First impressions, Nikon Coolpix 8700

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by jmc, Aug 14, 2004.

  1. jmc

    jmc Guest

    I recently upgraded from my current Nikon Coolpix 4300 (nice little
    camera) to the 8700. I'm what you might call a prolific amateur. I
    originally learned photography with a 35mm and darkroom in high
    school, but have been digital since 1997 (two Kodak DC2**, now two

    The 4300 takes great pictures, don't get me wrong. It was just that
    what it *couldn't* do was starting to annoy me - insufficient zoom, no
    shutter priority were the main ones.

    Out of box impressions: it seemed quite small coming out of the box,
    though it's a good bit bigger than the 4300. Lots of bits and bobs to
    go with it. I was happy to see that the charger I got was
    "international" - the cord has the two round (european?) prongs, with
    an included US adapter. Now, if I was in the US this might be
    annoying, but as I'm posted in England, I'm quite happy with this

    I actually had to RTFM to figure the camera out. Used up most of a
    battery just reading the manual then testing what I'd read. Many
    functions are the same as the 4300, but buttons in many cases are in
    very different places.

    Essentially, I've had two days of real use of the 8700. First
    impression: It's bigger than the 4300. Yea, that's a duh! but I'd
    gotten used to the small size. However, the fact that I can actually
    hang the thing on my neck cancelled that out completely. I'd been
    carrying a camera case and sticking the 4300 back in it constantly,
    now I don't have to do that.

    (forgot to finish; picked this up again after a couple more weekends)

    I've had the camera for a couple weeks now, and I'm beginning to quite
    like it. The image quality and detail is awesome. I often photograph
    horses - I took a relative closeup which included part of a horse's
    face, and when I got the image on the computer, I noticed I could see
    myself reflected in the eye. When I put the photo to full-size, I
    could see the reflection was so detailed, I could even make out the
    watch on my arm, and the barn behind me. Not to mention, every hair
    on the horse's face is distinct and clear! I'm quite impressed.

    The 8700 is light enough that I can take pictures with one hand, and I
    have a quite small hand. Small enough that the oft-heard complaint
    about the strap d-ring doesn't apply to me - it sits just above the
    webbing between my thumb and first finger, and doesn't bug me at all.

    The positionable LCD is awesome! Definitely not a gimmick. Only
    complaint I have is that when I try to do vertical shots, I have to
    take my sunglasses off - the glasses are polarized, and when I try to
    view the LCD sideways, it turns black with the glasses. This is my
    fourth digital, never had this problem before. But being able to hold
    the camera over my head, or close to the ground, and not have to do
    any contortions is very useful.

    There was a bit of a learning curve with all the extra buttons, but I
    find I can set the options I want quicker than maneuvering through the
    4300's menus. I especially like that when you set a priority - be it
    shutter or aperture - all you have to do is spin a dial to change it.
    Trying different shutter speeds becomes very simple.

    About the only complaint I seem to have is that it seems to sometimes
    have trouble focusing on distant objects. I've been making sure my
    finger's not over the sensor, but it still has difficulty. Sometimes
    I can just set it to infinity and take the picture, but occassionally
    the subject will be closer, and it'll have real problems. A swan
    today was a prime example, it would only focus properly on the swan
    twice out of a dozen times. Not sure if it's the cam's problem or
    operator error, yet. Any suggestions or comments?

    Panorama assist mode (one of the scene options) is awesome! Once
    you've taken your first image in the series, and told it 'which way'
    you're going (if necessary), it puts 1/3 of the previous image into
    the next frame so you can see your overlap. Works great! I do a lot
    of landscape shots, and do a lot of panoramas, so I can see this
    mode's going to get a lot of use.

    Battery seems to last long enough. I took >130 shots (322MB) today,
    battery icon indicated low but never actually died.

    So, based on a couple of weekends worth of use, I would recommend the
    Nikon Coolpix 8700. It has enough options to keep the knowledgeable
    amateur happy, or a point-and-shoot mode for when one is feeling lazy.
    it's relatively lightweight, and I've had no issues with battery
    longevity. I haven't accidentally pressed any of the buttons to the
    left of the barrel (which has been cited as a complaint), and find
    that setting options is relatively quick and easy, considering the
    huge number available.
    usenet [at] jodi [dit] ws
    Any day you learn something isn't a total waste.
    jmc, Aug 14, 2004
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  2. jmc wrote:
    Thanks for your write-up, jmc. It reflects my own experience to some
    extent when moving from a Nikon 990 to a 5700.

    With focussing, try and find a more contrasty area of your subject to
    focus on. With the swan, select the contrasty region between the neck and
    the water (say) rather than the plain body region of the bird. When
    taking photos out of plane windows, I select infinity focus. Particularly
    in wide-angle, the depth of field is very great because of the small focal
    length of the lens, so you might get away with infinity quite often!

    David J Taylor, Aug 15, 2004
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  3. jmc

    jmc Guest

    Thanks, David, I'll try that. I have to admit, I was getting
    flashbacks to my old Kodak DC260/290 days - those cameras had a real
    problem with green, for some reason. I'll try focusing on something
    with "edges".

    usenet [at] jodi [dit] ws
    Any day you learn something isn't a total waste.
    jmc, Aug 15, 2004
  4. jmc

    Ski Guest

    Question about your battery life. As I use mine I notice that the day
    after using the camera the battery will be dead. The other night I
    used it and took about 30 pictures. The next day the battery was dead.
    I currently have four batteries and never go out without all four.
    Have you noticed this? Not sure if this is a camera related problem
    Ski, Aug 19, 2004
  5. Ski wrote:
    On my 5700:

    - a fully charged battery will deliver way more than 30 shots in normal
    use (some flash, single-shot focus, LCD timeout 60 seconds).

    - the low battery indicator comes on about half-way to when the battery is
    actually exhausted.

    Are you sure your batteries are fully charged?

    David J Taylor, Aug 19, 2004
  6. jmc

    jmc Guest

    No, I haven't noticed this, but then I tend to recharge and swap
    batteries before I take the camera out again, so I wouldn't
    necessarily. This weekend will be the big test - two rechargeables
    and a disposable battery for 3 days at the Edinburgh Tattoo in
    Scotland. I'll bring the recharger just in case.

    usenet [at] jodi [dit] ws
    Any day you learn something isn't a total waste.
    jmc, Aug 19, 2004
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