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Old Sep 15, 2003, 1:51 AM   #1
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Default Coolpix 5700 is hazardous to your mental health

If you are considering a Coolpix 5700, pay attention to these warnings. I did not, and now I'm sorry.

I read the user warnings: impossible low light autofocus, poor manual focus with no distance indicator, battery eater, buttons on the side can't be found when you need them but always hit by accident, no filter threads. I thought, "It's a Nikon. Must be operator problems." I was wrong.

This camera has a good flash and works well with Nikon external flash units, but there's a catch. The camera will not focus under conditions when you normally need a flash! No focus assist light, and the manual focus...you've got to be kidding: Hold down a button on the side of the camera while turning a knurled wheel on top. Under really bright conditions, you can sort-of tell when the image is in focus, but under those conditions, you probably don't need manual focus. If you think maybe you'll just estimate the distance under dim light and dial it in, well guess what? The focus distance indicator is a bar which slides between a flower and a mountain. How's that for precision measurement!

Yep, it eats batteries. Buy two spares ($$ ouch!) and a rapid charger plus a car adapter. You'll always have batteries on you mind when you use this camera. You can turn off Continuous Autofocus and reduce battery drain, and noise, significantly, though.

I found a press-on adapter for $25 to use standard threaded filters. That helped, but should not have been necessary on a $900 camera.

And just wait till you hit the file type button by mistake--and discover you've changed from Fine (JPEG) to RAW, and have to wait 45 seconds for the 15MB file to save to CF, while you scratch your head trying to figure out what happened.

Yes, the menus are a little complex and mastering the extensive feature set may take a while, but that's to be expected with this many features, although some would be better placed for quick access. Built-in macro focusing is good, too, but an aperture smaller than F8--at least F11 or F16--might give the depth of field you need for close-up photography. The 8:1 zoom is nice, with 35mm equivalent of 280mm, but the wide angle end is weak with only 35mm wide angle instead of the more usefull 28mm equivalent. And given the price of this camera, image stabilization should be included for hand-holding the telephoto zoom.

But it's the low light focus that will drive you screaming into the night. A helper pointing a small flashlight or a laser pointer at your subject will help the camera to focus (you'll get used to the Canon people laughing at you), but you'll still be guessing on the composition, since the viewfinder display goes nearly black in low light. If Nikon could at least update the firmware to display manual focus distance in feet--that would be a help, but just try and contact anyone interested! You get referred to the incredibly lame FAQs and "knowledge base" every time!

If you really want the precision framing of TTL viewfinders on a digital, save your money for a true digital SLR.
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Old Sep 16, 2003, 12:09 AM   #2
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If this is how you feel about it, I hope you can return it.
For information sake, where did you get it from?
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Old Sep 16, 2003, 5:04 PM   #3
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Default Mmmmmmmm....

I'l immediately buy one to my boss..........
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Old Sep 16, 2003, 10:49 PM   #4
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It's amazing that the same camera (the 5700) has the exact opposite affect for me. I have had the 5700 now for 10 months and think the capture quality of the photos are amazing. The colors are spot on, especially in RAW mode.

As for low light shots, here are some quick JPG examples I did about 20mins ago:

5700 set to Auto, even the ISO level (except for last shot) and refocused every photo.

kitchen light on, flash on.

kitchen light on, no flash.
a bit of 'yellow' noise on the full size photo.

kitchen light off, flash on.
so much for poor low light shots.

kitchen light off, no flash
5700 on Manual mode, F 8.0, S 8sec.
yes, it was almost this dark!

Batteries, I agree, the 5700 eats power from the stock batteries very fast. After 40ish RAW images the camera is hurting. Thats why I bought the MB-E5700 which holds 6 AA.

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Old Sep 21, 2003, 11:20 AM   #5
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Very interesting. It almost sounds as if you either have a defective 5700 or have not had time to read the manual and experiment with the different settings. To address some of your statements:

EVF I find this just short of amazing since I am able to see through it in dim light better than I can with the naked eye. I have never had a problem with framing. Results seem so close to what I see through the view finder that I rarely notice any difference.

One of the first things I did when I got the camera is turn the auto focus off forcing it to use the center image area. After doing that it is hard to find any type of reasonable low light situation that the camera wouldn't find focus. In my 25 x 25 foot family room lit only by a 100 watt lamp I can achieve focus in any area of that room.

The "BSS' fuction is remarkable. I have been able to get crisp clear images at shutter speeds as low as 1/4 second in light so low it was hard to see anyone across the room.

The camera isn't perfect, nothing is, but I find a lot more positives than negatives.
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Old Sep 25, 2003, 8:54 AM   #6
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Default CP5700 Focus

Thanks for the feedback. I wish a defect were the issue, but the defect is in design. My little Canon Powershot S20 has a focus assist light that automatically comes on briefly to focus when there is insufficient light. It focuses perfectly every time.

The dim EVF comes from using Aperture priority and setting a small aperture--f6.3 or higher--in an attempt to get depth of field compensation for the focus problem. When you press the button halfway to get focus lock the camera apparently stops down to that setting.

I have read the manual from cover to cover. Also bought and read the Short Course in Nikon Coolpix 5700 Photography. I have also been taking pictures with SLRs and other cameras and camcorders since 1968 where I first learned to take pictures in dark situations in Vietnam. With the older non-autofocus camera, you could estimate the distance and set the lens focus ring to that distance. With a flash or small aperture and slow shutter speed, you had no problem. With the CP5700 you cannot ascertain the manual focus distance.

