New User FAQ

An (Unofficial!) CP950 FAQ for new users.

Rather than repeat these answers over and over, I have tried to put common new-user questions in one spot. These are just the most common questions. These represent my own opinion. I do not work for Nikon. Last updated on  March 18, 2001

Also, see the CP990 FAQ, many of the topics apply to the 950.

I can't set shutter priority mode

You can't set shutter priority if you have boosted the ISO. If you have boosted the ISO, a little "S" in a box will be appearing on the screen. To turn it off, hold down the top button closest to the power switch/release (has the S in a box to the right of it) while you spin the thumbwheel. This is not a bug, but is a design limitation that has to do with how the camera works.

(OK, if you want to know the details, it is because the camera only has three aperture settings. When the shutter speed is fixed in "S"hutter mode, the camera has to adjust the gain (ISO) to get the scene composed correctly because there is not enough adjustment available with just the aperture. If you were to fix the ISO also, there would be nothing for the camera to work with).

This has to be the #1 asked question!

My camera will not turn on, turns off without warning, will not stay in Play mode, or switches modes by itself

Well, unfortunately, I have bad news for you. This is a problem with the mode selector switch on your 950. This is a VERY common problem on the CP950. Nikon has not officially admitted that there is a problem, if you call, they will have "never heard of it". The way to prove that it is a problem with the switch is that you can sometimes jiggle the switch and get the camera to operate.

Here are a few random facts about this problem.

* Many users report this after about 4000 shots have been taken.

* If your camera is under warranty, Nikon will fix it. If it is not, you will have to pay yourself, people have reported having to pay about $200. My own opinion is that this is outrageous for such a common defect, and that Nikon should fix this free of charge.

* It is possible to order the switch from Nikon parts and fix it yourself if you are technically gifted.

* If is almost impossible to repair a broken switch except by replacing it with a new one. That is because the switch is held on by 4 little tabs that lock in place and can't be removed again without breaking them.

* It is my own opinion that every 950 will have this problem eventually due to the design of the switch.

* Some people have had this problem multiple times.

* There have been several long discussions of this problem in which many people indicated that they have had the problem on the forums on the dpreview site


I can't select Hi quality in M-Rec mode

   There are several modes that you can put the camera in that that are incompatible with "Hi" or TIFF mode, and the camera will not let you select "Hi" quality. One is continuous shooting, another is BSS. These are modes where the 30-40 second storage time for a Hi picture would not work with the mode. If you are a newbie and are not sure if you might have set one of those modes, you can do a "reset" on the camera from the menu to get everything back; then you will be able to pick Hi.

This is the #2 asked question.

I can't turn on the flash!

There are several camera modes where the flash is disabled.

Continuous mode (the flash can't fire over and over fast enough)

BSS mode (flash can't fire fast enough)

Wide angle lens or telephoto modes (disabled because the lens blocks the flash)

If you are not sure if you might have set one of those modes, you can do a "reset" on the camera from the menu to set everything back.

This is the third most popular question.

The flash mode changes on me! (Redeye keeps turning on)

There are at least two bugs in firmware 1.2 (and before) that can cause this. It happens in Auto Mode. These are detailed on the Firmware 1.2 page, if you want to see the details.

 Also, and not a bug, is that A-Rec mode switches to the last flash mode that you used when you last took a picture in A-Rec. For example, if you take a picture with red-eye reduction on in A-Rec, then turn the camera off, it will start turning on with red-eye reduction on! This is a feature, although it sure looks like a bug until you realize what is going on. To "fix" it, you have to take a picture in your desired flash mode.

My shots are blurry!

There can be several reasons for this. The main reason seems to be when you try to hand hold a shot that you should not. The old rule of thumb for the shutter speed is 1/the focal length. So, at telephoto, you should not try to hand hold at less than 1/110 second. At wide angle, not less than 1/38 second. This assumes that you are holding as still as you can, not moving or trying to take a picture while you walk.

Another common reason is that you are pressing the shutter when the camera does not have a focus lock (green light is still flashing). The camera will not always be able to focus in low light, depending on what you point it at. (hint, turn off the monitor, that will not allow you to take a picture that is not in focus).

(Skip this next part if you never upgraded your firmware) Another reason could be that the infinity setting on the camera is wrong for most focal lengths  on many cameras that were upgraded to firmware 1.1 or 1.2 (see an example shot on the firmware 1.2 page)   The infinity setting is only good at 50mm, and will give you blurry shots if you use the telephoto. Plus you have no (easy) way to set the 50mm setting exactly. Read more on the Manual focus page. This is fixed for most cameras with firmware 1.3. This does not apply to cameras that were never upgraded with 1.1 or 1.2.

You may want to look at my 950 low light section for low light shooting tips.

My shots have light/dark spots!

