Nikon Coolpix 8800By: Shawn Barnett & Dave Etchells
Nikon improves on its flagship 8 megapixel prosumer camera with a longer zoom and vibration reduction to improve long handheld shots.
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8800 Sample ImagesReview First Posted: 09/16/2004, Updated: 11/23/2004
Digital Cameras - Nikon Coolpix 8800 Test Images
|I've begun including links in our reviews to a Thumbnail index page for the test shots. The data on this page 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, we're posting the thumbnail 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 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 8800 performed fairly well, but its high contrast lost highlight detail, even with the "low contrast" image-adjustment option selected.
The shot at right was taken with a +1.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which is higher than average. The highlights on the white shirt are completely blown out, even though I shot this with the "low contrast" option selected on the image-adjustment menu. The midtones are about right in this image though, and were much too dark in the lower exposure at +1.0 EV. I chose the Auto white balance option as the most accurate overall, as the Daylight setting was a bit greenish, and the Manual setting more reddish.
Marti's skin tones look very good here, but the blue flowers in the bouquet are a bit darker than they are in real life, and have a bit more of a purple tint to them. (Many digicams have trouble with this blue. The Coolpix 8800 missed the mark slightly, but isn't too far off overall.) Color throughout the rest of the frame looks good as well. Colors are somewhat oversaturated (particularly the bright reds and greens), but the overall effect is quite appealing, in large part because the oversaturation doesn't extend to the flesh tones. Resolution is really excellent, and a lot of fine detail is visible throughout the frame, even in Marti's face. Shadow detail is strong, and image noise is surprisingly low for an 8-megapixel prosumer digicam. (Even allowing for this shot having been captured at ISO 50.) Aside from the too-bright highlights, a great job overall.
To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.3 EV, see files CP88OUTAP0.HTM
through CP88OUTAP4.HTM on the thumbnail index page.
Excellent resolution and detail, but again, somewhat high contrast.
Once again, despite my use of the 8800's low contrast option, the camera had a bit of a hard time handling the deliberately harsh lighting of this shot. The shot at right required only a +0.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment. This properly exposed the highlights on her face, but left the shadows and lower midtones darker than I'd like. Despite this, shadow detail and noise in the shadows are both very good . The Coolpix 8800's 10x zoom lens helps prevent geometric distortion in Marti's features, and captures sharp details with crisp definition. Resolution and detail are much stronger in this close-up shot, with strong definition in Marti's face and hair, as well as in the fabric of the green leaves. (Resolution here borders on the ridiculous, you can literally count Marti's eyelashes or the peachfuzz on her face. Definitely not a shot I'm going to show her full-size on the CRT! ;-)
To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.3 EV, see files CP88OUTFACP0.HTM
through CP88OUTFACP4.HTM on the thumbnail index
Indoor Portrait, Flash:
Good exposure with the flash in the normal setting, and fairly good lighting with the Slow-Sync mode (though a strong orange cast).
The Coolpix 8800's built-in flash illuminated the subject well with no exposure compensation adjustment. (+0.3 EV was a little too bright, to my eye.) Color balance is pretty good, with only a trace of a warm cast from the background incandescent lighting noticeable on Marti's hair. Marti's skin tones are good, and color in the flowers is excellent as well. The camera's Slow-Sync flash setting produced a more balanced exposure from the longer shutter speed, though the color balance is much warmer from the incandescent lighting (as you'd expect). I found the best results in this mode with a +0.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment.
To view the entire exposure series from zero to +0.7 EV in the normal flash mode, see files CP88INFP0.HTM through CP88INFP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.
To view the same exposure series in the Slow-Sync flash mode, see files
CP88INFSP0.HTM through CP88INFSP2.HTM on the thumbnail
Indoor Portrait, No Flash:
Good color with the Auto and Manual white balance settings, about average exposure compensation required.
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, but the Coolpix 8800's Manual white balance handled it very well. The Auto setting did quite well too, with only a slight red cast, but the Incandescent setting resulted in a warmer, yellow cast. Marti's skin tone looks very good (though just a hint magenta), and the flower bouquet looks about right as well. The blue flowers are slightly dark and purplish, but their color is still very good considering the difficult light source here. The main shot was taken with a +1.0 EV exposure compensation adjustment, about average for this subject.