I recently even took a series of classes including one dedicated to flash photography. The Canon people had their laughs again as their focus lights had them snapping away while I proceeded to search for a vertical contrast point between my subject and the background. It was especially fun when the exercise of a meter exposure combined with flash--to photograph the instructor jumping from a chair--turned into a cardiac stress test for the poor teacher who had to jump and then climb back up repeatedly because my 5700 would not focus.

You cannot always count on a 100W light bulb. I have many occasions to take pictures at coctail parties lighted by candles and VERY dim ceiling cans or lamps with 40W bulbs and black lampshades. I can sometimes catch someone standing under one of the cans and focus on the fixture itself, but most of the time it is an exercise in frustration and a test of patience for my would-be subjects.

Duplicating the coctail party environment, I have sat in my living room with the ceiling cans dimmed to party level and slowly and methodically worked though all the possible focus settings while carefully searching, then holding the camera still, for something on which to focus. Without a clear vertical line in the subject contrasting with a different color background, or an appropriately placed kitchen appliance, the 5700 cannot find a focus.

I'm delighted to see the kitchen pics but one dog successfully crossing an eight-lane freeway, does not lessen the tragedy of the other 900 spattered in the attempt.

Newegg.com, where I bought the camera, has a policy of exchange only, no refund on this camera. Yeah, that was the last clue which I ignored: the crossing arms were down, the lights were flashing and the whistle was blowing, so I can't blame the wreck on the train!
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Old Sep 25, 2003, 9:42 AM   #7
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Not to sure where the dog and highway example applies here as most dogs don't understand and/or can't judge on how to cross the highway correctly. Whereas 5700 owners are far more intelligent

Anyway, the shot in my kitchen which only had enough light for the human eye to make out the objects (3rd shot) turned out fairly well considering I used the onboard flash, not my SB-50DX.

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Old Oct 3, 2003, 5:43 PM   #8
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I've got my 5700 for a few months now...
and I really can't relate to this story...
I find it a bit blown up......

Battery-use? No problem... I can go on all day with my battery...
Got only one spare... and I turn my camera on and off a lot... (really a lot!)

design? I find it great...
This is really the only camera in this 'style' wich i can hold normaly...
Never had a problem with the buttons on the side...
great camera for small hands...

I didn't even read the hole manual yet..
(didn't had the patience )
But i never had a problem with the menu's... didn't found them that hard?

There is only one thing I can relate to..
that's the Lowlight-shoting..
Indeed those come out more often not what I expected out of the shoot than the others....
But certainly not all the time..

all in all..
I love the 5700..
(and i've been trying out a lot of camera's from others in this style)
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Old Oct 11, 2003, 10:50 PM   #9
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After years of using a Nikon SLR (film) camera, I started taking digital photos with my first digital camera, a CP 5700. Since I had not used any other digital cameras, I had no preconceived notions about how they should function or unusual expectations of the CP 5700. After 3 months of using it, I've found that it is a remarkable camera that can take good photos under all conditions in which I've used it.

Take low-light, or, low-contrast conditions, for example. There have been many complaints about the CP 5700's lackluster performance under these conditions. If you go into Shooting Menu #2, select Focus, and then turn AF Area Mode to Off, you'll find that the 5700 will lock on focus when the light is very dim. This is due to the camera selecting the central area, or most sensitive area, as its focusing area.

If this fails you, then resort to Manual Focusing. Just depress the MF Button on the left side of barrel, hold it down and rotate the Command Dial. You will see the Manual Focusing Bar move to the right or left as you rotate the bar. Rotate the Command Dial until the white bar just reaches the "Mountains" on the right side. The 5700 is now focused at 7 feet. Turn it one more click counterclockwise (CCW) and the 5700 is focused at 8 feet. Another click counterclockwise and it's focused at 9 feet. Turn it one click clockwise (CW) from the 7 foot starting point and the 5700 is focused at 6 feet.

Drawing upon information that others had written, I compiled a table, which I shared on the Nikon Talk Forum. If you didn't see it there, here it is:

From starting point: MF Bar set at ~~~Flower[][][][][][]Mountain
where CP 5700 is focused at 7 feet,

CW Clicks-------------------Focus Distance, feet
4-----------------------------------5 feet

CCW Clicks-----------------Focus Distance, feet
1-----------------------------------8 feet

Remember that when you take your finger off the MF Button and then depress it again, the first click (either CW or CCW) won't change the focus distance. It just restores the White Bar to the screen. Assume that you focused manually at 7 feet and took your finger off the MF Button. If you wish to change the focus to 8 feet, you have to depress the MF Button again and rotate the Command Dial 2 clicks CCW.

This method of manual focusing works almost as well as if the CP 5700 had manual focusing numbers on the lens barrel. Using this system for flash photos, you can estimate the distance to your subject, set the focus distance by MF Button-Command Dial and take your photo. You'll get a well focused shot just about every time. Of course, the photo will be as good as your estimate of the distance and other factors, like the depth of field. If you're not sure of your estimate, just change the focusing distance manually so that you take a photo on each side of your estimated distance. You can take well-focused photos in almost total darkness with this method.

I don't know why the writers of the CP 5700's manual did not include information such as this table of manual focusing distances relative to clicks of the Command Dial. If they had included tables such as this one, there might have been fewer complaints about the 5700's lack of an AF Assist Light, and slow focusing lock under low-light conditions.

For those of you who think in Metric terms, here's the table in Metric Units.

From starting point: MF Bar set at~~~Flower[][][][][][]Mountain
where focus distance is 2.1 meters

CW Clicks--------------------Focus distance, meters
4-------------------------------------1.5 meters

CCW Clicks------------------Focus distance, meters

Try it. It will prove to you that the CP 5700 does not have any low-light focusing problem.
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Old Oct 12, 2003, 7:44 AM   #10
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tnxs larry...
I'll try that...
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