens (35mm equivalent is 35-105mm).
  • 4x digital zoom.
  • Five-area automatic focus.
  • Automatic exposure control.
  • 256-Segment Matrix metering.
  • Maximum aperture of f/2.8 to f/4.9, depending on lens zoom position.
  • Shutter speeds from 1/3,000 to four seconds.
  • ISO 50 sensitivity equivalent, with auto gain to ISO 200.
  • Built-in flash with five operating modes.
  • SD/MMC memory storage.
  • Power supplied by one EN-EL5 lithium-ion battery pack (included) or optional AC adapter.

Special Features

  • Movie with sound mode, with Black and White, Sepia, and Time-Lapse movie options.
  • High and Low-Speed Continuous Shooting, Interval Timer, and Multi-Shot 16 shooting modes.
  • Voice Recording mode.
  • Scene mode with 15 preset "scenes."
  • Three- and10-second Self-Timer for delayed shutter release, with Sound Release option.
  • White balance (color) adjustment with seven modes, including a manual setting.
  • Sharpness adjustment.
  • Best Shot Selector shooting mode.
  • DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) compatibility.
  • USB cable for connection to a computer (driver software included).
  • A/V cable for connection to a television set.

Recommendation

The 3700's small, compact design makes it a good candidate for travel, as the camera fits easily into a shirt pocket or small purse. The retractable lens design keeps the camera body smooth and low-profile, perfect for pockets, and the silver, metal body is fashionably chic as well as rugged. With the convenience of automatic exposure control and extensive preset shooting modes, the 3700 is perfect for novices and amateurs looking for great pictures and hassle-free camera operation, but has enough capability to handle a variety of shooting conditions. Plus, the 3.2-megapixel CCD delivers high-quality images, and the Nikon name ensures good overall quality. This would be a great all-around camera for families, moms, grandparents, as well as a good camera for travel.

 

Design

One of the slimmest, trimmest Coolpix models in the line, Nikon's new Coolpix 3700 is very compact, with a stylish, metal body that offers understated elegance. The retractable lens keeps the front panel nice and smooth, so it won't hang on pockets. No other major protrusions extend from the camera body when the lens is stowed, and the camera's small size makes it welcome in shirt pockets and tiny purses. The 3700's compact dimensions and light weight make it suitable for practically any excursion. With the lens retracted, the camera measures 3.76 x 1.97 x 1.22 inches (96 x 50 x 31 millimeters). With battery and memory card loaded, it weighs a mere 5.8 ounces (164 grams). The low-profile external controls maintain the camera's smooth surface, and make effective use of the camera's available space on the rear panel.

 

 

When the lens is stowed, the 3700's front panel is smooth and almost flat. Once extended, the lens protrudes only about 5/8-inch from the camera's front. The lens surface is protected by a shutter-like cover, which automatically slides open as the lens extends. Sharing the front panel is the camera's built-in flash, Self-Timer lamp, optical viewfinder window, and microphone. Though the 3500 doesn't offer a large handgrip, the front of the camera does feature a small ridge for fingers to grasp. (I do strongly recommend that you use the provided wrist strap, as protection in case the camera slips from your fingers.)

 

 

On the right side of the camera (as viewed from the rear) is the memory card / battery compartment. The sliding compartment door also features an inset door to access the USB/AV Out jack without having to open up the entire compartment. A flexible, plastic flap at the bottom of the compartment door makes room for the power cord when using the optional "dummy battery" AC adapter. Above the compartment is the eyelet for attaching the wrist strap.

 

 

The opposite side of the camera is devoid of detail.

 

 

The 3700's smooth top panel features the Power switch, Shutter button, and a small speaker. A small LED next to the Power dial and Shutter button lights when the camera is powered on.

 

 

All of the remaining camera controls share the rear panel with the LCD monitor and optical viewfinder. Two LEDs next to the optical viewfinder light to designate camera status, such as when focus is set, the flash is charged, etc. A ridge around the top and sides of the optical viewfinder accommodates an eyecup that slides into place, making it easier to see through the viewfinder without any outside glare. The wide/telephoto zoom buttons in the top right corner control both optical and digital zoom in record mode and image enlargement and index display in Playback mode. A multi-directional rocker button navigates through menu options, accesses several Record mode features, and serves as the "OK" button for menu options. Also on the rear panel are the Display, Delete, Menu, and Playback buttons, and the Mode dial.

