Review: Nikon Coolpix 995|
by Jeff Keller, DCRP
Originally posted: Thursday, August 2,
Last Updated: Friday,
October 26, 2001
biggest project in the year 2000 was the Nikon
Coolpix 990 vs. Olympus C-3030Z review. It was, and still is, an
extremely popular review. It was also a very polarizing review: when
I picked the C-3030Z as my choice, I received many angry letters
from Coolpix fans. My main complaints about the Coolpix were redeye
problems, a lackluster movie mode, and fewer manual controls than
of those things have been resolved on the Coolpix
995 ($899), most notably the flash. The new pop-up flash sits
atop a new 4X optical zoom lens, on the Coolpix's unique swiveling
body. Are all the changes on the Coolpix 995 for the better? Find
out in our review.
What's in the Box?
Coolpix 995 has a very good bundle. Inside the box, you'll
3.3 Mpixel Nikon Coolpix 995 camera
- 16MB Lexar 8X CompactFlash card
- EN-EL1 Li-ion rechargeable battery
- Battery charger
- Neck strap
- Lens cap w/strap
- Video cable
- CD-ROM featuring Nikon View 4 and drivers
page manual (printed)
disturbing trend with many digital cameras is the use of proprietary
batteries. The previous Coolpix 900-series cameras all used AA
batteries, but the new 995 uses a small Lithium-ion battery, known
as the EN-EL1. This battery is rated at 650mAh. On the Coolpix 990,
you could stuff in four 1600 mAh NiMH rechargeable batteries. Need I
say more? Nikon claims that the battery will last about 110 minutes
depending on LCD usage.
Update 8/4/01: Nikon points out that
this isn't a proprietary battery, and that you can buy
(non-rechargeable) 2CR5 batteries in many places. That's true, but
they're still expensive compared to AA's. Also, testing done by Digital Photography Review shows
that the Coolpix 995 with the EN-EL1 lasted just as long as the
Coolpix 990 with four 1600 mAh NiMH batteries. Very interesting,
considering the different in power output.
charge that battery, Nikon includes a separate charger that holds
one battery. It fully charges the EN-EL1 in about two
from that, there isn't much else to complain about. The 16MB Lexar
8X CompactFlash card is still a bit skimpy for a 3.3MP camera, but
at least they didn't put in an 8MB card.
has the usual lens cap, and they have a strap to keep you (or at
least me) from losing it.
NikonView software is now up to version 4, and it's still pretty
mediocre. If you're looking for a serious photo editing suite, try
something like Photoshop. I did have trouble with it crashing on my
Mac OS 9.1 system on several occasions.
the other 900-series cameras, there are a number of accessories
available. You can get wide-angle, fisheye, and telephoto lenses, as
well as a slide copier, flash bracket, and remote shutter release
Thankfully, the manual is printed and not on CD like it was
on some earlier models. The quality of the manual is above
Look and Feel
you've ever used a Coolpix 900-series camera before, you'll feel
right at home with the 995. While a few things have changed,
overall, it's the same as its predecessors. The body is made of what
I'd call "quality plastic" -- in other words, it doesn't feel cheap.
The camera is easy to hold, with a big right hand grip and room for
the left as well. The rotating lens mechanism is "tight" and stays
where you put it.
official dimensions of the 995 are 5.4 x 3.2 x 1.6 (L x W x D), and
it weighs 390 grams empty. Let's start our tour of the Coolpix 995
now, with the front of the camera.
you can see the two big new features of the CP995. The first is the
new F2.6 Nikkor lens, which now features a 4X zoom. The focal range
of the lens is 8 - 32mm, which is equivalent to 38 - 152 mm. I have
to say, it's really nice have a 4X zoom instead of just a 3X lens
that everyone else has. As I mentioned, the lens is threaded for
accessories such as wide-angle converters and filters.
want even more zoom, the 995 has a "stepless" 4X digital zoom as
well. But do note that using the digital zoom will reduce the
quality of your photos.
other big new addition to the 995 is the "popup" flash. Unlike some
other cameras I've tested recently, the flash pops up only when you
want it to. The whole point of moving the flash further from the
lens was to reduce redeye -- which was one of the big complaints
with the 990. I couldn't seem to find the working range for the
flash anywhere. You can adjust the strength of the flash via the
setup menu. If you want more flash power, you can use an external
flash (more on this later).
there's something missing on the front of the camera, it would be an
AF assist lamp - for focusing in low light situations.
