I was cleaning out some of my shelves in the office yesterday, and came across a bit of nostalgia: The first digital camera I owned: The Nikon Coolpix 5700. I bought it back in 2002 prior to my wife and I going on our honeymoon. We had some spending money thanks to all the wedding gifts, so we figured we’d splurge and get a nice camera to record our trip. We should have splurged on a better hard drive backup solution, because around 2005 or 2006, a computer virus crashed our computer, and the entire contents of the external hard drive…including but not limited to: My entire CD collection burned into MP3 files, and our entire collection of digital pictures.
We got some very cool pictures of some amazing waterfalls on the big island in Hawaii…but I can’t show them to you here, because I wasn’t smart enough to switch over to a Mac soon enough. Had I been using a Mac, I seriously doubt that virus ever would have wreaked havoc on all our stuff. But, more importantly, I should have had a better backup solution than one external hard drive which was always attached to the computer.
IBM compatible machine + crappy backup solution = I am dumb.
Always have a backup of your stuff somewhere in a safe location that’s not connected to any electronics. These days, storage memory is so cheap and ubiquitous, there’s no excuse not to have an extra set of your stuff saved somewhere offsite. Anyway, I digress.
I had owned cameras prior to this one, but they were all of the film variety, and I didn’t really know how to use them. Back in 2002 photography wasn’t really even a hobby of mine, so it took a momentous occasion to make me want to go out and actually spend my own money on a camera. (Boy how times have changed in that regard, but again, I digress)
Brand new, this camera cost $1200, in 2002 dollars. At the time it was considered a top of the line consumer digital camera. It’s not a DSLR, and frankly, in 2002 I literally didn’t know what a DSLR (or SLR, for that matter) was.
The Coolpix 5700 is a 5 megapixel powerhouse…which means it blows away my iPhone’s 1.2 megapixel sensor. It boasted an electronic viewfinder that had all of 180,000 pixels working in its favor. With that type of resolution, concrete will blur while you watch it dry.
The LCD monitor was 1.5″ wide, with a resolution of 110,000 pixels. Seriously, 110,000? Everything looks like it’s put together with Legos on that screen. LCD screens on a camera are sort of like caller ID. We all did just fine without them before they were invented, but I have no idea how we could survive as a culture without them now, with many people practically depending on them.
If you can’t tell, that’s the playground behind our house, shown on the LCD screen of the D5700. Image that on a 1.5″ screen. Now imagine navigating through an options menu on that screen. Trying to change menu options on this screen feels like someone is pulling back your eyelids with a tweezer. It’s not pleasant.
The lens has an optical range of 9 to 71mm (in 35mm format), with a max aperture of f/2.8 to 4.2. This little sucker can get wide. Digital zoom was available up to 4 times…but digital zooming is a farce…it was then, and it still is now. All a digital “zoom” does is take a smaller portion of the center of the picture, crop out the edges, and blows up the remaining center portion to the size of the original image. You’re left with a lesser quality center portion of the non-digital zoomed image. Digital zooming is easily done in post processing simply by cropping yourself. If anyone ever leads off the sales pitch for a camera by talking about its digital zooming capabilities, it’s a sure sign the camera’s a POS.
ISO range went from 100-800 on the Coolpix 5700. Back then, shadows actually stayed dark in post process. It was much tougher to take a good photograph back then…before Lightroom and Photoshop blossomed, which afforded the photographer an ability to hide a lot of mistakes made at the scene.
You can put filters on the lens of the 5700 with an optional adapter. To me, in 2002, filters were for cigarettes, not cameras. I hadn’t the slightest clue what a polarizer was until probably 2010 or 2011, and I didn’t quit smoking until July 4, 2005. Smoked for 19 years…about a pack a day, peaking at two packs a day for the first couple of years in college. I went to school in upstate New York, and winters were hideously cold…so all we did from November through March was huddle up in someone’s dorm room, play Super Tecmo Football on Nintendo, and smoke. Barry Sanders was stupid good in that video game. So were Jerry Ball (NT for the Lions), and Bo Jackson. They were men among boys. Later on in college, we had a foosball table in the basement of our fraternity house, and that’s why I diverted my attention to in winter in my last two years in school. I’m sure my parents would love to know that I majored in Tecmo with a minor in foosball.
Anyway…back on topic…
The electronic shutter peaks out at 1/4000 speed, which is the same as the modern D750 (the comparisons end there)…and it actually had a bulb mode up to 5 minutes long.
The camera could save files in RAW (2560 x 1920), TIFF, or Jpeg format. With that size, you can barely fill up your typical monitor with a shot of a coffee maker. And, hold yourself to your seat…this little monster could churn out a mind-numbing 3 frames per second. At 3 frames per second you might have the opportunity to catch a crystal clear, freeze-frame shot of your grass growing. In the winter.
For its diminutive size, one thing that strikes me about this camera is its weight…it’s not light. I won’t be confusing its mass with a D4 anytime soon, but it’s much heftier than modern advanced point and shoots, which are mostly made of plastic. You can definitely feel how Nikon stuffed as much glass as they could inside the lens barrel. As is typical of most quality Nikon products, the body of the camera feels rock solid.
I’d take some new shots with the camera, but my trusty Mac Pro won’t recognize the CF card from the 5700. I’m working on a solution, but as of yet, the card won’t show up on screen when I drop it in the CF reader. I have the technical capability of road kill, so don’t hold your breath. Seriously, it took me weeks to figure out how to start my own blog online. No joke. I tend to overcomplicate the simple issues life presents us. But, that’s what makes this so much fun!