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Old Dec 29, 2004, 9:36 PM   #1
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I am looking at the 8800. From overall specs it meets my needs, i.e. high res images with (8MB) powerful optical zoom (10x). The size of the camera could be smaller but that is an unrealistic request on my part given the lense size.

Here is some background to my eventual question, please read on. Your patience is appreciated.

I have an old SLR Nikon FE. I understand all the required photogaphic principals such that I can 99.99% of the time take fabulous images with the FE. In other words, I control the FE and can take great shots over and over quickly and easily based on my understanding of the camera.

The question is, when I look at the 8800 it almost seems TOO complicated. Like there are way too many options and variables. It gives the impression to me it may take weeks or even months to understand the vast options and their interdependencies. I'll be spending countless hours with the manual. In a worst case I'll land up taking poor images for some time or even worse due to not having a proper understanding I will under utilize options in ways not intended and over utilize others.

When I take shots with the old FE, based on light metering, shutter speed,aperature selction and just pure experience etc. I am 99.99% sure the shot will be PERFECT when I take it even though I won't see the film results until later. I know with extremely high confidence how to control that camera.

With digital, I know you can delete the digital image if it is a bust but I don't want to be taking shots over and over, ideally I want to understand and CONTROL the 8800 camera quickly and easily and get great shots on a consistent basis in multiple situations.

Am I over-recating or will I find I will fall in love with this camera and will in a short time be in CONTROL?

Look forward to people's thoughts.
Jeff Bowers
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Old Dec 29, 2004, 9:52 PM   #2
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You'll be able to take good pictures with it. Although I must say that nikon pocket/prosumer digital cameras don't seem to do too well in low light conditions. Maybe due to the flash not being powerful enough or whatever. I have a nikon 950, and it doesn't do well in low light. But when there's adequate lighting..geez..it takes impressive quality photos.

I have an old nikon F3 film camera. It's got some electronics on it, but mainly manual. It takes awesome photos. But unfortunately, I can't always see if somebody blinked or not in pictures. While for digital cameras, at least you can see if everything looks ok...like nobody blinking and other details like that.

You should just use the 8800 in auto mode at first and in your spare time, just keep reading the manual and playing around with the camera ..to get accustomed to it. That's part of the fun in getting a new piece of equipment for me. I just enjoy not knowing much about it, and then gradually build up experience with it through usage of the instruction book etc. I haven't got a 8800 though, but I like nikon image quality a lot.
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Old Dec 29, 2004, 10:41 PM   #3
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Hi Bowersjeff,

I have a nice Nikon 35MM N70, and several lenses. I got used to needing different lenses for different subjects. But I missed some great shots because I was not ready or did not have the time to go get ready.

I will use this camera on a sailboat. When there is a good shot I will have the camera at hand and ready to go. 35-350mm lens is impressive(as compared to 35)

If this camera didn't have the lens it does, and the versatility all in one, I would buy the D70.

I do not like the fact that I can not manual focus. NO MANUAL FOCUS!! ( You Can't focus with your hand) And the darn thread size on the lensis proprietary information (secret) known only to Nikon. I just took a picture sitting here in the dark of a pen. VERY SHARP IMAGE. so mabey manual focus is not that big a deal.

Other then that , I love the little 8800. If you seta 35mmcamera to Manual, Aperture or shutter normally, you can do the same with this camera,after reading the book 1 time. It is really not that hard to learn.

Capt B. S/V Kokomo:whack:

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Old Dec 29, 2004, 11:56 PM   #4
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Jeff

Go to www.nikondigitutor.com/index_eng.html

There you can watch "movies" explaining the features and functions of the Coolpix 8800.

Then you might want to browse through the various 8800 threads on this forum and look at the actual photos taken. That will give you a good idea as to the camera's capabilities.

I doubt if anyone on this forum is a professional, nor that most of us have fully mastered the features of the 8800. Yet, we are managing to take some good pictures. In other words, we're getting good results while we are still learning.

Walter
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Old Dec 30, 2004, 12:48 AM   #5
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Hi Jeff. As you will soon learn, if you follow this forum, there seem to be several happy 8800 users, myself included. There is one ex-owner, who seems to relish slamming this camera for unknown reasons.

