Nikon CoolPix 775 Digital Camera

The Nikon CoolPix 775 provides five Sharpness modes. For more defined detail, High mode additional definition (bottom), and None (top) noticeably reduced sharpness of the image.
Photos © 2001, Ingrid S. Krampe, All Rights Reserved

Of all the little (lower resolution) point-and-shoots we've played with, we've got to say the CoolPix 775 was our favorite. It's so cute in a sturdy kind of way, handles well, is quick and responsive, and everything you need to know about it is clearly marked on the function dial on top of the camera. If you are looking for a camera to create works of art larger than 5x7", this camera may not be for you. However, if you're in need of a smart, easy to use digital camera for snapshot size prints, the CoolPix 775 is decidedly worth your consideration.

In some ways, the CoolPix 775 reminds us of the old consumer SLRs that had little images of a sun and clouds on the function dial to adjust aperture without knowing anything about f/stops. (We still have such a souvenir somewhere in the closet.) This little camera is a bit niftier, in that it has nine of those little pictures, providing Auto and Program modes for Party/Indoor, Backlight Portrait, Night Portrait, Landscape, Beach/Snow, Sunset, and Movie--with just a quick turn of the Mode Dial.

The CoolPix 775 Backlight Portrait mode automatically balanced the fill flash with available light, even in this direct sunlight situation.

You may have to look up what some of those little icons stand for. We used the Party/Indoor icon to shoot some neon lights in Athens, because we thought the icon looked like fireworks. The image turned out fine, because the function slowed the shutter speed enough to capture the image beautifully. We also tested the Backlight Portrait function in Athens square earlier that day, as the sun shone brightly behind some students studying in the square. We were pleased with the results. This little camera's flash balanced the background light very well, allowing the sun to work as an effective hairlight. The LCD screen was a bit difficult to see in very bright and also very dim (bar type) lighting situations. Using the viewfinder did not completely solve the problem either, especially in close-ups, because there is a discrepancy between the viewfinder and the image captured by the camera. These problems are minor, however, and comparable to other digital point-and-shoots. They should not deter anyone from checking out this camera.

Print Output
As mentioned earlier, the CoolPix 775 is not designed for large prints. Based on a 2.14 megapixel CCD, the largest image size is 1600x1200 pixels. If you are outputting at an optimal 300dpi the largest image you can print at that resolution is 5.3x4". If you lower output to 200dpi, you can produce an 8x6" print--which is plenty for most consumer applications. We printed several 5x7" prints with our Epson 1280 printer from files that were captured at Full Size and with the camera set at Fine Compression. The results were excellent with good detail, sharpness, and no noise.

We particularly liked the Quick Review Dial. A quick press of the button provided a thumbnail on the LCD screen, easily enlarged by pushing it a second time. From there you can review all of the frames stored on the card without having to go into the review menu. Pushing the shutter-release button returned the LCD to active mode.

This courthouse clock was exposed using the CoolPix 775, BSS (Best-Shot Selection) function. Although the light was very limited (approximately f/2.8, 1/15 sec, ISO 100), the resulting image had no visible (movement) blurring problems.

BSS Feature
The CoolPix 775 also offers several sophisticated features that make quality imaging dependable even in less than ideal circumstances. The Best-Shot Selection (BSS) is used when inadvertent camera movement may cause blurring, such as heavy wind, or minimal lighting, or when using the Macro mode at less than 1 foot. The function is simply engaged by pressing the shutter release button for up to 10 images. The camera's electronics compares the images and then selects the sharpest one for storage to the memory card. When this function is activated, the flash is automatically turned off, while focus, exposure, and white balance are the same as the first shot in the series. We found the function worthy. Using BSS we exposed a handheld image of a tower in very low light (approximately f/2.8, 1/15 sec, ISO 100), and the shot that was saved to the memory card had no visible (movement) blurring problems.

We also checked out the Image Sharpening Menu: easily located via a symbol on the menu dial when the camera is set to Auto. (This option is not available in Scene mode, because the camera automatically sharpens the image based on the subject matter.) In Auto mode, the camera determines how much to sharpen edges for optimal results. In Normal mode, the same sharpening is performed on all of the images. In High mode sharpness on images is increased; in Low mode sharpening is reduced below the normal levels; and in Off no sharpening is performed. In our comparison test, we found that Auto worked fine in most circumstances and was almost indiscernible from Normal (sharpening) mode. For more defined detail, High mode offered additional definition, and None noticeably reduced sharpness of the image.

In closing, this is a great little camera for anyone needing an economically priced, digital point-and-shoot. It was fun and extremely easy to use, yet produced quality images. It is one camera that we would have no problem recommending to our friends. For more information, go to www.nikonusa.com.

Setting the Mode dial to Party slowed down the shutter speed enough to capture the image beautifully.

CoolPix 775 Features
Plus
1. Fast response
2. Intuitive
3. Excellent quick review option
4. Easy to use
5. Cute and compact
6. Compatible with older Operating Systems, including Windows 98 and Macintosh 8.6

Minus
No manual features
Limited resolution
No audio with video

Technical Specifications

CCD: 2.14 megapixel
Resolution Options: Full (1600x1200), XGA (1024x768), and VGA (640x480)
Compression: Basic, Normal, and Fine
LCD: 1.5", 110,000 dot, low-temperature Polysilicon TFT LCD with brightness adjustment
Lens: Nikkor f/2.8-7.9
Zoom: 3x (38-115mm, 35mm equivalent)
ISO: 100, 200
Exposure Control: +/- 2.0 EV in 1/3 step increments
Shutter Speed: Mechanical and charge-coupled electronic shutter 1-1/1000 sec
Aperture: Electronic Preset Shutter Two Steps (f/2.8 and f/7.9)
Metering: 256 segment Matrix TTL metering
Program Functions: Auto; Scene (Party Indoor, Backlight Portrait, Night Portrait, Landscape, Beach/Snow, and Sunset); Movie
Capture Modes: Single, Continuous, Multi-Shot 16 (16 Frames 400x300 pixels)
White Balance: Automatic, Fine, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Cloudy, Speedlight, and Preset
Recording Medium: CompactFlash
Flash: Auto, Off, Fill, Slow Sync, Redeye Reduction Connectivity: USB (mini-B)
Power: Rechargeable Nikon EN-EL1 lithium battery (supplied); or 6v 2CR5 (DL245) lithium battery (available separately)
Weight: 6.5 oz without battery or CompactFlash card
Dimensions: Approximately 3.4x2.6x1.7"
Microphone: None
Self-Timer: 3 or 10 sec
Auto Off: 30 sec; 1, 5, 30 minutes
Price: $449.99

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