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Olympus Brio D-100Olympus uses tricky optics to build a sleekly compact 1.3 megapixel digicam with excellent image quality!
Review First Posted: 5/6/2001
||1.3-megapixel sensor, delivering 1,280 x 960 pixel images|
||New optical system makes for ultra-slim profile|
||Easy user interface|
||Excellent picture quality for a 1.3 megapixel digicam|
Slightly larger than a deck of playing cards, the 1.3-megapixel Olympus D-100 is the smallest model we've seen to date in the Olympus digicam line. The camera measures just 4.3 x 2.4 x 1.3 inches (110 x 62 x 34 mm), and slips easily into a shirt pocket or small purse. Its trim-line, all-plastic black body is accented with gold features, and weighs only 5.8 ounces (165 grams) without batteries. A sliding clamshell lens cover serves as the power switch, thus eliminating the need for a lens cap, while the limited external controls and menu options support the D-100's claims of "ultra fast point-and-shoot" design.
The D-100 offers both an optical, real-image viewfinder and a rear panel, 1.5-inch, 118,000-pixel, TFT color LCD monitor. When the LCD monitor is engaged, it automatically displays basic camera information, including the current image quality setting, number of available images, and battery status. The built-in fixed-focal-length 4.5mm lens is equivalent to a 36mm lens on a 35mm camera, and features both normal and macro shooting modes. Aperture is automatically controlled, with two settings at f/2.8 and f/8, and the autofocus system is based on a contrast-detection system. Though there is no optical zoom available, the D-100 does offer a 2x digital zoom for enlarging images, however readers are reminded that digital zoom inherently decreases overall image quality.
The D-100's simple, point-and-shoot design employs a Digital ESP metering system, which averages readings from the center of the frame to determine exposure. Shutter speeds range from 1/2,000 to 1/2 second, limiting the camera's low-light shooting capabilities. The user can adjust exposure compensation from -2 to +2 exposure equivalents (EV), in one-half-step increments, providing a simple method of overriding the autoexposure system. Also under user control is the camera's white balance setting, which offers Auto, Clear Sky, Cloudy Sky, Incandescent Lamp, and Fluorescent Lamp modes. The built-in flash operates in either Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Fill-In, Forced Off, or Night Scene modes, extending the camera's low-light shooting range slightly. There's also a 12-second self-timer and a Continuous Shooting mode for capturing a rapid series of images.
The Olympus D-100 ships with an 8MB SmartMedia memory card for image storage (larger capacity cards are available separately). Images are saved as JPEGs with three image quality settings available: Super High Quality, High Quality, and Standard Quality. Both Super High and High Quality settings record at the 1,280 x 960-pixel resolution size, while Standard Quality records at the 640 x 480-pixel resolution size. You can connect the camera directly to your computer via a high-speed USB interface to download images, and if you want a larger monitor for image playback, Olympus also supplies a video output cable for connection to a television set. Software shipped with the unit includes Olympus' Camedia Master 2.5 utility package, which provides minor organization and editing tools, in addition to USB drivers for Mac and Windows systems.
The D-100 is clearly intended for those consumers who want an easy-to-use digicam that requires very little user intervention to produce good quality pictures. By eliminating the need for detailed decision making, exposure control, and other extraneous features, the D-100 provides the freedom to simply turn on the camera and shoot. Its small size makes the camera very portable, its uncomplicated user interface ensures a very short learning curve, and it's photos are first-rate.
Measuring a mere 4.3 x 2.4 x 1.3 inches (110 x 62 x 34 mm), and weighing only 5.8 ounces (165 grams) without the battery or SmartMedia card, the Olympus D-100 is the smallest digicam we've seen from Olympus to date (April 2001). The attractive black casing is made of a rugged molded plastic, with gold tone accents that give it a touch of class. Although the D-100 is small enough to slip into any pocket or purse, a braided nylon wrist strap provides a little added security.