Rotating the lens back reveals some more items of
flash sync port (to the right) works with Nikon Speedlight models
SB-28DX, SB-28, SB-26, SB-25, SB-24, SB-22s, and SB-22. You will
need the optional SK-E900 Multi-Flash Bracket Unit to mount the
flash onto the camera. The 995's manual insists that you only use
Nikon-brand Speedlights, and nothing else.
the flash sync port is the diopter correction dial, so those of you
with glasses can see through the optical viewfinder.
on the other half of the body is the power adapter. You can plug in
the AC adapter (optional) or a powerpack right here.
is the button-filled back of the Coolpix 995.
1.8" LCD is bright and fluid, and useable in most situations, except
outdoors, when all LCD's are useless. Hoodman USA sells LCD hoods which may help you use
on the other half of the body is the optical viewfinder. I already
mentioned the diopter correction knob, which is underneath. Since
the optical viewfinder is off by itself, you won't be getting any
nose smudges on the LCD. The optical viewfinder has a few framing
guides inside it, for composing pictures. There are also flash and
focus lock lamps next to it.
buttons above the LCD include:
- Monitor (turns LCD on/off)
- Menu (invokes menu system)
- Zoom controls
- Quick Review
Pressing the Quick Review button once will put a thumbnail
of the photo you just took in the top left corner of the LCD.
Pressing it again will make it a full-screen image, where you can do
all normal playback operations on it.
right of the LCD is the four-way switch, mostly used for navigating
the menu system.
the LCD you'll find buttons that illustrate the term
"multifunction". These things do a million things each. This table
should explain things:
once (record mode)
once (play mode)
and turn dial on top
have more about many of these functions later in the review. Two
notes about the self-timer mode. First, when turned on, pressing the
shutter release once gets a 10 second countdown; pressing twice
quickly starts the countdown at 3 seconds. The second issue, which I
found annoying, is that putting the camera in self-timer mode forces
the camera into macro mode. What if you want to do a regular shot
Update 8/6/01: Okay, here's how to get around
this. In M-REC mode, put the camera into macro/self-timer mode.
Then, hold down the macro button and turn the wheel, and you can set
the focus manually. So in the case of my night shots, I could set it
to infinity. Thus, you'd have the right focus, as well as self-timer
turned on. Thanks to Bradford Bohonus for this tip.
onto the top of the Coolpix 995. The LCD info display is large, and
chock full of information. Here, it's showing:
- Mode (Shutter priority)
- Metering (Matrix)
- Battery (getting low)
- Landscape focus
- Fine Quality
- Flash off
- 1/500 sec shutter speed
right of the LCD info display you'll also find:
- Mode dial (Off, Auto-Rec, Manual-Rec, Playback) / Shutter
- Mode and Exposure compensation buttons (which can be
changed to whatever you want)
- Command dial
one side of the Coolpix 995, with nothing to see.
here's the other side. You can see the CompactFlash Type II slot,
the included Memory Card, as well as the I/O ports for Video and
Digital (USB), which are under a rubber cover.
the big question marks with the CP995 is Microdrive compatibility.
The official word from Nikon is that they are not supported. Steve's
Digicams, in their review, mentions that the 1gb worked fine for
them. Since I don't have a Microdrive lying around, I couldn't test
it to be sure.
Finally, here's a look at the bottom of the Coolpix 995,
shown with the included EN-EL1 battery. Down here you can see the
battery compartment, metal tripod mount, and a lock to prevent the
lens from swiveling more than 90 degrees in each direction (useful
when accessory lenses are used). You can also see the flash
mechanism, towards the left of the photo.
Using the Nikon Coolpix
camera takes five seconds to start up before you can start taking
photos (in A-REC mode). In M-REC mode, where the lens position
starts where it was left when the camera was shut off, it can be
Depressing the shutter release button results in locked
focus in under a second. When you fully depress the button, the
photo is taken with a minimal delay. Shot-to-shot speed is good --
you'll wait about two seconds at normal quality before you can take
feature that seems less common these days is the 995's ability to
pause and delete photos just after they were taken. Where most
cameras only show you a preview, Nikon lets you pause and/or delete
the photo as well.