I've had mine for several weeks and would agree it seems a little complicated when you study all the functions available. I set the camera on full "auto" when I first bought it and came home with a load of sharp pictures taken in a variety of settings. I'm still amazed that I can hand hold the camera at full zoom and get a sharp photo. The zoom really is the camera's best feature . It really opens new opportunities and is always "there", ready to be used. I'm also very impressed with the macro ability. I've read some reports from people disappointed with it, but I've had beautiful, clear shots of flowers taken just casually aiming without real effort. I've also become very tired of reports of problems with low light focusing. I don't care much for indoor snapshots , but have had success with the few I tried. I did take a full zoom photo of a local mountain, taken just after dark, with a shutter speed of 1/30 sec, hand held and had a good result, which was posted on this forum. So I guess the low light issue is not one for me.

It is a more bulky camera than the little Kodak I also own and it takes more dedication to carry it. I would still opt to have a small, pocketable camera as well as the 8800. But having a 10X zoom and macro ability in one camera is the selling point. It is also pleasant to be able to crop and resize shots to an extreme with the high res ability of the Coolpix.

I don't like the special filter thread and power plug that negate other brands. Even the USB plug differs from my Kodak. The battery seems good for a days shooting, but won't suffice for trips away from power, which concerns me. It does take a short while to write files on the higher settings, but my life isn't so important that I can't wait a few seconds. And I do delete a lot of shots. That is the bonus of digital. I don't bother with anything I don't like.

To sum up how I feel about complexity....it is as complex as you want. After several weeks experimenting, I find full auto produces excellent results and is sufficient unless I feel like being "fancy". My wife uses it easily and would NEVER bother to read a manual. I would recommend this camera and really don't understand the repetative negative comments some seem to feel required to post. I've seen some beautiful shots from several people who share their pictures on this forum. We seem to be happy !

I should point out that I own and operate a 15' Coleman canoe, with auxilliary 2HP gas and a 40lb thrust electric motor, have no rank and have time to let my camera write files ! But who cares about that ?

Best regards !

Steve
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Old Dec 30, 2004, 2:53 AM   #6
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Jeff,

I use to be a proud owner ofa Nikon FE and loved that camera to death. Digital photography is much different thanthe old school light box and light sensitive film. One of the reasons I sold my Nikon is that I was tired of lugging around a suitcase of lenses and didn't relish the hassles of changing out lenses. I've owned several digital cameras and the Nikon 8800 is my latest toy. The smaller digital cameras are fun to own but they give you very little in creative controls and most have small zooms.

I also considered the Panasonic FZ20, Canon Pro 1, Minolta A200, etc. My choices came down to the Panasonic and the Nikon.I likedthe Sony but the size turned me off. I wanted a camera that was somewhat compact. As a photographer (professionally trained - I teach 4th grade now). I am most interested in a camera that can snap the sharpest, clearest pictures in an all-in-one camera. When I started Media School for the Arts in NYC I was told to get rid of all my zooms and buy fixed focal lenses. My shots were definitely sharper when I switched lenses. Surprisingly the 8800 has a very sharp lens for a zoom. The camera captures more detail than a 35mm negative in most cases; That being said Ialso wanted a well built camera, lots of options, and an Ultra zoom. The 8800 issecond to only the Sony 8mp in build quality. The camera's body is made from a magnesium alloy and is built likethe old FE in a sense. Not like the newer cameras that are all plastic. The Panasonic felt likea toy and not built very well imho. The Panasonic also didn't have a swivel LCD or the many options that the Nikon offers. The manual focuses on both cameras are useless. It did have a faster lens and is an overall faster camera. But it's also processing smaller files. The 8800doesn't feel cheap and all the buttons and dials seem to be first rate.You'll notice on the Kodak and some of the others that the buttons and dials are of a lower quality. The swivel out LCD screen is a pleasure to use and makes picture taking convenient and fun. The 8800 is an easy camera to use and to navigate through itsmenus. I spent an hour reading the manual and playing. I feel like I know the camera and am comfortable with most of the options. Obviously I will have to referback to the manual for a few things.The camerais an excellent AF system when you use the camera in a normally lit room. It doesn't focus well when the room is dark. This is not an issue for me since I am a lover of natural light and never a big fan of flash photography. The pics I did take, indoors with a flash, were sharpwith lots of detail. Jeff, keep in mind that you give up some control with all digital cameras and will never have the control of your FE. There aremany advantages to both. One of the greatest aspects of the 8800 is the ED lens.The Nikonis compact and takes tack sharp pictures. I compared the pics of the 8800to the Panasonic and the 8800 won hands down. You can't tell from viewing these pics on the Internet, you have to download the pics and view them in Photoshop to see a difference.One of the things that surprised me, with the 8800,is that I only have an F-stop range from 2.8-8.9. You can select Macro and infinity from the menu system to get macro shots and for infinity focus.