The front of the D-100 is smooth and simple, with a sliding clamshell lens cover that powers on the camera when opened, exposing the lens, built-in flash, self-timer lamp, and optical viewfinder window. When opened, the lens cover slides over the SmartMedia compartment door, preventing you from removing the card until you shut down the camera.
The right side of the camera houses the SmartMedia slot compartment and the wrist strap attachment rod (which is part of the SmartMedia door hinge). The compartment door opens from the camera's front by sliding your thumb into a recessed latch and pulling back on the plastic door. When closed, the SmartMedia door snaps firmly into place. There is no eject button for the SmartMedia card, you simply pull the card out with your fingers. A diagram on the inside of the slot door shows how to load the card (gold electrodes going in first, facing the back of the camera).
On the opposite side of the camera is the connector jack compartment, covered by a soft, rubber-like flap. When opened, the flap remains attached to the camera by a flexible rubber tab, which is easily bent back and out of the way to make room for attaching the cables. Inside the compartment are the USB, Video Out, and DC In jacks.
A goldtone Shutter button is the only control on the camera's top panel, positioned on the far right side.
The few external camera controls the D-100 offers are all located on the camera's back panel, along with the optical viewfinder eyepiece and 1.5-inch LCD monitor. Control buttons include the Menu/OK, Display, and Arrow rocker pad (which also controls the Digital Zoom, Flash mode, Macro mode, Playback Zoom, and Playback Index display). Two LED lamps next to the optical viewfinder eyepiece report the camera's status. The top one blinks orange when the flash is charging and glows steadily when the flash is charged. The green LED lamp on the bottom glows steadily when focus and exposure are set, and flashes when the autofocus system is having trouble. (If both lights flash together, the batteries are low.)
A plastic, threaded tripod mount is located on the D-100's bottom panel, opposite the battery compartment door. Though the two are positioned at either end, they are just a hair too close to allow quick battery changes while the camera is mounted on a tripod (given the camera's tiny size, there was really no alternative placement). The battery compartment door slides forward before opening outward, exposing the battery slot, which accommodates either a CR-V3 lithium battery pack or two AA batteries.
The D-100 offers a real-image optical viewfinder and a color LCD monitor for composing images. When the camera is powered off, the optical viewfinder window is covered by the sliding lens cover, making the view visible only when the lens cover is open. An autofocus / autoexposure crosshair is imprinted in the center of the viewfinder display, to help line up shots. Two LED lamps on the left side of the viewfinder eyepiece indicate when the flash is charging or charged (top orange lamp), as well as when the autofocus and autoexposure mechanisms are set (bottom green lamp). Though the D-100 doesn't offer a diopter adjustment, it has a moderately high eyepoint, which should accommodate the majority of eyeglass wearers.
The 1.5-inch, color TFT LCD monitor is turned on and off by the Display button next to the LCD monitor. An information display reports the image quality setting and number of available images in the lower left corner of the LCD, as well as flash, self-timer, macro, exposure compensation, drive mode, and white balance settings, when engaged. A green battery icon displays temporarily in the top center of the monitor when it's switched on, reporting the current level of battery power, and a telephoto / wide-angle range indicator appears on the right side of the monitor when Digital Zoom is engaged.
As with many digicams, the LCD display is a little hard to see in full sunlight. However, the settings menu features an LCD brightness adjustment, which increases and decreases the monitor's contrast level, which helps somewhat. In Playback mode, the LCD monitor offers a nine-image index display mode, as well as a 2x playback zoom for enlarging captured images.
