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Digital Cameras - Nikon Coolpix 2100 Test Images

 

I've begun including links in our reviews to a Thumber-generated index page for the test shots. The Thumber data includes a host of information on the images, including shutter speed, ISO setting, compression setting, etc. Rather than clutter the page below with *all* that detail, we're posting the Thumber index so only those interested in the information need wade through it!

 

Outdoor Portrait:

Excellent color, with good resolution and detail.

The extreme tonal range of this image makes it a tough shot for many digicams, which is precisely why I set it up this way, and why I shoot it with no fill flash or reflector to open the shadows. The object is to hold both highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the Coolpix 2100 did a pretty good job in this regard.

The shot at right was taken with a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which brightened the midtones without losing too much detail in the highlights. Contrast is a little high, but highlight and shadow detail are still quite good. The camera's Daylight white balance setting produced the most accurate color here, though slightly cool, while the Auto and Manual settings resulted in warmer casts.

Marti's skin tone is just about perfect, and the camera does a very good job with the always-difficult blue flowers, rendering them just slightly dark. (This is a very difficult blue for many digicams to get right. For reference, the flowers are an almost pure light navy blue.) The bright red flowers are slightly oversaturated, particularly in the highlights, but the rest of the bouquet is really excellent. Resolution is also good for a two megapixel camera, with a lot of detail throughout the frame. The deep shadows show moderate detail, with minimal noise.

Overall, an excellent performance.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.0 EV, see files CP21OUTDP0.HTM through CP21OUTDP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.


 

Closer Portrait:

Higher resolution, with sharp detail throughout the frame.

Color performance is similar to the wider shot above, though this close-up shot requires no exposure compensation. The 2100's 3x zoom lens helps prevent distortion in Marti's features. Fine detail is more visible in this shot, especially in Marti's face and hair. Detail is also good in the shadows, with low noise. Once again, skin tones are just about perfect.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +0.7 EV, see files CP21FACDP0.HTM through CP21FACDP2.HTM on the thumbnail index page.


 

Indoor Portrait, Flash:
Normal Flash, Auto White Balance
+1.3 EV
Normal Flash, Speedlight White Balance
+1.3 EV

Fairly strong color casts on the white shirt with the Auto and Speedlight white balances, and underexposure at the default setting.

For this test, I shot with the 2100's flash in its normal mode, but with the Auto and Speedlight white balance options. Color wasn't quite right with either setting, as the Auto white balance produced purplish-blue tints on Marti's shirt, and the Speedlight setting produced strong purple tints on the shirt. I finally decided on the Speedlight setting for the main shot, even though the orange cast from the background incandescent lighting is stronger. The warmer tones on Marti's face and hair were more natural and pleasing than the cooler tones of the Auto setting. The shots at right have a +1.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which is slightly more compensation than average. (Here are sample images at the default exposure at both Auto and Speedlight white balances.) The thumbnails below show the effect of various exposure compensation settings with Auto and Speedlight white balance settings:


Auto White Balance
+1.0 EV +1.3 EV +1.7 EV


Speedlight White Balance
+1.0 EV +1.3 EV +1.7 EV



 

Indoor Portrait, No Flash:
Auto White Balance
Incandescent White Balance
Manual White Balance

Good color with all three white balance settings, excellent color with auto and manual.

This shot is always a very tough test of a camera's white balance capability, given the strong, yellowish color cast of the household incandescent bulbs used for the lighting. The Auto white balance setting produced the best overall color, though with a warm, reddish tint. Manual white balance also looked good, though slightly greenish. (The Incandescent setting resulted in a more pronounced warm cast.) Marti's skin tone looks pretty good, though slightly more pink than normal, and the blue flowers are very dark and purplish. Overall color is quite good with both Auto and Manual settings though - much better than average for this difficult shot. The shots at right have a +1.0 EV exposure compensation adjustment, fairly typical for this test.

To see the entire exposure series from zero through +1.3 EV, see files CP21INAP0.HTM through CP21INAP4.HTM on the thumbnail index page.


 

House Shot:
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Good color with all three white balance settings, with moderate detail and resolution.

The Auto white balance setting produced the most accurate overall color here, though the white house trim has a slight red tint. Daylight white balance was a bit yellow, and the Manual setting was greenish. Resolution is moderate (about average for a 2.0-megapixel camera), with reasonably good detail in the tree limbs and shrubbery. Details are a hint soft, but still well-defined. The two left hand corners are fairly soft though, with the top right corner also somewhat soft, albeit not as much.


