Four 5-Megapixel Cameras In Review

Professional Functions

Some of the new features include (on the right above the swivel button) a playback/ recording toggle button and three buttons above the LCD monitor. This arrangement is not entirely satisfactory. The lack of space means that some important settings can only be accessed via onscreen submenus. This wastes time when using a camera with less than top quality responsiveness. The first button on the left of the monitor is used with the camera in recording mode to view the last shot taken. The second gives access to four options: an automatic mode and three custom modes for prerecording three complete configurations (A, S, M modes, burst or movie, white balance, contrast, etc.), cleverly named C1, C2 and C3. Surprising though it may seem, the idea would have been quite practical if there had been another access to white balance. Having to find it every time you change just makes for more loss of time.

Quite a few other automatic features can also be switched to manual. An important factor: though small, the Coolpix 5000 is just as complete as the other 5 megapixels. Its sensitivity ranges from ISO 100 to 800; its shutter speeds range from 1/2000 to 8 seconds, plus has the ability to increase to 60 seconds.

There are four exposure metering options: the default matrix; spot; center-weighted; and spot auto-focus. There is also sharpness adjustment, a bracketing mode, a continuous shoot mode, etc.

For shutter speeds of longer than 1/4 second, the C1, C2 and C3 menus also propose a noise reduction function.

Short Zoom But Wide Angle

When required, the zoom relies on its shorter focal length of 28mm to compensate for its lack of range. It would have been better if this f/2.8-4.8 28-85mm were brighter. The E-20, for instance, is f/2-2.4 38-140mm. The 28mm does provide added comfort indoors, but needs a larger aperture or longer exposure time than the 35mm on its rivals' cameras. But its build is satisfactory, given the very low distortion at all focal lengths and lack of vignetting. It is not as easy to use as the Dimage 7 and the E-20: it is controlled electronically, not manually.