The D-100's fixed-focal-length 4.5mm lens is equivalent to a 36mm lens on a 35mm camera. The lens itself is protected by the sliding plastic clamshell cover, which also serves as the camera's power switch. The lens features two aperture settings (f/2.8 and f/8), and is made up of six elements in five groups. Focal range is from 1.6 feet (0.5 meters) to infinity in normal mode, and from 0.4 to 19.2 inches (10 to 50 cm) in Macro mode. The D-100 employs a contrast-detection autofocus mechanism, determining focus from the subject in the center of the frame. Although there is no automatic focus lock, you can manually lock focus by pressing the shutter button halfway with your subject in the center of the frame, and then recompose the image while continuing to hold down the shutter button). A green LED lamp on the optical viewfinder eyepiece glows steadily when the camera has set focus and exposure, and is ready to take the shot. If the LED lamp blinks, the camera is having trouble setting focus, and you need to adjust the framing, lighting, or switch to Macro mode.
The D-100 offers a 2x digital telephoto option, controlled by the up and down arrow buttons on the Arrow rocker pad. (Users should be aware that digital zoom is not the same as optical zoom, since the digital zoom is merely cropping and enlarging the center portion of the CCD. As a result, digitally enlarged images often result in higher image noise and/or softer resolution.) In our own testing, we found that the D-100's digital zoom created a large number of image artifacts, as well as decreased resolution and softened details.
The D-100 operates in programmed automatic exposure mode, with limited external controls and LCD-based menu options. The camera's Digital ESP metering system determines the exposure by taking several exposure readings from the center of the image area and averaging them together to calculate the best overall exposure. Though you can't change the metering area, you can manually lock the exposure (and focus) by aiming the camera at the subject you want metered, halfway pressing the Shutter button, then recomposing the shot while keeping the Shutter button halfway pressed. This locks the exposure and focus until the Shutter button is fully pressed or released. Manually locking the exposure works well with high-contrast subjects, where you want to base the exposure on either highlights or dark areas.
The D-100 offers two aperture settings (f/2.8 and f/8) and a range of shutter speeds from 1/1,000 to 1/2 second. You can lighten or darken exposures by adjusting the Exposure Compensation setting from -2 to +2 exposure equivalents (EV) in one-half-step increments. White balance is also manually adjustable, with Auto, Clear Sky, Cloudy Sky, Incandescent Lamp, and Fluorescent Lamp options to match a variety of light sources. The majority of camera settings are controlled through the Record settings menu, activated by pressing the Menu/OK button on the back panel. (If the monitor is off, activating the settings menu will turn the LCD monitor on. Likewise, deactivating the menu will turn the LCD off.)
A 12-second Self-Timer mode is activated through the Record settings menu. Once in Self-Timer mode, a full press of the Shutter button triggers the countdown. A red LED lamp on the front of the camera lights steadily for the first 10 seconds, then blinks for the remaining two. Once the timer starts, the only way to cancel it is to shut the camera off by closing the lens cover.
The D-100 features a built-in flash with five operating modes (Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Fill-In Flash, Night Scene, and Flash Off), and a working range from 0.7 to 9.8 feet (0.2 to 3 meters). The left arrow key on the camera's back panel changes the flash mode, or you can use the LCD menu system. The Auto flash mode fires the flash based on the existing exposure conditions. Red-Eye Reduction mode fires a series of small pre-flashes before firing the full flash, to reduce the occurrance of Red-Eye Effect (a reflection of the flash from the subject's pupils). Fill-In Flash mode triggers the flash with every exposure, regardless of shooting conditions. Flash Off completely disables the flash. Finally, Night Scene mode works with a slower shutter speed, allowing more ambient light into an image. Night Scene is good for photographing subjects in front of colorful night scenes, where the flash properly exposes the subject and the longer shutter speed prevents background color from being washed out.
Available through the Record settings menu, the Continuous Shooting mode captures a series of images at short intervals, for as long as the Shutter button is held down. The actual number of recordable images varies, depending on the amount of SmartMedia space available. The shot-to-shot cycle time also varies, depending on the amount of image information to record and the available buffer memory. Continuous Shooting mode stores each image in the buffer upon capture. Once the Shutter button is released, or the camera runs out of memory, the recorded images are transferred to the SmartMedia card. Exposure and white balance are set with the first image in the series, and the flash is not available.
