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Nikon Coolpix P100
Overview

by David Elrich and Stephanie Boozer
Review Date: 06/14/2010
Updated 06/17/2010: Added examples of Auto D-Lighting, HDR, Night Landscape, and high-speed Still & Movie modes.

The Nikon Coolpix P100 has a 10.3-megapixel sensor with a Nikkor-branded 26x optical zoom lens, ranging from 26 to 678mm equivalent, a useful wide-angle to a powerful telephoto. Maximum aperture varies from f/2.8 to f/5.0 across the zoom range. Ordinarily the Nikon P100 can focus on subjects as close as 20 inches, but in macro mode this range is reduced to just 0.4 inches. Given the reach of the zoom lens, the Nikon Coolpix P100 does include true sensor-shift mechanical image stabilization.

Users can frame and review images via the 0.24-inch electronic viewfinder with 230,000 dot resolution, or on the 3.0-inch vari-angle TFT LCD panel with anti-reflective coating and 460,000 dot resolution.

The Nikon P100 offers full 1080p (1,920 x 1,080 pixel) HD movie recording with stereo audio. The Coolpix P100 offers sensitivity ranging from ISO 160 to 1,600 equivalents under automatic control, and as high as ISO 3,200 controlled manually. Full resolution burst shooting is possible at a rate of 10 frames-per-second. The Nikon P100 allows shooting in Program, Shutter-priority, Aperture-priority, and Manual modes as well as a variety of scene modes.

The Nikon P100 also includes an in-camera HDR mode which combines multiple shots into a single image with high dynamic range. A Night Landscape mode also combines multiple images, but with high shutter speed aimed at freezing blur from camera motion while reducing the effects of image noise.

The Nikon P100 stores images on Secure Digital cards, or in 43MB of built-in memory. Data transfer to a computer is done via a USB 2.0 High Speed connection, while an HDMI port allows connection to high-definition televisions. Power comes from an EN-EL5 lithium-ion rechargeable battery, said to be good for 250 shots on a charge to CIPA standards.

The Nikon Coolpix P100 ships from March 2010, priced at US$400.

 

Nikon Coolpix P100
User Report

by David Elrich

Summertime and the shooting is easy. No offense to Mr. Gershwin, but the warm weather really means it's time to get outdoors and capture memories. Among the most versatile tools for doing so is a mega-zoom digicam that lets you take everything from macro close-ups to super-zoomed telephotos--and in the case of the Nikon P100, that means a whopping range of 26-678mm (26x). The new 10.3-megapixel Coolpix P100, a major upgrade to last's year's 24x P90, has some additional tricks in its black case, such as the ability to shoot 10 frames-per-second at full resolution, and record 1,920 x 1,080 Full HD videos. By comparison, the P90 grabbed a decidedly low-def 640 x 480 at 30 fps. Now we'll put the new camera through its paces to see if it's worth almost $400.

Look and Feel. Let's cut through the clutter--the Coolpix P100 is an attractive camera with good balance and a comfortable grip. Like all mega-zooms it has a distinct digital SLR look. Although you cannot change lenses, the 26x range should be more than enough for most users. Like digital SLRs, the lens dominates the front, leaving little room for anything else, including logos and nomenclature. You'll also see an AF-Assist lamp, and a grip with a nice, textured finish. I found it a good fit. And just like a digital SLR, the Nikon P100 has a lens cap you must manually remove/attach. Like other mega-zooms, a string is supplied to connect it to the strap. I'm not a big fan of "flapping lens caps" and prefer putting them in a pocket when shooting, but that's just me.

The key feature on the rear is the Nikon P100's tilting 3-inch LCD monitor, rated a solid 460K dots. We used the Nikon P100 in very bright Las Vegas sunshine and had few difficulties framing shots. The screen pulls out to face up or down, but does not tilt not side to side, limiting its usefulness to overhead or low-angle shots. Like all mega-zooms, the Nikon P100 has an Electronic Viewfinder (EVF); here it's a 0.24-inch screen rated at 230K dots. A diopter control on the side lets you adjust for your eyesight. Other controls on the rear include a key to switch between the rear LCD and the EVF, and the Display button adjusts the amount of icon clutter on screen. Surprisingly, grid lines are only available in PASM modes. Auto shooters should have all the help they can get, so I'm not sure why they omitted grid lines from Auto modes.

