Nikon COOLPIX 5600

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Nikon COOLPIX 5600
  • Nikon COOLPIX 5600
  • Nikon COOLPIX 5600
  • Nikon COOLPIX 5600

Pros

  • Novice friendly, D-Lighting option

Cons

  • Lowish battery life

Bottom Line

Nikon's diminutive 5.1-megapixel camera is simple to use, and it delivers more-powerful features than you'd expect from a camera priced at under $300.

Would you buy this?

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Both novice and experienced digital photographers will appreciate the Coolpix 5600's intuitive controls. Measuring 85 x 60 x 35mm, the 5600 fits easily in your hand. Some features, like the scene-mode selection wheel, cater to occasional photographers. But even an experienced photographer would find depth in this camera's features, and Nikon's straightforward user interface puts all of them within easy reach.

Novices can choose from the icons on the selection wheel to put the camera into the mode best suited to the lighting situation and scene at hand. Options include an underwater scene mode (but you should use this only if you own a waterproof housing for the camera, since the camera itself is not waterproof).

The camera's advanced, contextual menu system gives you great control over the scene modes, including customising certain aspects of mode settings, such as the minimum shutter speed or aperture. With the dedicated delete button you can quickly trash shots that don't work out--a feature I found quite handy.

The Coolpix 5600 accurately reproduced colour in our tests, and delivered well-balanced exposures.

The camera has a 3X optical zoom lens, but in my hands-on tests, I found its photos slightly fuzzy. The camera's autofocus did a reasonable job and managed to focus quickly outdoors, but indoors, getting the camera settled on the correct focusing distance took a little more effort. The camera's Blur Warning feature alerted me when the camera wouldn't be able to take a clean shot due to movement or low light, but even when I made the camera happy by holding very, very still, it managed to snap some slightly out-of-focus images in our moderately well-lit offices. The camera has no manual focus options.

Some of the Coolpix 5600's bonus features--such as the ability to create sepia-tone or black-and-white snaps--seemed gimmicky, but Nikon's D-Lighting option (which instantly brightens overly dark snapshots) worked very well. The Coolpix doesn't include an SD card, and you'll need one: the 14MB of built-in memory stores a paltry five shots in the camera's highest-resolution mode.

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