Writing an uncompressed TIFF file to the CF card will take
roughly 35 seconds. You can do the same pause and delete with TIFFs
as well, though you'll have to wait about 10 seconds before you can
Coolpix 995 has a myriad of quality and resolution choices -- take a
look at this chart for more information:
(TIFF) on 16MB card
2048 x 1536
2048 x 1360
1600 x 1200
1280 x 960
1024 x 768
640 x 480
Coolpix 995 is a manual control lover's dream. It has more manual
controls than any other consumer-priced camera out there. Of course,
if you just want to point-and-shoot, you can do that too -- that's
what's what A-REC mode is for.
you want more control, turn the dial to M-REC. One of the first
choices you can then make is the mode: program, shutter priority,
aperture priority, or full manual. Here's a look at each:
- Program Mode (camera chooses best exposure
- Shutter priority mode (you choose shutter speed, camera
picks appropriate aperture): choose from shutter speed range of 8
sec - 1/2000 sec
- Aperture priority mode (you choose aperture, camera picks
appropriate shutter speed): choose from aperture range of F2.6 -
- Full manual mode (you choose both aperture and shutter
speed): same aperture values; shutter speeds up to 60 seconds in
let's take a look at the extensive menu system, which contains all
those manual controls. The menu system can be overwhelming at first
with lots of weird icons, but you get used to it. Take a deep breath
- here goes.
- White balance (Auto, Preset, Fine, Incandescent,
Fluorescent, Cloudy, Speedlight) - for many of these, you can do
fine adjustments using the command dial, from -3 to +3. For
fluorescent, you can choose between 3 different selections. You
can also shoot a white piece of paper to choose what you want to
be white, using preset mode.
- Metering (Matrix, Spot, Center-weighted, Spot AF Area)-
Spot AF Area measures the exposure at the point which you choose
to focus on
- Continuous (Single, Continuous, Multi-shot 16, VGA
Sequence, Ultra HS, Movie)
- Continuous mode shoots at 1.5 frames/sec until memory
buffer becomes full
- Multi-shot 16 takes 16 shots in a row and puts them into
one Full sized image (like a collage)
- VGA Sequence - Takes 640 x 480 sized images at 2
frames/sec until the buffer is full
- Ultra HS - Takes 320 x 240 sized images at 30 frames/sec
for 70 frames
- Movie - up to 40 seconds of 320 x 240 video at 15
frames/sec. More later on this.
- Best Shot Selector (on/off) - take up to 10 pictures, and
camera picks the sharpest one and saves it. Best for macro and
- Image Adjustment (Auto, Normal, Contrast,
- Saturation control (+1 to -2, plus black &
- Lens - select your accessory lens here
- User Setting - camera can remember up to 3 combinations of
settings that you choose
- Exposure options (AE Lock, EXP +/-. Exposure mode)
- AE Lock - locks exposure settings after the first shot.
Useful for panoramas.
- Exposure compensation (-2.0EV to +2.0EV, in 1/3EV
- Exposure mode (Program, Shutter priority, aperture
priority, manual) - described earlier
- Focus Options (AF Area Mode, Auto-Focus Mode, Focus
Confirmation, Distance Units)
- AF Area Mode - in manual mode, you can choose one of 5
areas on the LCD that you want the camera to focus on
- Auto-Focus Mode - you choose whether camera is focusing
constantly, or just when you press the shutter release
- Focus Confirmation - If turned on, the outline of the
in-focus area of the image is emphasized on the LCD
- Distance Units (meters/feet)
- Image Sharpening (Auto, normal, high, low,
- Auto Bracketing (on/off/WB bracketing)
- On - take 3 or 5 continuous shots with different
exposure compensation values
- WB Bracketing - takes 3 shots: one with chosen white
balance, one reddish image, and one bluish image. I haven't seen
this feature on any other camera.
- Noise reduction (on/off) - helps to reduced hot pixels in
long exposure shots. See night shot test below for examples. Note
that turning this on doubles the time it takes to write the image
to the card.
are a few items of interest in the setup mode as well:
- Monitor (LCD) options
- Display Mode (preview and review features on/off)
- Memorize - remember camera settings when it's shut
- FUNC 1 & 2 - customize what these buttons
- Zoom Options
- Digital Zoom (on/off)
- Start-up position (last position, wide, tele) - choose
where the lens is positioned when you start up the camera
- Fixed aperture (on/off) - aperture remains the same when
- Speedlight Options
- Variable Power - change flash strength from -2.0EV to
+2.0EV in 1/3EV increments
- Internal Flash off
- Shot confirm lamp - turn off light that blinks when a
shot is taken
- Info.txt (on/off) - image file numbers and a range of
photography data is recorded as a file called "info.txt".
