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Tuesday, September 18, 2001 | by
Nikon today has announced the US$1100 (list price) Coolpix 5000, a 5MP resolution camera that represents a significant design departure for the company's higher-end compact digital models. Cameras that swivel in the middle have dominated Nikon's premium lineup to date; with the Coolpix 5000, Nikon has focused on shrinking the camera as much as possible, without shrinking the feature set at the same time. The result is a camera that feels even smaller than the Coolpix 885 (though its actual dimensions are similar), with more pro-focused features and more detailed images than the Coolpix 995.

In short, the Coolpix 5000 could quickly become the favourite weekend digital camera of professional photographers when it ships later this year.

Nikon Coolpix 5000

Coolpix 5000 Key Features

  • A 5.24 megapixel, 2/3 inch CCD producing a 2560 x 1920 pixel, 14.1 MB, 8 bits per colour finished photo. Shooting with a prototype unit here for the past week reveals a camera capable of delivering detailed and smooth images, images that easily best previous Coolpix cameras. Fine detail rendering is still no match for Nikon's D1 series cameras, however, which benefit from much larger CCD sensors, among other things. But for a camera of this type, image clarity is impressive.

  • The 4.0" x 3.2" x 2.6" (101.5mm x 81.5mm x 67.5mm) magnesium alloy body Coolpix 5000 is wonderfully small and light. With a battery inserted, the camera weighs in at about 1 pound. The Coolpix 900 series cameras look and feel big by comparison.

  • A hot shoe! A feature that I've sorely missed on my Coolpix 990 makes it to the Coolpix 5000. The following Speedlights may be used with some level of automatic flash control: SB-28DX (and probably SB-28D also), SB-28, SB-50DX, SB-27, SB-26, SB-25, SB-24, SB-23, SB-22s. Flashes may be slid directly into the shoe (though even the relatively trim SB-50DX looks gigantically huge sitting atop the Coolpix 5000), or connected via an SC-17 off-camera cable. The camera lacks a PC socket, so studio strobes will need to be connected via an AS-15 adapter in the hot shoe.

  • A 3x optical zoom lens that offers the 35mm film equivalent of a 28-85mm f2.8 to 4.8; an optional lens attachment provides the field of view equivalent of a 19mm lens. The lens features three aspherical elements.

  • A comparatively short shutter lag, at least when the camera's focus is locked on the subject. Combine this with its ability to shoot either 3 fps for 3 frames, or 1.5 fps for 8 frames, and the Coolpix 5000 is one of the few compact digital cameras that can be prompted to shoot the photo while the decisive moment is occurring, not sometime afterwards. All this does require the camera to not be hunting for focus, which my prototype unit has busied itself doing on several occasions when presented with moderately flat-lit or backlit scenes. Nikon's Mike Rubin promises that the focus hunting problem is limited to prototype units only, and will not be present on shipping models.

  • Reminiscent of the Canon G2 is the swivel-and-twist 1.8" LCD monitor, which makes setting up the camera for high and low angle shooting almost as fast as with the Coolpix 900 series.
Rear view of the Coolpix 5000, showing the swivel-and-twist LCD monitor
  • The Coolpix 5000 may be powered by either its included rechargeable Lithium Ion battery, other 2CR5-type Lithiums, as well as an optional Nikon power pack that accepts six AA batteries.

  • An ISO range of 100 to 800 means some measure of dim light shooting is possible, though the aforementioned focus hunting, if not a prototype unit quirk, will limit the speed at which one can shoot photos when the light is edging towards available darkness.

Though Coolpix 5000 focus speed appears to separate this camera from its pro SLR siblings, the interface of the camera feels an order of magnitude faster than my Coolpix 990. Switching between shooting and playback modes, turning the LCD monitor off and on, making adjustments to various settings, it's all pleasantly quick. With virtually all of the key adjustment controls located on the back of the camera, including the secondary LCD display, getting to the right controls is equally snappy.

Only the viewfinder itself has perhaps suffered from the downsizing effort that went into the Coolpix 5000's design, as it's tiny opening makes it tricky for one's eye to quickly locate it.

All in all, the Coolpix 5000 is a camera for pros to look forward to when it hits store shelves in November. Only Canon's well-appointed, but noticeably larger, G2 stands in the way of the Coolpix 5000 becoming my new favourite digital camera when a full-blown SLR isn't required.