 

Far-Field Test

Good resolution and detail, though limited dynamic range.

This image is shot at infinity to test far-field lens performance. NOTE that this image cannot be directly compared to the other "house" shot, which is a poster, shot in the studio. The rendering of detail in the poster will be very different than in this shot, and color values (and even the presence or absence of leaves on the trees!) will vary in this subject as the seasons progress. In general though, you can evaluate detail in the bricks, shingles and window detail, and in the tree branches against the sky. Compression artifacts are most likely to show in the trim along the edge of the roof, in the bricks, or in the relatively "flat" areas in the windows.

This is my ultimate "resolution shot," given the infinite range of detail in a natural scene like this, and the 2100 did a good job. The tree limbs over the roof and fine foliage in front of the house show moderate detail, with slightly soft definition. Corner softness is again strongest in the top left corner, but faint in the remaining corners of the frame. The bright sunlight tricks the 2100 into losing all but the strongest details in the bright white paint surrounding the bay window, a trouble spot for many digicams. Detail is stronger in the shadow area above the front door, but the loss of highlight detail causes me to mark down the 2100's dynamic range somewhat. Color and exposure are both good, however. The table below shows a standard resolution and quality series, followed by a sharpness series.

Resolution Series:

Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
1,600 x 1,200
CP21FARLF
CP21FARLN
1,024 x 768
CP21FARMF
 
640 x 480
CP21FARSF
 

Sharpness Series:

Sharpness Series
Auto
Off
Low
Normal
High


 

Lens Zoom Range

A typical 3x zoom range.

I routinely shoot this series of images to show the field of view for each camera, with the lens at full wide angle, at maximum telephoto (3x, in this case), and at full telephoto with the digital zoom enabled. The 2100's lens is equivalent to a 36-108mm zoom on a 35mm camera. That corresponds to a range from moderate wide angle to moderate telephoto. Following are the results at each zoom setting.

Wide Angle
3x Telephoto
Digital Telephoto


 

Musicians Poster
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Daylight White Balance

Good color, with moderate detail and resolution.

This shot is often a tough test for digicams, as the abundance of blue in the composition frequently tricks white balance systems into producing a warm color balance. The 2100 overcame the challenge well, with good color at both the Daylight and Manual white balance settings, although the Auto setting was quite warm. I chose the Manual setting for the main shot, because of the more natural skin tones (Daylight was a hint too warm). The blue background has purplish tints that aren't in the original image, as do the shadow areas of the blue robe. Resolution is moderate, with good detail in the embroidery of the blue robe.


 

Macro Shot
Standard Macro Shot
Macro with Flash

Very good macro performance, with good resolution. Flash has trouble though.

The 2100 performed well in the macro category, capturing minimum area of only 2.15 x 1.61 inches (55 x 41 millimeters). (Nikon's digicams typically perform well above average in the macro category, and the 2100 is no exception.) Resolution is high, with good detail in the dollar bill, coins, and brooch. There's more softness in the corners in this shot, visible in all four corners of the frame. Color and exposure are both good. The 2100's flash has trouble throttling down for the macro area though, badly overexposing the shot.


 

"Davebox" Test Target
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Excellent color, saturation, and exposure (though the red and blue additive primary blocks are slightly hot).

I chose the Auto setting as the most accurate for this shot, though the large white color block and mini-resolution target have a warm tint. The Daylight setting produced a stronger warm cast, and the Manual setting had a green tint. Exposure is bright, and the camera has no trouble with the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target. The large color blocks are well-saturated and vibrant, though the red and blue blocks are just a touch oversaturated. The shadow area of the charcoal briquettes shows good detail, with low noise. Overall, an excellent performance.


 

Low-Light Tests

Surprisingly good low-light performance, suitable for exposures darker than average city street lighting at night.

Though the 2100 operates under automatic exposure control, the camera's maximum shutter time of four seconds gives it some good low-light exposure capabilities. I first attempted to shoot this series in the camera's Night Scene mode, but found that the flash was forced on and focus remained fixed at infinity. Thus, I stayed in the Manual exposure mode (which keeps aperture and shutter speed under automatic control, despite the "Manual" designation).

