Secrets of Digital Photography

Nikon™ 880 Page    Appendix to the Appendix




Inside every 880 beats the heart of the 990.

Plus a little.

Nikon had time to figure out some new exposure tricks and operational short-cuts.





Newer Kid on the Block:

It's so SMALL. That's the first impression you get if you are used to the 950/990s. Small, yes, but the pictures are the same 3.14 megapixels and the folding zoom retains 83% (38->95mm equivalent) of the zoom range big brother has.

About 2/3 the size of the swiveling 990, the 880 comes in two flavors, Black and Silver. Both are identical internally. The body plan is similar to most viewfinder cameras so the 1.8-inch monitor screen stays flat against the back of the camera. Okay for viewing when held in front of you, it keeps your eyes behind the camera at all times.

Functionally, the 880 retains the vast majority of 990 features like the 5-zone focus and spot meter targets, Contrast Plus and Minus, smooth digital zoom in small increments, Matrix/Center Weight/Spot meters, White balance fine tuning, BSS, AE lock, and on and on.

It's coolest Coolpix feature is the expanded exposure regime, which Nikon calls SCENE for ease of connecting with their function.

They lay out in this array:

  • Portrait
  • Party/Indoor
  • Night Portrait
  • Beach/Snow
  • Landscape
  • Sunset
  • Night Landscape
  • Fireworks Show
  • Close up (macro)
  • Copy (black & white)
  • Back light

But behind each of these names some clever use of the Matrix metering principle is going on. You may remember from 990 class that the Matrix meter divides the scene up into 256 zones. A checkerboard of rectangles 16 x 16 units, each of which is its own light meter.

By analyzing this array of brightness areas, the computer inside the camera can apply some very interesting preconceived notions. That's what these SCENEs are, unique algorithms that see the image in different ways to accommodate different plausible lighting and focus possibilities.

SCENE settings coordinate shutter speed, focus, flash, contrast and metering options in new ways. Trust them. They really work well.

By having these clever ways of defining the lighting paradigm, Nikon has been able to implement a simplified two-aperture iris, similar in principle to the three-aperture iris of the 950.

As the zoom range is crossed, the aperture changes from 2.8 to 4.2 in the wide open setting and from 7.8 to 11.3 in the telephoto setting. Fortunately the camera is clever enough to figure out what the aperture is at any zoom setting and the shutter speed of the camera is virtually continuous, making it possible to get 1/100 and 1/102 sec exposures back to back.

Phil Askey's analysis of the SCENE mode settings gives the best detail on what each named option does. Check it out.

Since the 880 doesn't have an external sync connection for studio flash units, you will be either using the camera flash or employing the IR flash technique outlined in the eBook on page 111. Since the 880 puts out a "double flash," the slave unit you use must be able to distinguish between the pre-flash and the exposure flash. Many slave flash units don't make this distinction.

SR Electronics makes a series of flash units that slave to this "double flash" format. The DigiSlave DSF-1s (that little trailing "s" is important) has a switch that selects slave firing on the first or second pulse. At less than $100 the unit is powerful and versatile and very recommended.

You can visit the IR trigger idea here.


Most of the 880 is identical to features and operations of the 990. The eBook's 990 section covers about 90% of the 880's functions.

Differences in the 880:

  • Extending lens
  • Manual mode limited to 2 apertures
  • Manual mode sets with 4-way control
  • Custom Mode CSM to memorize favorite setup
  • Quick review while in shooting mode
  • 4-shots in a row at full size Normal ( vs. 5-6 for 990)
  • Viewfinder has no diopter adjustment
  • Startup is 6+ sec
  • Proprietary battery
  • 11.3 oz. (320 gr)
  • Flash out to about 4 meters (14 ft.)
  • Adds SCENE exposure choices
  • Copy SCENE adds unique high contrast B&W
  • Body is high tech plastic
  • Tripod mount is high tech plastic (like the 950)
  • Converter optics need step-down ring
  • No external flash sync connection
  • Flash emits a double pulse

Things you will need:

  • Rechargeable Nikon EN-EL1 lithium-ion battery (c. $40)
  • ...and charger (c. $60)
  • Camera case (we love the Nikon CoolPack)
  • Step Down Ring Adapter UR-E2 for converter lenses

Things the same as 990:

  • Most everything except the differences noted
  • Takes the Nikon converter lenses
  • Image quality is top notch
  • Macro close flexibility
  • Two speed Self-Timer
  • Color fine adjust for White Balance settings
  • PAL and NTSC outs
  • AE Lock
  • BSS
  • Contrast +/-
  • EV +/-

And many more...

A Good Thing to Know:

All the filters that work with the 990 work with the 880. Even the iBC barrel distortion correction filters.













While the eBook doesn't have pages on the 880, that shouldn't stop you from getting the most out of it. Read the chapter on the 990 with the 880 in your hands and you will find out how little different the two cameras are. And if you spot things we should have on this page, drop us a line.