Next to Display is the Movie Record start button with a toggle that lets you choose between High Definition (HD) and High Speed (HS) movie options. At the top right corner of the Nikon P100's rear panel is a jog wheel that fits neatly under your thumb for making menu adjustments.

Beneath the rubbery, textured thumb rest are Playback, Menu, and Delete buttons surrounding the classic four-way controller with center OK button. The compass points give access to flash, exposure compensation, macro, and self-timer options.

On the top of the Nikon P100 is a pop-up flash, stereo mics, and a raised mode dial that has a nice reassuring click as you change options. The dial covers all the bases, which we'll detail shortly. Next to it is an on/off button with the shutter button angled on the grip. A zoom toggle surrounds the shutter. Two eyelets for the shoulder strap border each edge.

On the left side of the Nikon P100 is a speaker and a compartment for mini HDMI and USB outputs. The flexible plastic door seems a bit flimsy, requiring a light touch to avoid snapping it off. Moving closer to the front of the lens is a button to open the flash and a declaration of the camera's 26x lens and Full HD capability.

You find a metal tripod mount on the bottom and a compartment that holds the battery and SD/SDHC card; the Made In Indonesia camera does not accept the newer SDXC card format, nor is it compatible with MultiMedia Cards. The camera measures 4.5 x 3.3 x 3.9 (114 x 83 x 99mm), and weighs 17.1 ounces (486g) with battery and card. Overall the Nikon P100 feels substantial but won't wear you down as you carry it around all day.

Lens. Clearly the 26x Nikkor optical zoom lens is the defining feature of the Nikon P100. It has a range of 26-678mm so you can capture nice wide-angle landscapes and family portraits as well as zoom in on specific trees on mountain tops, if that's your taste. The lens has an aperture range of f/2.8-5.0 with 14 elements in 11 groups. Macro gets as close as one centimeter (0.4 inches).

With such a long telephoto setting, every potential jitter is the photographer's enemy. The Coolpix P100 has 5-way VR (Vibration Reduction) including mechanical image stabilization. New this year is a new hybrid VR image-stabilization system that combines sensor-shift and electronic stabilization. Last year's 12.1-megapixel P90 didn't have this, but it could bump up sensitivity to ISO 6,400; this year's 10.3-megapixel Nikon P100 only hits 3,200. This should mean less noise, but more on this shortly.

Controls. The main controls of the Coolpix P100 are logically placed and well-identified. Even newbies will have no problems picking this camera up and shooting right away in Auto. Since this is a mega-zoom, you'll be moving between wide-angle and telephoto at a furious clip. The toggle switch surrounding the shutter button is a little slow to respond, but once the zoom starts moving, it moves quickly. It's also a two-stage control, move it only a little and it zooms slowly; move the toggle further and zoom is much faster. This variability makes adjusting the zoom accurately quite a bit easier than many competing designs.

I found most of the major controls easy to access, but unlike a digital SLR you have to dig into the menu system to access ISO and white balance. It's not a deal-breaker, but is another example of why this type of camera is designed primarily for the point-and-shoot crowd.

Modes. Even though the Coolpix P100 can be used as an aim-and-forget digicam, it offers a variety of modes for the more adventurous. The solid-feeling mode dial offers Auto, Program AE (P), Aperture (A), and Shutter (S)-Priority as well as Manual (M). Additional options include U for User designated mode, Sport Continuous, Scene, Scene Auto Selector, Smart Portrait, and Subject Tracking. Sport Continuous takes a burst of 60 or 120 frames per second with shutter speeds as high as 1/8000s, but resolution drops to 2 or 1 megapixels, respectively. With Scene you have access to 16 options including Backlit Scene HDR and Night Landscape, both made possible by the backside-illuminated CMOS chip (backside-illuminated chips are said to be more sensitive to light than traditional designs).