 

 

 

The bottom panel of the 3700 reveals the plastic, threaded tripod mount, centered on the camera body. (While not likely to be an issue for most owners of the Coolpix 3700, I do wish that Nikon had chosen to use a more durable metal tripod socket, rather than the plastic one they selected.) From this view, the plastic AC adapter cord flap is also visible, on the edge of the battery compartment door.

Camera Operation

The Coolpix 3700's user interface is pretty straightforward, and it didn't take long to figure out the controls and LCD menu system. Most of the external controls have multiple functions, reducing the reliance on the LCD menu system and making the user interface faster to operate. Flash, zoom, record mode, the self-timer, exposure compensation, Macro mode, and the information display mode all have external controls, while the remaining exposure options are changed through the menu system. The LCD menu system is uncomplicated and easy to navigate, as it only offers a couple of pages of settings to scroll through at most. Given the mostly automatic exposure control and simplified user interface, it shouldn't take more than few minutes for the average user to be comfortable shooting with the camera, and 30 minutes perusal of the manual should leave one confident with most of the camera's features.

Record Mode Display: In Record mode, the 3700's LCD monitor reports limited camera information, such as the file size, record mode, flash mode, and a handful of other camera settings. Pressing the Monitor button optionally displays an alignment grid, disables the LCD display altogether, or displays the image only.

Playback Mode Display: In Playback mode, the main LCD display is the image only. Pressing the Monitor button displays the folder name and file number, in addition to the image series number and file size. It also displays a shortcut for button functions, indicating that the Multi-Directional Rocker button rotates the image in 90-degree increments, and that the Shutter button enables recording of a short audio caption. The Zoom rocker button can be used to zoom out to either a 4- or 9-image index display of images stored on the card, or zoom in on the current image, to check fine details and framing.

 

External Controls


Shutter Button
: Protruding slightly above the camera's top panel, this button sets focus and exposure when halfway pressed, and fires the shutter when fully pressed. In Playback mode, pressing this button enables recording of a short audio caption.

Power Dial: Surrounding the Shutter button on the top panel, this dial turns the camera on and off.


Zoom Buttons
: Located in the top right corner of the back panel, these buttons control the optical and digital zoom while in Record mode.

In Playback mode, the "W" button shows an index display of all images on the memory card, four or nine images at a time. Alternatively, the "T" position enlarges the currently displayed image, so you can check on fine details.


Monitor Button
: Adjacent to the optical viewfinder on the right side, this button controls the LCD display mode. In Record mode, the button cycles through the image, image with information, and grid displays, and also turns the LCD monitor off. In Playback mode, this button turns an information display on and off.


Multi-Directional Rocker Button
: Next to the top right corner of the LCD monitor, this rocker button moves up, down, left, and right. In any settings menu, this button scrolls through the available menu options and menu screens. Pressing directly down on the button confirms any menu settings. In Movie mode, pressing down on the button while recording temporarily pauses the recording.

In Record mode, pushing the button upward (flash icon) cycles through the available flash modes. Pressing the button to the right adjusts the Exposure Compensation, while pressing it to the left activates the Self-Timer sub-menu. Pressing the button downward displays the Macro mode sub-menu.

In Playback mode, pressing the button to the left and right scrolls through captured images and movie files. Pressing the button down at center rotates the image 90 degrees with each press.


Delete Button
: Diagonally to the left below the Multi-Direction Rocker button, this button displays the Delete menu when pressed. In Record mode, you can delete the most recently captured image by pressing this button. In Playback mode, this button also pulls up the Delete menu, letting you erase the image displayed on the LCD monitor.


Menu Button
: To the right of the Delete button, this button pulls up the main LCD menu in any shooting mode, as well as in Playback mode.


Mode Dial
: Directly below the Multi-Directional Rocker button, this dial sets the camera's main shooting mode. Options are Manual, Movie, Auto, Scene, and Voice Recording modes, and a Setup mode as well.

