Articles, Insights, and Tutorials
Nikon CoolPix 995
Subtle modifications highlight the next stage in the evolution of the popular swivel-bodied 900 series digital cameras from Nikon.
The CoolPix 995 has a new popup flash, expanded memory card capabilities, and a single rechargeable battery power supply.
Other significant enhancements include shooting priority, a quick review / playback button, and better color reproduction.
The original CoolPix (the 900) was the first point & shoot digital that actually produced good pictures. In a class of its own, the unique swivel body let me shoot from all kinds of angles. At eye level, from the floor, over my head, waist level... I found that I could effectively use the LCD screen to frame my shots anywhere I held the camera. And such wonderful macros! It even hooked up to my telescope for some dazzling moon shots. Sure, it had its drawbacks, but it was absolutely head & shoulders above the competition. And it was exciting.
The CoolPix 950 nearly doubled the resolution of the 900. (2.1 vs. 1.2 million pixels.) Exposure priority options, variable ISO, longer battery life, significantly better image quality, and even better macro quality. Definitely exciting.
The 990 kept the excitement going... greatly enhanced (near professional) build quality, 3.34 million pixels compared to the 950's 2.1 million, expanded ranges on exposure factors, even BETTER macro. This was one classy camera.
And now the 995: Had one for a month and a half. Shot over 700 pictures.
Do I like it? Yes, pretty much.
Is it worth buying when compared to other cameras in its price class? Yes, I think so.
Is it exciting? Yes, if you've never owned a swivel body CoolPix (900, 950, 990).
If you're upgrading from a CoolPix 900 or 950, the advantages are strong and clear.
But if you're upgrading from a CoolPix 990, the excitement is limited...
What do I like about it compared to the 990 & earlier models?
- The popup flash, mainly because I don't have to turn it off for low light available light shooting... I just leave it stowed away. For available light shooting with earlier models, I always made it a point to scroll through the flash button options and disable the built in flash. (That's because the earlier models were famous for the "unwanted flash" if the camera sensed that the shutter speed was going to be slower than it liked.)
If the 995 senses it needs to flash, it flickers a small red warning lamp in the optical viewfinder. If you want to shoot with available light only, ignore it and simply pay attention to your shutter speed. (Shutter speed can be appropriately accelerated using aperture or ISO adjustments.)
If you're using the camera's onboard flash with an accessory lens, such as the Nikon WC-E24 Wide Angle Adapter shown at left, the popup unit clears the lens with room to spare*.
Earlier models had the onboard flash mounted right next to the camera lens, flush with the camera body. As a result, the built-in flash was partially hidden behind the accessory lens, shrouding the flash pattern and creating a major shadowed area.
*Note: Nikon's WC-E63 Wide Angle Adapter is too big for the 995 and still gets in the way of the popup flash.
- The rechargeable single battery. Much (much) lighter than 4 AA's, and much easier to tote around spare batteries. The camera comes with one rechargeable battery and a charger. Buy one or two extra batteries and you'll be all set.
- Color and tone reproduction. Definitely improved.
- Overall image quality? About the same as the 990... but again, the 995's color is better.
- The Quick Review button. Everybody who likes to shoot digital likes to check out their pictures easily and quickly. The 995 does a first class job at it.
- Shooting Priority. Touch the shutter button while you're in a menu or looking at a quick review and you're instantly ready to shoot again. Every camera ought to be built this way. (Most newer cameras are.)
- Type I and II compact flash compatibility. Which means it'll take anything from an old 4 MB CompactFlash card all the way up to a 1 Gig Microdrive. I have a variety of both Type I and Type II cards, now I don't have to worry about which one's I carry for any particular camera.
- Memory card accessibility: Slightly enlarged to accommodate Type I and Type II compact flash cards, it's a lot easier to pop the cards out of the camera. The 990's memory card release button was quite confined, making it an unwieldy target for large fingers.
What don't I like?
- The popup flash has its disadvantages, too. When you do use it, your left index finger is in the way of the flash if you just pick up the camera and hold it two-handed (as most people do.) You have to make a point of getting your left hand's fingers out of the way of the flash. (Something you'd probably get used to after a while.)
