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Nikon Coolpix 3700 Review


Update Nov 30th, 2003: Complete review posted below. Sample images and full specifications on following page.

Original story: Oct 28th, 2003

Nikon has today introduced the ultra-compact Coolpix 3700 digital camera. A first for the Nikon, the Coolpix 3700 records images to a Secure Digital (SD) memory card, instead of the traditional compact flash (CF) card media used in previous Coolpix models.

Designed for today's mobile lifestyle, the slim, ultra-compact Coolpix 3700's aluminum body (only 4.4 oz) is designed to go anywhere - fitting comfortably in most shirt pockets.



The Coolpix 3700 continues the tradition of image quality, operating ease, and portability that distinguishes Nikon's Coolpix series. With its precision 3x optical Zoom-Nikkor lens and 3.2 megapixels of resolution, the camera delivers photo-quality (2,048 x 1,536-pixel) images.

The Coolpix 3700 is equipped with 15 Scene Modes, including Portrait, Party/Indoor, Sunset, Museum, Fireworks Show and Panorama Assist, which instantly automate image composition for a wide range of activities, backgrounds and lighting conditions. Users can also enjoy continuous shooting, as well as shooting successive images at timed intervals to capture rapidly changing conditions in a time-lapse effect.

As with previous Coolpix models, the Coolpix 3700 incorporates Nikon's exclusive high-precision 256-segment Matrix exposure metering and Auto White Balance (AWB), providing faithful color reproduction, sharp contrast, and consistent clarity in virtually all shooting conditions.

The handy Macro Function allows for shots of subjects from as close as 4cm (1.6 in), while the cameras Multi-area Focus offers a selection of five focus areas. Reaching beyond still pictures, the Coolpix 3700 additionally features eight movie modes, including one for filming TV-resolution (640 x 480 pixels) movies at 30fps, complete with sound.

Nikon Coolpix 3700 Major Features

  • 3.2 effective megapixels

  • 3x optical Zoom-Nikkor lens (equivalent to 35mm - 105mm in 35mm format)

  • Ultra-compact, slim and lightweight aluminum body

  • Easy-to-use controls include a high-definition 1.5-in 134,000-pixel TFT LCD monitor and a handy Mode Dial

  • 15 Scene Modes

  • Eight Movie Modes include Time-lapse Movie Mode and new TV Movie Mode for filming TV resolution (640 x 480 pixels) at 30fps, complete with sound.

  • New voice recording function records up to 5 hours of sound on a 256MB or larger SD memory card, and up to 20-second voice memos for each still image. Recorded sounds can be played back using the camera's built-in speaker.

  • Multi-area focus with a choice of 5 focus areas

  • High-precision 256-segment Matrix exposure metering

  • Continuous shooting at 2.5 fps (H) or 1.5 fps (L)

  • Interval Timer Shooting takes a series of successive still images at preset intervals

  • Date imprint

  • New "Sound release" adds versatility to the self-timer mode by snapping the shutter in response to a remote sound command from the user.

  • Fast power-up readies the camera for action as soon as it is turned on

  • Direct printing from the camera to PictBridge compatible printers and Epson USB Direct-Print printers

  • Customizable Settings include a new World Time Setting, 3 different shutter sounds, and menu support in 10 languages

  • Compatible with new CP1 disposable lithium battery

  • Included accessories: Strap, 16MB SD Memory Card, Rechargeable Li-ion battery EN-EL5, Battery Charger MH-61, USB Cable, AV Cable, Nikon View CD-ROM, and Eyecup.

Camera Design, Functions and Layout

The Nikon Coolpix 3700 is equipped with a 1/2.7-inch primary color CCD sensor offering 3.2 effective megapixels of resolution. The camera provides a 3x optical zoom range (equivalent to 35mm-105mm in 35mm terms), and offers a maximum digital zoom of 4x. Subjects as close as 4 cm can be shot in the Macro mode. There is no manual focus capability.

The camera offers simplicity in operation. The Multi-Selector, Mode Dial, and other major buttons are arranged for ease of use on the back. The display of the 1.5-inch highly transparent advanced LCD monitor (134,000 pixels) is bright, making it easy to read and operate even outdoors. There is a five step LCD brightness adjustment available through the menu. Other features include quick start up and response.

Exposure: The Coolpix 3700 offers a shutter speed range from 4 sec to a fast 1/3000 sec. The camera sets the exposure automatically. Bulb shooting is not possible.

Scene Modes: The camera automatically selects the exposure, shutter speed, white balance, and other parameters to provide the most appropriate settings in relation to the user selected "Scene" mode. To activate, simply set the Mode dial to SCENE, select one of 15 Scene modes from the menu on the LCD, and shoot. The 15 modes are as follows:


Capture a soft portrait of a subject standing out against a beautifully out of focus background. (Degree of defocusing depends on brightness.)

Take an atmospheric indoor party photo in which both the main subject and background are balanced in exposure.
  Night Portrait

Capture a night scene with a subject under natural exposure against an illuminated background.

Take perfect pictures of greenery and blue skies. The colors of mountains and buildings are brought out for vivid images.