Shutter Lag/Cycle Times
When you press the shutter release on a camera, there's usually a lag time before the shutter actually fires. This time is to allow the autofocus and autoexposure mechanisms time to do their work, and can amount to a fairly long delay in some situations. Since this number is almost never reported on, and can significantly affect the picture taking experience, we now routinely measure it using an Imaging Resource proprietary test system.
|Power On -> First shot||
About average for cameras without telescoping lenses.
No need to wait to close lens cover. 1.9 seconds is max time until camera finishes writing, and you can remove the memory card.
|Play to Record, first shot||
Faster time is from normal playback mode, slower is from "instant review". Both times are quite fast.
|Record to play (max/min res)||
Longest time shown is for immediate switch to play after shutter release in highest res mode. Shorter time (zero!) is for "instant review" mode.
|Shutter lag, full autofocus||
||Slower than average across all cameras, about average among competing (lower-end) models.|
|Shutter lag, prefocus||
Somewhat faster than average.
|Cycle Time, max/min resolution||
||Max res cycle time seems to vary between 2.7 and 4.4 seconds, with an average of 3.29 seconds. At low res, the cycle time is a very consistent 3.18 seconds.|
|Cycle time, continuous mode||
|Pretty fast, for four frames, then a wait of four seconds to empty buffer to memory card.|
Olympus bills the D-100 as an "Ultra Fast Point & Shoot" camera. While the camera is pretty quick from shot to shot, we're not sure that we'd call it "Ultra Fast". Its cycle times are faster than average among entry-level cameras, don't approach anything we'd consider deserving of the "ultra" label. The almost 2 frames/second continuous mode is unusual on a camera at this price point, so perhaps that's where Olympus is looking when they reach for the superlative adjectives.
Actually, to be fair, we're perhaps reacting to elevated expectations, having seen the "ultra fast" appellation used on the packaging: If we hadn't seen that, we'd probably have concluded that the D-100 is faster than average for an entry level camera, and left it at that. Overall, quite responsive for an inexpensive digicam.
Operation and User Interface
The D-100's operation is very simple and straightforward thanks to a limited number of user controls. The majority of features are controlled through the settings menu, except for Digital Zoom, Flash mode, and Macro mode, which can all be accessed on the Arrow pad. The LCD menu itself is fairly uncomplicated, with only three pages of options to scroll through. The camera's point-and-shoot design maintains the automatic exposure control, with only exposure compensation and white balance adjustments available to override the camera's settings. While we normally like to see as many external controls as possible, the D-100's size obviously limits the number of buttons that can be included. The sliding lens cover makes activating the camera very quick and easy, and eliminates the worry of holding onto a lens cap. We think most users won't have any trouble learning to use the D-100, and the multi-lingual manual (though brief) should answer any questions.
Sliding Lens Cover: Sliding horizontally across the front of the camera, this clamshell design plastic lens cover powers on the camera when slid open, automatically placing the camera in Record mode. Likewise, closing the cover turns the camera off. The Playback mode is activated with the cover closed by pressing the Display button.
Shutter Button: Located on top of the camera, this button sets focus and exposure when halfway pressed. When fully pressed, the Shutter button triggers the shutter to open and close, making an exposure.
Menu/OK Button: Positioned on the back panel, in the top left corner, this button calls up the LCD menu display when pressed. (If the LCD monitor is switched off, pressing this button activates the display.) When making menu selections, this button serves as the "OK" button to confirm menu choices.
Display Button: Directly to the right of the Menu/OK button, the Display button controls the LCD monitor, turning it on or off. If pressed and held down when the lens cover is closed, this button powers on the camera and places it in Playback mode. Pressing it again turns the camera off. Pressing the button twice quickly while in Record mode allows you to scroll through captured images (a third press returns the camera to Record mode).