Playback / Transfer Button: Directly in the center of the Mode dial, this button takes the camera in and out of Playback mode. When the camera is connected to a computer, this button also acts as the Transfer button, automatically downloading selected images.

 

Camera Modes and Menus

Manual Exposure Mode: Marked on the Mode dial with a black camera icon and "M," this mode offers a handful of exposure variables, but leaves the camera in charge of aperture and shutter speed. An expanded LCD menu system offers the following options:

  • Image Mode: Sets the resolution and quality of captured images. Options are 3M High (2,048 x 1,536 pixels), 3M Normal (2,048 x 1,536 pixels), 2M Normal (1,600 x 1,200 pixels), PC Screen (1,024 x 768 pixels), and TV Screen (640 x 480 pixels).
  • White Balance: Adjusts the overall color balance of the image to match specific light sources. Choices include Auto, Preset (based on a gray card), Daylight, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Cloudy, and Speedlight.
  • Continuous: Selects Single, Continuous H, Continuous L, Multi-Shot 16, or Interval Timer shooting modes.
  • Best Shot Selector: Turns the BSS mode on or off. BSS takes a series of images in rapid succession, and then selects only the sharpest one for recording to the memory card.
  • Image Sharpening: Controls the amount of in-camera sharpening applied to the image. Choices are Auto, High, Normal, Low, or Off.
  • AF Area Mode: Designates the level of control over the five-point AF system. Options are Auto, Manual, and Off (fixes the AF area at the center of the frame).

Movie Mode: This mode records moving images with sound, with a handful of movie options to choose from. Menu options include:

  • Movie Options: Controls the movie shooting mode. Choices are TV Movie* (640 x 480 pixels, 30 frames per second), TV Movie (640 x 480 pixels, 15 frames per second), Small Size* (320 x 240 pixels, 30 frames per second), Small Size (320 x 240 pixels, 15 frames per second), Smaller Size (160 x 120 pixels), Black and White Movie, Sepia Movie, and Time-Lapse Movie.
  • AF Mode: Puts the autofocus system into Continuous or Single AF modes.

Auto Exposure Mode: In this mode (green camera icon), the camera controls all aspects of the exposure, with the exception of flash, macro, self-timer, and exposure compensation settings. Pressing the Menu button pulls up only one menu option:

  • Image Mode: Sets the resolution and quality of captured images. Options are 3M High (2,048 x 1,536 pixels), 3M Normal (2,048 x 1,536 pixels), 2M Normal (1,600 x 1,200 pixels), PC Screen (1,024 x 768 pixels), and TV Screen (640 x 480 pixels).

Scene Exposure Mode: The word "Scene" indicates this mode on the Mode dial. Fifteen preset scene modes are available, by pressing the Menu button:

  • Portrait: No surprises, this option sets up the camera for portrait shots. (Forces a larger lens opening, to help blur the background details, emphasizing your subject.)
  • Party/Indoor: Use to capture background details in situations that require flash. Also good for preserving the look of candlelight or other indoor lighting.
  • Night Portrait: Combines longer exposure with flash, to avoid flash photos with blown-out faces and black backgrounds.
  • Beach/Snow: Boosts the exposure to compensate for subjects that are very bright overall.
  • Landscape: Best for wide shots of scenery, this mode uses a smaller aperture, to enhance depth of field. The mode also boosts contrast and saturation to enhance scenery.
  • Sunset: Preserves the deep colors of sunsets and sunrises. (Likely sets white balance to "daylight" rather than auto, and dials in some negative exposure compensation to get a good exposure on the sky.)
  • Night Landscape: Combines longer exposures with the "Landscape" mode. The flash is disabled in this mode.
  • Museum: Enables longer exposure times and higher sensitivity, for indoor situations where you can't use flash.
  • Fireworks Show: Sets a long exposure and small aperture so you can catch the colored trails of fireworks.
  • Close Up: Adjusts the lens for close-focusing on small objects.
  • Copy: Boosts contrast and adjusts exposure to produce sharp images of black text (or line drawings) on white backgrounds.
  • Backlight: For difficult lighting conditions, when the main light is behind your subject, casting their features into shadow.
  • Panorama Assist: Lets you capture a series of images to be stitched together later on a computer as one panoramic image.
  • Sports: Employs faster shutter speeds to freeze fast-moving action.
  • Dusk/Dawn: Preserves color in dimmer exposure conditions, such as just before sunrise or sunset, when the light is weak.