In my testing, the camera produced clear, bright, usable images down to the 1/4 foot-candle (2.7 lux) light level. The target was visible as low as 1/16 foot-candles (0.67 lux), but quite dim. Since average city street lighting equates to about one foot-candle, the 2100 should perform well at slightly lower light levels. Color balance was slightly warm from the Auto white balance setting, and noise was moderate. (The camera apparently automatically adjusts its ISO up to 400 for low light shooting, providing the good capability in this area, but increasing the image noise somewhat in the process.) The table below shows the best exposure I was able to obtain for each of a range of illumination levels. Images in this table (like all of my sample photos) are untouched, exactly as they came from the camera.

  1fc
11lux
1/2fc
5.5lux
1/4fc
2.7lux
1/8fc
1.3lux
1/16fc
0.67lx
ISO
400
Click to see CP21LL03.JPG
1/ 1 secs
F2.6
ISO: 400
Click to see CP21LL04.JPG
1.7 secs
F2.6
ISO: 400
Click to see CP21LL05.JPG
2 secs
F2.6
ISO: 400
Click to see CP21LL06.JPG
2 secs
F2.6
ISO: 400
Click to see CP21LL07.JPG
2 secs
F2.6
ISO: 400

 

Flash Range Test

Severely underpowered, even at eight feet from the target.

In my testing, the 2100's flash produced very dark exposures at eight feet from the test target, and incrementally decreased from that point on. Nikon rates the range of the 2100's flash at only 5.7 feet at telephoto focal lengths, 9'10" at the wide angle setting. I guess that's about consistent with the shots below, but I'd really like to see a more powerful flash. Below is the flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.

 

8 ft 9 ft 10 ft 11 ft 12 ft 13 ft 14 ft
Click to see CP21FL08.JPG
1/ 75 secs
F4.5
ISO: 141
Click to see CP21FL09.JPG
1/ 73 secs
F4.5
ISO: 141
Click to see CP21FL10.JPG
1/ 67 secs
F4.5
ISO: 141
Click to see CP21FL11.JPG
1/ 58 secs
F4.5
ISO: 141
Click to see CP21FL12.JPG
1/ 61 secs
F4.5
ISO: 141
Click to see CP21FL13.JPG
1/ 57 secs
F4.5
ISO: 141
Click to see CP21FL14.JPG
1/ 51 secs
F4.5
ISO: 141

 

ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test

Typical two-megapixel resolution, 800 lines of "strong detail."

The 2100 turned in an average performance for its 2.0-megapixel class on the "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 500 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions. I found "strong detail" out to about 800 lines. (A bit more than this horizontally, a bit less vertically.) "Extinction" of the target patterns occurred at a bit less than 1,000 lines.

Optical distortion on the 2100 is average (which is to say too high, IMHO) at the wide angle end of the lens' zoom range, where I measured an approximate 0.8 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared much better, as I found only 0.2 percent barrel distortion. Chromatic aberration is high, showing about six pixels of fairly strong coloration on either side of the target lines, though the effect is exaggerated somewhat by softening in the corners, particularly the upper left. (This distortion is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.)

Resolution Series, Wide Angle
Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
1,600 x 1,200
CP21RESWLF
CP21RESWLN
1,024 x 768
CP21RESWMF
 
640 x 480
CP21RESWSF
 

 

Resolution Test, Telephoto
1,600 x 1,200
(Fine, Tele)
CP21RESTLF


Sharpness Series (at Wide Angle):

Sharpness Series
Auto
Off
Low
Normal
High


 

Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity

A tight optical viewfinder, though the LCD monitor is accurate.

The 2100's optical viewfinder is quite tight, showing only about 82 percent of the frame at wide angle, and approximately 78 percent at telephoto. (This is less accurate than average: Most point & shoot digicams show about 85 percent of the frame in their optical viewfinders, a figure that I still consider to be too low.) The LCD monitor fared much better, showing approximately 96 percent at wide angle and about 97 percent at telephoto. Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the 2100 performs well here, but I'd really like to see a more accurate optical finder. Flash distribution is slightly uneven at wide angle, with a little falloff at the corners of the frame. At telephoto, flash distribution is more uniform, but much dimmer as well.


Wide Angle, Optical

Telephoto, Optical

Wide Angle, LCD

Telephoto, LCD


2100 Review
2100 Test Images
2100 Specifications
2100 "Picky Details"
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