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Old Jun 28, 2005, 12:20 AM   #1
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Almost half of the first 40 photos taken with my Nikon Coolpix 5900 were blurry. Examination in Photoshop found slow shutter speeds (i.e. 1/30, 1/45 & 1/50) in AUTO mode withAuto Flashturned on. All photos were taken in the shade on a sunny day and the flash did not fire. Instead of firing the flash or adjusting the ISO, the camera selectd a slow shutter speed. Note: the hand shake warning does not operate in AUTO mode with the Auto Flash on so there is no warning that you need to use a tripod or select some setting other than AUTO.

Totest if my camera was defective I took my SD card to a local camera shop and shot eight photos in the Nikon 5900, Nikon 7900 and Canon SD400. All photos were taken in the shade with just enough light that the flash did not fire. Both the 5900 and the 7900 took exposures with slow shutter speeds of less than 1/60 sec. Each of the Canon SD400 photos were at 1/60 sec. or higher.

It is my conclusion that Nikon has a software problem with these two cameras. I called Nikon Tech Support and was first told this was normal operation for the 5900. Later, I called and spoke with another person who felt there was a problem. I have sent two email messages to Nikon Tech Support and I am awaiting an answer.

In the meantime, I have returned the Nikon 5900 and ordered the Canon SD400. It is regrettable because I liked all the features of the 5900. However, slow shutter speeds are unacceptable.
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Old Jun 28, 2005, 9:38 AM   #2
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Pretty poor series of tests IMO. If the 7900 was using slow speeds at f2.8 and the SD400 was using higher speeds without flash then the light was simply different. The Nikon could have been zoomed giving a smaller effective aperture (higher number). You needed to get into dimmer light to see where the Canon switched over to flash and at what zoom.

Many cameras are sophisticated enough to fire the flash sooner if you are zoomed out. 1/30 second might not be a bad changeover point at wide angle for someone who holds the camera properly. If it was using those speeds zoomed out I would agree the firmware needs some work.

If I ever see that my flash is on auto I mumble a low curse and put it where it belongs. I either want a flash or I don't. There are so few situations where it doesn't make any difference whether I take a flash shot or non-flash that I don't even consider auto-flash. If the light is marginal for a shot that would look best without flash I often pre-meter. If the shutter speed is marginal I tuck my elbows in, press the camera against my face, let my breath out and hold it squeezing the shutter – and hope for the best. Then maybe I turn the flash on figuring a crappy picture you can see is better than a blurry one you can't. That's one of the reasons I wish somebody would make a decent small stabilized camera. And yes I know about the Panasonics – I mean decent as in competent.


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Old Jun 28, 2005, 2:39 PM   #3
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Slipe, thanks for the reply. The light was not different but the same. The Canon simply chose a higher ISO setting to allow for 1/60 sec. exposure. The bottom line is that a point and shoot camera on AUTO with Auto Flash enabled should either use a shutter speed of at least 1/60 sec or the flash should fire.

I am a professional photographer and I have used Nikon for years. I bought this camera for my wife to use on AUTO. I personally feel the Nikon settings that allow slow shutter speeds in AUTO mode are totally unacceptable, especially in a point and shoot camera.
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