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Nikon Coolpix 5600 Review
Date: April 4, 2005
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
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
- Date: set to today's date
- Monitor settings: Photo info = Show info;
Brightness = 3
- Date imprint: Off (Other options: Date, Date
- Sound settings: Button sound = Off; Shutter
sound = Off; Start-up sound = Off; Volume =
- Blur warning: On
- Auto off: Auto off = 1m; Sleep mode = Off
SHOOTING MENU (Auto on Mode Dial; press the MENU
- Image Quality/Size: 5M* High (2592x1944 pixels)
- White Balance: Auto
- Exp. +/-: 0
- Continuous: Single (Other options: Continuous,
- 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.
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
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
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
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.