Price: £549.99 inc VAT
The Coolpix 885 is Nikon’s latest compact digital camera, replacing last year’s Coolpix 880. The 880 produced excellent results, so can the 885 beat it? Yes it can, even though its price is £150 less than the Coolpix 880’s introductory price. The resolution is the same (with a 3.34mp CCD outputting 3.21mp, 2,048-x-1,536 pixels), but the 885 body style is revised and slightly smaller. It has a 3x zoom lens (equivalent to 38-114mm), improving on the 880’s 2.5x zoom, improved metering, one-button image transfer to PC, and compatibility with Epson’s Print Imaging Technology colour management. Unlike the semi-pro Coolpix 995 (and the forthcoming Coolpix 5000), the 885 is a point-&-shoot camera, with 12 pre-set ‘scene’ modes for common subjects and lighting. Other exposure controls are limited to full auto, programmed and a slightly fiddly manual mode. There are only two selectable manual apertures (f/2.8 and f/7.6), but shutter speeds can be selected from 8 seconds to 1/1,000th of a second. Autoexposure A sophisticated feature is the ability to manually select one of five zones displayed in the preview monitor as the target for the autofocus. The autoexposure metering offers matrix, centre-weighted and spot modes. Spot exposure can be set to read the selected focus area. The Coolpix 885 can accept Nikon’s standard range of accessory lenses for wide angles, fisheye, and telephoto, plus effects filters. There’s a small optical viewfinder, with no parallax targets, so you’d use the LCD preview except in bright sunlight. The very compact new body measures 95-x-65-x-52mm and weighs 285g with battery and memory card. It’s all-plastic but feels solid, apart from the unfortunate use of plastic in the tripod bush, which won’t last long if you use it. The big handgrip bulge at the front accommodates the single rechargeable Li-ion battery. Nikon supplies a battery charger. Controls comprise an on-off/shutter button and a main mode dial on top, six buttons and a four-way selector on the back, plus a rocker switch for the power zoom. There’s no separate status display, so all menus and readouts go on the LCD monitor, which is a bit small at 1.5 inches. Fortunately, the status symbols are clear enough. The playback display can be set to superimpose full time and exposure data on the monitor, or to show a thumbnail image with an exposure histogram plus burnout areas flashing in the image. A quick playback button displays images immediately after shooting. Video clips can be captured as 240-x-320 pixel MOV files and played back, but there’s no sound recording. A PAL video-out port and cable are provided. The 12 pre-set scenes are: Portrait (wide aperture, five-area focus option); Party/Indoor (anti-redeye flash); Night portrait (flash balanced to include background); Beach/snow (preserves brightness); Landscape (flash off, focus at infinity); Sunset (exposes for sky), Night landscape (flash off, long exposure); Museum (flash off, wide aperture, macro option), Fireworks Show (fast shutter response, long exposure); Close Up (macro mode focus, manual autofocus zone); Copy (high contrast for text); and Back Light (exposes for bright backgrounds with foreground fill-in flash). Each works well, especially Back Light, Fireworks Show and Sunset. The shutter response is nearly instant with Fireworks, though the long exposure only works for night scenes – daylight is overexposed. Files can be saved in three resolutions as either compressed JPEG in two quality settings or uncompressed TIFFs for maximum quality. A 16MB CompactFlash card is provided but Microdrives aren’t supported. Image quality is good, though with a tendency to oversaturate greens and oranges. The lens quality is very good, with a slight barrel distortion at wide angles. The Nikon View 4 downloading software launches automatically when you connect the camera via the supplied USB cable. You’ve the option of previewing all images as thumbnails before downloading the ones you want, or simply pressing the Transfer button to download everything to a predefined folder. Overall, the Nikon 885 packs good imaging and a decent control set into a tiny package. Manual exposure is a bit fiddly and there’s no external flash option, but otherwise it’s hard to find anything missing.