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Nikon Coolpix 4800 - Digital Camera Review
Review Date: 05/04/05
Buy Now: £238 / $299
Rating: Recommended!

Introduction: The Nikon Coolpix 4800, is available for £238 / $299 - the Coolpix 4800 is a relatively compact 4 megapixel digital camera, with an 8.3x optical zoom lens (equivalent to 36-300mm on a 35mm camera), and a 1.8" TFT screen. The camera is enclosed in a silver plastic body. It records unlimited VGA and 320 x 240 videos at 15fps with sound. The camera's quite compact for an ultra zoom digital camera with the following size: 106 x 66 x 54mm. (without protruding parts), and weighs 255g (without the battery and memory card)

Nikon have this to say about the camera:

"With its powerful 8.3 x zoom, the COOLPIX 4800 is designed to offer users all the fun and easy way to capture high-quality digital images while also enjoying the flexibility delivered by a wide focal range. The COOLPIX 4800 gets you closer to your action."

More information can be found on their site.

The Camera: It's compact and made out of silver plastic.
(Photos of the camera taken with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ3)

Front - Camera off.

Front - Camera on, lens extended, flash, AF-assist lamp, optical viewfinder.

Back - the 1.8" TFT screen, electronic viewfinder (diopter corrector), display button, mode-dial, zoom control, menu button, 4-way controller / OK button, play, and delete.

Top - on/off, shutter, green 'on' light, and the microphone hole (lens at wide-angle).

Bottom, under the camera there is a plastic tripod mount, and the battery compartment.

Left Side (from back) Video out/DC in. (lens at telephoto)

On this side is the memory compartment.

Size Comparison: Compared to a Pentax PC-550 35mm automatic.

Size comparison.

Size comparison.

Size compared to the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ3. (Pic taken with the Mju Digital 500)

Specifications / Features:

  • 4.0-megapixel CCD
  • 8.3x optical Zoom-Nikkor lens, equiv. to a 36mm-300mm lens in 35mm [135] format
  • Pro-quality Nikkor lens with two ED (Extra-low Dispersion) lens elements minimize chromatic aberration ensures crisp and clear image results
  • Compact and lightweigt body with a comfortable hand grip
  • 1.8" LCD plus a high-resolution Electronic Viewfinder
  • High-speed zoom allows fast moving from wide-angle to telephoto composition in approx. 1.3 sec, ideal for taking action photos
  • Macro function allows capturing all the details for as close as 1cm away from the subject
  • Approx. 13.5 MB of built-in memory ensures instant shooting even without the need for a SD memory card
  • 15 pre-programmed Scene Modes 4 with Scene Assistance for easy framing and optimal image composition
  • All-in-one box including a rechargeable battery and a quick charger; also compatible with 2CR5 lithium battery
  • ISO: Auto, Manual ISO 50, 100, 200, 400
  • TV Out

Full Specifications can be found on their site.

Box Contents:

  • Camera
  • Rechargeable Li-on Battery EN-EL1,
  • Battery Charger MH-53,
  • Strap,
  • USB cable,
  • Audio Video cable,
  • PictureProject software CD-rom.

Average box contents - A case would have been nice, as would more memory.

Battery usage: The camera uses a rechargable lithium-ion battery rated at 7.4v, and 680mAh - although the camera will also take 2CR5 batteries! As the camera uses a proprietry battery, I would recommend you buy a spare battery just in case the battery goes flat and you can't find a 2CR5 battery. Battery life seemed: good.

Menu Options / Modes: The camera mode is selected using the rotating dial / play button.

Photo mode/menu: The menu button brings up the menu screen as shown on the right below:

Photo mode Photo Menu

Screen / LCD display in photo mode: (shown on the left) The screen is a fairly decent resolution, and updates smoothly - the colours appear accurate. There is no live histogram available.
Optical Viewfinder: The electronic viewfinder seems quite clear and bright.

Menu options are: Image mode, white balance (including custom white balance), continuous shooting, BSS - best shot selector, ISO sensitivity, Image adjustments (contrast), Image sharpening, AF area mode, colour-options (standard, vivid, black and white, sepia, cyanotone).

Scene modes Setup Menu

Scene modes: (shown on the left, above) Party / Indoor, beach / snow, sunset, dusk / dawn, night landscape, close up, museum, fireworks show, copy, back light, panorama assist.

Setup menu options: (shown on the right, above) Welcome screen, date, date imprint (date or date and time), monitor settings, sound settings, auto off, format memory, language, interface, video mode, reset all, firmware version.

