|Secrets of Digital Photography
Nikon 2500 Report! Updated 5/6/2002
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Stylish New Nikon!
It's small, capable and pretty. It doesn't cost a lot, but it does deliver good pictures.
It swivels, shoots movies, stills in three sizes and weighs less than I do by a factor of 1:370. (lest that precipitate frivolity unbounded, note that the camera weighs under half a pound.)
A camera a mother could love...
The 2500 looks more like a pocket audio recorder or a cell phone than a digital camera. In fact, that viewing screen makes sure that people think it is a cell phone. I don't see a lens, do you? Naaa. Gotta be a cell phone. What kind is it? Nikon? I didn't know they made cell phones.
The lanyard-like neck strap keeps the camera at tummy level, and although it is a bit large (by 8X or so) to be mistaken for jewelry, the extreme handiness of having a camera just below your sternum cannot be ignored.
As you may have noted, I'm a proponent of having a camera WITH you when photo opportunities present themselves. Kidding aside, when the camera is "packed away" somewhere, the photos that suddenly appear in front of you stand a good chance of becoming the "big ones that got away." They won't get away any more.
The 2500 weighs so little at 7.5 oz (214 gr) you might forget you had it in a pocket or purse. Carrying it around is almost as easy as carrying sunglasses.
But why would mom love it? Two words: Style ish. Yeah, it's plastic, but nobody out there is screaming for metal cell phones, and the two-tone case may scuff but it will not dent. (Note to self: Thin-walled glove leather camera pouch for protected carry. See what's available for cell phones.)
Fingerprints are surprisingly well controlled. I usually add one print to my 775's monitor screen with every three grabs, but the 2500's recessed screen has successfully avoided my digi-marks for the last few days. Even the lens sits far enough back from the surrounding plastic to have survived the learning curve. Okay, I did plant a biggie on the flash cover, but what's the harm in that? No under-exposures were detected.
I purposely didn't read any instructions or reviews of the 2.5K before playing with it. I found the menus, scenes, Quick Review, Playback, scrolling around, zoom controls, digizoom, size, compression, Manual mode, Movie mode, battery and media door, neck strap, and self-timer within minutes. All pretty much where they should be. Yeah, sure, I'm used to Nikon's control philosophies, but this camera will not confuse newcomers. The layout and logic is better organized than previous models. And the manual--after a while, I got curious--is Nikon's best so far.
Isn't it always that way? The least-experienced users get the most highly-evolved stuff? Because? They need it.
The swivel lens makes shooting images like the red Mustang easy. You can point the lens down, hold the camera over your head and capture the high point of view easily. Without the swivel monitor, you would be guessing.
The battery lasts way too long to be plausible. It's gotta be a trick, right? Somebody from Nikon is shooting N-rays at me from a distance, thus charging up the battery while it sits in my pocket, right? No? Then this small slab of Lithium Ion deserves a medal. It runs forever. If you set the internal timer to 30 sec, you don't even need to bother switching the camera off, just roll the lens back to its covered position and pocket the thing.
The pictures are available in full frame UXGA (1600 x 1200 pixels), SXGA (1280 x 960), XGA (1024 x 768), and VGA (640 x 480). Or you can shoot the odd Multi-Shot 16 mode and grab 16 images of 400 x 300 pixels each onto a full frame file.
That operation proceeds in about six seconds, making this the fastest Multi-Shot 16 camera Nikon has made. The clock pictured here steps forward on the seconds.
Movies show up in the usual QXGA (320 x 240) size and are compatible with QuickTime. No, this is NOT a video camera, and movie frame rate is about 8 per second, making the motion kinda rough. Underscore "rough."
Nikon seems to pack a lot of flexibility into all their cameras, and this one is not the exception. Obviously, it is designed to the needs of a first-time photographer who trusts the Nikon reputation. People who buy it are, in a very real sense, joining the Nikon brand as an experience and they expect good images. I think they will like the results.
It makes great-looking 5X7 prints and very nice looking 9 x 6.5 inch images that float in the middle of US letter-size paper. People are impressed with the image quality when I pass Epson 785EPX glossies around, and they cluck and woo when they find out that the shots came from my cell pho--er--CP2500.
ISO floats. Meaning, the chip sensitivity adjusts to conditions. You can see how the camera gooses the chip sensitivity in dark places so it can see things to lock onto with the autofocus. I guess they got tired of hearing about low-light area focus problems.
In severe darkness, the camera goes for long exposures and kicks in an automatic Noise Reduction technique. A second frame is taken at the same shutter speed, but this one is of the chip's dark field alone. No light is allowed in during the second shot. That shot serves as a trigger to remove noise from the original. Clever internal algorithms make the images quite clean and free from long-exposure noise.
