This camera has something for everybody. It allows an amateur to simply set it at automatic and let it take excellent photos, but it also provides a tremendous number of optional manual settings for the advanced amateur and professional. The menus are fairly simple and obvious, and if you aren't sure what is the best choice, you can let the camera decide. The camera allows various density settings, from VGA to 16 megapixels, and videos can be recorded in several different formats and definition. The zoom lens is terrific, but it does take a moment to autofocus at maximum zoom. On the other hand, if you are shooting at 42X, the subject is probably far enough away that you can set the focus manually at infinity and bypass the autofocus. The camera allows you to take various special effect photos, and add these and other effects to photos already taken while they are still in the camera. The instruction manual, available as an on-line download or using the CD-ROM included with the camera, is lengthy and complex, and is probably the only down-side to the camera. It doesn't make it immediately clear what processes are automatic, and how they interact, as opposed to the manual settings that only someone with a lot of background in old film SLRs would recognize. But if you study the manual and experiment with the camera, you'll soon learn what you need to know. I have two older, smaller Nikon Coolpix cameras, so the basic functions were familiar to me, but even for a novice all the buttons and dials are well marked and fairly intuitive. This is a really terrific camera, and frankly I can't see why anyone other than a full-time professional photographer would need anything else.
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