Nikon Coolpix P100 [Review]

Nikon Coolpix P100 [Review]

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.

Darling Harbour wide.JPG

Darling Harbour tele.JPG

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!


Nikon Coolpix P100 Features

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!

South Steyne ferry and city 2.JPG

Fountain 2.JPG

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.

ISO Tests

The P100 was a surprisingly good performer in ISO tests.

Nikon Coolpix P100 ISO 160 f3.5 1:25 sec.JPG
ISO 160 and running well.

Nikon Coolpix P100 ISO 800 f3.5 1:125 sec.JPG
Reaching ISO 800 we see only a little noise while definition is still good.

Nikon Coolpix P100 ISO 1600 f3.5 1:250 sec.JPG

At ISO 1600 definition is still good while noise is still minimal.
Nikon Coolpix P100 ISO 3200 f3.5 1:500 sec.JPG
At ISO 3200 definition is lower but noise is still low. Well handled!


With the zoom set to wide there was some sign of barrel distortion, while the tele end showed no problems.

Startup Time

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.

Nikon Coolpix P100 Specifications

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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Nikon Coolpix P100
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Barrie Smith is an experienced writer/photographer currently published in Australian Macworld, Auscam and other magazines in Australia and overseas.

Some Older Comments

  • Rick Otton November 10, 2011 02:12 pm

    Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wished to mention that I have truly enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. After all I'll be subscribing for your feed and I'm hoping you write again soon!

  • Soraya August 5, 2011 04:58 pm

    I have my P100 since November 2010 and just love it and the photos i have taken so far from landscapes to portraits are just awesome and i am still playing around with it my grand niece is now quite the little model at 9months she knows how to tilt her head and smile at the camera and crawls over to me to have a look at herself. I am now the family party photographer and they love it. I even get some printed for the little ones and they are so impressed it takes pride in their bedroom. Love my NIKON P100.

  • diego June 29, 2011 09:16 am

    I have a p100 and I can not wait to sell, had a sony h10 and wanted a visor in the mail and p100 is not faithfully reproduce what is seen, the 26x zoom is very good but the images of poor quality, without contrast and blur, 10 times better than my old h10 even with a lot less in this category sony is much better, I hope they serve my comment, do not rush into buying without trying it if he knew this did not buy, nikon in p90 p 100 leaves much to be desired ..

  • Ron April 14, 2011 10:20 pm

    (1) In answer to AIS & GIP on my photos - I use the following settings:
    Image Quality - Fine
    Continous Tracking Function
    Auto Focus set to continous (note: This causes the battery to run down faster and I've been know to use two to three batteries / day at an airshow where I'm shooting lots of pictures.

    (2) For Connie: You can get filters for the P100, but you'll also have to have an adaptor tube that attaches to the camera via two small set screws. The filters are 67mm. I just got some and the jury's still out on how well they work.

  • effze April 14, 2011 06:38 am

    Ooopss.... above 2 messages are for ais & gjp..... not for sangeet, sorry...

  • effze April 14, 2011 06:36 am

    Hi gjp & sangeet….

    I forgot to mention, just read the "The EXIF Drilldown".....

  • effze April 14, 2011 06:35 am

    Hi gjp & sangeet....

    Flickr is such a great site, i learn lots of photo details from this site..... Click this link -

  • Sangeet February 7, 2011 06:44 am

    Please anyone show me the diagram or the picture of the view of the viewfinder of Nikon Coolpix P100

  • gjp January 29, 2011 09:42 am

    great shots Ron,as per the message above,what mode settings did you take these? looked at your pics on flickr,they are really good-some advice on how you took them would be great.i have just got a p100 and could do with some tips!

  • ais January 3, 2011 05:12 pm

    Ron, can I ask in what mode you took these pictures?

  • Ron December 17, 2010 02:25 am

    For those wondering about P100 photo quality, check out a couple of air show pictures I've taken with my P100

    [eimg link='' title='Wings Over Atlanta 2010' url='']

    [eimg link='' title='Gary Rower' url='']

    Hope this helps..............