I mostly use the camera in aperture mode and let the camera pick the shutter speed. I used my FEin the same manner.The camera is processing large digital files so you will not have instant pics each time you press the shutter. There is a few second delay but nothing I can't live with. There are several burst modes for shooting continuouslybut I couldcare less. One thing I love about the 8800 is that you can adjust your WB, image quality, etc, without rifling through the LCD screens. Also, you only need to press a button to see the pics you just took.

Any great photographer takes his time to compose his shot and to get the right lighting so I don't mind waiting a few seconds for the camera to write. In the highest JPG mode the quality of the pics are close to the RAW images in quality. The write times are also a lot less so write times are not a big factor. You're going to hear a lot of reviews about manual focus. As a former SLR user this seemed likea great feature to have but because of the animal manual focus doesn't work in the digital cameras that I tried it in. AF works very well and is probably more precise than our eyes for capturing a sharp pic.

I hope this review helped. Also, don't be intimidatedby digital cameras. They are easy to learn. Thereis a person on this newsgroup that has made a career of bashing the 8800. He has dozens of posts bashing this camera. I'm not sure why. Anyway, I still bought the camera and am happy as heck. He would like you believe that you can get the D70 for the same price. Not so. A Nikon EDlens withVR is listed at 1,500.00 and the D70 is around1k for the body. Even with all this you'll still need another lens to get the focal range of the 8800. I have the bucks to go the DSLR route but then I'll be back to where I was with the FE. Too many gadgets! Less is more with the Nikon all in a compact camera that fits nicely in your hand.



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Old Dec 30, 2004, 5:16 AM   #7
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Jeff,

I too am a former 8800 owner and would like to give you another opinion to consider along with all of the other fine opinions you've received.

The 8800 does many things extraordinarily well, but after understandingthe limitations and tradeoffs of the Nikon 8800, I got a refund and bought a Canon G6 instead. I findthe G6to be an absolute joyto use and very wellsuited as a complement to my D70 dSLR.So, you might want to check out the G6and compareit to the8800 with respect to your expectations.

Also the Olympus 8080 and Sony 828 are well worth considering as indicated in the reviews found on this website. And if you can live with 5MP, then the Panasonic Z20 might be worth considering...especially if you look carefully at it's near-flawless Leica 12X lens. A friend of mine owns a Z20 and it is a real beaut.

And, like everything else, there is a difference between price and cost-of-ownership. For example, be sure you give consideration to Nikon's "proprietary" thread sizefor the 8800. You might want to check out the prices for Nikon's filters (if you use filters) and I do hope that you find them at a more reasonable price than I did.

Steve, Strazeele, France
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Old Dec 30, 2004, 6:27 AM   #8
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Asked for my opinion so I shall pass it;
What I like:
  • - Bulb mode longer than 30seconds (as much as ten minutes)
    - Great zoom range.
    - Image stabilisation. I'm not the steadiest person in the world so this has been possibly the best addition for me. Rarely do I switch the VR off.
    - Panoramic assist mode. Not an essential, but it makes the whole process more fun.
    - Nice clear EVF (I rarely find myself using the LCD).
    - Great macro (though my best have come using the Nikon 6T close up lens with the nextphoto 62mm adapter).
    - Feels great in my hands, fits perfectly like a glove!
    - Great placement of buttons, everything is where I would want it and it becomes very intuitive to change settings.