See the Spots page here for the detailed causes of various spots. The most common reasons for bright spots are the flash reflecting off particles (dust or water) in the air near the flash (because the flash is so close to the lens in the 950) when seen against a dark background. The most common reason for dark spots on a bright background (like the blue sky) is dust in the lens system..

What kind of CF card will work?

Although only certain cards are officially compatible, all CF cards will work in the camera as far as I know, even the big 320MB ones. There are sporadic reports of problems with all brands, including the officially supported cards. Try it and see. There are no cards that are known to NOT work all the time.

I only got 20 shots with fresh batteries

You cannot use alkaline batteries except in an emergency, they simply do not have enough power. I know that they gave you a set of alkalines in the box, but you CANNOT use them. You HAVE to use NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) batteries which you will have to buy. They are available at Radio Shack, and cheaper elsewhere. The best ones have a higher mAh (milli ampere hour) rating. 1400 to 1800 is good, but all are acceptable.  You also cannot use the Ray-O-Vac rechargable alkalines, they cannot provide enough current and are actually even worse than regular alkalines.. NiCd (Nickel Cadmium) batteries, especially the "heavy duty" variety  can be used, but are not as good as NiMH. There is a lot of discussion about which brand and exactly which type is the best, I'll let you form your own opinion. Any brand of NiMH is far superior to alkaline.

My new camera will not retain the date

The camera will not retain the date and time when you change the batteries until the internal battery charges up. You will need to leave it overnight with fresh batteries in it for this to happen.

How do I turn off this stupid thing where the camera starts at full zoom each time?

I'm sorry, but you can't. The only work around is to set the "wide angle" lens setting, which unfortunately also disables the flash. This has to be the MOST annoying feature ever placed in a camera. There is a wealth of speculation about it on the newsgroups, but Nikon seems disinclined to fix it. There is no technical reason that they could not fix this. The Nikon 990 will have selectable lens position for start up. Thanks a lot Nikon, I guess if they fixed the 950 they are worried that nobody would buy the 990.

How do I get as close as possible with the macro?

Zoom the camera until the little macro indicator turns yellow/green. This is the "sweet spot" that will let you get the closest. You might expect that the full zoom position would be best, but it is not.


I get horrible "red-eye" on my flash shots.

A lot could be written about this subject. The brief facts are that:

* The 950 produces horrible red eye, sorry. In dark rooms, every shot will have red-eye, even if the subjects are not looking directly at you.

* Other digital cameras have this problem too, it is not unique to the 950.

* The red-eye is caused by the flash being so close to the lens in the design (about 2cm). This means that the angle between the flash, the subject's eye, and the lens is small, and light reflects off the retina. This is the price paid for having such a small camera.

* The red-eye reduction lamp on the 950 is fairly ineffective.

* Several software packages are available to fix red eye, but the red-eye from the 950 can be hard to fix because it can encompass the entire eye. In the worst cases you will have to draw in an entire eye by hand!

* Things that make red-eye worse are... 1) light colored eyes 2) certain (far) distances from the subject 3) dark rooms (pupils wide open, flash exposure is more intense) 4) Not using the red-eye reduction lamp.

* Some people say that holding the camera vertically for your shots will reduce the problem.

* The only real cure with the 950 is to use an external flash which moves the flash farther from the lens.

Whenever I take a flash picture, I press the shutter and nothing happens for a couple seconds.

You probably have the red-eye reduction lamp turned on. The lamp shines for about 1-2 seconds before the flash goes off.  If you turn the camera around to face you, you can see it.

The camera is making a noise all the time, is this normal?

Probably! You most likely have "ON&C-AF" (continuous autofocus) mode set under SETUP, CONTROLS, LCD ON/OFF. The sound is the camera constantly focusing. You might want to try "ON&S-AF" mode, then the camera will only focus when you press the button. The advantage to continuous autofocus mode is that it might be a little bit faster in tripping the shutter when you just stab the release. The advantage to the single autofocus mode is that it saves battery power and wear on your camera.

There is no text on the monitor

There can be two reasons for this. 1) you have the lens pointing at you. The image is inverted in that case, and the text would be upside down so the software does not show it. 2) You have pressed the "monitor" button. Press the button a couple more times and the monitor will cycle through On with text, on, and off.

When I load my pictures in to (my super mega photo program), they seem to be really big and are 72 DPI?

You don't have to print the shots at 72 DPI. The camera just marks them as 72 DPI regardless; it has no way of knowing how big you will be printing them. Because of this, some photo programs think that you want to print at 72 DPI and show the shot as being 22 inches across. You can print them at 200 DPI or whatever you want, just ignore the 72 DPI tag.

Hey, I don't see my question here!

You have passed the new user stage! You might want to look at the more detailed Mini-FAQ section, or the entire Nikon 950 section for more information. Check out the Nikon Euro site FAQ here, they have a very good list of common questions for Nikon digitial products, well worth looking at.