more options, activated by those multifunction buttons below the LCD
are manual focus and ISO. With manual focus activated, you can turn
the command dial to select a focus distance. The ISO setting (also
known as sensitivity) lets you choose from Auto, 100, 200, 400, and
800. Keep in mind that the higher you set it, the more "noise" will
be in your image.
there you have it. Enough of that -- let's talk photo
the hallmark features of the Coolpix 900 series has always been its
macro abilities. The 995 continues the tradition, making it a top
choice for those of you shooting lots of close-ups. For this test, I
have not only our usual test shot, but a real world macro photo I
took in Hawaii.
think the results above speak for themselves. No adjustment
(in-camera or otherwise) was made to these photos. You can get as
close as 2 cm (at middle zoom position) in macro mode on the Coolpix
pleased with the quality of the night shot I took (above). The
ever-present summer fog made this worse than I was hoping for, but I
think you get the idea. I took the same shot with the noise
reduction feature on and off, and saw no difference. Fooling around
wtih noise reduction in other situations did show a reduction in
Overall, the photo quality on the Coolpix 995 is nothing
short of excellent. Past Coolpix's have been the benchmark for photo
quality, and the same is true here. Take a look at the regular
photo gallery, plus the special Hawaii
gallery for tons of samples.
area in which the Coolpix 995 hasn't improved is its movie mode. You
still get up to 40 seconds of 320 x 240 video, at 15 frames/second.
There's still no sound recording, but at least you use the zoom lens
an exciting movie (finally!) that I took while in Hawaii. This is
Akaka Falls on the Big Island.
Click to play
movie (4.3MB, Quicktime format, no sound)
Note that movie
was rotated for better viewing.
Coolpix 995 has a complete playback mode that has all the basics
plus a few other nice features.
basic features include 4 or 9 thumbnail mode, slide shows, DPOF
print marking, image protection, and "zoom and scroll".
zoom and scroll feature allows you to zoom in as much as 6X into
your photo, and then scroll around in it.
about those cool extra features? One of my favorites is the ability
to delete a group of photos at once. You just mark the thumbnails
you want to delete, hit a button, and they're gone.
Another interesting feature is the Auto Transfer function.
You can mark photos as "Auto Transfer" and NikonView will
automatically copy them to your Mac or PC when you connect the
want more information about a photo you've taken, you'll love the
Coolpix 995. You get all kinds of statistics, plus a
between photos takes about a second. At first, a lower resolution
picture is shown, and about two seconds later, the high resolution
Does it Compare?
Nikon Coolpix 995 continues to be one of the cameras to beat in the
3 Megapixel field. It's excellent photo quality, amazing macro mode,
and wealth of manual controls make it an excellent choice for the
amateur photographer. The biggest complaint about the Coolpix 990
was redeye; with the flash moved up away from the lens, those
problems should be substantially reduced. On the downside, I wasn't
too happy to see a proprietary battery in the box, and the movie
mode is still not as good as other similarly priced cameras (but
this won't bother most photographers). Many will wonder why they
should buy a 3.3 Megapixel camera when you can get a 4.0MP camera
for the same money? Most people, unless they're making very large
prints, don't need al those extra pixels -- and with all the
features and quality Nikon lens, the Coolpix 995 is a great
- Excellent photo quality
- The camera for macro shots
- Every manual control ever conceived
4X optical zoom lens
- Pop-up flash reduces redeye
- Support for external lenses, filters, and flashes
- Lots of info about your photos in playback mode
didn't care for:
- Proprietary battery
sound in movie mode
- Very complex- takes lots of time to learn
3 Megapixel cameras I recommend taking a look at include the Canon
PowerShot G1, Casio
FinePix 6900 Zoom, Olympus
DSC-S75, and the Toshiba
always, I recommend a trip to your local camera store to try out the
Coolpix 995 and its competitors before you buy!
So how does the
photo quality stand up? Check out the sample photos in our photo
Want a second opinion? How about a
sure to read Steve's Digicams review of the Coolpix 995. If
that's not enough, Imaging Resource has one too!
welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to email@example.com. Due to my
limited resources, please do not e-mail me asking for a personal