Capture a beautiful sunset in all its splendor as a photographer sees.
  Night Landscape

Capture stunning nighttime scenes using a slow shutter speed. Unlike the case of night portrait, the speed light does not fire. (Set the camera on a stable surface or use a tripod if possible.)

Take pictures of indoor locations such as museums where the use of a flash is prohibited.
  Fireworks Show

At last, users can capture the true colors and excitement of a fireworks display. (A tripod is essential to avoid blurring.)
  Close Up

This mode makes detailed subjects such as flowers and insects standing out from the background in stunning colors. AF operation is continuous.

This mode is convenient when shooting text and drawings.
It functions as taking clear copy of business cards, printed matters or whiteboard.
  Back Light

Take beautiful pictures of backlit subjects that would otherwise come out dark.
  Panorama Assist

Lets you take several side-by-side images all at the same exposure and white balance setting condition, then combine them later using photo editing software to create spectacular wide-vista photos.

Fast shutter speed clearly captures quick movements. Perfect for taking dynamic sports shots when a subject is moving fast.

Capture a beautiful landscape in dim light before the sunrise or after the sunset. The speed light does not fire.

Setup Menu System

Setup Menu: The setup menu is displayed when the mode dial is rotated to SETUP.

Setup menu option Description
Welcome Screen Options for Camera Setup
Date Set the camera clock and choose home and travel destination time zones
Date Imprint Imprint pictures with the date and or time of capture
Brightness Adjust monitor brightness
Sound Settings Adjust sound and volume settings
Snd release level Set the volume for the sound release trigger
Auto Off Choose how long the monitor will remain on before turning off automatically to save power
Memory Card Format Format memory cards for the camera
Language Choose a language for camera menu display
USB Choose the USB setting when copying pictures to a computer or printing on PictBridge or Epson Direct Printers
Video Mode Select the video mode from NTSC or PAL
Reset All Restore camera settings to default values
Firmware Version Display the camera firmware version

Shooting Menu System

Shooting menu option Description
Image mode Choose image size and quality setting (Various settings shown in monitor screen shot below)
White Balance Set the White Balance to match the lighting source, or set for Auto
Continuous Take pictures pictures one at a time or in sequence
BSS Turn the Best Shot Selector (BSS) on or off
Image Sharpening Control how much the camera sharpens the outlines
AF area mode Determines how the focus area is selected

Image size and image quality: There are five available settings for resolution size; High Quality (2048 x 1536), Normal (2048 x 1536), Economy (1600 x 1200), PC (1024 x 768), and TV (640 x 480)

Metering System: 256-area Matrix Metering and Auto White Balance.

Seven white balance settings are available. With 'Auto', the camera automatically selects the ideal exposure. The 'Manual' comprises five white balance settings, matched to specific lighting conditions, including; Sunlight, Light bulb, Fluorescent, Cloudy, and Speedlight flash. The Preset setting allows the white balance to be measured based on a white object, and then stored for the next shot. (Such as a piece of white paper)

Continuous Shooting: With Continuous Shooting H, the maximum frame rate is 2.5 fps and up to three shots can be taken sequentially in all image modes. With Continuous Shooting L, the maximum frame rate is 1.5 fps and up to five shots can be sequentially taken in the 3M Normal (2,048) mode.

With Multi-Shot 16, the 3M Normal (2,048) mode is automatically selected. Sixteen shots are continuously taken at a maximum frame rate of 1.5 fps and are presented in a 4 x 4 arrangement on a single image file. Up to five files can be continuously shot.

Interval Shooting automatically works up to 1,800 frames (depending on the size of SD memory card) at a set shooting interval of 30 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes, or 60 minutes.

Timings: It takes approximately 1 second to store image data to the card, although it depends on the SD memory card's processing speed. Once the buffer is full, the next shot can be taken in approximately 1.7 seconds. (Again, in continuous mode, you can capture 2.5 frames per second.) Overall, the camera seems pretty responsive with quite little shutter lag.

It takes approximately 1.5 seconds for the Coolpix 3700 to start-up with an opening screen, or sound, and approximately 3.0 seconds if there is an opening screen pre-selected image to display.

Best Shot Selector (BSS) feature: Keeping the shutter release button pressed stores up to 10 images in the camera's internal memory. The sharpest image is then automatically selected and it is recorded onto the SD memory card. Useful for close-up photography, and in low light situations when dealing with non moving subjects.

Image Sharpening: The camera automatically processes pictures to emphasize the borders between light and dark areas of the image, making edges seem sharper. As this processing takes place after shooting, its effects can not be previewed in the monitor, but they will be visible in the final picture. In manual mode, the image sharpening menu gives you control over the amount of sharpening performed.

AF system: The Nikon Coolpix 3700 uses a contrast detection AF system. It employs five AF areas and automatically focuses on the nearest subject. The user can also manually choose any one of the five AF area points for focus. The camera incorporates an AF illuminator to assist the camera in focusing under low light conditions.

Automatic AF area or manually selectable
One of five AF area points can be selected manually

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