The other Scene modes include the usual Portrait, Beach/Snow and so on. Scene Auto is similar to intelligent auto found on other digicams. Here the Nikon P100 guesses the scene in front of it and makes the appropriate adjustments; it chooses among seven options. Smart Portrait is similar to Smile Shutter/Detection where the camera snaps the shutter when it detects pearly whites (a smile). It also optimizes exposure for faces and smooths the skin--who needs plastic surgery? Subject Tracking lets you designate a key subject such as child and the focus area moves along with that person or thing when you keep it in the frame.

Another benefit of the CMOS sensor is much higher movie clip quality. While the Nikon P100 doesn't have a movie icon on the mode dial, it does have a dedicated video button on the back. With the toggle set to HD you can record up to 1,920 x 1,080 videos at 30 fps; it uses the MPEG-4 AVC H.264 codec (MOV format). This is not the best available for a digicam--select Sonys shoot AVCHD 1080i at 60 fps. Still, it's miles ahead of the 640 x 480 offered by last year's P90.

Menus. Having used the latest touchscreens from Canon and Sony, I must say the Nikon P100's menus seem rather quaint. Not that they're inscrutable or illogically designed, but the straight-ahead linearity seems from a different world in this iPad/iPhone age. It would be nice if Nikon refreshed them with its 2011 models, but it's not really necessary.

When you hit the Menu key--depending on the mode you're in--you'll have access to up to four tabs of adjustable parameters. You press the right arrow key to select a tab then use the up and down arrows to step through the choices. In Auto, for example, you only get compression and resolution adjustments. Move to Program and there are 14 options to tweak including noise reduction, bracketing, ISO, metering, burst mode and so on. It's a good selection, and if you feel like spreading your photographic wings, the Nikon P100 lets you do just that.

Storage and Battery. The Coolpix P100 uses SD and SDHC cards but not the newer SDXC format. Since Full HD video is an important feature, at least a Class 6 high-speed card should be used. We filled a 1GB card rather quickly so consider 4 or 8GB before heading on your journeys.

The Nikon P100 is supplied with an EN-EL5 lithium-ion battery. Per CIPA standards it lasts for 250 shots in still mode at full resolution and Normal compression. Given many will shoot at Fine resolution, use the flash, burst mode and shoot videos, a spare makes good sense for anyone planning to spend a long day in the field.

Unlike most any other camera on the market, the Nikon P100 offers the ability to charge the camera battery via the included USB cable. Very nice. As these are built into just about every battery-bearing computer peripheral on the market, it's a wonder why more cameras don't do this helpful trick. The included EH-68P AC adapter and USB cable can be used to charge the battery in-camera without a computer, or an optional MH-61 battery charger can be purchased for charging the battery separately.

 

Shooting With the Nikon Coolpix P100

Wide and long. 26 to 678mm offers quite a bit of versatility. Note that apparently you can climb to the top of the Las Vegas Eiffel Tower.

We took the Nikon Coolpix P100 along with us on a trip to Las Vegas. We weren't there to partake in a remake of "The Hangover," just playing more sedate tourists. And there are very few places on Earth that entice photographers more than this crazy town with its bright lights, radical architecture, and, yes, natural beauty just a few minutes from Las Vegas Boulevard.

Before getting into the results, let's just say that the Nikon P100 is a fun camera, thanks to the 26x zoom which let me capture the top of the Eiffel Tower, stacks of colorful slot machines, and the bust of Julius Caesar (not many places where you can pull that off!). It's light, has a good feel, and --unlike a DSLR--won't have you swapping out lenses at inconvenient times or bumming a shoulder massage after carrying one around all day. I had no issues with the quality of the LCD, rarely using the EVF. The menus, while a bit cumbersome at first, are easily mastered so you have access to the photographic tweaks you find appealing. I did most of my shooting at the 3,648 x 2,736 pixel Fine setting, kicking off in Auto, then moving through the Mode dial options. Note: Unlike some competing mega-zooms, the Nikon P100 does not have a RAW option, so if that is a key consideration, look elsewhere.

