Superzoom cameras are often referred to as bridge cameras, because they have traditionally occupied a place between the everyday consumer territory of compact cameras and the more exotic land of digital SLRs. Most of them have manual exposure options, a variety of metering and autofocus options, and other advanced features, which can make them a daunting prospect for anyone who doesn’t know the difference. difference between aperture and shutter speed. The majority of the camera-buying public just wants a camera they can point and click, and have the peace of mind of getting good images in most situations without having to fiddle around with choosing the right shooting mode or worry about ISO settings.
Unfortunately, this meant that most consumers were limited to 3x zoom compact cameras, but now Nikon has produced superzoom cameras with the simple controls of a point-and-click compact camera. . It’s called the Coolpix L100 and I’m going to review it today.
The L100 doesn’t have many direct competitors, but there are other small superzooms that are a lot cheaper than its £230 retail price, including the Fuji FinePix S2000HD (£150) and even cheaper still the Kodak Z8612 IS ( £110). Both models include a wide range of manual options and advanced controls.
At first glance, the L100 is not a particularly impressive looking camera. It’s small for a superzoom, measuring 110 x 72 x 78 mm and looking even smaller due to the absence of the usual viewfinder turrets fitted to most bridge cameras. However, when powered by four AA batteries, it is very heavy for its size, weighing in at around 455g ready to shoot. When you pick it up, it immediately feels like a quality camera, and closer inspection reveals Nikon’s usual excellent quality and finish, with tight lines between the panels and buttons. The controller is securely attached. The battery/card cover with catch lock and the tripod bushing are made of metal.
The shape of the body is similar to that of most other superzoom cameras, with a prominent hand grip and large lens. The grip is quite wide to accommodate the battery, but due to the size of the camera it is quite short and there is not much space between the grip and the lens. However, the camera is comfortable to hold, and the rubber coating on the grip and textured thumb on the back make it sturdy and easy to hold firmly with one hand.
The L100 doesn’t have a viewfinder, but it does have a very good three-inch LCD, with a 230k-dot resolution and good anti-reflective coating. It’s sharp, bright, and performs well outdoors in bright sunlight, and it even has good viewing angles all over, except from below. If you hold the camera overhead, as you might be shooting through a crowd, the viewfinder image will virtually disappear.
Like all superzoom cameras, the most obvious feature is the lens. The L100 follows the recent trend of including wide-angle capability and is capable of a 28-420mm equivalent 15x zoom, with a maximum aperture of f/3.5-5.4. Many recent superzoom cameras, including Nikon’s Coolpix P90 (coming soon) have optical zooms over 20x, but they’re only really useful when used with a tripod. For a camera designed primarily for handheld use, 15x is the practical limit. The L100 features sensor-shift shake reduction to reduce motion blur at longer zoom settings.
The L100 is a very simple camera. It has the same shooting modes and menu system as the Coolpix L20 point-and-shoot compact camera and is just as easy to use. Virtually all camera functions are automatic, with manual control limited to image size, white balance (although this defaults to Auto), drive vehicle and a very short list of color options (vivid, black and white, sepia or blue). Even these options are disabled in Easy Auto mode, where only the image size can be adjusted.
There are no manual exposure options other than the normal exposure compensation of +/- 2EV, and no focus mode options other than toggling macro mode on and off. The surprisingly powerful flip-up flash has five modes, including red-eye reduction, forced flash, and night portrait mode, making it the most complex feature on the camera.
In addition to Auto and Easy Auto modes, the L100 has a Scene mode with 14 scene programs including panorama stitching and background exposure compensation, a movie mode capable of recording 25-minute clips at VGA resolution at full speed. 30fps with mono sound and a special mode with three extras. It has a Sports Continuity mode, which limits image size to three megapixels but can shoot 30 frames at up to 13 fps, a Smile Shutter mode that uses face detection to trigger the camera. photos when the subject is smiling and the high ISO mode also restricts the image size to three megapixels but sets the ISO up to 3200.
You might think that having such a limited range of features and options would prove limiting and to a certain extent, but there is a certain Spartan appeal to the simplicity of the game. L100 and it’s undeniably easy to use. No need to worry about details like ISO settings, metering, focus point, shutter speed or depth of field – since you can’t adjust them – which means you can just rely on self-control. Automate and focus on composing your shots and its excellent zooming range and responsive control give it a great deal of flexibility in this respect. It’s a nice camera to use and will soon grow with you.
