Controls on the Nikon Coolpix 990 are good enough for professionals

Besides being one of the first of the new crop of 3.34-megapixel digital cameras, Nikon Inc.'s Coolpix 990 is the first to offer a Universal Serial Bus connection. And it is only the second, after the Coolpix 950, to allow uncompressed files, which are essential for large-format, high-quality color prints as well as for photo cropping.

The 990 has good ergonomic features. A thumb wheel in the upper-right corner lets you quickly scroll through option menus, and a rocking four-way button makes it easy to select functions. The large, rubberized handgrip in front feels just right, while the 1.8-inch-diagonal color LCD monitor gives a quick, clear view of your subject.Most impressive of all is the swiveling lens-flash-optical viewfinder assembly, which you can position at any angle to the main camera body.Not a professional photographer by any means, I tried barely half the 990's array of digital and manual controls. I found picture-taking to be easy and natural, and file- and image-size management wasn't the nightmare I expected, largely because the 990 ships with a 16M card and external reader from Lexar Media Inc. of Fremont, Calif.I found that both were easy to set up and use.After snapping a dozen or so pictures of varying resolutions, I slipped the card into the reader, and the files immediately appeared in Microsoft Windows Explorer. The image programs provided by Lexar and Nikon are nothing special, though, providing minimal, browser-based viewing, rotating, and zooming. A direct USB connection from the camera to my notebook PC also worked exactly as advertised.The 990's images were exceptionally sharp, especially the high-resolution, uncompressed shots, although the colors seemed a bit bland. I was simply amazed at the amount of detail appearing in a sweeping rear view of my house and back yard. It was almost like, well, being there.

By David Essex

Special to GCN

Besides being one of the first of the new crop of 3.34-megapixel digital cameras, Nikon Inc.'s Coolpix 990 is the first to offer a Universal Serial Bus connection. And it is only the second, after the Coolpix 950, to allow uncompressed files, which are essential for large-format, high-quality color prints as well as for photo cropping.

But what makes the 990 the top-of-the-line Coolpix are its manual controls for setting shutter speed and apertures, which were formerly available only on the company's line of D1 cameras. It also has a 50-step manual focus and 3X optical zoom'4X digital'in its 35-mm equivalent Nikkor lens.

The 990 still has lots of automatic settings, too, notably a flexible program mode that ensures that shutter speed and exposure don't get out of whack with each other and white balancing, which helps prevent the washed-out shots that are a common problem in all types of photography.


Nikon's Coolpix 990 has 3.34-megapixel resolution, a 3X zoom lens and up to 192M of memory. It's priced at $999.


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