Steve's Digicams

Review posted 5/20/99

Click to take a 360-degree QuickTime tour of the Nikon Coolpix 950
Click to take a 360° QuickTime tour

The Coolpix 950 is the 2.1-megapixel update of Nikon's original Coolpix 900. Its swiveling-lens body is now made of a durable magnesium alloy, painted black with a large, red, rubberized finger grip. The grip, shutter release and control switch look like they came off of the Nikon F5 35mm SLR. The Coolpix 900 is a great digicam, however the Coolpix 950 takes it to a whole new level with double the image resolution, faster operation and the "look and feel" of Nikon's legendary film cameras.

Nikon Coolpix 950

The 950's body is "sculptured" and feels rock solid in your hands. New to the 950 is a recessed wheel on the front just below the shutter release. This is the Command Dial, it works with buttons on the back and top to activate the advanced features.

Nikon Coolpix 950

The zoom lens is now controlled by two separate buttons rather than a rocker switch as on the 900/900s models. The Monitor and Menu buttons are now above the 2-inch color LCD, below are three dual-function buttons. (See the next page for a thorough explanation of camera the controls.)

The CompactFlash card slot is located on the bottom along with the battery door which now has a secure sliding latch. The Video Out and DC power jacks are in the same place as on the Coolpix 900 but are protected by a rubberized cover. The serial I/O data port uses a round mini-plug instead of the (difficult to release) flat plug.

Coolpix 950 Millennium Limited Edition

Nikon made a limited number of the metallic blue-colored Coolpix 950 Millennium cameras. They are functionally identical to the black and red Coolpix 950.

(read the October 1999 press release)

On the front you'll find a special Millennium nameplate and on the swiveling lens section there's a serial number plate to identify these unique cameras. Nikon produced serial number 0001 through 2000, this is my personal camera with serial number 1593.

The Coolpix 950 Millennium Camera Outfit included the digital camera plus a rugged black Millennium camera bag, Energizer NiMH batteries and charger, Lexar 64MB CompactFlash Card, USB card reader and four filters with a filter wallet. Additionally, Nikon is providing a one year warranty that includes an additional four year extended service contract and a certificate of authenticity.

Nikkor 3x Zoom Lens

The Coolpix 950 has a 3X Nikkor 7-21mm f/2.6-4 zoom lens (38-115mm equivalent to 35mm).

It uses the same 28mm filter threads as the older 900 and 900s so it can mount the existing Nikon wideangle and fisheye lenses as well as all of the Raynox and other third-party filters and lenses. Nikon will be offering a new 2X telephoto adapter that will be perfectly matched to the Nikkor zoom.

To insure ultra-sharp images the focusing system now has a 4,746-step range, the Coolpix 900 used only a 945-step autofocus.

Super Macro!

The Nikon 950 has got a terrific macro/closeup capability. In any focal length the macro function can be used to get closeups but there is a special "sweet spot" about halfway to telephoto where the lens will focus down to about 0.8 inches. The white macro "flower" icon on the LCD will turn yellow when you have reached the sweet spot.

The first picture here was taken at about 3-3/4 inches, the second picture was shot at just a little over 1 inch from the lens!

Click on either picture to view the full 1600x1200 image.

Faster Power Up

A common complaint about the Coolpix 900 was the length of time it took to turn on. The 950 powers up in slightly over 2 seconds and changing modes from Record to Play mode is just as fast.

The auto power-off timer is now selectable for 30sec, 1m, 5m, or 30m.

Advanced Manual Controls

The new Coolpix 950 offers manual control of all major camera functions. You can choose from Programmed AE, Shutter Speed Priority or Aperture Priority. The ISO sensitivity is variable from ISO 80, ISO 100, +1 or +2 to increase its low-light capability.

Image resolution and JPG compression can be selected to suit your needs. The 950 can shoot continuously thanks to a large internal RAM buffer, create a 16-picture collage or shoot a 10-picture VGA sequence.

AutoExposure Override

The +/- button allows you to override the AE system by 0.3, 0.7, 1.0, 1.3, 1.7 and 2.0 steps in both the plus and minus ranges. This function operates in both A-Rec and M-Rec modes.

Continue on to
Page Two

Nikon 950 Specifications

CCD Imager 2.11 million pixel, 1/2 inch, high density
Image Resolution
(user selectable)
1,600 x 1,200 pixels (UXGA)
1,024 x 768 pixels (XGA)
640 x 480 pixels (VGA)
Zoom Lens 3x Zoom-Nikkor, multi-coated, 9 elements in 7 groups, aspherical glass lens. 7mm to 21mm (35mm equivalent: 38mm to 115mm)

Maximum aperture F/2.6 (wideangle), F/4 (telephoto).

(Optional fish eye, wide and telephoto adapters can be attached)
Digital Zoom 4 steps: 1.25x / 1.6x / 2x / 2.5x
Autofocus Contrast-detect TTL autofocus with 4,746 steps
Focus Modes
(user selectable)
(1) Continuous AF mode
(2) Single AF mode
(3) Manual Focus (10 steps from 4 inches to infinity)
Shooting Distance 12 inches to infinity, (0.8 inches in macro)
Exposure Metering
(user selectable)
3 mode TTL metering:

