Nikon 00-Series Goes 5MP
Nikon's philosophy with the 5MP, $500 Coolpix 5200 is simple: Don't mess with success. It follows the same general style and control layout of previous 00-series Coolpixes like the 2100, 3200, and 5100. And why not? The little grip bump is very comfortable to hold; shutter button, zoom buttons, and jog dial are well positioned; and control sequences are straightforward.
The 5200 is mostly an all-auto camera; besides program, it has settings on the mode dial for portrait, action, landscape, and slow-sync flash. Scene mode adds 11 more, such as fireworks, beach/snow, and panorama stitch. No manual settings, but you can vary exposure up or down in 1¼3-EV steps.
In these days of big, big LCD monitors, the 5200's 1.5-in screen seems small, although readouts and menus are quite readable. The viewfinder, however, needs work. It has low magnification and a small exit pupil.
The autofocus can detect detail over most of the frame area, and you can let the camera pick the focus point or adjust it yourself. It's reasonably fast in bright to medium light, but does need vertical or oblique detail to lock onto. A bright red focus-assist beam helps in low light, but AF does slow down.
The Li-ion slab battery is a welcome feature: it keeps the camera shooting a good long time, and saves space over AAs. With the extra power, you can take more of the extremely high-quality images that the 5200 captures up to ISO 100. Color accuracy and resolution are at the top for this category, but image quality takes a hit from increased noise levels at ISO 200, and are at unacceptable levels by ISO 400.
Conclusion: An easy-to-like point-and-shoot that should be on the very, very short list of anyone who does a lot of people snapshots.
Short answer: Both the Nikon's and HP's redeye eliminators work well, but differently. The Nikon removes redeye on the fly, as the picture is being stored. The HP is a fix that you apply to a picture in playback.
There are other differences. Nikon takes a belt-and-suspenders approach: when you engage redeye elimination, it also activates a preflash. (The total number of preflashes is thus two, as the 5200, like many digital cameras, ordinarily uses a single preflash to determine exposure.)
Using the redeye elimination added about a second to the click-to-click time of the 5200, to 3 sec from 2, which isn't bad at all.
The HP R707, on the other hand, operates conventionally in capture. Like the Nikon, it uses a single preflash in simple autoflash to monitor exposure, and will add an additional anti-redeye preflash on demand. If, when you look at your pictures in playback, you find redeye, you can go into the menu and engage redeye elimination. It takes just seconds to fix a picture. You can run the redeye fix any time after you take the shot.
One thing we found-no surprise here-is that preflash alone can't eliminate redeye. It simply makes it less noticeable by reducing the size of the subject's pupils. With redeye elimination, preflash does make the final pictures look more natural.
If we had to choose one system, we'd pick the Nikon. You can set it and forget it, and it didn't add appreciably to shooting lag. But we wish we could turn off the preflash, which, as you know, can cause blinking or looking away from the camera. Our two young subjects were well practiced at keeping their eyes open through multiple flashes. With the HP, we could turn off one of the preflashes to reduce chances of "blinkers."
If we had our druthers, we'd have elements of both systems in one camera: selectable preflash, and choice of redeye removal on the fly, or afterward.
Download our Certified Test Results: HP Photosmart R707 and Nikon Coolpix 5200
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