Nikon Coolpix 4600
Review Date: May 16th 2005
(out of 5 stars)
The Nikon Coolpix 4600 is a compact, stylish and easy-to-use point and shoot digital camera. The scene modes are both numerous and advanced in their implementation and will really help the beginner, and the in-built help system, although limited, will also prove useful. The Nikon Coolpix 4600 has a couple of new features that aim to make the photographer's life easier, both of which work well. D-Lighting was very effective, offering an in-camera solution for revealing detail in the shadow areas of an image without also over-exposing the highlights. The Red-Eye Reduction feature also worked as promised, with little evidence of red-eye.
Now onto the limitations. The Nikon Coolpix 4600 is strictly a point and shoot camera, with no creative control over apertures or shutter speeds. It is also not well-suited to capturing fast-moving subjects, with limited continuous shooting modes and no continuous auto-focusing option. The zoom lens is noisy and quite slow in operation. Image quality is only average. Noise and chromatic aberrations were both very well controlled, but the images were soft out of the camera and you can't change the sharpening level, which means that you will either have to accept that all your photos will be slightly soft, or sharpen them later using a program like Adobe Photoshop. The maximum ISO speed of 200 severely limits the kind of lighting conditions in which you can use the Coolpix 4600. Furthermore, you can't choose the ISO speed yourself and the camera had a tendency to select ISO 50 whenever possible, at the expense of setting a suitable aperture and shutter speed combination.
Other points worth noting are the lack of a histogram, either in playback or whilst taking a photo, which makes judging exposure trickier than it should be. Perhaps the most annoying aspect of the camera's design is that you can't get out of the Play or Menu modes by half-pressing the shutter button, which means that you may miss that important shot. Most other digital cameras allow you to do this and it is something that is sorely missing on the Nikon Coolpix 4600. There is no auto-focus assist light on the Coolpix 4600, so focusing indoors was very difficult, and when it did achieve focus the camera had a tendency to underexpose slightly.
Overall the Nikon Coolpix 4600 will be best suited to the point and shoot photographer who is willing to leave most decisions up to the camera and who will mostly use the camera outdoors. For the photographer who requires more control, the Nikon Coolpix 4600 is not such a good choice. The more expensive Nikon Coolpix 5900 that I previously reviewed is a much more capable camera than the Coolpix 4600 and well worth the extra money.
PhotographyBLOG is a member of the DIWA organisation. Our test results for the Nikon Coolpix 4600 have been submitted to DIWA for comparison with test results for different samples of the same camera model supplied by other DIWA member sites.