Playback (Review) mode/menu: The menu button brings up the menu screen as shown on the right, below:

Playback mode Playback Menu

Playback mode: Scrolling through the photos is quick. The zoom is quick up to 10x.

Playback menu options: Print set, slide show, delete, protect, auto transfer, small pic, copy (allows you to copy between internal memory and memory card and vice versa), sort by date, instant index.

Picture Size / Quality: The camera takes the following size pictures, and the following number of images will fit on the 13.5mb internal memory provided with the camera:

Size / Quality: Number of Photos Stored
  High (*) Normal
4mp 7 14
2mp n/a 27
PC (1024) n/a 57
TV (640) n/a 123
Video 640x480 15fps 24 seconds
Video 320x240 15fps 49 seconds

You can fit a small number of images on the built in memory - a larger memory card is definitely recommended, unless you want to use the lower image sizes / higher compression options in order to fit more pictures in memory. There is an okay choice of image sizes, although there is very little choice regarding image compression (4m normal or 4m high).

A larger memory card is relatively cheap, and highly recommended, I would recommend at a bare minimum a 128mb or 256mb memory card, and preferably a 512mb memory card, or larger, especially considering the relatively low prices - the larger the memory card, the more photos you will be able to take. If you are likely to go on holiday then the largest memory card you can afford would definitely be worth investing in, as you don't always know when you will next be at a computer. Listed below are links to memory cards that will work with the Nikon Coolpix 4800:

128mb SD memory card - £11.99 from Amazon.co.uk.
256mb SD memory card - £19.00 from Amazon.co.uk.
512mb SD memory card - £33.99 from Amazon.co.uk.
1gb (1000mb) SD memory card - £59.99 from Amazon.co.uk.

Speed: The camera is fairly quick to switch on and take photos - however the camera can occassionally 'hunt' for the focus in darker indoor conditions. The screen updates are quick and smooth (in good light). The playback mode is also quite quick. Playback mode allows you to zoom as close as 10x. The camera has a quick continuous shooting mode.

Ease of use: The camera is easy to use, although the camera does have a lot of options and features. The controls on the back of the camera are fairly easy to use - the menus are responsive. The camera is compact and will just about fit into large trouser pockets (which is rare for ultra zoom cameras). The menus are also fairly easy to use, and the options are big enough and easy enough to see clearly. The modes are easy to access, quick and simple.

Ergonomics and Buttons: (Feel, placement, labels, etc) The buttons are fairly easy to use, and they are in a good position. There seems to be the right amount of buttons. The buttons feel okay, the shutter release is quite decent. The buttons are labelled fairly well. The camera size is good considering the 8x optical zoom lens, due to the lens not protruding out of the camera much, the camera should fit in larger pockets.

Image Quality: Here are some sample photos/video(s) taken in various settings, such as Inside, Noise, Outside, Zoom, Macro, Movie to demonstrate the quality of pictures taken and also show different features of the camera. Larger versions of these photos, plus more photos are available in the new gallery!


Heather and Flower Room photo

Inside: The camera has good colour. It has a decent flash, and copes quite well with group photos - it also does a good job of keeping noise low. The camera did a good job at focusing the majority of the time, although occasionally struggled. The camera's built in Red-eye reduction worked well. The camera did a good job producing the room photo above, considering the low light.

Noise: Noise is generally a bad thing - it removes detail, and gives a grainy effect over the image. With digital cameras noise can be a real problem as digital camera noise is often made out of blue, red or green dots. As the ISO setting increases, pictures tend to have more noise. Noise is most noticeable in dark areas of photos. The camera has an Automatic mode for ISO levels, and manual ISO settings (50/100/200/400) as demonstrated below:

ISO Noise Test Image (Flash on)

ISO 50 - Actual Pixels ISO 100 - Actual Pixels
ISO 200 - Actual Pixels ISO 400 - Actual Pixels

Noise seems very low from ISO50 to ISO200 - it's only in ISO400 that noise becomes more of a problem.


Unisys Building Portleven, Cornwall

Outside, the camera had very good colour, with good contrast and saturation. There was good detail although images did seem quite soft. Noise seemed quite low. I didn't notice jpeg artefacts in the images.

Zoom: This camera has a 8.3x optical zoom lens and a built in 4x digital zoom - in the case of this camera the digital zoom basically takes a smaller area of the photo and enlarges it using software blurring the image so that it is not pixellated. Generally it's best to avoid using digital zoom as it degrades the quality of the image and, often, better results can be obtained by using a photo package such as Adobe Photoshop. I've included examples below to show what the optical zoom does - I would strongly recommend you avoid using digital zoom.