To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.3 EV, see files CP88INMP0.HTM
through CP88INMP4.HTM on the thumbnail index page.
Good color with the Manual white balance, and very high resolution and detail.
The Coolpix 8800's Manual white balance
setting proved the most accurate overall on this shot, based on the white
value of the house trim. (Though the image is ever so slightly magenta.)
The Daylight setting produced a warm yellow
cast, while the Auto setting had a stronger
red cast. Resolution is very high, and detail is strong in the tree limbs,
front shrubbery, and house front. Details are sharp throughout the frame,
with good definition. (The Coolpix 8800's eight-megapixel CCD actually
stretches the limits of this poster as a test target. Even though it was
made from a 500MB scan of a 4x5 negative shot with a tack-sharp lens,
the camera extracts nearly all the detail that's to be found here.)
High resolution and strong detail, but high contrast leads to a modest underexposure.
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 8800 captures an exceptional amount of fine detail. Detail is very strong in the tree limbs and shrubbery, with excellent definition in the leaf patterns and in the fallen leaves on the ground. The brick pattern of the house also shows a lot of fine detail. Details are sharp throughout the frame, and there doesn't seem to be much loss of detail to noise-suppression processing, at least not in this ISO 50 shot. The camera manages to just hold onto the strong highlights in the bright white paint surrounding the bay window, which is often a trouble spot for digicams. To accomplish this though, the 8800 cut the exposure to the point that the rest of the image is rather dark, with the result that detail is only marginal in the shadow area above the front door, evidence of a slightly limited dynamic range. The table below shows a standard resolution and quality series, followed by ISO, sharpness, contrast, and saturation series. (Here is a sample image taken with the camera's Black and White setting.)
Lens Zoom Range
An excellent 10x 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 (10x, in this case), and at full telephoto with the digital zoom enabled. The Coolpix 8800's lens is equivalent to a 35-350mm zoom on a 35mm camera. That corresponds to a moderate wide angle to a pretty substantial telephoto. (And the Coolpix 8800 has vibration-reduction technology that makes the long zoom usable under a lot wider range of light levels than it otherwise would be.) Following are the results at each zoom setting.
Color casts with each white balance setting. Excellent resolution and detail though.
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. Though overall color is warm and yellowish, I preferred
the Daylight white balance setting here. The
Auto setting was too warm, and the Manual
setting had too much magenta. Skin tones are warm, and the blue background
and robe have purplish tints, but overall color looks slightly more natural.
Resolution is again excellent, and detail is strong in the models' accessories
and instruments. The embroidered bird wings on the blue robe also show
a lot of fine detail. (The original data file for this poster was only
20MB though, so cameras like the Coolpix 8800 are capable of showing a
lot more detail than the poster has in it.)
A very small macro area with exceptional detail. Flash has trouble up close though.
The Coolpix 8800 performed very well in the macro category, capturing
a minimum area of only 2.17 x 1.62 inches (55 x 41 millimeters). Thanks
to its 8 megapixel CCD, resolution is very high, showing a lot of fine
detail in the dollar bill, coins, and brooch. Details are softer on the
coins and brooch due to the close shooting range, but this is simply an
optical fact of life, not at all a fault of the camera. Details soften
toward the corners of the frame, but are fairly sharp on the dollar bill.
(Most digicams produce images with soft corners when shooting in their
Macro modes.) The Coolpix 8800's flash is
almost completely blocked by the long lens. (Definitely plan on using
external lighting for your closest macro shots with the Coolpix 8800.)
"Davebox" Test Target
Pleasing color, but somewhat oversaturated on the brightest colors. Good exposure as well.