Outdoors. Options seem unlimited with the Nikon P100. Its light weight makes it easier to bring along too.

I had the camera with me walking The Strip, exploring hotels and casinos. When tired of that I took a scenic drive out to Red Rock Canyon National Park. All in all, it was a good cross section of indoor/outdoor/people shots captured as stills and movies. Once back home I downloaded everything to a PC, made full-bleed 8x10 prints with no post processing, and even viewed the videos on a 50-inch plasma HDTV via the Nikon P100's HDMI-out port.

Overall I was quite impressed with still-image quality. Colors were very accurate in bright sunshine as well as indoors. Quality images are to be expected in Las Vegas during daytime, and the Nikon P100 delivered in spades. Blue skies were spot-on to my taste as were the flower sculptures in the Bellagio hotel. The camera was less successful with bright greens and yellows, which were a bit muted. Critically important is Nikon's VR stabilization system and this worked very well at extreme telephoto in almost all cases. It's not perfect, as one of my super-zoomed shots of neon-lit restaurant sign was a bit fuzzy. Given the distance, however, it was still a keeper.

Wide and long. It's also versatile enough to capture the extreme uniqueness of Las Vegas, where you never know what you'll find.

In the lab, wide-angle and telephoto zoom settings produced somewhat soft images overall, even at the center of the frame (telephoto much more so than wide-angle). It was less noticeable on my 8x10-inch prints. Another plus: There was very slight barrel distortion and only a trace of pincushion distortion, thanks to the P100's optional Distortion Control feature. Not surprisingly, distortion was higher than average with it off. Chromatic aberration at wide-angle is actually quite low, with only a hint of coloration on the side of the target lines. Telephoto, however, exhibits a large number of bright blue-ish pixels, which extend far into the black target areas.

I took some macro images of desert flowers and liked the printed results. This was borne out at the lab where it was determined macro mode captured sharp details at the center of the frame, though blurring is fairly strong in the corners and around the edges. Minimum coverage area is 0.99 x 0.75 inches (25 x 19mm), much better than average.

Noise wasn't a major issue for my prints. I shot my test subject at ISO 160-3,200 and found noise under control up to ISO 800 with it becoming more of an issue at 1,600 and 3,200. As with any point-and-shoot, try to keep ISO from going above 400/800 for best results. In the lab detail is already soft at ISO 160, becoming increasingly smudged from there on out. Chroma (color) noise is in check to about ISO 1,600, and luminance noise pixels become a problem at 3,200. The main issue here is loss of detail definition from noise suppression.

The Nikon P100 is very responsive, and thanks to the back-side-illuminated (BSI) CMOS sensor, you can grab 10 frames per second at full resolution. The Nikon P100 stops after a second to save images to the media card, but it's great for capturing fast, albeit brief action.

Special sensor. The 10.3-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor performs some additional tricks I used a great deal during my time with the Nikon P100. A favorite is Backlit Scene HDR that takes an unknown number of images and combines them to retain detail in shadow and highlight areas.

Backlit Scene HDR
Program Auto D-Lighting HDR image
Standard Program vs. Backlit Scene HDR. Captured separately, the first images, labeled Program, were shot in program mode with default settings. The right two images are what Backlit Scene HDR mode captured in one shot. Truly, none of the images is all that great, but the Program image looks better in the top shot, while the Auto D-Lighting does a better job on the bottom image.

Processing for each shot takes 20 to 25 seconds, which is very long, and kicks out two images: the first is the image with Auto D-Lighting applied, and the second is the HDR or High Dynamic Range shot (note that on the camera, all you see is the one image, not both, though each is saved with its own file number).

Program mode
1/9 second, f/3.2, ISO 400
Night Landscape mode
1/30 second, f/3.2, ISO 348

When the Program shot was indeed too dark in the foreground, the Auto D-Lighting shots look considerably better than the HDR shots, with better color retention, while the HDR shots seemed washed out, as is often the case with HDR. Both images are also cropped from what you see as you take the picture, which is also cropped from what you'd see outside of Backlit Scene HDR mode.