And as far as the reduced red-eye likelihood with the added elevation of the popup compared to the earlier models, I haven't noticed much, if any difference.
More popup flash aggravation: If you use an external speedlight (SB-28, etc.), you have to pop up the flash to enable the external flash synch mechanism. And then, you have to scroll through several menu screen to disable the popup flash's "flashability", or it'll flash along with the external speedlight. Now that's kind of a pain...
- Cheaper build quality. It simply doesn't feel (or look) as good as the 990. This went backwards, it's much more like the 950. Let me put it this way... if I had to choose between a 990 & a 995, I'd buy the 990. (I simply prefer the way the 990 looks & feels.... too bad they don't build 'em any more.)
- The new 4x lens has more lens distortion than the 990 (and earlier models). It's pretty significant at full wide angle.
The bottom line
- For a point & shoot camera, it's an excellent choice.
- For macro shooting there's (still) nothing better. It's really good.
- Overall, the improvements outweigh the disappointments.
- For CoolPix 900 and 950 owners, the 995 is definitely a worthwhile upgrade.
- For CoolPix 990 owners, the upgrade is marginal. The "Quick Review", Shooting Priority, and the added capability of using a Type II CompactFlash card are the only meaningful differences. Other enhancements, such as the added sensitivity level of ISO 800 & the faster 1/2000th shutter speed are nice, but of limited practical use.
All of the earlier Nikon 700/800/900/950/990 factory (and aftermarket) 28mm accessory lenses, lens adapters, & filters fit the 995.
Example: The Kenko 8x32mm mini-scope shown at right. This scope and others are available at CKC Power, the best source for Coolpix aftermarket lenses.
The SK-E900 external flash bracket will fit the 900, 950, 990, & 995.
The tiny Hairstreak Butterfly pictured at left is only about 1/2" long.
The 990 continues with the tradition of clean, powerful CoolPix macro photography.
The ultra-fine detail along the leaves of this brightly colored rose are a testimony to the sharp focusing ability of the 995's macro setting.
1X Optical Zoom
(Full Wide Angle Position)
Wide angle snapshot along a downtown Dallas boulevard.
Although the photograph is clean, sharp, perfectly color balanced, and bright, the barrel distortion is evident. Notice how the left & right sides of the picture lean & curve strongly towards the center.
2X Optical Zoom
Taken from the same location as the 1x photo.
3X Optical Zoom
Again, taken from the same location.
4X Optical Zoom
(Maximum Optical Telephoto)
Again (again), taken from the same location.
At 4x optical zoom I found the 995's lens have a slight pincushion distortion at the center area.
High Speed Flash Synch
The 995''s maximum shutter speed has been increased up to a maximum of 1/2300th of a second.
Bonus: The built in flash can synch with the shutter all the way to the maximum. (Now that's impressive!)
At left: 1/2000th shutter speed flash photo of a sprinkle of water falling into a bird bath.
Point & Shoot
The relatively small size of the 995 makes easy to just pick it up, point, & shoot.
That's what I did when confronted with the sudden opportunity to take a quick picture at Fossil Rim Wildlife Park near Glen Rose, Texas.
The 995 was sitting on the console, my big SLR was still in the camera bag.
(Sometimes seconds count.)
Nikon Coolpix 995 Specifications
1/1.8-in. high-density CCD; total number of pixels: 3.34 million; 3.20 million effective pixels
FULL (2,048 x 1,536)
UXGA (1,600 x 1,200)
SXGA (1,280 x 960)
XGA (1,024 x 768)
VGA (640 x 480)
3:2 (2,048 x 1,360)
4x Zoom-Nikkor; f = 8-32mm (equivalent to 38-152mm) F2.6-5.1 with macro; 10 elements in 8 groups; all glass, Nikon Super Integrated Coating (SIC) applied; glass-molded aspherical lens elements included
4x stepless digital zoom
Contrast-detect TTL AF
7,123-step autofocus control including macro range
5-area Multi AF or Spot AF selectable
1) Continuous AF mode (when using LCD monitor)
2) Single AF mode (when not using LCD monitor and/or selectable from shooting menu)
3) Manual [50 steps from 0.8 in. to infinity with focus confirmation indication]
11.8 in. to infinity
0.8 in. to infinity in Macro mode
Real-image zoom viewfinder
frame coverage: approx. 85%
diopter adjustment: -2~+1 DP
1.8-in., 110,000-dot, low-temp. polysilicon TFT LCD
brightness (5 levels)/hue adjustment (11 steps)
frame coverage: approx. 97%
Auto OFF mode
30 sec.; can be set manually (1/5/30 min.)
