Nikon Coolpix cameras
In the mid 1980´s Nikon introduced on various occasions a great variety of prototypes and/or experimental models of digital cameras. Most of those cameras were enormous monsters, ridiculously expensive and offering a resolution and image quality far below modern camphones. However, the development in the ´digital camera world´ is going faster than in any other industrial sector.
Nikon calls its digital compact cameras Coolpix, followed by a number or one or more letters. As Nikon has done before, numbering or naming this camera series is enigmatic. A Coolpix 2500 e.g. isn´t necessarily the successor of the Coolpix 2000. The following listings are based on the model numbers given by Nikon Corporation. All models were sold worldwide with the same name and number; some cameras were and are not available in all colours as mentioned on the factory´s web site. E.g. the Coolpix 4500 sold in Europe has a red grip cover, the same camera sold in the USA has a blue grip cover. Please don't ask why!
As Nikon produced so many cameras of which many of them are look-alike's, a limited number of pictures will be shown. Some identical models will be briefly described, some interesting models may get some more attention. The models in the L-, S- and P-series are just listed with their initials; more details can be found in the link (mentioned below) to Nikon's archive.
For collectors the Coolpix cameras are an interesting series and nowadays rather cheap. Unfortunately not all models were sold worldwide and not all models were build with a metal or strong plastic body. Many cameras were wrecked or drowned by consumer society´s careless users. Many Coolpix cameras were and are still a one-off production in very quick succession, so it will be difficult to find parts or replacements.
Coolpix cameras are mainly made for snapshots (1 - 10 meters), so do not expect great performances of all models at infinity. Although most of them produce very nice images, don´t expect razor sharp pictures, especially - again - at infinity with large range zoom lenses. All Coolpix cameras have very small sensors in comparison to the digital reflex cameras. Most Coolpix cameras are fitted with a CCD-sensor, the latest models with a CMOS-sensor. 'The more zoom the more problems' is an expression used for most zoom lenses of smaller cameras. At high ISO-settings banding, noise and color fringing is unavoidable. The latest models have a CMOS sensor with 'backside sensor illumination' to avoid noise at high ISO-settings. Most camera bodies are not made for professional use, although some can be used as a back-up camera. Extra (converter)lenses, to extend a zoom range, are of high quality but can not replace a wide-angle or telelens of the same (but fixed) focal length. Most Coolpix cameras are not economically when it comes to power consumption. Nearly all Coolpix cameras start up by opening or driving out their lens and opening the LCD screen. Even if one wants to change the menu only, one has to wait for the lens to come into its position. And most lenses are starting their focusing from a certain fixed point at which they return after each picture was taken. Sometimes very irritating and power consuming!
Nevertheless some high-end Coolpix cameras (mainly in the modern P-series) are producing images even better than some digital reflex cameras! It would be a great pleasure if Nikon would introduce a high-end Coolpix with a fast lens and less electronics and without all those rarely/never used programs/gimmicks.
All Coolpix cameras (as up to January 2016 more than 212 different models!) listed below are made for right-hand photographers, except the Coolpix 100 ! The listing below is by serial number order.
From the beginning of 2016 Nikon closed the Coolpix L-, S- and P-series and is using a new camera code: Nikon Coolpix A-series and Nikon Coolpix B-series. As per January 2016 Nikon also introduced a line of 'premium' compact cameras, called Nikon DL-series.
Note: All Coolpix cameras, using a CF (CompactFlash) memory card have an internal CPU (Central Processing Unit) fed with software running under FAT-16*. That implies that they do not 'see' memory cards, larger than 2 Gb. Modern Coolpix cameras and computer software - however - are upgraded to FAT-32. Most Coolpix cameras that use SD (Secure Digital) memory cards are running under FAT-32; nevertheless cards with a capacity of more than 4 Gb. may not fit early Coolpix cameras. Please read the instruction manual of the camera. The very fist Coolpix camera that is able to read cards formatted under FAT 16 and FAT 32 is the Coolpix 8400 !! Later models can be used with larger memory cards (2 Gb.+), too. If you put a large CF-card in an older Coolpix camera you might get a message like 'out of memory' on the LCD screen. If so, take a card with a lower capacity.
If you use a memory card with a capacity of more than 2 Gb. in an older Coolpix camera and you have formatted that card in that particular camera, the camera will 'see' that card as a 2 Gb. card. The rest of the card's capacity can't be used.
*FAT = File Allocation System = computer file system architecture under MS-DOS and Windows widely used on PC's and memory cards.
Matrix of all Nikon Coolpix cameras (CP 100 - CP SQ) here
Nikon Coolpix L-, Coolpix S-, Coolpix P- and Coolpix AW-series are dealt with here.
The new Coolpix A- and B-series are reviewed here.
To find out which converter lens(es) will fit which Coolpix camera click here!