If you think noise will be a problem, especially with night shots, a very useful mode is the Night Landscape Scene mode. The Nikon P100 takes several shots (unlike Sony cameras with a similar feature, you can't tell how many because there's no shutter sound) and combines them into one low noise shot, eliminating hand motion blur as well. The images at right show the difference pretty clearly, as the Night Landscape shot at right show more detail than the one taken in Program mode.

Shutter lag. Full autofocus shutter lag is exceptionally good, at 0.17 second at wide-angle and 0.24 second at telephoto. Prefocus shutter lag is 0.31 second, however, which is actually a little sluggish, and slower than full-autofocus shutter lag! Quite unusual.

High speed capture. Speaking of speed, the Nikon P100 has a few more tricks in the still-capture department. First, its Continuous High shooting mode will capture six Normal compression, 10-megapixel pictures at 10-frames per second. If that's not fast enough for you, switching to Sport Continuous mode on the Mode dial opens up new possibilities--if you're okay with a more than a little resolution reduction.

High-speed still-capture modes
10fps
(only six frames are captured)
60fps
(only 10 of 25 frames shown)
120fps
(only 10 of 60 frames shown)

You can capture 60 images at 120 frames per second at 1,280 x 960 (a ~1-megapixel file), or 25 images at 60 frames per second at 1,600 x 1,200 (a nearly 2-megapixel file). It's better to just aim the Nikon P100 at your subject and press the button, because you don't know how long it'll shoot, nor what you have in the frame as it rattles off the shots. (Visit the Gallery page for full size images.)

You can also turn on the Pre-shooting cache to keep the camera recording images at up to 15 frames per second before you press the shutter button.

Full HD video. A decent low-light 1080p video that is about 26.7MB to download. Optical zoom supported.

Video. As a camcorder tester, it's hard for me to get really excited about digital camera videos. Focus and jelly-effect issues make it hard for me to embrace the camera as a substitute for a dedicated camcorder for saving family memories. Still, I can understand the appeal of a two-in-one device that takes good stills and video clips.

The Nikon P100 also has some special video modes that are worthy of note, including some high-speed modes that can capture up to 240 frames per second, which play back in slow motion. Other options are 120, 60, and 15 frames per second. How is 15fps high speed? Well, that actually shoots at 15 frames per second, but plays back at 30, so videos shot at this speed will appear sped up rather than slowed down, which is admittedly another way to think of "high speed."

Various video modes
1,920 x 1,080, 30fps
1,280 x 720, 30fps
1,920 x 1,080, 15fps
1,280 x 720, 60fps
640 x 480, 120fps
320 x 240, 240fps

Shooting videos in High-speed mode is convoluted, and the resulting quality isn't great, especially indoors. First you have to find the "HS Movie Options" menu item and select your speed. Then you must switch the Movie Record button switch from HD to HS. Next press the Record button when you want to start recording your movie. By default, this will start recording at normal speed with audio, and if you do nothing else, that's all you'll get, a QVGA movie. To record high speed, you have to press the OK button in the Four-way navigator. From there, you're recording in high speed, and the camera will capture as much as it can (just a few seconds) before stopping, or until you press the Record button again. The final file looks rather dim and lower resolution than the regular-speed recording. There's also the fact of having a dual-speed recording: first normal speed with audio, then slow-motion with no audio. You can keep from recording the normal speed portion by checking the "Open with HS footage" option under the HS Movie Options menu.

The Nikon P100 handles photos quite well, but it's less successful with movies. Yes the 1,920 x 1,080 videos are far superior to 640 x 480 and 720p HD, but they just don't have the color pop and accuracy of a quality AVCHD model shooting at 24 megabits per second. A wind cut filter is available to reduce noise from wind blowing over the dual microphones.

In summary, the Nikon P100 is quite good at getting decent quality stills from a wildly wide zoom range, and it's as fast as some of today's fastest digital SLRs in both shutter lag and frame rate, so how can you squint at that? See our image quality and test results below, as well as our Pro/Con and conclusion.

 

Nikon Coolpix P100 Lens Quality

Note that the Coolpix P100's full telephoto focal length (120mm or 678mm eq.) is too long for our lab lens quality test shots, so the telephoto shots below were taken at approximately 86mm (481mm eq.).


