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Nikon CoolPix 775

Nikon packs advanced Coolpix technology & superior ease-of-use into a tiny, affordable 2 megapixel camera!

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Page 2:Executive Overview

Review First Posted: 07/23/2001

Executive Overview
The Coolpix 775 is the perfect digicam for the point-and-shoot photographer on the go. Its ultra-compact body (measuring just 3.4 x 2.6 x 1.7 inches / 87 x 66.5 x 44mm) fits just about anywhere -- shirt pocket, jeans pocket, waist pack -- it's the ultimate travelling companion. It's also quick on the draw, with easy, one-handed operation, and a simple user interface that will appeal to the most digitally challenged. The high-quality 3x Nikkor Zoom lens and 2.1-megapixel CCD strike a nice balance between image quality and performance, providing enough resolution for razor-sharp 5 x 7-inch prints, or even 8 x 10 prints if you prefer, and plenty of flexibility for composing great shots -- especially close-up portraits of family and friends.

With this latest model, Nikon has added some interesting new features. Most notable is the Transfer button, which is billed as a "One-Touch Upload to the Web." Functionally, it's similar to the Digital Print Order Format (DPOF), which marks specific images in-camera for digital output on a DPOF-compatible printer. In this case, One-Touch Transfer marks the images for automatic upload to the computer as soon as a USB connection is made. If used while the camera is already connected, it immediately uploads selected image to the computer or the Internet, using the NikonView software supplied with the camera. In this mode, images are automatically sent to Nikon's photo-sharing website:, where they can be e-mailed to friends and family or stored in online photo albums. (The software also provides the option of e-mailing images through your own Internet service provider.)

Its other very consumer-friendly feature is an *awesome* Mode Dial that makes setting the right exposure a no-brainer. Like most Mode dials, this one has an Auto exposure setting, a Movie mode, and a Playback function. Beyond that, Nikon has added *seven* scene presets -- all optimised for special shooting situations. These Scene modes cover most of the common, as well as some extra tricky, exposure challenges, including: Party / Indoor, Backlight, Portrait, Night Portrait, Landscape, Snow / Beach, and Sunsets. Granted, they don't cover every shooting situation you'll come across, but they come pretty close! The beauty of this is that the scene presets let you take photos in all sorts of tricky lighting conditions, without requiring you to learn the ins and outs of apertures, shutter speeds, ISO settings, etc. This makes the 775 a great camera for people who want more from their camera than a pure point & shoot ("point & hope"?), but who aren't ready to delve into the depths of photo technology.

The 775 offers an optical viewfinder that zooms along with the lens, and a 1.5-inch LCD monitor that turns on automatically when you power up the camera. When the LCD is turned on in full information display mode, it shows camera settings in the form of icons distributed around the edges of the screen. These include Auto, Scene, or Movie mode indicators, Flash mode, Image Size and Quality, and the number of remaining images. Other settings are displayed as they are engaged, for example Digital Zoom, Self-Timer, Best Shot Selection, Continuous Shooting, Exposure Compensation, White Balance, and Image Sharpening are all indicated on the monitor when they are in use. The low-battery indicator only appears when the battery is nearly drained. The on-screen information display can be turned off, leaving only the image display on-screen, and the LCD monitor can be turned off completely to conserve battery power.

The Coolpix 775 has three Image Size options, including: Full 1,600 x 1,200 pixels; XGA 1,024 x 768 pixels; and VGA 640 x 480 pixels, plus three JPEG compression levels: Fine (4:1), Normal (8:1), and Basic (16:1). Images are saved to a standard CompactFlash Type I storage card. (An 8MB card is provided with the camera, but you can buy optional upgrades as large as 512MB from third-party manufacturers.)

The 3x Zoom Nikkor lens is made of high-quality Nikon optics, with a 5.8-17.4mm focal length (equivalent to 38-115mm lens on a 35mm camera), and an f/2.9–4.9 maximum aperture, which varies depending on the zoom setting. Focus is automatically set by the camera's autofocus system, in either Single or Continuous AF modes, using a through-the-lens (TTL) contrast detection system. Single AF, which is activated when the LCD monitor is turned off, sets focus whenever you depress the Shutter button halfway. Continuous AF, which is automatically engaged when the LCD monitor is turned on, adjusts focus continuously as you move the camera around, or as the subject changes position within the frame.

Although the camera doesn't have a manual focus, it does have three focal range presets for various shooting conditions. The Normal (default) setting focuses on subjects 12 inches (30cm) or more from the lens. Infinity focus fixes the focal setting on infinity, so objects in the distance will remain in focus, and the Macro (close-up) mode focuses on subjects as close as 1.6 inches. Unlike most digital cameras, the Macro range extends from its minimum focus distance to infinity, however it restricts the zoom to approximately half of the full telephoto extension. There's also a Self-Timer function that is available in Normal or Macro Focus modes, with a shutter release delay of 3 or 10 seconds.

