Nikon Coolpix 4800 Review
By Movable Type Admin
Nikon's first entry-level "super-zoom" model, the Coolpix 4800 offers users 4-megapixels of
resolution combined with a high-quality Nikkor ED 8.3x optical zoom lens. This is a simple point-n-shoot
camera with a wide variety of pre-programmed exposure modes, including Best Shot Selector (BSS), which
takes up to ten images then selects the best one and saves it to memory. When using one of the four
scene-assist modes (Portrait, Landscape, Sports, and Night Portrait), it displays framing guide lines,
which is very helpful for composing your shots. And like almost all Nikon cameras, the 4800 has excellent
macro coverage down to about 0.4 inches!
I was pleased with the quality of the LCD and EVF (Electronic ViewFinder.) When shooting outdoors, there were only a few angles where the LCD reflected the sun making it difficult to use; this is when you'll be glad it features an EVF. Indoors, they both perform well, when you enter a dimly lit room they "gain up" to help brighten your subject. Ergonomics were also good. Controls are well placed and functional and the menu system was easy to use. Its large hand grip gives it a nice secure felling, and I had no problems shooting one-handed.
The shooting performance of the 4800 was good for a camera in this class. Power up to first image captured measured just under 5 seconds. Shutter lag measured approx. 2/10 of a second when pre-focused and 7/10 of a second including autofocus. The shot to shot time averaged about 2 seconds between frames without the use of the flash and approx. 2.2 seconds with the flash. The 4800 offers three Sequential shooting modes to choose from (Continuous, Multi-shot 16, and 3 Shot buffer.) Using Continuous mode, I was able to capture 4 frames in just under 2 seconds. Multi-shot mode captures 16 frames, then makes a single 4M/Fine image out of all 16 frames. Using this mode, I was able to capture 16 frames in approx. 6.5 seconds. When using the 3 shot buffer mode, you can capture several images, but the camera stores only the last 3 frames. I was able to capture 3 frames in 1.8 seconds using this mode. When using either Continuous or 3 Shot buffer mode, the LCD and EVF black out completely, which makes it very difficult to follow fast moving objects. All test were done using a Sandisk 512MB Ultra II SD card, using 4M/Fine size/quality, preview off, flash off, and all other settings at default (unless otherwise noted.) Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera settings, media, etc.
The most noticeable feature of the 4800 is its 8.3x optical zoom lens. It produced sharp results throughout its range and exhibits moderate barrel distortion at full wide-angle, with slight pincushioning at full telephoto. Its 36-300mm (35mm- equivalent) optical zoom range offers flexibility in composing your shots. It has a sufficient field of view at 36mm for portraits of individuals and small groups, and its 300mm telephoto range will bring your distant subjects up close and personal. The lens operates smoothly throughout its range, but is a bit noisy.
You should have no problem focusing in low-ambient lighting conditions thanks to the camera's built-in focus-assist lamp. Although, one thing I did find puzzling was that the lamp only seems to work when using either the Auto or SCENE modes. When using one of the four scene-assist modes (like Portrait for example) it does not fire. This was very aggravating when trying to take indoor portraits using this mode.
The overall image quality in 4M/Fine mode was good. Outdoors, the majority of our samples were sharp, well exposed and colors were nicely saturated. I was also pleased with skin tones in both indoor and outdoor pictures, they seem very natural. And if you're one who likes the ability to dial in that certain look, it offers various image adjustment options for contrast, sharpening, etc. I was also happy with our indoor results, its powerful flash has good range and the red-eye reduction mode works very well; we had almost no occurrences of red-eye in our portraits. Surprisingly there was very little CA (Chromatic Aberration) or purple fringing around objects with extreme highlights, although I did notice an average amount of noise in low contrast (shadow) areas.
The Coolpix 4800 also features a TV resolution (640x480) movie mode. Although, we found that it does not capture high-quality movies. Its Continuous autofocus system has trouble keeping up with moving objects, and we saw a moderate amount of compression noise. You can see an example by looking at our sample photos page.
The camera is powered by the supplied proprietary Nikon EN-EL1 Li-ion rechargeable battery pack. Nikon claims that a fully-charged EN-EL1 pack can take approx. 240 shots, or you can use one 2CR5 battery and capture approx. 360 frames (flash used 50% of the time.) I had no problem capturing our test shots (using the LCD/EVF 100% of the time and the flash 25% of the time) and doing all of our other tests, before the camera indicated that the battery was exhausted.
Bottom line - Nikon has definitely put together an appealing digital package. Its 4-megapixel Fine images have plenty of resolution to create beautiful 8x10-inch prints. And with its long focal range, great image quality, robust performance and multitude of pre-programmed scene modes, the Coolpix 4800 will make a great choice for your holiday gift list.
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