Arrow Pad (Zoom, Flash, and Macro Buttons): This series of four arrow buttons, positioned around a raised circular pad, is located on the left side of the LCD monitor. At the base level, these arrow buttons allow the user to navigate through menu options in either Record or Playback mode, or scroll through captured images in Playback mode. The up and down arrows are labeled "T" and "W" respectively, and control the 2x digital zoom ("T" for telephoto and "W" for wide angle). The left arrow button is marked with a lightning bolt, and controls the built-in flash's operating mode. The right arrow, labeled with the macro flower symbol, enables and disables the macro focus mode.
In Playback mode, the up arrow controls the playback zoom, which enlarges captured images by 2x for closer inspection of fine details or framing. The down arrow activates the four- or nine-image index display.
Camera Modes and Menus
Record Mode: Accessed by sliding open the lens cover, Record mode sets up the camera for capturing images. Exposure is under automatic control. Pressing the Menu/OK button displays the following menu options:
Playback Mode: Playback mode is entered by holding down the Display button while the camera is off (with the lens cover closed), or by pressing the Display button twice quickly while in Record mode. You can scroll through images using the left and right arrow buttons, with on-screen information for each image displayed briefly, including the date and time it was recorded and the image number. Using the Playback menu, images can be deleted, protected, set up for printing on a DPOF device, or played back automatically in a slide show. Pressing the Menu/OK button pulls up the following settings menu:
Image Storage and Interface
The D-100 stores all images on a 3.3v SmartMedia card, and an 8MB card is supplied with the camera. Currently, you can upgrade to card sizes as large as 128MB. The SmartMedia slot on the camera's right side is protected by a hinged, plastic door. When the lens cover is slid open, it covers up the SmartMedia door, making it impossible to remove the card when the camera is on. SmartMedia cards insert into the camera with the gold electrodes going in first, facing the back of the camera (a diagram on the inside of the door shows the process). To remove the card, you simply pull it out of the slot with your fingers.
The D-100 stores images in a compressed JPEG file format, with a variety of resolutions and quality settings available. Compression levels are Super High Quality (SHQ), High Quality (HQ), and Standard Quality (SQ). Both SHQ and HQ compression levels record images at 1,280 x 960-pixel resolution, while the SQ setting records images at the 640 x 480-pixel resolution.
The D-100 allows you to write-protect individual images from accidental erasure through the Playback menu. Entire SmartMedia cards can be write-protected by placing a write-protection sticker over a specified spot on the card. While individually protected images can still be erased by a card format operation, cards that are write-protected with a sticker are also protected against card formatting. Write-protect stickers can only be used once and must be clean to be effective (a set of stickers accompany the SmartMedia card).
The table below summarizes the compression ratios and number of images that can be stored on the included 8MB memory card with each size/quality combination.
8MB Memory Card
|High Resolution 1280x960||Images||18||
|Normal Resolution 640x480||Images||
The D-100 comes with interface software and cables for both Mac and Windows computers, employing a USB interface for high-speed computer connection. Like all Olympus' recent USB cameras, the D-100 is a "storage class" USB device, which means you can plug it directly into computers running Windows ME or Mac OS 9.1 or later. (Older versions of Windows will need the driver software included on the CD that ships with the D-100.) In our tests, we clocked the D-100's data transfer speed at 251 KBytes/second. - This means it can empty a full 8MB memory card in about 32 seconds. This isn't as fast as some higher-end cameras, but is quite competitive, and fast enough that there's little or no need for a separate card reader.
One of the first things any new digicam owner will need is a larger memory card for their camera: The cards shipped with the units by the manufacturers should really be considered only "starter" cards, you'll definitely want a higher capacity card immediately. - Probably at least a 32 megabyte card for a 1.3 or 2 megapixel camera, 64 megabytes or more for a 3, 4, or 5 megapixel one. (The nice thing about memory cards is you'll be able to use whatever you buy now with your next camera too, whenever you upgrade.) To help you shop for a good deal on memory cards that fit the D-100, we've put together a little memory locater, with links to our price-comparison engine: Just click on the "Memory Wizard" button above to go to the Olympus memory finder, select your camera model , and click the shopping cart icon next to the card size you're interested in. You'll see a list of matching entries from the price-comparison database. Pick a vendor & order away! (Pretty cool, huh?)