Wide: Slightly soft at center
Wide: Softer in upper right corner
Tele: Blurry at center
Tele: Softer, upper left corner

Sharpness: Both the wide-angle and telephoto zoom settings of the Coolpix P100 produced somewhat soft images overall, even at the center of the frame. (Telephoto much more so than wide-angle.) At both zoom positions, blurring is noticeable in the corners of the frame, though the extent of distortion is not dramatically high compared to the results at the center of the frame. Note that softness may be different at full telephoto (120mm or 678mm eq.), but we couldn't test that in our standard lab shots.


Distortion Control Off (default)
Wide: High barrel distortion; very noticeable
Tele: High pincushion distortion; noticeable

Distortion Control On
Wide: Very slight barrel distortion; hardly noticeable
Tele: Only a trace of pincushion distortion

Geometric Distortion: With Distortion Control off (by default), the Coolpix P100's lens produced higher than average barrel distortion (1.1%) at wide-angle, which is quite noticeable. Pincushion distortion is slightly higher than average at telephoto (0.3%), and is also noticeable. Pincushion distortion is likely to be stronger than these results at full telephoto (120mm or 678mm eq.).

With the optional Distortion Control feature enabled, there was very little barrel distortion at wide-angle (0.1%), and almost no perceptible pincushion distortion (~0.06%) at telephoto.


Wide: Low
Tele: High

Chromatic Aberration: Chromatic aberration at wide-angle is actually quite low, with only a hint of coloration on the side of the target lines. Telephoto, however, exhibits a large number of bright blue-ish pixels, which extend far into the black target areas. Note that chromatic aberration may be higher than these results at full telephoto (120mm or 678mm eq.).


Macro
Macro with Flash

Macro: The Nikon Coolpix P100's Macro mode captures sharp details at the center of the frame, though blurring is fairly strong in the corners and around the edges. Minimum coverage area is 0.99 x 0.75 inches (25 x 19mm), much better than average. The camera's long lens helps block the flash, though it doesn't create a harsh shadow. Coverage is uneven with a bright highlight at top, but at least the camera isn't fooled into leaving the shadow area in complete blackness.


 

Nikon Coolpix P100 Image Quality


Color: The Coolpix P100 produced good overall color, though it strongly oversaturates bright blues and reds. Alternatively, bright greens and yellows are a little muted. A few shifts in hue are visible, such as cyan toward blue, orange toward yellow and yellow toward green. Darker skin tones are only slightly off, with a small warm cast, while lighter skin tones show a pinkish tint.


160
200
400
800
1,600
3,200

ISO: Noise and Detail: Detail is already soft at ISO 160, becoming increasingly smudged from there on out. Chroma (color) noise is in check to about ISO 1,600, and luminance noise pixels become a problem at 3,200. The main issue here is loss of detail definition from noise suppression. See Printed results below for more on how that affects your prints.


Wide: Inconclusive at 32 feet
Tele: Slightly dim
AE, Auto Flash
Flash: Our manufacturer-specified testing (shown at right) doesn't work well at the wide-angle setting when the specified distance goes beyond 16 feet, because that takes the camera out of the main lab, so the wide-angle result is inconclusive. The full telephoto test (120mm or 678mm eq.) came out a little dim at 8.2 feet, even though the camera increased ISO to 200. It's hard to judge what the flash will do at full wide-angle, but telephoto results should suffice for most average conditions.

In Auto Exposure with Auto Flash, the Nikon P100 chose 1/30 second at f/3.5, allowing a little ambient light, but not too much. It slightly underexposed the scene, though it only raised the ISO to 200 which is better for detail. Shot taken at ~5 feet (~1.6m) on a stable tripod.


Auto WB:
Too warm
Incandescent WB:
Pretty good, slightly red
 
Manual WB:
Close, but a hint cool

Incandescent: The Coolpix P100's Incandescent white balance setting produced the most pleasing results here, despite a slight reddish tint. Manual was technically more accurate in terms of white value, but overall color balance was just a little too cool.