Though just slightly warm overall, the Coolpix 8800's Auto
white balance setting produced the best results here, as the Manual
setting was slightly magenta, and the Daylight
setting was quite warm. Exposure looks about right, and the Coolpix 8800
distinguishes the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target well. The
large color blocks are fairly hue-accurate, but the most intensely colored
swatches (red, green, blue, magenta) are noticeably over-saturated. Conversely,
the bright yellow swatch is somewhat dark and under-saturated. The shadow
area of the charcoal briquettes shows good detail, with fairly low noise.
Good low-light performance. Good color and exposure, with moderate image noise. Very good low-light autofocus performance, IF you have the camera on a tripod and have a reasonably contrasty subject.
The Coolpix 8800 produced clear, bright, usable images down to the 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux) limit of my test, with good color at the 400 ISO setting. At ISO 50 and 100, images were bright down to the 1/4 foot-candle (2.7 lux) light level, though the target is visible at the 1/8 foot-candle (1.3 lux) light level. At ISO 200, images were bright down to the 1/8 foot-candle light level, and noise was moderate in most shots. At ISO 400, image noise became quite high. The camera's Noise Reduction option didn't make a big difference, but it did improve contrast, and eliminate a few hot pixels. The Nikon 8800's autofocus system worked very well in dim lighting, focusing without its AF-assist light down to a bit below 1/8 foot-candle, and in complete darkness with the AF-assist light enabled. NOTE though, that the camera struggled a fair bit with low-contrast subjects, and often had a very hard time focusing if hand-held vs tripod-mounted. 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.
(Note: If you'd like to use a light meter to
check light levels for subjects you might be interested in shooting, a
light level of one foot-candle corresponds to a normal exposure of two
seconds at f/2.8 and ISO 100.)
Flash Range Test
A powerful flash, despite a consistent underexposure at the default setting, without any strong falloff at 14 feet.
In my testing, the Coolpix 8800's flash illuminated the test target all the way to 14 feet (though intensity was slightly low), with hardly any decrease in intensity. Below is the flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.
High resolution, 1,650 lines of "strong detail." High barrel distortion at wide angle. Good chromatic aberration for a long-zoom lens, but more at wide-angle focal lengths. Better than average sharpness in the corners.
The Coolpix 8800 performed very well on the "laboratory" resolution test chart for its eight-megapixel class. It didn't start showing artifacts in the test patterns until resolutions of 1,400 lines per picture height vertically and horizontally. I found "strong detail" out to at least 1,650 lines. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 2,000 lines.
Looking at the results from Imatest, the "MTF 50" numbers tend to correlate best with visual perceptions of sharpness, so those are what I focus on here. The uncorrected resolution figures are 1431 line widths per picture height in the horizontal direction (corresponding to the vertically-oriented edge), and 1408 along the vertical axis (corresponding to the horizontally-oriented edge), for a combined average of 1420 LW/PH. Correcting to a "standardized" sharpening with a one-pixel radius increases this number somewhat, to an average of 1559 LW/PH, a very good number.
Geometric distortion on the Coolpix 8800 is quite high at the wide-angle
end, where I measured approximately 1.00 percent barrel distortion. The
telephoto end fared quite a bit better, as I found 0.01 percent pincushion
distortion there (about three pixels' worth). Chromatic aberration was
low at normal and telephoto focal lengths, with three or four pixels of
faint coloration on either side of the target lines. At wide angle the
chromatic aberration became more pronounced, but still wasn't bad for
a long-zoom digicam. (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.) Sharpness in the corners of the images was better than average
for a long-zoom camera.
Resolution Series, medium focal length
Resolution Test, Zoom Series
Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity
Good results with the "electronic" optical viewfinder.
The Coolpix 8800's "electronic" optical viewfinder (EVF) is pretty accurate, showing about 98 percent of the final image area at wide angle. At telephoto, the image was shifted upward in the frame just enough to cut off the top measurement lines, but overall coverage was still very close to the 98 percent found at wide angle. The LCD monitor turned in the same results, since the EVF is essentially a miniaturized version of the LCD monitor. Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the Coolpix 8800's LCD monitor performed pretty well here. Flash distribution is slightly uneven at wide angle, with some falloff at the corners of the frame. At telephoto, I had to back off so far for the target to fill the frame that the flash was ineffective.
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