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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Nikon Coolpix 5600


Nikon Coolpix 5600 Review

Review Date: April 4, 2005

Category: Point-and-Shoot



The Nikon Coolpix 5600 is a digital camera targeted to point-and-shoot photographers. It has 5.1 megapixel resolution on a 1/2.5 in. CCD image sensor, and a 5.7-17.1mm (35-105mm, 35 mm equivalent) 3x optical zoom lens, with a maximum aperture of F2.9(W)-F4.9(T).

The zoom range covers a useful slight wide-angle to portrait medium telephoto coverage. Metering is Multi-Pattern and works fine in most situations, though the highlights tend to be blown. Exposure compensation is possible and is accessed through the Menu.

We find the overall image quality of the Nikon 5600 to be good.

3x Optical Zoom
Wide-angle 5.7mm
(35mm, 35mm equivalent)
Telephoto 17.1mm
(105mm, 35mm equivalent)

In the above pictures, we show the coverage for 35mm, and then 105mm.

Macro using Best Shot Selector
6.4mm, Programmed Auto, Multi-Pattern, Macro, 1/1.4 sec., F3, ISO Auto

Macro can be as close as 4 cm (1.6 in.). Don't just set Macro on and shoot away, though, or you might well end up with out of focus images. Ensure the macro flower indicator turns green (looks more like blue to me) first by adjusting the zoom a bit as necessary.

With macros, don't expect to be able to handhold the shot: using a tripod is mandatory. Also ensure the subject is not moving at all (e.g. in the breeze); though a fast shutter speed can freeze the movement, the subject may have slightly moved into an out-of-focus zone. Out-of-focus macro shots are usually caused by trying to handhold the shot of a moving subject.

The above shot was hand-held, but I cheated by using one of the Nikon 5600's feature: Best Shot Selector (BSS) that you set in the Menu. BSS works by taking 10 shots in a row (as long as you keep your finger on the shutter release button) and then discarding all except the one that comes out the sharpest. Very cool feature!

White Balance Indoors
AWB Preset WB

As the above two pictures show, the auto white balance (AWB) indoors under fluorescent artificial light (since most sites demonstrate tungsten lighting, we decided it would be more helpful to demonstrate fluorescent lighting) tends toward the yellow. The Nikon 5600 allows manual WB to be set via the Menu: Preset WB allows us to correct the colours to real white. AWB works very well in natural light.

ISO Comparisons
ISO Auto

You cannot set the ISO on the Nikon 5600. The camera chooses it for you, and in low-light situations, it will invariably select a high ISO. The 100% crop above (area delimited by the white square) demonstrates the noise that is visible at high ISO. Since the camera does not record the ISO setting used, you have no idea which one was used.

Chromatic Aberrations

CA is minimal in everyday shots. It's not too sunny here, but out of our high contrast shots, we found a couple with a bit of purple fringing at full image size. In the above photo, the corner delimited by the red square at top middle, and reproduced at 100% crop at bottom right, showed some purple fringing. At 4x6 in. prints, this should not be a problem at all and won't show up.

Long Shutter Speed
6mm, Programmed Auto, Multi-Pattern, 1/1.6 sec., F2.9, ISO Auto
Macro, Self-timer, Tripod Used

The Nikon 5600 allows the use of a moderately long shutter speed of up to 4 sec. Generally, with CCD image sensors, noise usually becomes more prominent at slow shutter speeds.

We decided to take a low-light indoors shot. Light is from two fluorescent energy-saving bulbs on the ceiling. To obtain a long exposure, I place Bamm-Bamm under my desk in the shadows. I could not get focus lock since the Nikon 5600 does not have an AF Assist Illuminator, so I moved Bamm-Bamm forward into the light. Adjust the zoom until the macro (flower) indicator turns green, set the 10 sec. self-timer and press the shutter release. Not the 4 sec. I was hoping. So bear in mind that you might not be able to get to use that 4 sec. if you also cannot get focus lock when the light level is too dark.

Blur Warning will warn you that an image is blurred and gives you the option of saving it or discarding it. D-Lighting is in theory a good feature though in practice it results in high noise; nevertheless it is a handy "brightness" feature for those who will never use an image editing software to post-process images that come out too dark.

All in all, the Nikon 5600 is strictly P&S, though it does have to following positives going for it:

  • Good quality images with nice colours and sharpness straight out of the camera
  • lots of easy-to-use Scene Modes (incl. scene assist modes)
  • BSS is a nifty feature in situations where camera shake may be a problem
  • in-camera red-eye reduction
  • exposure compensation
  • manual WB

Negatives are:

  • no AF Assist Illuminator means focusing in low-light situations can be challenging (no problem in bright outdoors)
  • no AF frame indicator on screen so you do not really know where the focus is locking on
  • movie not high quality but adequate for web uses
  • cannot set ISO so no control over noise (indoors low-light pictures will generally be noisy)

The pictures in the Nikon Coolpix 5600 Photo Gallery page provide a good sample of what the camera is capable of. I have provided samples at 800x600 pixels (compressed to Quality 60/100 in Photoshop Elements) as well as the 2592 x 1944 pixels original size (click on the image for the original version).

You can safely assume that most macro shots and slow shutter speed shots required the use of a tripod. Any image that is adjusted for levels in Photoshop has "_adjusted" appended to the file name (though the original sized image is, of course, not adjusted).

I have defaulted the image size to 800x600 pixels. For those who have their monitor resolution set to 1024x728 pixels, everything should snugly fit and you should not have to scroll to see the whole image. If your monitor is set to 800x600 pixels resolution, start the slide show and then scroll to the right to position the image within your screen width. Then, press F11 (if you are using Internet Explorer) to switch to full screen mode, and the image should fill your screen nicely. Press F11 again at any time to switch your monitor display back to normal mode.

To return to this page from the Photo Gallery, click on the animated graphics of the camera.

Please open and download the original size version only if you need to and only once to your hard drive -- and save me some precious bandwidth. Thanks!


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