The D-100 has a Video Out port which supports the NTSC timing format. (We assume that PAL systems are available for European customers.) The video output can be used for reviewing previously captured images, or running slide shows from the camera.
The D-100 is powered by a single CR-V3 lithium battery pack, two AA batteries (alkaline, lithium, NiMH, or NiCd), or by an optional AC adapter that can significantly extend battery life if you're doing a lot of downloads on the computer, or working in a studio environment. An auto shutoff feature turns the camera off after a period of inactivity (the camera is reactivated with a press of the Shutter button).
Whenever the LCD monitor is activated, a small green battery icon in the top center of the monitor display flashes briefly to report the battery status. The battery icon turns red and is cut in half when the battery is partially drained, and when it is very low, both the orange and green LED lamps on the side of the optical viewfinder eyepiece flash in unison. The ability to turn off the LCD monitor should save on battery power, but we highly recommend carrying extra batteries as a backup. The table below shows the power consumption figures we obtained for the D-100 in our testing.
|Capture Mode, w/LCD||
|Capture Mode, no LCD||
|Half-pressed shutter w/LCD||
|Half-pressed w/o LCD||
|Memory Write (transient)||
|Flash Recharge (transient)||
Because it uses only two batteries, the D-100 has to draw a lot of current to get the power it needs to run on. Current levels with the LCD screen on in capture mode are some of the highest we've seen among the digicams we've tested: You might get 45-60 minutes of operation with the highest-power NiMH rechargeable cells you could find, but certainly not more than that. We therefore strongly recommend that you use only high-power NiMH cells, use a good charger, such as a Maha C-204, and carry at least one extra set of batteries with you at all times. (The CR-V3 lithium cells the camera also takes cost a pile of money, but make a great backup power source, since their shelf life is measured in years.) You'll definitely want to watch your LCD usage carefully when in the field!
We've gotten so many emails about power issues for digicams, that we're now inserting this standard notice in the reviews of all AA-powered cameras on our site: Don't even *think* about using alkaline AA batteries in a digicam! Despite their being packed in the box with many cameras, they simply don't have the juice to handle typical digicam demands. (Even the "high power" ones the battery manufacturers say are designed for devices like digital cameras.) Spend the $35-40 or so it takes to get a set (or two) of high-capacity NiMH rechargeable batteries and a good charger! The few dollars up front will save you literally hundreds of dollars in the long run, not to mention the hassle of wimpy batteries running out in the middle of the action. We suggest you buy two sets of batteries, so one can always be in the charger, ready to go, and so have two sets available for longer excursions. Good brands of batteries include Maha (our favorite), GP, Kodak, and Nexcell. Also, buy the highest capacity AAs the manufacturer makes, the few extra dollars for the extra capacity is usually well worth it. Getting a good charger is critical though, almost more so than buying good batteries. We recommend the Maha C-204F (see the photo at right), the charger we use the most in our own studio. - Read our review of it for all the details. Or, just click here to buy one, you won't regret it.
A USB cable and software CD accompany the D-100, allowing you to quickly connect to a computer and download images. The CD contains Olympus' own software, Camedia Master 2.5, compatible with Windows 95/98/98SE/Me/2000/NT4.0 and Mac OS 8.6-9.0.4. USB drivers for both platforms are also included. Camedia Master allows you to download and organize images, as well as perform minor image correction and enhancement functions (such as adjusting contrast, sharpness, and color balance). A complete printing utility works with the DPOF settings, allowing you to print images directly to Olympus or other DPOF-compliant photo printers.
In the Box
Packaged with the D-100 are the following items:
In keeping with our standard test policy, the comments given here summarize only our key findings. For a full commentary on each of the test images, see the D-100's "pictures" page.
