Digital Cameras - Nikon Coolpix 3700 Test Images
|I've begun including links in our reviews to a Thumber-generated index page for the test shots. The Thumber data includes a host of information on the images, including shutter speed, ISOsetting, compression setting, etc. Rather than clutter the page below with *all*that detail, we're posting the Thumber index so only those interested inthe 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 shoot it with no fill flash or reflector to open the shadows. The object is to hold both highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the Coolpix 3700 performed fairly well.
The shot at right was taken with a +0.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which resulted in slightly dark midtones, but very bright highlights. The contrast is a little high here, compromising detail in the brightest highlight areas. I chose the Manual white balance as the most accurate overall, as the Daylight setting was greenish, and the Auto setting slightly cool.
Marti's skin tones are nearly right, albeit a bit more red/pink that I'd like, but the blue flowers in the bouquet are quite dark. (Many digicams have trouble with this blue, which is actually a light navy blue with just a hint of purple in it.) The remaining color looks pretty good, however. Resolution is high, as the camera picks up good detail throughout the frame, even in the shadows. Image noise is fairly low overall, but increases in the shadows.
To view the entire exposure series from zero to +0.7 EV, see files CP37OUTMP0.HTM
through CP37OUTMP2.HTM on the thumbnail index page.
High resolution with good detail, though again high contrast.
Overall results are similar to the wider shot above, in terms of color and exposure, although Marti's skin tones look a bit more natural here. Contrast is again high, but midtone detail is pretty good. The Coolpix 3700's 3x zoom lens helps prevent distortion, though some distortion is noticeable here. The shot at right was taken with a +0.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which produced very bright highlights. Detail is stronger in this close-up shot, with more fine detail visible in Marti's face and hair.
To view the entire exposure series from -0.3 to +0.7 EV, see files CP37FACAM1.HTM
through CP37FACAP2.HTM on the thumbnail index page.
Indoor Portrait, Flash:
Good coverage with the built-in flash, with excellent color, although some exposure compensation is required.
The Coolpix 3700's flash did a very nice job here, providing even illumination
and excellent color. The 3700 did require the same +1.0 EV exposure compensation
that I've seen with other cameras on this shot though, as the default
exposure was rather dark. In Slow-Sync mode, it required much less
exposure compensation, but picked up a slight warm cast from the incandescent
Indoor Portrait, No Flash:
Good exposures, very good color, with a range of choices provided by the various white balance options.
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
3700 did quite well with this difficult light source, even
in its auto white balance mode. Auto
left the image a little pink, Incandescent
left it a little yellow, and the Manual
option produced an image that looked a little green to my
eye. None were objectionable though, personal preference would
determine which option any given user would prefer. - I chose
the Incandescent setting as producing the most natural effect
Good resolution and overall color.
Though ever so slightly reddish in the white trim, the Coolpix 3700's
Auto white balance produced the best overall
color here. The Daylight setting resulted in
a yellow cast, while the Manual setting produced
a cooler, blue image. Resolution is high, with good detail in the tree
limbs above the roof, and in the house front. Details are slightly soft
throughout the frame, and a bit softer in the corners. A good job overall
Good detail, excellent color, slightly limited dynamic range.
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 3700 does a decent job for a three-megapixel camera. The tree limbs over the roof and fine foliage in front of the house show good detail, perhaps just slightly softer than in the very best 3 megapixel models. The 3700's in-camera sharpening is a tad heavy-handed when viewed 1:1 onscreen, but will likely produce crisp-looking prints. The image is surprisingly sharp across the entire frame, with little of the softness I'm accustomed to seeing in the corners. Dynamic range is a little limited, as the camera loses essentially all the detail in the white paint on the bay window, although it does hold onto a reasonable amount of detail in the dark shadows near the door. A good job overall.
The table below shows a standard resolution and quality series, followed by a sharpening series.
Lens Zoom Range
A fairly 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 3700's lens is equivalent to a 35-105mm zoom on a 35mm camera. That corresponds to a moderate wide angle to a moderate telephoto, a very typical range for point & shoot digicams. Following are the results at each zoom setting.
Some color cast with each white balance setting, but good resolution.
This shot is often a tough test for digicams, as the abundance of blue
in the composition frequently tricks white balance systems into producing
a warm color balance. The Coolpix 3700's Auto
white balance setting fell victim to this trap, and produced a warm, reddish
image. Still, overall color was best here. The Daylight
setting was a bit too yellow for my taste, and the Manual
setting too cool. The warm color cast gives the blue background and robe
a greenish tint, and the models' skin tones a red tone. However, resolution
is high, as the embroidery on the blue robe and red vest show good detail.
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.
"Davebox" Test Target
Good overall exposure and excellent, vibrant color, but a tendency toward a warm color cast.
The Coolpix 3700's Auto white balance setting
did the best job here, despite a slight reddish tint. The Manual
setting was close to accurate, but had a strong cool cast (which some
may prefer, depending on taste). The Daylight
setting produced a stronger warm cast. Exposure is just a little bright,
but the camera distinguishes the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target
well. Aside from the warm cast, the large color blocks look really good.
The shadow area of the charcoal briquettes shows a fair amount of detail,
with low noise.
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. The table below shows the best exposure I was able to obtain for each of a range of illumination levels. Images in this table (like all sample photos) are untouched, exactly as they came from the camera.
Flash Range Test
Somewhat limited flash range, falls off beyond ~8 feet in my test.
In my testing, the Coolpix 3700's flash illuminated the test target all the way out to 14 feet, but showed a fair bit of light falloff beyond the 8 foot starting point. Below is the flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.
High resolution, 1,000-1,050 lines of "strong detail." High barrel distortion though.
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.
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.)
Resolution Series, Wide Angle
Resolution Test, Telephoto
Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity
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. Flash distribution is fairly even at wide angle, with just a little falloff at the corners and edges of the frame. At telephoto, flash distribution is more uniform.
3700 Test Images
3700 "Picky Details"
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