BSS is one of those features that no camera in the universe should be without, but Nikon came up with it, so they win. This camera has it, and its chief competitors don't.
The restaurant wine glass image here would probably not be possible without BSS. This was hand-held at 1/4 sec under dimmed table lighting with the camera set to Incandescent White Balance. EXIF information reports ISO as "367." Now that's floating! After shooting this, I drank the model.
I consider BSS one of the most valuable exotic features, and Museum Scene Mode includes it as part of its program. Museum is a great mode for anywhere you want to get the shot without ever firing the flash.
As usual, Nikon's implementation of JPEG compression is something to write home about. Normal delivers JPEG-free full frame prints. Compression artifacts may actually be under the surface, but they don't make it to the perception level on large prints.
Nikon's famous color accuracy is present and images have enough depth to tolerate Photoshop tonality manipulations without cranking up noise.
In this sunset shot, made at the sunset-enhancing white balance of "daylight" (Okay, Nikon calls it "Fine" just to mess with your head when setting "Fine" compression), I lifted the deeper tonalities to give a more obvious sense of depth between nearby palms and distant, silhouetted mountains while exposing for the severely back-lit clouds. Photoshop 7's Curves control did the trick. This sort of manipulation can lift an image into the custom-print range far easier than with film darkroom techniques.
The Quick Review feature lets you into Playback mode deep enough to see all previous shots--and even zoom in to inspect them--without forcing you to change from Camera to Playback modes. Meaning, you are always a single button-press from camera mode. Just a touch of the shutter button always takes you directly to shooting, even when you are playing around in the menus.
Not a lot. 99.723% of your shooting needs are covered. The programmed Scene modes cover a lot of ground and provide many flexibilities. Combining Scene modes with further menu or functional choices is often possible. You can, for instance, shoot in "Close Up" (Macro) mode and exercise control over flash/no-flash. But you can't switch on the BSS during macro shooting. For that, you will need a 950 or more recent camera.
No optical viewfinder on board. Their thinking was for a smaller twist cam. So, you can shoot self-portraits (try that with a no-twist-cam).
Who needs it?
Assuming that you are new to digital photography and have no extensive background in film photography, this one is worth touching and feeling for yourself.
If you fall into the more experienced realm of prosumer or advanced enthusiast, the CP995 or CP5000 might be more to your taste. The CP2.5K is a great first digital, family shot-maker and ready-cam.
The iNovaFX Photoshop Action Filter that was created to correct the barrel distortion of the Nikon Coolpix 950 pulled the Dutch Door image into rectilinear perfection. The one called iBCZ@W.950 did the trick.
It's made in Indonesia. The finish is very clean and tidy.
The lens is a micro-tad wider than the one on the 775. Equivalent to a 37mm lens instead of a 38mm lens on a film camera. 5.6mm wide on the 2500 and 5.8mm wide on the 775.
The monitor is coated to avoid reflections. The lens sits under an optical flat.
ISO is not directly set. It floats with the need for speed. EXIF data doesn't tell you what the camera decided, only "auto."
Continuous shoots another shot every 1.6 seconds.
Color is very good. Highlights bleach to white smoothly.
No optical viewfinder. Any shade--even your own head--helps find the view on that monitor screen.
Chromatic aberration is not a factor. High contrast flare is reduced over the 775.
No, you can't put optical converters on the 2500. For that, you would need a 775 and a UR-E3 mount.
Anti-Red-Eye goes wink--wink--wink--Ker-Blewie for a flash sequence. Three small followed by two rather large. Flash reach is about 10 feet.
Other flash modes just go Ba-DA-Boom. Pre-flash followed by exposure flash. No flash sensor is involved in the flash exposure--the pre-flash shows the camera what to do next. Meaning--slave flash is problematic. But this isn't a studio camera.
Red Flowers image: Straight out of the camera. No color or tonal correction here at all.
I am as impressed with the 2500 as I was with the 775. No, I don't plan an eBook chapter about it, because the eBook is really targeted at the more advanced photographer, but it will find its way into text references. Anything that makes pictures this nice deserves mention.
If you read the 775 chapter, you will get 94.755% of the 2500 there. An hour's worth of play later, you will become an expert 2500 shootist. iNovaFX Actions for the 775/950 work on the 2500.
I wish I had had this with me in Italy. It seems to be a fine choice for casual vacation shots.
Read the reviews from the digital camera testers:
Reprinting except for newsworthy mention and brief quotes are by permission only.