What I hate:
  • - The manual zoom is inadequate. All I ask is for a distance readout rather than a scale. I'm not at all bothered about the control ring... just something that tells me how far away I'm focusing.
    - Fast shutter speeds at the full zoom is only possible in good light.
    - The autofocus is slow. Comparing it's functioning to a Canon (non-digital) SLR and my previous Sony camera, it is because the camera seems to go through it's whole focus range and back BEFORE locking focus, despite passing by a clear image on the way. The SLR and Sony simply went one way and when focus was clear it stopped and locked. No going back and forth.
These are merely based on my observations so far, there are far more features on the camera that I haven't had enough chance to try out so I have not commented on them either way.

To be honest Jeff, I came from a Sony P10 which is quite a simple point and shoot. It had auto mode, scene modes and a program mode. The program mode gave little control over much other than focusing, metering and exposure compensation, but I used it more than any other mode.
Before that, I'd never had anything other than a 'point and shoot' and all it had was a shutter button and flash.

I bought the Nikon and roughly the first two shots I took were taken in Auto mode... Beyond that I went into the various controls - shutter priority, aperture priority, P mode and, to use the bulb setting, fully manual. I've also played about with the scene modes though not used them enough to comment other than the panorama assist which works a dream.

Firstly, I found the camera extremely responsive, though your experience may differ because you are coming from an slr. Though I don't know anything about the FE, I expect it is probably faster and better at focusing, more capable in difficult situations (SUCH AS, but not limited to, low-light) and of course there is the advantage of changing lenses.

If you have any, you will probably need to LOWER your expectations of the 8800's responsiveness compared to your previous camera.
My dad has a canon EOS 300 slr, and I found it to be just a fraction more responsive than the 8800.
However, picture quality between the two is comparable (to my eye) and unless you have an INCREDIBLY critical eye, you won't be seeing any difference. Personally the out-of-camera pictures that I get from the 8800 are rarely edited. Most of my shots posted online have only cropping applied to them, though if using ISO 400 I have applied noise reduction software to the image - not always because the noise levels annoy me, but because the smoothness after noise removal is just more pleasing on the eye.

Feature wise, my last camera had nothing and this one seems to have everything I could ever need, but I don't ever find it over-complicated at any point. The great thing about the 8800 is that anything you don't change, the camera will handle for you. Not unlike any other camera, but what matters is that it handles it well.

Any adjustments you do choose to make, affect the image as expected (at least they do for me) so my experiences of the camera have been positive.

My one issue has been that the zoom mechanism has twice broken down for me (within 100 shots). When zooming from tele to wide, there would be a loud grinding noise which just didn't sound right.
This, my second replacement, has lasted over 500 shots with no issues so I guess it was just my rotten luck, but to the camera's credit, I'm inclined to say that even if it happened again I would ask for a replacement rather than a refund. I am that happy with the 8800.

I've only been really playing with the camera for around 3 weeks, but I've already captured many great shots that I've been happy with.

I have to admit I really do dislike the manual zoom which, although I don't find it unusable like some, I would have preferred with a distance readout rather than a silly 'scale' which shows nothing as to where the focus is. For stationary subjects, or where time is not of the essence, it's fine and I can make out the extra sharpening that the camera applies so never have problems. But if you're tracking something moving, or there's that darned bird flying around and you have but a few seconds, the manual zoom IS unusable, and the autofocus is rarely quick enough.
People have argued that the 8800 is not a 'bird' or 'action' camera, but I didn't buy it for that; I bought it as a camera that can be used in any particular situation and for that is has so far served me well.

And just posted some 'action' pictures;
http://www.stevesforums.com/forums/v...05&forum_id=21

Regards, and I hope whatever your decision serves you well.
Jakob
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Old Dec 30, 2004, 10:05 AM   #9
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Steve, Traderfjp and Jakob provided some excellent observations and advice based on extensive usage of the 8800 by current, active users of the camera. Thanks, guys.

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Old Dec 30, 2004, 5:21 PM   #10
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Jeff,

From my experience, the feedback you've received from CaptRB is correct. His summary may not be popularwith everyone, but it is refreshingly blunt and technically accurate.

Bottom line is this: you are the guy with the cash in hand and it is up to the camera manufacturers to compete head-on and give you the best deal. I suggest you look at all your options, get the facts and sweat the details.

Personally, I'll never forgive Nikon for the dreadful trick they've played with their proprietary filter size for the 8800.

P.S. have you seen the thread about having to buy a bloody adaptor to use standard filters to fit the 8800? It make my blood boil, really.

Steve (Strazeele, France)
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