As of April this year, Nikon had 15 cameras in its Coolpix Digital Compact Cameras range. One of its latest additions is the 5.1 Mp Coolpix 5600 which was released the same time as its 4Mp equivalent, the Coolpix 4600.
What is pleasantly surprising about the Coolpix 5600 is just how small it is compared to its siblings in the Nikon Compact range. Measuring 85x60x35mm and weighing only 187g with its two AA batteries (two NiMH rechargeables are included), the camera easily slips into a shirt or jeans pocket or small handbag.
And it is also high on features. It comes with 16 scene modes such Beach/Snow, party/indoor, Museum, Fireworks and Back Light. The Back Light mode is quite handy. It is used when light is coming from behind your subject and throws their features into shadow. For example, if a person is standing in front of a window. In this instance, the flash will automatically fire to fill in the shadows.
As is the case with newer Nikon cameras, four of the Scene Modes offer Nikon Scene Assist (Portrait, Night Portrait, Sports, and Landscape). This allows you to compose pictures with the assistance of framing guides displayed on the monitor.
Aside from single shooting modes there is also continuous (1.3fps; up to three frames), and 16 multi-shot (after the shutter is depressed the camera records 16 consecutive images to form one complete image).
The Coolpix 5600 sports new features in Nikon cameras designed to help improve the pictures you take while they're still in the camera. Two of them include the D-Lighting feature and Blur Warning.
D-Lighting compensates for insufficient flash or excessive backlighting. When tone is adjusted, a new picture is created automatically, in addition to the original.
Blur Warning lets you know when camera shake or hand shake has affected a shot. A warning sign appears saying "Picture is blurred. Save Picture?" This is good in theory, but we found many blurred shots still slipped past the sensor's eye.
The camera shoots movies in three sizes, all at 15fps, and all image information is saved to either its 14MB internal memory, or the SD card format. The 3x zoom does not let you come nearly as close to subjects as the 8x zoom on the Nikon 4800. But the latter is twice the size and weight.
The camera has seven white balance options and five image modes ranging from 2592x1944 down to 640x480. In addition, there is also a Small Pic function. If an image is saved at its highest resolution, a copy of it can be made and saved as a separate file. This function resizes images on the camera to 640x480, 320x240 and 160x120 making it ideal for quick e-mail. All functions are viewed on its 1.8-inch LCD screen.
The camera does not come with a memory card, which is a little disappointing, but at $499 it is still good value, according to Nikon.
Overall picture quality was impressive, but even more appealing is the ability to instantly correct images that you may not have been happy with initially. Whether it be a replacement to an existing point-and-shoot camera, or your first foray into digital photography, the Coolpix 5600 is sure to go a long way in repaying you.
Price: $499; Vendor: Nikon; URL: http://www.maxwell.com.au/products/nikon/coolpix/index.html