Nikon Coolpix 5900 review

Price when reviewed

Nikon’s Coolpix 5900 is larger than it looks, almost matching the dimensions of the Sony. However, thanks to a thinner main body, it tips the scales at only 180g. It takes a slightly tardy 3.1 seconds to turn on, but when it’s ready to shoot you’ll appreciate the crisp 2in LCD, which has the fastest refresh rate we’ve ever seen on a digital camera.

Nikon Coolpix 5900 review

The 5900 is also supremely easy to operate, thanks to a handy low-light warning and a blur warning if the resulting photo isn’t in sharp focus. In fact, everything is designed to ensure you end up with great shots: there are ten scene presets, four assist modes on the main dial and Nikon’s excellent Best-shot Selector. The latter is a continuous shooting mode, which automatically saves only the sharpest image.

When you want to keep all the frames, the burst mode captures 17 frames at 2fps. There’s panorama assist and auto bracketing for both exposure compensation and white balance. Nikon also provides a flash white balance – a handy feature, which ensures natural colours when using the flash. Red-eye can be fixed in-camera and there’s a live histogram so you can tell when you have the correct exposure.

Although there’s no control over shutter speed or aperture, you can manually select the focus point and choose three metering modes. And, as expected, you can manually set the white balance, EV compensation and ISO sensitivity.

There’s 13.5MB of internal memory, but a side-mounted SD card slot means you can swap cards without removing the camera from a tripod. The lithium ion battery lasts for several days’ use.

The 5900 boasts a 5.1-megapixel CCD and 3x optical zoom; together they deliver great images with good resolution, good focus and low noise. Outdoors, we saw the trademark Nikon muted colours, although it’s easy to boost saturation either in-camera or using an image-editing application. Sharpening settings are also relaxed by default, but again this is correctable.

Skin tones were respectable in all the test shots, including indoors, and the Nikon was one of the best indoor performers. It was quick to focus (thanks to a focus-assist lamp), but the auto white balance could have been better. The macro mode was disappointing, with an area of 42 x 32mm, corner blur and barrel distortion. VGA movies were decent quality, although at 13fps paled against the Canon’s 30fps.

Ultimately, the 5900 is a great choice, but the Sony steals the Recommended award by offering slightly better image quality, USB 2 and more manual control for the same money.

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