As with all Imaging Resource product tests, we encourage you to let your own eyes be the judge of how well the camera performed. Explore the images on the pictures page, to see how D-100 images compare to other cameras you may be considering.
Overall, the D-100 performed well, producing nice photos with accurate color. The D-100's automatic white balance system handled most of our testing well, though it had some trouble with the incandescent lighting of our Indoor Portrait. That said, the Incandescent setting produced very nice results there, without any significant color casts. Throughout the rest of our testing, we noticed that the automatic and daylight white balance settings produced similar results, although the automatic setting was most accurate with our studio lighting. The large color blocks of the Davebox test target appeared very accurate, with good saturation. We saw just a little purple cast in the awkward blue flowers in our Outdoor test shot, but the overall color was about right (these blues are a common problem area for many cameras we've tested, including many high-end models). We also noticed a slight oversaturation of red / magenta in the skin tones. Still, the D-100 did a nice job, particularly given the lack of user controls.
In our laboratory resolution test, the D-100 resolves the target patterns cleanly (with no artifacts) out to 550 lines per picture height in both horizontal and vertical directions, with good detail showing to 600 lines in both directions. These are typical resolution numbers for a 1.3 megapixel digicam, so the D-100 does well in this regard.
Optical distortion on the D-100 was surprisingly low, as we noticed only about two pixels of barrel distortion from the wide angle lens, as seen on the lines in our Viewfinder Accuracy target below. Chromatic aberration is also pretty low, showing about two pixels of coloration on either side of the black target lines. (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.) - The D-100's lens seems to be of pretty high quality.
We found the D-100's optical viewfinder to be a little tight, showing approximately 84.58 percent of the final image area (at the 640 x 480-pixel resolution size). We also noticed that the image framed with the optical viewfinder was slanted toward the lower left corner, indicating a slightly shifted CCD. The LCD monitor was much more accurate, showing approximately 98.96 percent of the final image area (also at the 640 x 480-pixel resolution size). We generally like to see LCD monitors as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, so the D-100 did very well in this respect.
The D-100 had some trouble in the low-light category, as we were only able to obtain bright, clear images at a light level of eight foot-candles (0.88 lux). Images became progressively darker with each reduction in illumination, and the target was barely visible at one foot-candle (11 lux), which is where we stopped our testing. Noise is moderate at the eight foot-candle (88 lux) light level, with a somewhat small grain pattern. (We direct readers to Mike Chaney's excellent Qimage Pro program, for a tool with an amazing ability to remove image noise without significantly affecting detail.) To put the D-100's low-light performance into perspective, an average city night scene under modern street lighting corresponds to a light level of about one foot-candle, so night exposures will require use of the built-in flash.
The D-100 did about an average job in the macro category for its 1.3 megapixel class, capturing a minimum area of 4.75 x 3.56 inches (120.63 x 90.47 millimeters). Color, detail and resolution all looked pretty good, though the image appears slightly overexposed in the center. The D-100's built-in flash has a lot of trouble throttling down for the macro area, overexposing the image entirely. The flash image was also badly out of focus, but we're not sure why. (Could enabling the flash disable the macro mode setting?)
Though the D-100 offers fairly limited exposure control, we were quite pleased with the overall test results. This is clearly a point-and-shoot variety camera, meant for average, well-lit exposure situations. Despite its limited low-light capabilities and some trouble with the flash on the macro shot, the D-100 performed well, delivering nice images with good color and quality, and an absolute minimum of fuss in the process.
The D-100's small size makes it easy to carry along on just about any outing, fitting easily into shirt pockets, purses, or even hip pouches (great for hikers). The point-and-shoot design is very easy to use, with no adjustments necessary to make good overall exposures. The camera makes all of the exposure decisions, leaving you the option to change image size and quality, white balance, and exposure compensation. The D-100 handles most average shooting conditions well, making it a nice option for consumers who want to take good pictures without puzzling over details. A nice little camera with good photo quality at a budget price!
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