  • Richard November 23, 2010 03:43 pm

    hi guys , i'm planning to buy p100 but i saw many reviews telling photo quality is not so good . i like all the features of the cam but i expect good photo quality so please help me out users . ....

  • Vishal October 30, 2010 02:27 am

    Bought it a month back fully satisfied with it, Gr8 Camera

  • ron September 22, 2010 11:40 pm

    I've had a P100 for a couple of months now and have found it to be a great bridge camera before I step up to a DSLR. I use it for aviation photography and with high zoom set I'm able to practically get in the cockpit on my ground-to-air shots. I was able to purchase a third part battery charger and it does the trick for me.

  • ciara September 14, 2010 01:08 am

    I have had the P100 for about 3 months now. I bought it because of all that it can do, just short of having a DSLR. I, too, at that time could not afford a DSLR. I love it, it was easy to learn to use. It takes great pictures most of the time. The only problem is auto focus when the lens is zooming.... I am currently taking a digital photography class, and hopefully by the end of the year I will be able to upgrade to a Nikon D90... and I will keep this camera as well.... it is easy to travel with.

  • Renard September 10, 2010 10:06 am

    Very happy with this camera. The electronic viewfinder really helps with high zoom shots. Really worth it for the price, excellent bridge camera.

  • Peter September 4, 2010 11:07 pm

    I have a P100 I am extremely happy, the zoom is really good, it is a lot faster than my other camera and I can take good photos with it.
    I think it is only one step from a full DSLR and I paid a lot less.

  • Luis September 3, 2010 11:27 am

    Great to start with. As a negative point I find the 10.MP a bit short. The P90 has a slightly less powered zoom (24x) but 12.1MP ! Would be my choice

  • Jose September 1, 2010 01:31 am

    I bought a P100 4 months ago but I was afraid of some negative reviews I've read on many pages (even on Amazon and CNET). I've found out later I have a great camera in my hands. Great pictures, amazing zoom, 1080p video and I'm still learning about the features included in this camera. Actually, I wanted to buy a Nikon D5000 but I couldn't afford it, so I chose the P100. It was a great choice, I recommend it.

    Great review guys. Best regards from Venezuela.

  • Dave Bland August 31, 2010 10:37 pm

    I like the idea of a dedicated lithium ion rechargeable battery as opposed to AA's, but am wondering if it comes with a charger or do we have to plug the camera in to re-charge? Sounds like just what I am looking for really.

  • Jessica Hunt August 31, 2010 10:34 am

    I have had the P100 for about a week now. I had a point and shoot and wanted a D-SLR but the price was out of reach for me. I am glad I chose the P100 because it has the simple point and shoot options AND the options that make it similar to and SLR. For me it is the perfect "bridge" to learn on while I save for an actual D-SLR. I have been using the camera in manual almost the whole time. I love it and the photos come out excellent.

  • Connie August 31, 2010 09:48 am

    I bought one of these about 4 weeks ago. Normally I use a Nikon D70 with a bunch of lenses which are a pain to carry around with you. I wanted something additional, tiny enough that I could carry it in my purse, so I was looking at the Coolpix and saw this. I am totally amazed by what all it can do! I am very happy with it and I am easily able to carry it around everywhere with me. I spot meter both exposure and focus and it has been right on every time. The image is not quite as crisp as my DSLR, but darn close. The things I don't like about it are: #1 it doesn't shoot RAW, #2 even with a SanDisk Extreme SD card there seems to be a several second long pause after you take a shot (or sequence of shots). I was using an old slower memory card first and got annoyed by this so I tried a San Disk Extreme and it really did not make a bit of difference, #3 it doesn't take filters (maybe I am old fashioned but I like to use a polarizing filter). Even with VR you have to be really steady at the longer focal lengths. There is an option to only do optical zoom which is nice. Oh and also it is noticeably slower to focus then the good Nikkor autofocus lenses on my DSLR. But for what I wanted and the price point, I am very very pleased with it.