Nikon Coolpix 775 Review
If you're looking for a great "go anywhere" digital camera this summer then give the new Nikon Coolpix 775 a close look. This ultra-compact camera fits in the palm of your hand and weighs a scant 6.5 ounces. It comes with a rechargeable battery that can run the camera for up to 100 minutes - with the LCD turned on! Don't let the small size fool you though, it's a point and shoot camera that delivers the same kind of image quality that has made the other Nikon digicams famous.
This tiny marvel of modern technology is equipped with a 2-megapixel imager and a newly designed 3x optical Nikkor Zoom lens. The zoom lens covers a good range of 38-115mm (35mm equivalent) and features a quick and accurate autofocus system that can focus as close as 1.6 inches in Macro mode. To aid first-time digital camera users the Coolpix 775 has a Mode Dial with an Auto position and seven pre-programmed Scene modes. The auto exposure mode covers most average shooting requirements, for those times when it doesn't then try the Party/Indoor, Backlight, Portrait, Night Portrait, Landscape, Snow/Beach or the Sunset scene mode. The scene modes let you work in difficult lighting conditions by adjusting the shutter speed, aperture, flash and white balance settings for you automatically.
Even though the Coolpix 775 lacks the more "advanced" exposure modes like shutter speed or aperture priority it does have the Nikon-exclusive BSS (Best Shot Selector) mode. When you shoot in BSS mode the camera takes a sequence of shots and then automatically selects and saves only the best one. This is handy when shooting in dim lighting conditions without the aid of a tripod or other support. When shooting in Auto mode you still have access to a menu of options including image quality and size, white balance, drive mode, BSS, exposure compensation and image sharpening. These options are easily selected from a single-page menu on the color LCD screen.
Another new feature to aid the novice digiphotographer is the Transfer button that lets you quickly and easily transfer pictures from the camera to the computer or the Internet. Working through the USB port of the Windows or Macintosh computer the camera talks to the NikonView software and tells it to acquire the images. If you want to share your images with the world then you can setup an account with www.Nikonnet.com and transfer your files to your online photo album.
A digital camera is nothing unless it has the ability to preview images on a color LCD. The Coolpix 775 has a 1.5-inch color TFT LCD that is bright and readable, it can also be used as a "live" viewfinder which is especially useful when in Macro mode. The QuickReview button will "popup" a 1/4-screen display of the last picture captured without leaving Record mode. If you want to see it full screen then press the button a second time. You can return to Record mode by simply tapping the shutter release. The only "quirk" that I've found so far is that when using a large CF card (SanDisk 512MB) with the LCD turned off the autofocus takes 4-5 seconds versus 1-2 with an 8x Lexar CF card. The camera operates in Continuous-AF mode when the LCD is on and uses Single-AF when it is off.
When you're at home you can plug the camera into the TV and display your images using the built in slide show function. The video output signal is user selectable for either the NTSC or PAL standard. Besides the color LCD the Coolpix 775 is also equipped with an eyelevel optical viewfinder that zooms in and out with the lens. You use the Coolpix 775 the same as any film camera, put it up to your eye, frame the shot, push the button. The big difference is that you can instantly see the results on the color LCD.
The Coolpix 775 can generate 1600 x 1200, 1024 x 768 or 640 x 480 size still images. Images are saved in one of three JPEG quality settings; Fine, Normal or Basic. The Large (1600x1200) size images will print photo-quality prints up to 8x10" although the most "film-like" prints will be the 5x7" or 4x6" size. The camera is equipped with a standard CompactFlash Type I card slot and comes with an 8MB card. I have used the massive SanDisk 512MB CF card in the Coolpix 775 and it's compatible with all other CF Type I cards from most manufacturers.
For those times when a still image just won't tell the story switch the mode dial to the Movie position and capture a motion video instead. Up to 15 seconds of action can be captured as a 320 x 240 (Quarter VGA) QuickTime MOVie clip. These movie clips play back full screen on the color LCD or TV set. Unfortunately they are silent as the camera lacks a microphone but the optical zoom is useable during video capture, something that is non-existent on digicams that do record sound
With a suggested retail price of just $449 the Coolpix 775 is going to find its way into the hands of many novice and expert users. The only thing you really need to buy is a larger CF card, everything else including the rechargeable battery, charger and a suite of software is included in the base package. If you're looking for a small digital camera with the image quality of the "big boys" then give the Nikon Coolpix 775 a serious look-see, you won't be sorry.
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