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Review of the CoolPix 5700 and CoolPix 4500
by Larry Berman and Chris Maher
Visit our CoolPix 5700 and CoolPix 4500 Gallery
Nikons latest, the CoolPix 5700 prosumer digital camera, has a lot going for it. Its 5-megapixel sensor coupled with an 8x zoom and an electronic viewfinder produces beautiful images. It feels light and comfortable in the hand with most controls right where your fingers would expect to find them.
While we would not characterize this as a large camera, at 4.3Ē x 3Ē x 4Ē and about 17 ounces, this is no shirt pocket camera either. The magnesium alloy body should prove to be sturdy. At first glance it appears to be almost identical to the CoolPix 5000, the only difference being the size of the lens.
The Lens
The most noticeable change from Nikonís Coolpix 5000 model is in the range of the zoom lens. While the 5000 excelled with its wide angle (see the June 2002 issue of Shutterbug Magazine for our review), the 5700 has an 8X optical zoom that ranges from 35mm to 280mm (35mm equivalent). This is a bit deficient on the wide end, but nice telephoto on the long end. The range can be extended with the optional 28mm wide angle optical converter lens WC-E80 or the 1.5 x optical telephoto converter lens TC-E15ED which will yield the equivalent of a 420mm telephoto. A minor design issue here. The wide angle converter is physically as large and heavy as the camera itself, and only expands the zoom to only 28mm. Whether itís worth carrying the lens around in your camera bag will be a personal decision. Our recommendation is that the CoolPix 5700 is really part of a two camera system which includes the CoolPix 5000. Both have significant strengths to bring to your camera bag. The CoolPix 5000 with itís wide angle converter gives you the 35mm equivalent of a 19mm lens at one end and the CoolPix 5700 with itís 1.5x converter extends the focal length to 420mm. The combination of cameras gives you a range that any shooter would be envious of. The added benefit of the two camera system is that if something happens to one camera, you always have the other to complete the shoot.
Nikon has always been justifiably proud of the performance of their optics. The 5700 is the first CoolPix to use ED glass in itís built in lens. This lens uses 14 elements in 10 groups (including the 2 ED elements) and Super Integrated Coating to yield crisp images from 1.2 inches to infinity.
The Flash
Above the lens is the pop up flash, which opens automatically when needed. As with most small flash units, the light output is limited. Several flash modes are offered, like slow synch, red eye and forced fill. But there appears to be the same problem that plagued the CoolPix 5000 earlier in the year. There is no internal menu setting to disable internal flash, so using studio strobes or off camera SB flashes is somewhat problematic. But we were able to work around the flash limitations of the CoolPix 5000 so with a little ingenuity the limitations of the 5700 can be overcome. I should note here that there was a recent firmware update to the CoolPix 5000 which cured all the flash problems and Iím now using it daily for studio work.
The power source is the same as used on the last few Coolpix models, a proprietary EN-EL1 rechargeable battery. Nikon rates this battery at about 90 minutes of use. We are not fans of proprietary power sources, as we feel that AA rechargeable batteries are much more affordable and available anywhere. In a pinch you can use a 2CR5 non-rechargeable battery, but they are expensive. Serious shooters will want to buy more than one $39.95 EN-EL1 battery or purchase the $140 MB-E5700 power pack, which uses 6 AA batteries. The power pack also gives the camera more balance and a firmer grip. The MB-E5000 is the CoolPix 5000 version of the AA battery pack.
Image Quality
No complaints from us. The picture quality is all that you can expect from a camera bearing Nikonís name. Images were sharp and contrasty, even with the 1.5 converter lens at 420mm. Macro capability is also all that youíd expect from a CoolPix. Because of the extended zoom range, we were able to shoot as if we were using a 105mm macro lens on a 35mm film camera. We shot some wonderful butterfly close ups and auto focus worked flawlessly. The TC-E15ED telephoto converter lens let me reach out and capture some winning moments when we tested it at the zoo. Even in the images that were cropped for composition, the image quality was still there. Itís important to note that when using a long telephoto lens, some kind of camera support is necessary. I did use a tripod for almost all the photos I took with the CoolPix 5700.
Aftermarket Accessories
Nikon has provided no way to connect filters to the internal lens. Due to the lens design, the UR-E8 adapter, which is required for the accessory wide angle or telephoto lens, cannot be used as a filter holder because the internal lens zooms through the adapter into the rear of the converters and would hit any filters that were screwed in. Fortunately, there is an enterprising small business for custom adapters. Bernie Heins creates and sells custom adapters for the CoolPix 5000 and 5700. Heís designed a very clever adapter that snaps on the lens of the 5700 and enables you to screw on your choice of filters. It can even stay attached when turning off the camera and retracting the lens and only requires a standard size lens cap to protect the lens.
Our favorite viewer, the Xtend-a-View, is now available in a smaller 1.5 inch size to match the newer smaller LCD monitors on Nikonís latest cameras like the CoolPix 5700 and CoolPix 4500. It can be purchased from www.photosolve.com. Though there is now a useable electronic viewfinder that makes you think youíre actually looking through the lens, the LCD can still give a larger, more detailed view if used with the Xtend-a-View.
Because of the size, weight and focal length limitations of the 28mm accessory lens, we looked closely at the full frame fisheye (model number DCR-FE180PRO) from Raynox. It needs a proprietary CoolPix 5700 (model number RT5253NW) adapter and gives you a full frame fisheye 180 degree (measured diagonally) angle of view. As with any lens that gives that wide a view, there was the expected distortion and slight vignetting at the edges. But that can easily be compensated for by zooming slightly towards telephoto until the vignetting disappears. Weíve always been big fans of the swivel body CoolPix and its fisheye lens and welcomed the Raynox lens for its creative possibilities.
Pro photographers who use the Arca Swiss style quick release system for mounting cameras on their tripods will be happy that Kirk Photo has designed a quick release plate for the CoolPix 5700 like he did for the prior CoolPix models.
Authors note
Chris purchased the Raynox fisheye to use on his new Sony 717.
As we previously stated, the CoolPix 5700 could be considered part of a dual camera system with its long telephoto reach compared to the CoolPix 5000ís wide angle view. The image quality is excellent and it would make a great addition to any photographerís camera bag.
CoolPix 4500
The CoolPix 4500 was also sent to us for review. We loved the smaller physical size and ease of use and consistently high image quality. We especially liked using it with the FC-E8 fisheye lens for both circular and full frame images. The new programmable multi selector button on the back makes it easy to use exposure lock, one of the features we liked best about the CoolPix 5000. In the short time we used the CoolPix 4500, we became very comfortable with it, as much as we had with our CoolPix 950s and 990s. That goes well for Nikon as the CoolPix 4500 is the logical upgrade for those who canít live without the swivel body design. In fact, I recommended a client purchase the 4500 to photograph his jewelry and heís thrilled with the way his images are coming out compared to his previous camera. Nikon has had a good release year for their CoolPix division.
Authorís note
As previously mentioned, we had reviewed the CoolPix 5000 for the June issue of Shutterbug Magazine. Contrary to some of the widely publicized reviews, we had nothing but good things to say about the image quality, as could be seen in the pictures that accompanied the review and in the CoolPix 5000 galleries on our web site. I then made a three week trip to the Southwest, visiting Arizona and southern Utah and came back with almost 2000 images, the best of which appear in the November/December issue of eDigitalPhoto Magazine. I ended up liking the camera so much, I purchased it along with the WC-E68 wide angle lens and now use it almost every day.

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