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Nikon CoolPix 880

Advanced features, and "Assisted Creative Photography" in a compact 3.3 megapixel package!

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Page 12:Test Results & Conclusion

Review First Posted: 8/26/2000

Test Results
In keeping with our standard policy, our comments here are rather condensed, summarizing our key findings. For a full commentary on each of the test images, see the Coolpix 880's "pictures" page.

As with all Imaging Resource camera tests, we encourage you to let your own eyes be the judge of how well the devices performed. Explore the images on the pictures page, to see how well the Coolpix 880 performed, and how its images compare to other cameras you may be considering buying.

Overall, the Coolpix 880 performed very well, with excellent color balance even in difficult lighting situations, such as the very high contrast Outdoor Portrait and the dimly lit Indoor Portrait. We chose to shoot with the manual white balance setting during the majority of our testing, since it did a nice job of matching a variety of light sources (although we also achieved good results by utilizing the Coolpix 880's white balance fine tuning adjustments in the various preset modes, and auto white balance worked well under average lighting). Color balance looked very good and bright in the large color blocks of our Davebox test target, and the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target were visible up to the "B" range, which is commendable. Overall, the Coolpix 880 did a great job with color balance, with its white balance system handling some of our most difficult tests very well. Our one criticism of the 880's color handling was it's somewhat weak rendering of bright yellows.

The Coolpix 880 turned in an excellent performance on the resolution test. Its images were crisp and sharp, with a "visual" resolution that really appears to extend beyond the theoretical "Nyquist" limit. (Geek term) Visually, the 880 shows 750-800 lines per picture height of resolution in both vertical and horizontal directions, with clear detail extending all the way to 1000 lines. Virtually no color aliasing is present at any spatial frequency in the test target. Very impressive! The tables below show our usual series of size and quality combinations.

The Coolpix 880 does a very good job at low light levels. In fact, it's an indication of how fast digicam technology is progressing that we rate it merely "very good": Six months ago, we would have called it "amazing." The low light performance seems to scale pretty consistently with the ISO setting: At ISO 100, we obtained dim but usable images at light levels of 1/8 foot candles (1.3 lux), good ones at 1/4 foot candle, and bright, clean ones at 1/2 foot candles. At ISO 200, we got usable pictures at 1/8 foot candles, and bright but somewhat noisy ones at 1/4. At the ISO 400 setting, we got a usable but very noisy image at 1/16 foot candle, a bright but noisy one at 1/8, and a surprisingly good one at 1/4 foot candle, with surprisingly little noise. All the low light shots were characterized by excellent color balance, a relative rarity in our experience. Since typical outdoor city night scenes under average street lighting correspond to about 1 foot candle of illumination (11 lux), the Coolpix 880 should have no problem with typical after-dark photography: If you can see reasonably easily, its likely that your Coolpix 880 will also.

We found the Coolpix 880's optical viewfinder to be pretty tight, showing approximately 82 to 85 percent accuracy at wide angle and telephoto settings. (Note that we've changed our nomenclature on this to better reflect what you see when looking into the viewfinder. We previously would have referred to the Coolpix 880's viewfinder as "loose.") These numbers were consistent across all three image sizes. The LCD monitor proved to be much more accurate, showing approximately 97 percent accuracy at wide angle, and about 98 percent at telephoto (also the same at all three image sizes). Since we generally prefer LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the Coolpix 880 does an excellent job in this category.

The Coolpix 880 turned in an excellent performance in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of only 1.55 x 1.16 inches (39.38 x 29.54 mm). Color balance, detail, and sharpness are all very good. The 880's built-in flash unfortunately won't throttle down far enough for such close work, producing a rather washed out image. Otherwise, it does a reasonably good job of illuminating this tiny test area.

Overall, the Coolpix 880 turns in an excellent performance for its 3.3 megapixel class, providing excellent exposure control and nice image quality. Given the its excellent performance in the low light and macro categories, and its very accurate white balance system, we think the Coolpix 880 will handle most shooting situations amateur photographers encounter with very little trouble.

The Coolpix 880 is an excellent addition to the already proven Coolpix line. We see it as either an excellent "bring along" camera for the confirmed photography enthusiast. Perhaps its biggest audience though, will be among those wanting extended picture-taking capability without the need to master the intricacies of exposure and lighting. We think Nikon's concept of "Assisted Creative Photography" will find many happy users among people with a creative vision for great pictures, if not the technical dexterity to execute it in the conventional manually controlled camera world. At the same time, the 880 provides most of the creative control that advanced users crave. Something for everyone and great pictures, in a compact package. Highly recommended! (Except for the deplorable requirement of an "optional" $100 battery/charger, that really isn't optional at all.)

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