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With its new CoolPix 995 digital camera, Nikon has decided to stick with the 3.34 megapixel CCD of last year’s CoolPix 990 rather than join Olympus and Fuji in offering 4 to 6 megapixel models. Instead, Nikon has concentrated on improving its photographic toolset: the 995’s zoom lens is boosted from 3x to 4x; there’s a new pop-up flashgun to reduce the old one’s tendency to red-eyes; and a lightweight long-life Li-ion battery replaces four AAs. Shooting speed is increased from 2 to 3 frames per second and the camera’s ISO sensitivity now runs from 100 to 800. The CoolPix 995’s shutter speed ranges from 8 to 1/2,300th second and its lens aperture is f/2.6 to f/5.6. The main camera body is essentially the same as the CoolPix 990, with the main LCD monitor on the back and a status panel on top. Controls are divided between a multi-function selector around the shutter button, a thumbwheel dial and a four-way button. There are also various command and mode buttons on the top and back. Experienced photographers will appreciate the similarity of the controls to their film cameras. The 995 also has a useful new Quick Playback command button for instantly switching from capture mode. A bigger head The CoolPix 995’s rotating lens head is chunkier to accommodate the pop-up flash (you can also plug in a better external flash) and bigger lens, and has an on/off lock to limit rotation to 90 degrees. A new noise-reduction setting kills unwanted polychromatic pixels in shadows during very long exposures of more than a second, though it doubles save times. Actually, the noise isn’t bad with NR off. There’s also a new colour saturation control with a B&W setting. Low-resolution movies (320-x-240 pixels) of up to 40 seconds can be captured and played back. The new 4x zoom lens is equivalent to 38-152mm on a 35mm camera and has a 2cm close-focus setting plus a 2x digital zoom. It’s a pity that the short end couldn’t give a wider angle, but Nikon’s existing range of screw-on wide and telephoto adaptor lenses will fit. Juice Battery life from the Li-ion rechargeable cell is noticeably better than NiMH rechargeables, but the odd size means that you can’t just slap in a set of standard AAs if you run out of juice when you’re away from base. Unlike some rivals – notably recent Fuji and Kodak cameras – you can’t recharge this battery while it’s in the camera. Nikon provides an external battery charger, but you have to buy a separate adaptor to run the camera from the mains. A 16MB Compact Flash II card is supplied. There’s a USB cable for download to computers, and a video-out port and cable for PAL and NTSC TVs. The software bundle comprises Nikon View 4 preview and download software, Adobe Photoshop 5.0 LE and FotoWare’s FotoStation 4.5 image archiver. A good quality leather carrying case is included in the price, but the useful strap-on monitor sunshade included with the 990 has been dropped. Nikon offers a Premier kit for an extra £100 with a second battery, an additional 32MB card and four lens filters. By spending its budget on improving usability rather than simply boosting the headline resolution figure, Nikon has come up with an excellent model for keen digital photographers. How that approach will go down in the resolution-obsessed marketplace remains to be seen.