RBG EXIF, uncompressed TIFF or compressed JPEG compliant with design rule for camera file system (DFC)
CompactFlash (CF) Card Type I or II
*Nikon does not officially approve the use of IBM Microdrives. (Use at your own risk.)
Fully automatic ([A]-REC) mode
Custom ([M]-REC) mode (three combinations of mode settings can be memorized)
1) White balance
2) Exposure metering
4) Best-Shot Selector (BSS)
5) Image Adjustment
6) Saturation Control
7) Auxilliary Lens
8) Exposure Options
9) Focus Options
10) Image Sharpening
11) Auto Bracketing
12) Noise Reduction
3) Multi-Shot 16 (16 frames in 1/16 size)
4) VGA Sequence
5) Ultra High-speed Continuous (approx. 30 fps for 70 QVGA-size images)
6) Movie (40 sec. for QVGA-size images at 15 fps)
4-mode TTL metering:
1) 256-segment Matrix
3) Spot and
4) Spot AF Area
Mechanical and charge-coupled electronic shutter
Bulb (max 60 secs), 8 sec. to 1/2,300 sec.
7-blade iris diaphragm
3 EV range in 1/3 EV steps
1) Programmed Auto with Flexible Program
2) Shutter-Priority Auto (with Sensitivity control)
3) Aperture-Priority Auto
4) Manual; Exposure Compensation (±2 EV in 1/3 EV steps)
5) Auto Bracketing (3 or 5 steps within ±2/3 EV)
EV -2.2~+17 (W), EV -0.3~+18.1 (T) (ISO 100 equivalent)
Camera takes up to 10 shots (at approx 2fps) and records the most detailed image of the 10 using anti-jitter logic which is effective for telephoto and macro shooting. Not available when the speedlight is on.
100, 200, 400, 800 or Auto;
Can be controlled in any exposure mode
1) Matrix Auto White Balance with TTL control
2) 5-mode Manual with 7-step fine tuning (Fine/Incandescent/Fluorescent/ Cloudy/Speedlight)
4) White balance bracketing
10 sec. or 3 sec. duration
Pop-up type; Guide number 10 (meters) at ISO 100
1) Auto Flash
2) Flash Cancel
3) Anytime Flash
4) Slow Sync
5) Red-Eye Reduction
Multi-flash sync terminal connects to external Nikon Speedlight SB-50/28/28DX/26/25/24/22 through the Multi-Flash Bracket SK-E900; built-in Speedlight can be cancelled when using external Speedlight(s)
1) 1 frame
2) Thumbnail (4/9 segments)
3) Slide show
4) Zoom playback (25 steps up to 6x)
Histogram indication & highlight point display
Hide and protect attributes can be set to each image
Deletes all frames or selected frames
Mac OS 8.6, 9, 9.1
NTSC or PAL (selectable)
Digital output terminal (USB)
Sync terminal for external Speedlight
NikonView Version 4, Genuine Fractals 2.0 LE, ArcSoft PhotoStudio 2000, ArcSoft VideoImpression, ArcSoft PhotoPrinter Pro 2000 and ArcSoft Panorama Maker 2000. The Reference CD-ROM includes Adobe Acrobat Reader 4.0, Instructions for Using Nikon View Version 4, and Nikon's "Guide to Digital Photography" (Online Camera Manual for the CoolPix 995).
Nikon EN-EL1 lithium rechargeable (supplied)
or 2CR5 one-use lithium
Approx. 110 mins. when using LCD monitor
(W x H x D)
Approx. 5.4 x 3.2 x 1.6 in. (2.5 in. at grip)
Approx. 13.8 oz.