In terms of performance, the L100 isn’t exactly sparkly, but it’s not too bad either. It boots up in as little as three seconds and shuts down again after about two and a half seconds. In single shot mode and maximum image quality, it can shoot every 1.5 seconds for three frames, but then it slows down to about every three seconds. In burst mode, it shoots at about 1.5 seconds per frame, but it’s difficult to judge precisely because there’s no audio cue to tell you when it’s actually taking a picture.
Not long ago Nikon had some issues with autofocus on its zoom cameras, but thankfully those days are long gone and the AF system on the L100 is much better. It’s not the fastest in the world, but it’s fast enough and doesn’t slow down too much at longer zoom settings. Of course it’s best in good light, but its low-light performance isn’t bad either. The only weak point is the AF-assist illuminator, which is a bit grassy and only has a useful range of about 1.5m.
The best news is that the image quality is very good in most cases. Not surprisingly, the results are quite similar to the Coolpix L20, which means exposure and focus are always perfect. However, it also means that colors displayed in standard mode are clearly oversaturated, and Vivid mode is painfully dull. Magenta and yellow tend to appear as characteristic blobs with no detail.
Lens quality is very good, with excellent sharpness at all focal lengths and the small barrel distortion it produces that is automatically corrected in-camera. It has a bit of chromatic aberration towards the edges of the frame, but I’ve certainly seen much worse. The overall level of detail is very good, and with a file size of around 4.3MB, they’re not overly compressed, but the images nonetheless have a clean, overprocessed look.
One difficulty is assessing the noise of the image. The L100 has no manual ISO control and it looks like its auto setting could be anything between 80 and 1600, however when I convinced it to shoot at ISO 400 it produced Nice clean photo with very little noise. The high ISO setting at three megapixels is a bit tricky, but that setting should only be used in extreme cases anyway. Overall, the L100 produces good quality images with minimal noise.
“” Decision “
The Nikon Coolpix L100 is a near-unique camera that combines the simplicity of a fully automatic point-and-shoot compact with the large wide-angle 15x zoom lens and image stabilization of a superzoom camera. advanced. It’s well-made, reasonably designed, small enough to be easily portable, and snaps into almost any situation. It’s a bit pricey compared to what some of the competition might be, but it’s a very lovely little camera.
“Over the next few pages, we display a series of test shots. On this page, the full-size image at the minimum and maximum ISO settings has been reduced to allow you to view the full image, and a series of full-resolution images have been taken from the original image at a range of ISO settings to show overall image quality. These ISO test images were taken indoors using reflected natural light for maximum consistency. “
This is full frame at ISO 400. All test shots on other sites were taken at ISO 80.
At ISO 400, images are clear and sharp with minimal image noise.
This is full frame at 938 ISO. High ISO settings can go up to 3200 ISO, but are limited to 3MP.
Image quality looks a bit like a phone camera at this setting.
A series of general test shots are shown in the next two pages. In some cases, the full size image has been reduced for bandwidth purposes and the crop taken from the original full resolution image has been placed below it to show the image quality. overall. Some of the other images can be clicked to see the original full-size image. “
Here is the usual detailed inspection shot of the West Window of Exeter Cathedral, for your comparison with other cameras. See below for the full crop, or click to see the full image.
Although the level of detail is good, the image looks overprocessed, with some minor strokes.
With distortion control turned off, there was some barrel distortion at the wide angle.
Same image with distortion control enabled.
Good center sharpness…
… And corner sharpness isn’t too bad, although there is some chromatic aberration.
Here are some general test shots to help gauge the overall image quality of the camera, including the lens’ dynamic range, color rendition, and zoom range. Some of the images can be clicked to download the full-sized original image. “
The 28mm equivalent wide-angle end is great for shooting panoramic landscapes.
Shot from the same point as above at full zoom, equivalent to 420mm. The black spots appear to be dirt on the sensor of my brand new review model, which is a bit worrisome.
Color reproduction is a bit too vivid, even in standard mode.
Dynamic range could be a lot better.
The D-Lighting feature, applied in playback mode, helps a little, but not much.
The L100 has its limitations, but it can deliver some good results.
Image quality 8
Build quality 9
|Camera type||Super Zoom|
|Megapixels (Megapixels)||10 Megapixels|
|Optical Zoom (Duration)||15x|
|LCD screen||3 in|
|Flash mode||Built in a flash|
|Video (maximum resolution/format)||640 x 480|
|Memory card slot||Secure digital card (SD), high capacity secure digital card (SDHC), multimedia card (MMC)|