• Nikon Camera Review: Nikon Coolpix 5400 Review - Beginner to Advanced

    22 April 2005

    Nikon Coolpix 5400 Review - Beginner to Advanced

    What can I say? I love the 5400! It is my second from the Coolpix series. My first was a CP 880 that took a fall so the 5400 was a replacement. It's well worth the money. I looked around a lot and couldn't find anything I liked from other manufacturers that packed the features and flexibility of the 5400.

    If you are a new digital user, the auto mode and scene modes are great. I usually shoot in P or M modes and can turn the dial to Automatic mode and hand it to my wife who likes the ability to point and shoot without thinking about adjusting anything. You can grow into this camera if you don't know yet how to shoot manually.

    The 15 different scene modes to choose from are excellent. The panoramic assist mode is particularly cool. You can shoot a panoramic horizontally, vertically or in a 360 degree circle. You take photos and then put them together after download with the ArcSoft software that comes with the camera. It even allows you to fine-tune the pictures in case they do not align they way you want them too.

    Pros:
    Turn a fully automatic camera into a fully manual camera with the turn of a dial. I haven't found anything this camera cannot do that my recently auctioned SLR could do. Picture quality is equal to me.

    The camera feels great to hold. All of the buttons are in convenient locations. Menus can be customized to show what you adjust frequently and you can store two different user settings using the function button.

    5-shot buffer is great. It will take photos as long as you hold down the shutter release. It only stores the last five frames even if you have held the shutter release down long enough to make 20 exposures. Also does time lapse.

    Shutter speed from Bulb to 1/4000.

    Crisp Macro shooting.

    The Vari-Angle display is much better than a fixed position display.

    Three metering options- Matrix, Center-weighted and Spot are very effective.

    Takes Type I and II compact flash. I wouldn't go with anything less than 256mb. Make sure it is USB compatible memory if you plan to use a Compact Flash reader in a USB port.

    Hot shoe for accessories is a great addition. When a speedlight is attached, you can set the camera to fire the internal flash and speedlight or you can turn off the internal flash and use only the speedlight. This is great if you want to bounce your speedlight and use the internal for a fill-flash. It also works with a SC-17 remote cable if you want to get the flash off the camera for close up/macro shots. (If you are thinking about getting a Nikon speedlight, go with the SB-80DX or find an old SB-28 or SB-28DX versus going with the SB-50DX. It's worth the extra money if you are going to do any manual shooting/adjusting of speedlight. There is no manual mode on the SB-50DX so you can't really fine tune lighting if you are shooting with the camera in manual mode.)

    Battery life is good (about 1.5 - 2 hrs.) It comes with a charger and 1 battery. A second (or 2CR5) as a back-up in my case has come in handy.

    Cons:
    The autofocus is not very good in low light situations. I have a Nikon SB-28 speedlight with autofocus assist but the 5400 doesn't activate it. I knocked off half a star for that.

    You have to go through a 1/4 view screen before going to full-screen view when using the Quick Review. I think it would be better if it went straight to the full-screen view and did away with the 1/4 screen view. (-1/4 star.)

    The only option for adding filters is the HN-CP10 hood with 77mm filters. It's great to have a hood large enough to stay out of wide angle compositions but the 77mm filters are very expensive. (last 1/4 star)

    Card cover is flimsy. I have a card reader and each time I open the door to remove the card, I think about how flimsy it is. The 880 had a much more sturdy door.

    Area through the viewfinder is significantly different than what you see in the monitor. I read somewhere it is about 35% less through the viewfinder than the monitor.

    Overall, it's a great camera for the beginner or advanced user. As a result of purchasing this camera, I shoot only digital and don't miss my SLR one bit. The owner's manual is 160 pages and thoroughly explains all the camera's features. I've had it for 3 months now and am still learning what this camera can do.

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