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I fondly remember earlier digicams like the Coolpix 5400 way back in 2003, complete with 5.1 million pixels, a 4x zoom lens and a vari-angle LCD viewfinder. Dirt cheap at AUD1599!
In terms of the Coolpix 5400, the new Nikon Coolpix P100 is definitely retro style-wise, with a severe kick up the tech specs posterior! It’s also an excellent example of a fixed lens mega zoom camera that does much of what a DSLR can do.
These shots show the range of the amazing 26x optic that relates to a 35 SLR focal length of 26-678mm. Capture to a CMOS 10.3 megapixel sensor can lead to a maximum image size of 3648×2736 pixels or a print dimension of 31x23cm. For what it’s worth, the CMOS sensor is shifted to perform vibration reduction.
What makes the camera doubly fascinating is its ability to shoot a run of six full-sized shots at ‘Normal’ quality (a peg down from Fine quality) and 10fps. Alternatively, the P100 can pull in 200 full-sized shots at 2.8 fps. Yet another option is the Sport Continuous mode, for continuous shooting of 25 1600×1200 pixel shots at 25 fps or 60 1280×960 pixels shots at 120 fps. Got me!
No doubt thanks to a big slice of buffer memory the camera’s movie capture potential is also gob-smacking: it shoots MPEG4 video in the Full HD resolution of 1920×1080 progressive pixels, triggered by a rear-mounted button. This button is circled by a tiny lever that offers the option to shoot in HD or HS.
What’s HS? High speed or slow motion, which means it captures video at rates of 60 fps (1280×720), 120 fps (640×480) and 240 fps (320×240).
What appealed to me immediately was the vari-angle LCD screen that can be tilted 82 degrees downward and 90 degrees upward for shooting from a variety of angles. Added to this is an electronic turret finder.
Another delight was the CMOS sensor with its ‘backside illumination structure’; as I moved from a shaded area to a sunlit one the screen automatically boosted in brightness. Great!
I was surprised to find a High Dynamic Range (HDR) function built in; this is a mode where a run of shots are taken with widely varied exposures, then the shots are merged to create an image with optimise exposure in both the highlight and shadow areas. The camera must be completely still during the shooting phase. This is also used in Advanced Night Landscape mode to capture an ideally exposed night scene.
The P100 was a surprisingly good performer in ISO tests.
With the zoom set to wide there was some sign of barrel distortion, while the tele end showed no problems.
The P100 took two seconds from power up to first shot; follow-on shots came in at a second each.
A very impressive camera with picture making controls that will impress the educated photographer, although I was surprised that there was only JPEG capture in stills. It does however have a degree of complication that could scare the wits of a beginner.
Quality: about average. The long end of the zoom presents problems in outdoor shooting with atmospheric haze and the need for a firm tripod.
Why you would buy it: you want a long zoom range; you want a very competent camera without a DSLR’s complexity.
Why you wouldn’t: you want a simple, pocketable point-and-shooter; you want RAW capture.
Image Sensor: 10.3 million effective pixels.
Metering: Auto, Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, manual.
Sensor Size: 11mm CMOS.
Lens: Nikkor f2.8-5.5/4.6-120mm (26-678 as 35 SLR equivalent).
Shutter Speed: 8 to 1/8000 second.
Continuous Shooting: 2.8, 10 fps at full image size.
Memory: SD card plus 43MB internal memory.
Image Sizes (pixels): 3648×2736, 3648×2432, 3584×2016, 3264×2448, 2736×2736, 2592×1944, 2048×1536, 1600×1200, 1280×960, 640×480.
Movies: 1920×1080, 1280×720, 640×480, 320×240 at 15, 60, 120, 240 fps.
LCD viewfinders: Turret 0.6cm (230,000 pixels), 7.5cm (460,000 pixels).
File Formats: JPEG, WAV, MPEG4.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 160 to 3200.
Interface: USB 2.0, HDMI, AV.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, DC input.
Dimensions: 114.4×82.7×98.6 WHDmm.
Weight: 481 g (inc battery and card).
Price: Get a price on the Nikon Coolpix P100 on Amazon
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