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Nikon 995 Update
by VividLight Staff

Last month we reviewed an early production version of Nikon's new 995 camera.  We gave the camera high marks in most areas and concluded that it was a stellar performer in the majority of situations.  However, during that review we found several problems with the camera's low light focusing and a problem with over exposure under very bright conditions, and when using studio strobes.

Nikon contacted us this month and told us about firmware updates they'd done to the 995.  Would we be interested in trying one with the updated firmware?

Obviously the answer was yes.  Ours had been a very early 995.  So early in fact that it had even been shipped to us without a battery charger.  So with the new camera in hand we did some experimenting.

First, an explanation of some terms is in order.  With any kind of digital equipment or computers we refer to hardware as the boards and circuits that make up the machine, and software as the programs that we run on the machine.  Firmware is software that is loaded directly into the machine's chips when it is built.  Once installed the only way to change it is to replace a chip.  All of the programs or software in cameras is actually firmware.  Its put in when the camera is built and can't be easily changed or updated.

When we refer to blown out highlights, it means that part of the image goes pure white.  There is absolutely no detail there, and no amount of work with the image afterward can bring out that detail.  Blown out highlights usually happen when there's a significant difference in light levels in different parts of the scene.  The meter has to choose which area to expose for.  If it exposes for the darker areas, detail is lost in the overexposed bright areas.  In this situation the photographer has the choice of under-exposing the image.  This underexposure will cause some loss of detail in the darker areas of the photo, but it will bring the brighter areas into the proper exposure range - sometimes making for a more balanced image.  The problem we had experienced with the original 995 was that we found some situations where even using two stops of exposure compensation, highlights were blown out.

With the new 995, in bright sunlight, with bright white subjects, we were unable to blow out the highlights the way we had with our original 995.  In situations where an initial shot had overexposure of the highlights, we were able to bring the image back into proper exposure using exposure compensation.  Problem solved.

Next came testing the low light focusing abilities.  We had experienced some problems with the early production model of the camera hunting, zooming in and out, trying to find focus in low light.  It had even opted for the wrong subject to focus on a few times.

Focus speed was definitely improved, and although we did get it to hunt now and then, it picked out the correct subject each time during our tests.

Unfortunately we only received the camera a few days before the release of this issue.  We'll continue to put the camera through it's paces over the next few days and will update this column if we find anything that differs from what we've reported here.

To read the original review click here.


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