Voice Record Mode: A small, black microphone icon marks this mode on the Mode dial. Here, you can record as much as five hours of audio to the memory card, potentially limited, of course, by available memory card space. No menu options are available.

Setup Menu: The final position on the Mode dial, this mode automatically displays the following menu options:

  • Welcome Screen: Sets the image and start-up sound that play whenever the camera is powered on. You can also disable the welcome screen.
  • Date: Sets the camera's internal calendar and clock.
  • Date Imprint: Designates whether or not the date and time appear as an overlay on recorded images and movies.
  • Brightness: Adjusts the overall brightness of the LCD display.
  • Sound Settings: Turns the operational and shutter sounds on or off, and adjusts the volume.
  • Sound Release Level: Designates the volume level required to trigger the Sound Release option of the Self-Timer menu. (Choices are 1, 2, or 3, with one being the lowest and three being the highest.)
  • Auto Off: Specifies the period of inactivity after which the camera will turn itself off. Options are 30 seconds, or 1, 5, or 30 minutes.
  • Format Card: Formats the memory card, erasing all files (even protected ones).
  • Language: Sets the camera's menu language to one of 10 languages.
  • USB: Specifies either PTP or Mass Storage USB modes.
  • Video Mode: Sets the video mode to NTSC or PAL.
  • Reset All: Resets all menu settings to their defaults.
  • Version: Displays the firmware version.

Playback Mode: This mode lets you review captured images and movies on the memory card, as well as erase them, protect them, and set them up for printing. Pressing the Menu button displays the following options:

  • Print Set: Sets which images will be marked for printing on a "DPOF" compatible printer, or resets all print settings (removing any print instructions). If an image is selected to be printed, you can also opt to overlay image information and/or the date over the image.
  • Slide Show: Selects which images will be played back automatically in a slide show, and then lets you start the show. You can also designate whether the show loops.
  • Delete: Erases selected or all images from the memory card (except for write-protected images).
  • Protect: Activates the index display, so that individual images can be marked for protection. "Protected" images won't be deleted with a "Delete All" operation, but will disappear if the memory card is formatted.
  • Auto Transfer: Activates the Auto Transfer function, which automatically begins the image transfer process when the camera is connected to a computer that has Nikon's Nikon View software installed on it. Options are All On, All Off, or Select Image(s).
  • Picture Enhance Menu: Lets you apply creative filters and effects post-capture. Choices are Halo Filter, Monochrome Filter, and Sepia Filter.
  • Small Pic.: Creates a smaller copy of the currently-selected image. Size options are 640 x 480 pixels, 320 x 240 pixels, and 160 x 120 pixels.
  • Movie Trim Menu: Enables a basic movie editing option for trimming back movie files.

 

In the Box

Packaged in the box are the following items:

  • Coolpix 3700 digital camera
  • Wrist strap
  • Eyecup
  • 16MB "Starter" memory card
  • USB cable
  • A/V cable
  • Li-Ion battery
  • Battery charger
  • Nikon View 6.1 and Nikon View Reference CD-ROMs
  • Quick start guide, instruction manuals, and registration information

Recommended Accessories


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...


Specifications
See the specifications sheet here.

 

Picky Details
Information on shooting speed, battery life, etc. can be found here.

 

User Reviews

 

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

Outdoor
Indoor Flash
Indoor
 

 

 

House
Musicians
Macro
 

 

 

Davebox
Resolution
Viewfinder Accuracy

 

 

Test Results
In keeping with my standard test policy, the comments given here summarize only my key findings. For a full commentary on each of the test images, see the Coolpix 3700's "pictures" page.

As with all Imaging Resource product tests, I encourage you to let your own eyes be the judge of how well the camera performed. Explore the images on the pictures page, to see how Coolpix 3700's images compare to other cameras you may be considering.

Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Coolpix 3700 with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!

