Nikon Coolpix 8400 For Digiscoping

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Digiscoping with the Nikon Coolpix 8400
For several years I have been digiscopingMore Info with the Nikon Coolpix 5000More Info now (2008). The Nikon Coolpix 5000More Info was a quite good digiscopingMore Info camera. Meanwhile there are many new camera models from Nikon and from other manufactures on the market. So it was time for an upgrade. But which model should I choose? There are so many options. Should I choose one of the newest models with 10 up to 12 megapixels?
If you search for digiscopingMore Info cameras in the world wide web, you often can read about the Nikon CoolpixMore Info 8400 as one of the best digiscopingMore Info cameras. So I came to the decision, to get a used Nikon CoolpixMore Info 8400 - and so I did.
With it 8 megapixel the Nikon CoolpixMore Info 8400 isn't one of the megapixel-monsters like the newer models. But 8 megapixels will suffice for most uses. In the past I were able to print very good pictures from 3 megapixel cameras at a size of 45cm x 30cm. So with the 8 megapixel of the CoolpixMore Info 8400 I would be able to print photos in postersize.
When I achieved the Nikon CoolpixMore Info 8400 I have been overtaken by the camera. It looked like a little DSLR. There were so many options in the menu. Especially I liked the option to save the pictures in EXTRA-Quality jpeg. Most cameras have only 3 jpeg-settings, like low quality, normal and fine quality. Even in the setting fine quality many cameras do heavy compression to the pictures. With the EXTRA-setting of the coolpixMore Info 8400 there is almost no compression done to the pictures.
For real perfectionists the Nikon CoolpixMore Info 8400 has even a RAW-mode. So you can change white-balance or other settings later in your photo-editing software. I tried it out, but unfortunately the camera works quite slowly in the RAW-setting, and you often have to wait until the photo is saved to the memory card some seconds. So this is not a real option in wildlife photographyMore Info and digiscopingMore Info.
Now lets come to another issue. The ISO-Noise. The ISO-setting of the Nikon CP8400 starts at ISO50. At ISO50 the CoolpixMore Info delivers fantastic pictures with almost no iso-noise. The pictures really look DSLR-like. Setting the ISO up to 100, noise appears. But not as much that makes it impossible to use the photos. ISO100 can be used without problems. Increasing ISO to 200 will increase noise to an amount, that maybe bothers you. From ISO 200 and higher you will notice, that you don't have a DSLR.
But there was a point, that I disliked with the CoolpixMore Info 8400 - the white balance. When you set the white balance to cloudy or sunny, most pictures will come out with a greenish tone all over the picture. With the automatic white balance this problem gets less, but is still visible.

European Goldfinch photographed with Nikon Coolpix 8400 and Swarovski ST80HDEuropean GoldfinchPicture Gallery, photo taken with Nikon CoolpixMore Info 8400, Swarovski ST80HDMore Info Spotting Scope with 20-60x eyepiece. The greenish colour can beePicture Gallery seen clearly in this picture. The white balance setting was set at cloudy.

I've tried to get rid of the greenish colour tone with the help of photo editing software, but it didn't work reasonably. Maybe cause I'm not a professional in editing photos with photo editing software. I was so disappointed about the colour coming out the camera, that I put the camera away again until I surfed through the website birddigiscoping.comMore Info. The digiscoper Mike McDowellMore Info has lots of wonderful photos at his website taken with the Nikon CoolpixMore Info 8400. In his photos the colour comes out great and very authentic. So I contacted him and he's given me the hint, to measure the white balance manually with a white paper. You can do this with the PRE-setting of the white balance. I followed his hint, and hwat shall I say : The colours came out fantastic in most situations. And one don't have to this manual metering in every situation. I metered the white balance at a slight cloudy day and use this setting now for sunny and cloudy weatherPicture Gallery.

Nuthatch, photographed with Nikon Coolpix 8400 ans Kowa Spotting Scope at in ISO setting of ISO 50NuthatchPicture Gallery photographed with Nikon CoolpixMore Info 8400 and KowaPicture Gallery Spotting Scope. Sensitivity set at ISO 50. The white balance was metered manually with a white piece of paper at a cloudy day. As you can see, there's absolutely no greenish tone all over the picture. The colours are authentic. The all-over-quality of the original picture can compete with DSLRs.