The Coolpix 775 is designed primarily for the point-and-shoot photographer, with a basic Programmed "Auto" exposure mode and seven preset "Scene" modes -- each of which automatically determines the aperture, shutter speed, flash, and focus settings. While this is great for novice photographers, it might be somewhat limiting to more experienced users who prefer to have access to full manual controls. The 775 is not completely devoid of exposure control though. The Auto mode menu offers Exposure Compensation, White Balance, Flash settings, and Image Size and Quality settings. The Scene mode menus, on the other hand, offer only Image Size and Quality settings.

The Movie mode records movie clips (without sound) at 15 frames per second, 320 x 240-pixel (QVGA) resolution. Movies are stored on the memory card as QuickTime files (designated by .MOV at the end of the name). The 775 also features a Continuous shooting mode with three recording options: Single, Continuous, and Multi-Shot 16. Single capture is the default setting, in which the camera records a single exposure at a time. The Continuous option records a rapid sequence of images at a rate of about three photos every two seconds, for as long as you hold down the Shutter button or until the CompactFlash card runs out of memory. Multi-Shot 16 records 16 consecutive 400 x 300-pixel thumbnail images and combines them into a collage measuring 1,600 x 1,200 pixels.

Coolpix cameras are well known for their unique Best Shot Selection (BSS) feature, which records up to 10 continuous exposures in the same manner as the Continuous mode (above), except that the camera then analyses the series and chooses the sharpest image to record to the memory card. This is particularly useful in situations where there is an increased potential for camera shake, such as in Macro mode, at maximum telephoto range, or when lighting is poor. (We're big fans of BSS - It's let us bring back usable images in situations where a conventional camera wouldn't have a prayer.)

The 775 also features an Auto Sharpening feature, which can be adjusted through the Auto menu to suit special shooting situations. For example, Auto Sharpening makes adjustments based on the subject and its surroundings, so the amount of sharpening will vary from shot to shot; Normal applies the same level of sharpening to all images; High increases image sharpness, making edges more distinct; Low reduces the amount of sharpening normally applied; and Off shuts down the sharpening function completely. These options are only available in the Auto exposure mode. In Scene modes, the camera determines the level of sharpening based on the subject matter.

In Playback mode, the LCD monitor displays captured images as single, full-screen shots or in multiple thumbnails (Index mode). Single images can be viewed with or without a complete information display, which includes the date and time when the image was captured, the image size and quality, file number and type, and current frame number / total picture count. When engaged, the Playback screen also displays the low-battery, image transfer, print-order, and protect icons.

A unique feature of the 775's Playback mode is its Quick Review function, which enables you to view thumbnails of previously captured images while still observing the live action taking place on-screen. You can scroll through stored images just as you would in Playback mode, without having to switch the Mode dial. Quick Review is activated by pressing the Quick Review / Playback Zoom button on the back panel while in any image capture mode. Press the button twice, expands the review image to full screen size.

The Coolpix 775 is powered by a single rechargeable Nikon EN-EL1 lithium-ion battery supplied with the camera. You can also use a non-rechargeable 2CRS (DL245) lithium battery, available separately, as a backup. (Lithium batteries make good backup batteries because they have long life and do not discharge when not in use.) A lithium-ion battery charger is provided for with the camera, and an optional AC adapter / battery charger is available for supplying AC power directly to the 775.

The camera connects to Windows and Macintosh computers via a fast USB connector. The USB socket also doubles as a Video Out port for viewing images on a TV or VCR. An NTSC cable is supplied with the camera in the US and Japan, and a PAL-compatible cable is shipped with European models.

The 775 ships with a robust set of programs for managing and manipulating images, including NikonView 4, which enables you to upload images to your computer and distribute them via the Internet. Selected images can also be copied to a floppy disk directly from the camera's memory card and delivered to a photofinisher for processing. In addition to NikonView, the software package includes Canto Cumulus 5.0 Trial and iView Media Pro (Mac only) for image storage and management, plus a full suite of ArcSoft digital imaging programs, including: PhotoImpression 2000, for editing, retouching, and applying special effects to your images; VideoImpression for viewing and editing QuickTime movies; PhotoPrinter Pro 2000 for preparing images for printing; and Panorama Maker 2000, which allows users to stitch together multiple images to create panoramic photographs.

All in all, the Coolpix 775 brings an amazing level of capability to novice photographers, in a compact package, at an affordable price. Big kudos to Nikon, we think they have a winner with this one!

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