  • Color: Excellent color. Throughout my testing, the Coolpix 3700 produced very good color, with accurate, believable results in virtually all cases. Skin tones tended to be just slightly pinkish, but not to an objectionable extent, and most other colors were accurate and vibrant. Indoors, the 3700 did much better than most cameras I test with the difficult incandescent lighting of my Indoor Portrait test, producing good results with its Auto, Incandescent, and Preset white balance options. Overall, a very nice job.

  • Exposure: Good exposure accuracy, slightly high contrast. The Coolpix 3700's metering system did a pretty good job throughout my testing, generally requiring less exposure compensation than average on shots that routinely require it. It had a somewhat contrasty tone curve though, which made for bright colors and snappy-looking images, but that led it to lose highlight detail under harsh lighting. I'd personally like to see less contrast in its images, but most consumers tend to prefer the crisp, highly saturated colors that come with higher image contrast..

  • Resolution/Sharpness: High resolution, 1,000-1,050 lines of "strong detail." The Coolpix 3700 performed well on the "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 600 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions. I found "strong detail" out to 1,000 lines, although you could perhaps argue for as high as 1,050 lines. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,300 lines.

  • Closeups: Superb macro performance, with good flash results as well. Like most Nikon digicams, the Coolpix 3700 performed exceptionally well in the macro category. It captured a minimum area of only 1.67 x 1.25 inches (42 x 32 millimeters). Resolution is high, with great detail in the dollar bill. However, the coins and brooch are soft due to the very short shooting distance, which results in very low depth of field. (Not the camera's fault, this is a fact of life with macro shooting.) There's quite a bit of softness on the left side of the frame, a common digicam failing in super-macro shooting. The camera's flash throttled down surprisingly well for the macro area (despite the close range), although the brooch created a bright reflection.

  • Night Shots: A decent performance for a fully automatic digicam, capable of shooting bright images under average city street lighting at night. The Coolpix 3700 operates under full automatic exposure control, which limits its low-light shooting abilities somewhat. In my testing, the camera produced usable images down to the 1/2 foot-candle (5.5 lux) light level (although the shot at 1 foot-candle was better-exposed.), with a slightly warm color cast and low image noise. Since average city street lighting at night equates to about one foot-candle, the Coolpix 3700 can capture bright images at just slightly darker light levels.

  • Viewfinder Accuracy: A tight optical viewfinder, but very accurate LCD monitor. The Coolpix 3700's optical viewfinder is a little tight, showing only about 79 percent of the final frame at wide angle, and about 85 percent at telephoto. The LCD monitor proved much more accurate, showing close to 100 percent frame accuracy at both wide angle and telephoto. Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the Coolpix 3700's LCD monitor is essentially perfect in that regard, but I'd really like to see a more accurate optical viewfinder.

  • Optical Distortion: Higher than average barrel distortion at wide angle (but no distortion at telephoto), more chromatic aberration than I like to see. Optical distortion on the Coolpix 3700 was high at the wide-angle end, where I measured approximately 1.07 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared much better, as I couldn't find even one pixel of distortion at that zoom setting. Chromatic aberration was a little higher than I like to see, showing about five pixels of moderately strong 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.)

  • Battery Life: Very good battery life. The Coolpix 3700 showed surprisingly good battery life for a compact camera model, with a worst-case run time (capture mode, with the LCD turned on) of 158 minutes. I still recommend purchasing a second battery along with the camera, but the 3700 does better than average in the battery-life department.

Conclusion
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Bearing the well-respected Nikon Coolpix name and a svelte, rugged, stylish all-metal body, the Coolpix 3700 is one of the most compact Coolpix models available. Its compact size and sleek body style suit pockets well, making it a ready travel companion. While it's truly a point & shoot camera, there are enough options to let you bring back good-looking photos from a variety of shooting conditions, and its generous collection of 15 "scene" modes make it easy to capture photos of what might otherwise be challenging subjects. Its images are bright and vibrant (if not a tad contrasty for my own taste), with accurate, well-saturated color and good resolution. With its point-and-shoot design and ease of use, the Coolpix 3700 is an excellent choice for anyone looking for an easy to use digicam that takes good pictures and travels well. Definitely recommended as a nice "all around" digicam, this is one of my favorite Coolpix models to date.

 

Related Links

More Information on this camera from Megapixel.net:
Nikon Coolpix 3700, Nikon Digital Cameras, Digital Cameras


 

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