I would suggest you drop your search for the Nikon 990 or 995 and
instead look for the 4500.
Nikon finished the 990/995 series with the 4MP CoolPix 4500. In the
most important sense, image quality, it was the best of the series
because of the 33% increase in resolution over its predecessors. As
important, however, is the macro capability which was near perfect -
something even current SLR types can’t top. The camera will focus in
macro mode over the entire zoom range (unlike most of the current
crop). There is a short section mid-range, though, in which the
camera will focus down to 1.6cm and yeilds, in effect, a perfectly
flat field image. Translated this means zero lens distortion: no
"barrel" or “pin cushion” effect. Because of this, besides being
useful for photographing jewelry, it makes a great document or photo
Another big plus is that the lens can be stopped down as much as
F10.1 depending on where you are in the macro zoom range. F8 is the
minium I believe, which is where most current models end. While there
is a lot of back and forth about the reduction in image quality at
higher F numbers I prefer the greater overall focus to better
sharpness in a narrowly focused plane. And truth be told, unless
you’re doing posters of your work the difference in focus quality
between mid and highest F stops is negligible.
In the 4500 Nikon tamed the dreaded “purple fringe” beast (purple
fringing along edges of strongly backlit objects) and lightened the
camera up some.
The 4500 is a very robust, professional quality build with all but
the memory card door being cast magnesium. Also of note, the lens
system is internal - no little pop out cylinder series to smack on
the counter edge like all current models use.
The one really big downside, which you can work around, is the
tendency, which all small so called point & shoots suffer, to blow
the highlights. Nikon had a particularly bad rep in this area and the
4500, like the 990/995 before it, suffers much. Of course, for a lot
of jewelry, this problem is only made worse by the extreme specular
reflections produced by polished metal.
Setting the camera to minimum contrast, keeping the lighting low
contrast, and underexposing will produce usable images with a little
A second serious downside is that Nikon chose to decrease the size
of the LCD screen to 1.5". This makes checking focus seem difficult
but in fact the auto focus is so good I seldom have to re-shoot for
reasons of poor focus. The camera does offer a manual focus of sorts
but it is, in practice, useless. On the other hand, used with a high
F number and the ability to choose your focus area, the auto focus,
as noted, produces excellent results.
Nikon came into some criticism re their menu systems in these
cameras but, as in all digital menu systms, once you figure it out
and develp a shooting routine you don’t even notice the menus
As Mary Ann noted these cameras are nex.t to impossible to find. Any
active photographer who has one isn’t selling and when they do become
available they go fast and high $ (in relation to their age).
For more than you want on this or any camera check out
the info sheets and reviews of any and all digital cameras at
17 2nd St. East, Ste. 101
Kalispell, MT 59901