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Nikon CoolPix 885

More Pixels, More Features, (a little) More Money - Nikon extends their sub-compact Digicam line!

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Page 12:Test Results & Conclusion

Review First Posted: 9/19/2001

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 885'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 885 performed, and how its images compare to other cameras you may be considering buying.

Throughout our testing, the Coolpix 885 produced pretty accurate color, though we sometimes noticed rather high saturation in some colors, and bright yellows were a bit muddy. The camera's White Balance system responded well to our test lighting, though it occasionally required some "tweaking" with the white balance adjustment utility. (Specifically, the Davebox target and our no-flash Indoor Portrait.) We really liked the ability to make fine adjustments to the white balance that the 885 provides in many of its modes. The Coolpix 885 distinguished tough tonal variations on the Davebox target and reproduced the large color blocks there fairly accurately, although it was on this target that we most noticed the tendency toward slightly muddy yellows. We also felt that skin tones were a bit too magenta in our Outdoor and Indoor portraits, and that the blue flowers of the model's bouquet took on a purplish hue (a common problem among digicams). Despite these minor concerns, the Coolpix 885 performed quite well.

The Coolpix 885 performed nicely on our "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. We found "strong detail" out to at least 1,000 lines. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,250 lines.

Optical distortion on the Coolpix 885 was about average at the wide-angle end, where we measured an approximate 0.7 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared much better, as we found only two pixels of barrel distortion. Chromatic aberration was low in its extent, showing only about two or three pixels of coloration on either side of the target lines, but the coloration from the aberration was quite strong. Outdoor shots showed fairly pronounced chromatic aberration, particularly in the "Far Field" shot of the house, visible in the tree limbs against the sky in the upper corners of the image. We liked the sharpness of the Nikkor lens on the 885, but would really like to see less chromatic aberration.

With its manual exposure adjustments, the Coolpix 885 performed very well in our low-light testing. The camera captured clear, bright, usable images at light levels as low as 1/16 foot-candle (or 0.67 lux) at all three ISO settings. Color looked great and well saturated, even at the darkest light levels, and the Auto white balance option interpreted the low lighting surprisingly well. Noise levels were fairly high (even at ISO 100) in our shots without the Noise Reduction activated. However, we found the Noise Reduction system to be very effective, greatly reducing the noise levels, even under very dark shooting conditions. Noise was still present in all three images, but the grain pattern and size became less obtrusive. Bottom line, the 885 looks like a good choice for shooting night scenes.

The Coolpix 885's electronic optical viewfinder was very tight, showing only 76 percent of the final frame at wide angle, and only 75 percent accuracy at telephoto. This is quite a bit less accurate than average. Images framed with the optical viewfinder were also slanted toward the lower left corner just slightly. The LCD monitor produced much more accurate results, showing 97 percent accuracy at wide angle, and 99 percent at telephoto. Given that we generally prefer LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the Coolpix 885 did an excellent job in this respect.

Flash distribution was more uniform than average at the wide angle lens setting (a common problem area for compact cameras), but we found the flash to be rather underpowered overall, with a range of only 7.5 feet when the lens was at its telephoto setting.

The Coolpix 885 did very well in the macro category, as it captured a minimum area of just 1.61 x 1.21 inches (40.82 x 30.62 millimeters). Color, resolution, and detail all looked great. The brooch and coin details were soft, most likely due to the limited depth of field that close, but the printing details of the dollar bill were crisp. The Coolpix 885's flash had some trouble throttling down for the macro area at such close range, and overexposed the entire top portion of the image.

Overall, the Coolpix 885 performed well during our testing. Flexible white balance controls provide a lot of freedom with light sources and color balance, and the manual exposure controls allow you to capture bright images in extremely low lighting. While we'd like to see overall noise levels reduced somewhat (we felt we saw more noise than average under bright shooting conditions), and we had a few minor quibbles over the color, we felt that the 885 produced appealing photos under a wider variety of conditions than most consumer digicams can manage.

Nikon's Coolpix 885 is the latest in Nikon's line of cameras aimed at "assisted creative picture taking." That is, it's intended to help average point & shoot photographers obtain good results under tricky shooting conditions, without having to become photography gurus in the process. We think it succeeds very well in that goal. While it obviously caters to novices, it simultaneously offers enough options in its "custom" mode to interest the serious amateur. It lacks a little flexibility in the aperture category, having only two aperture settings, but most of the other advanced features found in Nikon's high-end 995 model are here as well. (The most notable exception being the lack of any connection for an external flash.) Overall, this looks like a great camera for "dual-use" families: You could confidently set it to full auto mode and hand it to a family member or friend with no photo experience, and they'd get good shots. One step up from there, the "scene" modes let you quickly and easily get good shots under difficult conditions. Finally, the manual options available in "custom" mode offer (almost) all the flexibility an experienced photographer would need. Good pictures from a compact, affordable package. - Another strong showing from Nikon. (Just make sure you budget for the "optional" battery/charger kit though!)

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