(1) 256-element Matrix,
(2) Spot or
(3) Center-weighted
Shutter 1/750 to 8 seconds
Mechanical and charge-coupled electronic shutter
Aperture 3 steps at F2.6 / F4 / F7 (Wide end), F11.4 minimum (Tele end)
Electro-magnetic drive rounded diaphram opening
Exposure Control
(user selectable)
(1) Programmed Auto Exposure (AE),
(2) Shutter-priority Auto,
(3) Aperture-priority Auto or
(4) Manual exposure compensation 2EV in 1/3 EV steps)
Exposure Range EV-2~15.5 (W), EV-0.8~16.7 (T), ISO 100 equivalent
Sensitivity approx. ISO 80 equivalent
Gain Increase
(user selectable)
Default (approx. 80)
100 (approx. 100)
+1EV equivalent gain up from default
+2EV equivalent gain up
White Balance
(user selectable)
Automatic TTL homing system, can be set manually for:

(1) Sunny
(2) Cloudy
(3) Incandescent
(4) Fluorescent
(5) Flash light
(6) Preset white balance available
Tone Curve Selection
(user selectable)
(1) Standard
(2) Contrast+
(3) Contrast-
(4) Brightness+
(5) Brightness-
Self Timer 3 seconds or 10 seconds
Viewfinder Real image optical zoom

Magnification: 0.44x to 1.2x; Frame coverage 80 ~ 85%

Diopter adjustment: -2 to +1 dpt.
LCD Monitor 2-inch, 130,000 pixel, low-temp polysilicon color TFT LCD with adjustable back light compensation

Update rate: 30 frames per second

Frame coverage: approx. 97%
Auto Power Save
(user selectable)
Default 30 secs auto shut off
Can be set for 30 secs, 1, 5 or 30 minutes
Image Recording File Format TIFF RGB (Uncompressed) or
JPEG (Exif 2.1); 24 bit RGB color

Multiple folders supported - user can create, rename or delete
(user selectable)
Hi = Uncompressed RGB TIFF
Fine = 1/4 JPEG
Normal = 1/8 JPEG
Basic = 1/16 JPEG (Appox.)
Storage Media Removable CompactFlash memory cards, Type I
(per 8MB card*)
Hi = 1 image
Fine = 8 imgs
Normal = 16 imgs
Basic = 32 imgs
(* Number of images may vary depending on the image captured)
Shooting Mode
(user selectable)
(1) Fully automatic mode (A-REC) or
(2) Programmable manual mode (M-REC); (3 custom groups of settings from shooting menu options.)
Shooting Menu 1) Metering, 2) Capture mode, 3) Sensitivity, 4) White balance, 5) Tone compensation, 6) Best-Shot Selector, 7) Monochrome, 8) Digital zoom, 9) Converters (for adapter lenses), 10) Auto file numbering
Best-Shot Selector Camera takes 5 shots automatically (@ approx. 1.5 fps) and records the most detailed image of the 5 shots using anti-jitter logic, which is effective for telephoto and macro shooting.
(BSS not available when Speedlight is on)
Capture Modes
(user selectable)
(1) Single
(2) Continuous
(3) High speed continuous
(4) Multiple continuous
Capture Speed (1) Single mode: Approx. 1 fps for full size or smaller images

(2) Continuous mode: Approx. 1.5 fps full size or smaller up to 10 images

(3) High speed continuous mode: Approx. 2 fps for VGA size images up to 60 images. Image size is fixed in VGA in this mode

(4) Multiple continuous: Approx. 2 fps. Camera captures 16 continuous images and put all 16 into 1 full size image frame.
Memory Buffer 48 MB
Power-Up Time approx. 2 seconds
Built-in Speedlight Guide number 9 in meters, 30 in feet (at ISO 100)
Flash Modes
(user selectable)
(1) Auto-flash
(2) Flash-off
(3) Force fill flash
(4) Slow-sync and
(5) Red-eye reduction (flashes for 0.8 sec. before main flash)
External Speedlight
Multi-flash sync terminal connects to external Nikon Speedlight SB-28, SB-26, SB-25, SB-24, SB-22s through the Multi-flash Bracket Unit (SK-E900). Built-in Speedlight can be canceled when external Speedlight is used
Playback Function (1) Single Frame
(2) Thumbnails
(3) Slide show
(4) 2x or 3x zoom playback with scroll capability.
Hide and protect attributes can be set for each image
Delete Function Deletes all frames or selected frames
Platform Windows95 or later, NT4.0 or later, Macintosh OS 7.5.1 or later
Interface Serial interface (Windows: 115 kbps, Macintosh: 230 kbps)
Video Output NTSC video signal output for image display on standard TV set
I/O Terminals Power input, Video output, Serial port, Sync terminal for external Speedlight(s)
Power Requirements 4 x AA - Alkaline, 1.2V Ni-Cd, 1.2V NiMH or 1.5V FR-6 Lithium batteries. AC adapter EH-30 (optional)
Battery Life Approx. 60 min. with LCD monitor off using alkaline batteries at room temperature. (Shooting cycle time and Speedlight condition will be informed later.)
Dimensions (W x H x D) (147 x 82.5 x 56mm) 5.8 x 3.25 x 2.2 in.
Weight Approx. 12.3 oz. (350g) without batteries
Warranty One year
Accessories Included Soft case, Strap, Video Cable, 8MB CompactFlash Card, Serial Cable (Win), Mac adapter, NikonView Version 2 CD ROM, Lens cap, 4 AA batteries, Open me first envelope, Registration, Warranty card, Fast Track Guide Hardware & Software Manuals.
Bundled Software NikonView Version 2, Hotshots (PictureWorks), IPIX (Interactive Pictures)
Optional Accessories EH-30 AC adapter, FC-E8 Fisheye conversion lens, WC-E24 Wide angle conversion lens, TC-E2 Telephoto conversion lens (2x), SK-E900 Multi-Flash Bracket Unit, CompactFlash cards (4-64MB), PC card adapter, EC-AD1 CompactFlash card reader with parallel interface for PC computer.

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