Nikon's Coolpix 2500 is practically guaranteed to draw attention from friends and passersby who, after commenting on its coolness, will ask you how the heck it's supposed to work. But once its hidden swivel lens is revealed, operating this 2-megapixel camera is fairly straightforward. If a stylish, pocketable digicam is what you're looking for, you'll enjoy toting this Coolpix around. But if you'll be shooting in a lot of low-light situations, you might want to check out the Minolta Dimage X, a tiny camera that's also strong on design and produces less image noise.
The 2500 features the swivel lens used by the more expensive 900 series--but with an, um, additional twist. Nikon calls it the inner-swivel-lens design. The lens half of the camera twists, but the outer frame of the camera doesn't. So while the 2500 offers the benefits of the nonprotruding, easily positioned 3X zoom lens, you won't be able to shoot with the lens in a vertical position. You can, however, shoot with it angled anywhere from 130 degrees forward to 90 degrees backward (minus the width of the frame in between).
There are also advantages to having the frame stable: the lens won't inadvertently twist in your bag, you don't need a lens cap, and the overall construction of the camera is solid. Unfortunately, the ultracompact, lightweight design--7.5 ounces with battery and media installed--leaves no room for an optical viewfinder.
|Half of the camera twists; the outer frame doesn't.||The swivel lens and stable outer frame mean you don't need a lens cap.|
You can access frequently used functions such as the self-timer, the movie mode, and the flash settings, via multifunctional buttons on the 2500. There's also an Image Transfer button that speeds up the process of downloading pictures to your computer. A press of the camera's unique Small Pic button automatically creates a tiny, highly compressed version of one of your shots, which is suitable for e-mailing.
We'd love to see dedicated buttons for exposure compensation and white balance, but given the limited real estate on the camera's body, Nikon has made efficient use of what's available. The aforementioned settings and a host of others are accessed through menus on the 1.5-inch LCD and are clearly labeled with text rather than cryptic icons. The Coolpix 2500 has a useful set of features, though there are few manual overrides. Preset scene modes may be selected by pushing the Scene button, then choosing 1 of 12 icons.
Among the settings available through LCD menus are Nikon's Best Shot Selector, a continuous shooting mode, and image sharpening. The camera's 3X zoom lens is sharp, and the close-up setting proved especially effective, capturing ample detail and focusing as close as 1.6 inches away from the subject.
Toy with the self-timer, movie mode, and flash settings via multifunctional buttons on the 2500.
There's also a fun--but not too functional--movie mode, which shoots 15-second QuickTime clips of soundless motion.
Shooting performance can be sluggish with this camera, a point that will frustrate the decisive-moment photographers out there. Start-up time is a little slow--about five seconds with the included 16MB Lexar CompactFlash card and, rather inexplicably, twice that with a Nikon-approved 128MB SanDisk CompactFlash card.
The 2500's start-up time isn't great, even with the included 16MB Lexar CompactFlash card.
We also experienced noticeable shutter lag. On the other hand, the diminutive, rechargeable lithium-ion battery that comes with the 2500 packs a good amount of power into its small case, lasting 50 to 60 shots in our tests.
In general, the Coolpix 2500 produced well-exposed images with pleasing color. Its automatic white-balance setting worked well in naturally lit situations, though it wasn't as effective indoors, and color balance tended to be a bit warm.
It does a fair job handling close-up shots.
The amount of image detail that the camera captured was about average for its class, although we did notice greater loss of detail in highlights.
Auto white balance is fairly bad under indoor lights.
Images tend to be noisy.