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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


User's Experience

Wednesday, Mar 23, 2005 - Here's what I receive in the box:

  • Coolpix 5600
  • No Memory Card included [though Nikon sent me a 512MB SD memory card for the review]
  • Wrist Strap
  • 2 Rechargeable AA NiMH Batteries and Battery Charger with Power Cable (note: in Canada; US apparently only supplies 2 AA Alkaline batteries; in your country and region, it might be different)
  • Interface Cables: A/V; USB
  • English and French Instruction Manuals: Quick Start Guide; Nikon Guide to Digital Photography
  • Software CDs: PictureProject 1.1; Reference Manual

The Nikon Coolpix 5600 is a very attractive point-and-shoot digital camera that is pocketable and extremely light. Nikon is one of the few manufacturers that provide somewhat of a handgrip (effectively the battery compartment) on a compact model. Ergonomics-wise, your index finger falls naturally on the shutter release button, though I found the zoom toggle lever to be on the small side.

One of the reasons why the Coolpix 5600 is so light is that it takes only two (2) AA batteries and the tiny SD memory card. It takes quite a long time (about 2 1/2 hrs) to recharge a pair of NiMH batteries once they are fully depleted. If you do not see a battery icon on the LCD monitor, it means that the battery is more or less full. When the battery is low, a low battery icon displays.

Being here in Canada, all documentation comes in both English and French versions:

The Nikon Guide to Digital Photography (with the Coolpix 5600) is not, as its name may imply, a guide about how to take better pictures using the Coolpix 5600 digital camera. It is the User Guide, which is well illustrated, though a little on the "busy" side. I was able to find all the information I needed to operate the camera, The font is small but quite legible.

The handy Quick Start Guide is all I need to get the Coolpix 5600 up and ready for picture taking. Its illustrations and text are extremely easy to follow, though the switch to an orange colour makes the reading of white text on orange background a bit difficult.

I take the time to set the Coolpix 5600 to the way I would like to use it (only the settings I set are listed below):

SETUP (Mode Dial):

  • Welcome Screen: Disable welcome (makes for faster startup)
  • Date: set to today's date
  • Monitor settings: Photo info = Show info; Brightness = 3
  • Date imprint: Off (Other options: Date, Date and time)
  • Sound settings: Button sound = Off; Shutter sound = Off; Start-up sound = Off; Volume = Off
  • Blur warning: On
  • Auto off: Auto off = 1m; Sleep mode = Off

SHOOTING MENU (Auto on Mode Dial; press the MENU button):

  • Image Quality/Size: 5M* High (2592x1944 pixels)
  • White Balance: Auto
  • Exp. +/-: 0
  • Continuous: Single (Other options: Continuous, Multi-shot 16)
  • BSS (Best Shot Selector): Off
  • Color options: Standard color

As indicated above, Exposure Compensation is set via the Menu (3rd item on the Menu), which basically means it will seldom, if ever, get used. Considering the target audience of this camera, this may not be an issue. But it also means that I am not able to quickly make the exposure changes I feel is needed to obtain the best shots while shooting the image samples.

Note that in Macro mode (in Auto mode, pressing the Cursor Down arrow on the Multi Selector allows setting Macro ON), the camera is in continuous focus and a continuous whirring noise is (very) faintly heard. This is normal. Macro can be as close as 4 cm (1.6 in.) but you need to ensure the macro (flower) indicator turns green (or blue, to my eyes) first by adjusting the zoom.

In 5M* High 2592x1944 size, the 14MB Internal Memory (remember no memory card is included) can save about 5 pictures; a 512MB SD memory card will allow you to record around 199 pictures. I recommend that you get a 512MB SD card, slide it into the camera and forget about it.

BCE Place
5.7 mm, Programmed Auto, Multi-Pattern, 1/40.7 sec., F4.9 and ISO Auto.

All plastic body but solid, quality construction -- just what you would expect from a Nikon camera. No loose parts, and every control feels just right. It feels very comfortable in the hand.

The 1.8 in. LCD is pretty good, with enough resolution (80,000 pixels) to help me determine whether I have a good shot or whether to reshoot. Yes, I can actually tell an image is not sharp. With Blur warning on, the camera will in fact tell you an image is blurred and give you the option to save or reject it. You can adjust the LCD brightness via the menu.

The Coolpix 5600 has no practical shutter lag -- which is tremendous for an entry-level digital camera.

Start-up time is around 2 sec. The power on/off button is the press-and-hold-for-a-second tiny button on top of the camera. I find myself holding it for too short a time so the camera will not turn on, and invariably has to press it a second time. Ditto to turn the camera off. It's a good precaution against accidental turning on and off, but a press only button would probably speed up start-up time.

The Mode Dial is effortless to turn, snapping satisfyingly into the mode you select. Just a note of caution if, like me, you like to keep your digital camera in your pants pocket: I find I have unintentionally switched to another mode a couple of times -- as I put it in and take it out of my pants pocket. The camera will warn you with a message on the LCD screen if the Mode Dial has been accidentally turned midway between modes.

Nikon PictureProject is the new software bundled with Nikon digital cameras

I install the Nikon PictureProject 1.1 software which requires uninstalling Nikon View 6.0. PictureProject is quite good, allowing the usual basic image editing: you can edit the photo as to brightness, color, sharpness, straighten, photo effects (B&W, Sepia) and D-Lighting.

To transfer images from the camera to my PC running Windows XP, all I have to do is simply connect the USB cable from the camera (turned off) to the PC. I then turn on the camera and the camera is immediately recognized as an external drive. Then it is simply a matter of drag-and-drop in Windows Explorer. Or, use PictureProject to index the images. However, be sure to specify where you want your pictures to be saved (by default it saves to C:\Documents and Settings\<user>\My Documents\My Pictures\). By the way, the EXIF Info can be accessed in the Information Panel under the Shooting Data drop-down.

Once done, I click the drive icon on my task bar and wait for the signal that it is now OK to unplug the cable at both end. To erase all pictures from the memory card, I put the camera in Playback Mode, then press MENU - Delete - Erase all images - Yes. Or, if you need to ensure all images are completely wiped out on the memory card, simply reformat everytime, though it takes about 2 min 45 sec. to format a 512MB card!

The Nikon 5600 is not really an indoors camera since it lacks an AF Assist Illuminator and the LCD monitor does not gain up in low-light. D-Lighting helps brighten images that are too dark but also does increase the amount of noise present. At 4x6 in. prints, the noise may not be unacceptable. For those who will never edit images in an image editing software, D-Lighting is a useful feature to have.

The Nikon Coolpix 5600 is point-and-shoot easy to use, and Nikon has successfully equipped this camera with all the features a first-time digital camera user will need. Pop the batteries in, slide the SD memory card in, and you'll be taking good quality images right away. It has fast operation, and the 5 megapixels resolution allows large prints. If I were just starting out in photography, receiving this digital camera as a present would be perfect.

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