Wide-angle (roughly) 3x Optical zoom 8x Optical Zoom

Lens noise and zoom: The lens is fairly quiet. The lens is quick at going from wide to telephoto - there are around 18 steps between wide and telephoto giving you good control on how you frame your subject.

Other Image Quality issues: Rather impressively I didn't notice purple fringing in any of the photos I took.

Macro: To use this camera in macro mode, you press the macro button - it suggests you zoom the lens in to the green arrow. You can use the flash in macro mode. The camera can be roughly as close as 0.4" / roughly 1cm away from the subject from the front of the lens!

Macro Watch Actual Pixels (100%)

The macro mode is excellent - the camera allows you to get extremely close to the subject, the only problem is that you may have a problem getting enough light onto the subject. The camera does a good job of toning down the flash, and colours and detail are very good.

Movie: 640x480 at 15fps and 320x240 at 15fps with sound. The movie is recorded as an .MOV file. Unfortunately you can't use the optical zoom whilst recording videos, but you can use it before you start recording.

Konica Minolta Dimage G600 - 640x480 movie - Download. (right click, save target as, 2.9mb) (saved as Zip file)

The quality of the movie(s) is okay, colour is quite good, the camera also does a good job in low-light, however resolution doesn't seem very good. The frame rate is fairly average.


Image Quality: Image quality is very good, the images have good colour, saturation, contrast and detail - with very little purple fringing. The camera did a good job focusing - although indoors it did occassionally struggle. Noise was controlled well. I didn't notice any vignetting in the corners . There is an good range of image sizes although not much in the way of compression options. The macro mode is excellent. Auto white balance and metering seemed to be very good. Red-eye was controlled well. The movie mode is fairly average.

Everything else (the camera as a whole): The camera is compact for an ultra zoom and is designed well. The camera will just fit into large trouser pockets. The camera is easy to use, the menu system is easy to use and there are is a good layout of buttons and controls. There is a good choice of features and options (although the majority are aimed at point and shoot users), such as scene modes, best shot selector, manual white balance, etc - although some may be dissapointed to find that there is no live histogram, manual focus, or manual controls. The camera speed is good, with a decent switch on time, good focusing time, and good shutter response.

Alternative ultra zoom digital cameras:
8x Optical zoom:
Konica Minolta Dimage Z10 / Z20, Olympus C-725 (read my review)
10x Optical zoom:
Fuji Finepix S5500, Olympus C-765 (read my review) / C-770, Canon S1 IS (Image Stabilisation), Kodak Easyshare DX7490 (read my review)
12x Optical zoom:
Konica Minolta Dimage Z3 (read my review) / Z5 (Anti-shake), Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ3 / FZ4 / FZ5 / FZ15 / FZ20 (Image Stabilisation), Sony Cybershot H1 (Image Stabilisation) - Check amazon.co.uk / kelkoo.co.uk or amazon.com for the latest prices.

Summary: The Nikon Coolpix 4800 with a 4 megapixel sensor, and an 8.3x optical zoom lens, produces good images, with good colour and saturation, and low purple fringing. The 8.3x optical zoom lens lets you get close to your subject, and has an excellent macro mode. Another bonus is that the camera will just about fit into trouser pockets - something quite rare for ultra zoom cameras. The Nikon is average value for money, as a lot of the competition is cheaper than this camera. I would personally prefer an ultra zoom with image stabilisation, whilst not essential, it's definitely useful. Despite the lack of image stabilisation I would recommend this camera, especially for someone looking for an easy to use ultra zoom digital camera that will fit in your pocket.

Nikon Coolpix 4800 Rating: Recommended!
Buy now: £238 / $299.

Don't forget to buy an SD memory card to go with the Nikon Coolpix 4800: 128mb SD memory card - £11.99, 256mb SD memory card - £19.00, 512mb SD memory card - £33.99, 1gb (1000mb) SD memory card - £59.99 from Amazon.co.uk.

What I like:

  • Excellent colour and saturation
  • Excellent macro mode
  • Built in lens cap (rare for ultra zooms)
  • Very low purple fringing (if any)
  • Will just about fit into large trouser pockets (which is rare for ultra zoom digital cameras)
  • AF-assist lamp (helps focusing in low light)
  • Choice of battery type
  • Low noise

What I don't like:

  • Slightly soft images
  • Lacks image stabilisation
  • No manual controls

Remember to have a look at the test photos in the new gallery.