Printed: When comparing print sizes to other modern long zooms on the market, we have to remember that the Nikon P100 is a 10-megapixel camera, which limits its largest print size. As such, prints from ISO 160 files are a little too soft at 13x19 inches. 11x14-inch images look quite good, though.

ISO 200 shots also look good at 11x14 inches.

ISO 400 shots start to lose some detail at 11x14, and yellows oversaturate a bit, but still work for wall presentation. For crisper prints, Letter size and 8x10-inch prints work better.

ISO 800 shots are slightly soft at 8x10, but usable.

ISO 1,600 shots require 5x7 or smaller, and watch those colors, because detail will be washed out in many cases.

ISO 3,200 shots are usable at 4x6, but no larger.

In summary, the Nikon Coolpix P100 does fairly well for a 10-megapixel camera, outputting good quality images capable of printing at reasonable sizes from each ISO. There was once a time not too long ago when ISO 3,200 shots were a noisy mess, but now you can output a decent quality 4x6 from some pretty dim places, and with a 26x zoom.


 

Nikon Coolpix P100 Performance


Shutter lag: Full autofocus shutter lag is exceptional, at 0.17 second at wide-angle and 0.24 second at telephoto. Prefocus shutter lag is 0.31 second, however, which is pretty sluggish.


Cycle time: Cycle time is also relatively fast, capturing a frame every 1.65 seconds in single-shot mode. There's also a full resolution 10 frames-per-second continuous mode, as well as some very fast low resolution modes (up to 120 fps at ~1 megapixel and 60 fps at ~2 megapixels).


Flash Recycle: The Nikon Coolpix P100's flash recycles in a slower 7 seconds after a full-power discharge.


 

In the Box

The retail package contains the following items:

 

Recommended Accessories

 

Nikon Coolpix P100 Conclusion

Pro: Con:
  • Good 26x zoom lens with sensor-shift Vibration Reduction (VR)
  • 26-678mm eq. lens is wide with excellent telephoto reach
  • Well-balanced feel, comfortable grip
  • Very simple control layout
  • Sharp vari-angle 3-inch LCD screen rated 460K dots
  • 0.24" EVF rated 230K dots
  • 10 fps burst shooting at full resolution; up to 120 fps at lower resolutions
  • Good overall color
  • Full HD (1080p) video at 30 fps
  • Stereo audio recording
  • High speed / slow motion movie modes
  • Optical zoom works in movie mode
  • Dedicated video button
  • Custom User mode dial setting
  • Backlit Scene HDR
  • Active D-Lighting
  • Good macro mode
  • Smart Scene analyzes each scene to pick the correct settings
  • Smart Portrait does a good job with people pictures
  • Face, blink, and smile detection
  • Subject Tracking mode
  • Very fast full autofocus lag
  • Interval timer
  • HDMI output
  • Good printed results for its class
  • Somewhat soft images
  • High chromatic aberration at telephoto
  • High geometric distortion at both wide-angle and telephoto, but the Distortion Control feature eliminates most of it
  • No RAW option
  • Mediocre battery life
  • Menus need updating
  • Loss of detail from noise suppression
  • No control over high ISO noise reduction
  • Only electronic VR available in movies (no mechanical VR)
  • Prefocus shutter lag is sluggish; oddly slower than full autofocus
  • Slow flash recycle time
  • Bright greens and yellows a bit muted
  • No grid lines in Auto
  • Output compartment door seems flimsy
  • No filter threads or lens accessories

 

I have no problems recommending the Nikon Coolpix P100 as a traveling companion for your next vacation or if you just want a versatile digicam at your fingertips. Photos, even though "only" 10.3-megapixels, are quite good indoors and out. Maximum printed sizes are limited to 11x14 inches, but that covers the needs of most shooters, and even ISO 3,200 shots are quite good printed at 4x6 inches. The Nikon P100 can be as easy or complex as you like and it has some nice features that set it apart from the competition. Though not without its share of foibles, the Nikon Coolpix P100 earns a Dave's Pick as one of the more capable megazooms on the market today.