"amateur's opinion"4.0 starson by Seaspray0
Pros: big display, easy to use menu's, Overcomes typical camera deficiencies for nighttime and indoor shots.
Cons: wide/telephoto button adjusted with the thumb.
Summary: Most of the digital cameras have dissapointed us when it came to low light and nighttime, so we were very interested in finding a camera that would perform well under low light conditions. I played with the new camera first to see how easy I could figure it out before even touching the instructions. It was easy and intuitive. As for the buttons on the back: wide/telephoto, mode, menu, shoot/playback, trash, the scroll, and OK). Press "mode" to access functionality (setup, movie, audio recording, scene, Hi ISO and shooting) or "menu" to access settings of the mode you are in. Having a delete button rather than having to scroll through a menu is nice. All your menu's are displayed on the 3" lcd. Then use the scroll wheel to pick your options, then hit ok. It was like navigating on an ipod. The scroll also lets you press up/down/left/right to navigate or quick access features like flash setting, timer, and scene choice. I love the scroll. To me the menu navigation is top notch. The instructions give more details, like which scene type (15 total) is best for your conditions but you can easily use this camera without reading any instructions.
The 3 inch lcd display is nice and big. It takes up over 75% of the space on the back of the camera running from top to bottom. The only space not taken up by the screen has just enough space for the buttons. The camera easily fits in your shirt pocket and the lens doesn't "poke out" in camera mode. The lens is flush in the upper right corner on the front with the rest of the optics running down the inside under the coolpix logo (I was told that they use an angled mirror to turn the picture down 90' into the optics). The result? It's flush and it stays that way! No whirring motor to extend the lens out from the camera body to give you the focal length you need. The lens does have a built in cover which snaps shut when you turn it off to protect the front lens. Ok, lets take some pics! Ease of use is good. The wide/telephoto is under the right thumb on the back. I've always thought this adjustment should be done by another finger to leave the thumb free to support the camera but alot of camera's are putting it there. To me it makes it harder to zoom, but this camera is real light so it wasn't as difficult as thumbing the zoom as some other cameras were. I gave it my acid test: nighttime pictures. I took pictures with a fixed ISO of 100, 400, 800, 1600, and 3200 and also with the ISO set to auto of the front of the house lit by the porch light, a streetlight, and NO FLASH from 30 meters. The 100 was dark with the street and porch lights blurry, the 400 was dark, the 800 showed poor lighting but detail of the house(better than what I typically see in the typical digital camera), The 1600 showed good detail of the house, the 3200 was about the same as the 1600 but showed some noise in the photo (spotting). The auto pic was similar to the iso 1600, showing good detail. Overall, I'm impressed. If I was taking nighttime photos of the strip in las vegas or shooting the christmas lights on the house, this camera would give me the good picture I want (the first one I can make that claim with). Why am I making such a big deal out of indoor and nighttime photos? Because I've never had a problem with daytime photos with digital cameras. It's the poor light and night time photos where I find digital cameras the most deficient. This camera blows the others away in this arena.