Nikon Coolpix 4500
Prosumer - below USD $600

March 13th, 2004
Few digital cameras have developed a following like the Coolpix line. Starting with the 900 series, the latest version of Nikon's bestseller is the Coolpix 4500. The unique swivel camera design is probably the best I've seen. The macro is unmatched. In my opinion Nikon has yet to offer a better prosumer compact than the Coolpix 900/4500 series.

Highlights:
Nikon Coolpix 4500

Compact Swivel Design - I don't know whether Nikon has a patent on this design. I suspect they do because a> it is the best I have seen for a compact digital camera and b> no other manufacturer has copied it. Go to a store and try it out, this is what a 21st century camera should be.

Unbeatable Macro - In the early days, Olympus was known for their great macro lenses. But in the age of digital cameras, Nikon have taken over. In particular the Coolpix 900, 950, 990, 995, and 4500 all have macro capabilities against which all others are measured.

Proven and Dependable - The Coolpix 4500 and its ancestors have propelled Nikon into the digital camera age. The massive following and proven reputation are hard to ignore.

Compact Flash - Nikon cameras use compact flash storage, an industry standard. Unlike Sony who require you to buy proprietary "Memory Sticks".

Conclusion
Nikon Coolpix 4500

I have owned and loved a Nikon Coolpix 950 for about 5 years, even though I generally prefer Canon. The macro and split-body form factor are great benefits to the 900/4500 cameras.

Unfortunately, as far as I can remember and to this day, Nikon have always opted for slower lenses and *terrible* auto-focus. The 4500 isn't much different. But that's really the only drawback. I have since moved on to a Canon Pro-1, but I still keep and shoot the 950.

Of all Nikon's prosumer digital cameras, the split-body series is still my favorite, and some image quality aspects are even better than the newer (and more expensive) coolpix alternatives. Whether a 900 series or 4500, the split bodied Coolpix is a smart buy.