Coolpix 5000 Specifications

Maximum image size
2560 x 1920 (approx. 4.9 million effective pixels)
Image size options
2560 x 1920 (Full) 1600 x 1200 (UXGA) 1280 x 960 (SXGA) 1024 x 768 (XGA) 640 x 480 (VGA) 2560 x 1700 (3:2)
ISO range
ISO equivalent approximately 100, 200, 400, 800, or Auto (auto gain to 800)
File formats
JPEG (3 compression levels; baseline type), TIFF
Supported card types
CompactFlash Type I and II
3x Zoom-Nikkor; nine elements in seven groups
7.1mm-21.4mm focal length (35mm film equiv: 28-85mm)
Maximum aperture: F2.8-F4.8
Accepts almost all optional Coolpix lenses (using optional step-down rings) and accessories including Fisheye, 19mm Wide Angle, and Telephoto converters
Digital zoom
Contrast-detect through-the-lens (TTL) AF
Five-area multi AF and spot AF available
Manual focus possible (effect viewable on LCD monitor)
Focus range
19.7 inches (50 cm) - infinity
0.8 inches (2 cm) - infinity in macro mode
Exposure metering
Four mode, user-selectable TTL metering: 256-segment matrix; Center-weighted; Spot; AF Spot
Exposure control
Programmed auto with flexible program; Shutter-priority auto; Aperture-priority auto; Manual Exposure compensation (–2.0 – +2.0 EV in 1/3 EV steps)
Autoexposure bracketing (3 or 5 frames, user selectable)
Range (ISO 100 equivalent)
W: -2.0 - +18.0 EV
T: -0.5 - +18.0 EV
White balance
Auto; Preset; Fine (Sunny); Incandescent;
Fluorescent; Cloudy; Flash
+/-3 colour temperature override possible
White Balance Bracketing
LCD monitor
Fully articulating, 270°, 1.8", 110, 000-dot, low temperature polysilicon TFT LCD with brightness and hue adjustment
Mechanical and charge-coupled electronic shutter
Shutter-priority: 8 - 1/2, 000 sec Programmed auto and Aperture-priority: 8 - 1/4,000 sec Bulb (up to 5 minutes) Manual exposure mode: 8 - 1/2, 000 sec
Seven-blade iris diaphragm
Shooting speed
Single; 3 fps for 3 frames; 1.5 fps for 8 frames
Built-in Speedlight, Guide number 32/10 (ISO 100, ft/m)
Accessory hot shoe connects to external Nikon Speedlight SB-50DX/28DX/28/27/26/25/24/23/22s
Built-in Speedlight can be canceled when using ext. flash
Real-image zoom viewfinder with LED indication, includes diopter adjustment
Noise reduction mode?
Yes, for 1/4 second or longer exposures
Movie mode
Yes; 40 seconds (may be 60 seconds; Nikon-supplied specs vary), with audio. Sound may be played back through camera speaker. Movie is in QuickTime format
Clear Image Mode?
Yes, combines multiple frames of same scene for improved colour, reduced noise and greater dynamic range. Works only at 1280 x 960 resolution and below
USB 1.1
3 second or 10 second duration
Video out
NTSC or PAL; user switchable
I/O terminals
DC Input; Audio/video (A/V) output; Data output (USB)
One rechargeable Nikon EN-EL1 lithium-ion battery included
6V 2CR5/DL245 lithium battery available separately;
Nikon MB-E5000 battery pack available separately with 6 1.5V LR6 (AA) batteries Nikon EH-21 AC adapter/charger available separately
Battery life
Approximately 100 minutes (EN-EL1) when using monitor at 68°F (20°C)
Dimensions (W x H x D)
4.0" x 3.2" x 2.6" (101.5mm x 81.5mm x 67.5mm)
Weight (without battery)
Approximately 12.6 oz (360g)
32° - 104°F (0° - 40°C)
Less than 85% (no condensation)
System Requirements - Macintosh (Nikon View 4) Operating Systems: Mac OS 8.6, Mac OS 9.0, Mac OS 9.1 Models: iMac, iMac DV, PowerMac G3 (Blue&White), PowerMac G4 or later, iBook, PowerBook G3 or later; only models with built-in USB ports supported RAM: 32MB (64MB or more recommended) Video resolution: 640 x 480 with thousands of colors (800 x 600 with millions of colors recommended) Hard Disk space: 15MB required for installation, with additional amount equivalent to twice the capacity of the camera memory card required when Nikon View 4 is running Miscellaneous: CD-ROM driver required for installation, USB driver 1.3.5 required for Mac OS 8.6
System Requirements - Windows (Nikon View 4) Operating Systems: Pre-installed versions of WIndows 98/98SE, Windows 2000, WIndows Me Models: Only models with built-in USB ports supported CPU: MMX Pentium or better RAM: 32mb (64MB or more recommended) Video Resolution: 640 x 480 with High Color (800 x 600 with True Color recommended) Hard Disk space: 15MB required for installation, with additional amount equivalent to twice the capacity of the camera memory card required when Nikon View 4 is running Miscellaneous: CD-ROM drive required for installation
Accessories included (may vary worldwide)
Lens cap, Neck strap, AV cable, CompactFlash™ Card, USB cable, Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL1, Battery Charger, Nikon View 4 CD-ROM
Optional accessories
Fisheye Converter FC-E8, Wideangle Converter WC-E68, Telephoto Converter TC-E2, Telephoto Converter TC-E3ED, Adapter rings UR-E5,UR-E6, Lens hood HN-E5000, Power pack MB-E5000, Remote Cord MC-EU1

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