So the answer to the problem with the greenish tone was simply metering the white-balance manually.
So lets talk albout other points now. The autofocus of the Nikon CoolpixMore Info 8400 works great and there much more hits than with my Nikon Coolpix 5000More Info or my Nikon Coolpix 990More Info. But again the autofokus is not as fast as I expected. The autofocus of newer cameras like the Nikon CoolpixMore Info P5000 or Nikon CoolpixMore Info P5100 is much faster - but less unerring. So all in all I'm very satisfied with the slow but very reliable autofocus of the CP 8400.
The picture quality of the CoolpixMore Info 8400 is just fantastic. The feather detail of my birdPicture Gallery photos is almost unbeatable. Especially when combined to my Kowa ProminarMore Info TSN-844 the details are unbelievable.

Marsh Tit, photographed with Nikon Coolpix 8400 and Kowa Prominar TSN 884Marsh TitPicture Gallery, photographed by Mr. Tessarek, a participator of one of my digiscoping-workshops, with Nikon CoolpixMore Info 8400 and Kowa TSN-884More Info. The original picture has wonderful authentic colours and a great sharpness. Thanx to the 8 megapixel sensor high resolution prints of more than 45cmx30cm are possible without problems.

The Nikon CoolpixMore Info 8400 outperforms all my older CoolpixMore Info models and even the newer models like the Nikon CoolpixMore Info P5000 in terms of sharpness, detail, ISO noise and autofocus (in terms of unerring). So it replaces now my Nikon Coolpix 5000More Info and now is succesfully used in my digiscoping-workshops.
Vignetting doesn't appear at full zoom, but unfortunately vignetting almost always appears at less than full zoom, when used with KowaPicture Gallery 30x eyepiece, KowaPicture Gallery 20-60x eyepiece and SwarovskiMore Info 20-60x eyepiece. So art work with the focal length is only possible with zoom eyepieces in these cases, and not possible with the zoom of the camera.
The Nikon CoolpixMore Info 8400 has an infrared release. When a got the camera, I first thought, that it must be great to work with the infrared release when digiscopingMore Info. But forget it. The infrared release is only useful when making self portraitsPicture Gallery, cause the camera doesn't shoot immediately but waits for at least 2 seconds. So I again have to use my selfmade shutter release.

Tree Sparrow, photographed with Nikon Coolpix 8400 and Kowa Spotting Scope. ISO sensicity set at 100.Tree SparrowPicture Gallery, photographed with Nikon CoolpixMore Info 8400 and Kowa TSN-884More Info spotting scope. In spite of ISO100 the picture looks brillant and the colours are authentic. ISO noise is visible in the original but acceptable. So ISO100 can be used in most situations without making big promises in terms of picture quality.

Let me say something general to the newest digital still cameras. At the moment there is movement towards more and more pixel at the ccds of the newest digital camera models. Maybe you thought about getting a digital camera that is more up to date than the Nikon CoolpixMore Info 8400. But surely you have not thought about the drawbacks about the megapixel monsters.
The more pixel you put at a sensor, the smaller the pixel is. And that means, that the pixel gets less light than a huger pixel. So the sensivity of each pixel has to be greater than the sensivity of the bigger pixels at a sensor with less overall pixels. In other words the signal of the smaller pixels have to be amplified more, which causes more noise, often even visible at lower ISO sensivities. To ged rid of this noise most modern cameras use an internal noise reduction software. But unfortunately this software doesn't only eliminate noise, it eliminates lots of fine details, too. Often you can notice less detail in the photos of the mega├╝pixel monsters as in photos of cameras with "only" 8 or less megapixel.
So my opinion is, that an 8 megapixel digital still camera is enough for almost all uses. The noise is moderate with most models, and details are great. Especially with the Nikon CoolpixMore Info 8400, cause of its slightly bigger sensor. As you can see : More pixel means not automatically better image quality and more details.

Nikon CoolpixMore Info 8400 - My conclusion :

The autofocus of the Nikon CoolpixMore Info 8400 is very reliable, but not as fast as I expected. The colours come out great, when metering the whitebalance manually, if the automatic white balance is being used (or manually set at cloudy oder sunny), colours often come a bit greenish. The Nikon CoolpixMore Info 8400 delivers photos of phantastic quality with lots of details. Photos shot at ISO50 or ISO100 are almost DSLR-like, when using higher sensivities ISO Noise appears heavily (easy 200 can be OK for extreme situations).
Vignetting unfortunately appears very soon with all of my eyepieces when zooming in. At full camera zoom I couldn't recognize any vignetting.
All in all the Nikon CoolpixMore Info 8400 seems to be one of the best (if not the best) digiscopingMore Info camera. If you have the possibility to get a used Nikon CoolpixMore Info 8400, I would recommend to do so.

If you want to buy a camera like the Nikon Coolpix 8400 for only about $50, a scope or just even other things, you can support me keeping this website online when you use this link to Amazon and then buy your camera or anything else there : Nikon Coolpix 8400
Thank you for your help :-) !

Article from Somewhere in 2006


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