Nikon P100 review

Full review: Nikon bridge camera is an affordable DSLR alternative

Image 1 of 3 Nikon P100 top
Nikon P100 top
Image 2 of 3 Nikon P100 back
Nikon P100 back
Image 3 of 3 Nikon P100 front
Nikon P100 front

26x optical zoom and HD movie recording make this a decent step-up from a compact

So you’re not in the market for a Digital SLR, but you’ve outgrown your compact cameras, what do you do? Packing advanced features without the hassle (and cost) of interchangeable lenses, a bridge camera is a good solution.

The DSLR ‘lite’ design of Nikon’s P100 has a generous 26x optical reach – here the equivalent of a wide-angle 26-678mm - and a modest (but perfectly adequate) 10 megapixel effective resolution.

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The P100 feels comfortable held in the palm, fingers sinking into the large-ish rubberized grip. It’s reassuringly weighty at 481g including rechargeable lithium ion battery and SD/SDHC card, without being prohibitively so. The lens barrel looks a bit plasticky, but it’s certainly lightweight to carry around.

The zoom is switch-operated, this time surrounding the shutter release button where it falls readily under the forefinger. The Nikon’s almost silent lens travels uninterrupted through its entire range in three seconds.

Hand holding the P100 at extreme telephoto (max zoom) setting and still achieving results worth saving is made possible courtesy of Nikon’s excellent sensor-shifting Vibration Reduction mechanism.

Nikon P100: Features

Powering up in just over a second. The 11-strong shooting modes ranged around a stiff top plate dial are creatively comprehensive on the Nikon, with manual options nestled alongside the fully automatic. There are further user-customisable settings and a nifty subject-tracking mode adept at action shots thrown in for good measure. The menu system is a bit fiddly though.

Located top right of the backplate is a DSLR-like wheel for quickly tabbing through menu selections quickens operation. Around the back the P100 features a tilting 3-inch LCD that can be adjusted upwards or downloads for low or high angle shots. Like the Fujifilm HS10, it cannot be flipped outwards at 90° to the body.

A highlight is the screen, the resolution far higher than competitors (including the Casio EX-FH25), with its 460k pixels providing the most life-like real-time image. Alternatively a small electronic viewfinder window provides an alternative visual, with a button to swap the image between LCD and EVF.

Nikon P100: Video and images

The P100 captures full HD 1920x1080 pixels video at 30fps with stereo sound, courtesy of two microphones located behind the button-activated pop-up flash and there’s a one-touch movie record button.

Unusually, a surrounding switch lets users swap between decent HD and standard definition movie recording with a thumb flick – the first we’ve seen of its type.

Surprisingly there’s only the option to record JPEG stills, not uncompressed Raw files – not that anyone but the enthusiast will be bothered.

As we’d expected from Nikon, colour reproduction leans toward the naturalistic and there’s a tendency to underexpose to preserve highlight detail. Edge to edge sharpness is well maintained, if there’s inevitably slight barrel distortion at widest 26mm setting. Pictures aren’t quite as sharp as on the Fuji HS10 either.

Competitively priced, with a generous lens the P100 is one of the more serious big-zoom contenders for those wanting almost everything photographic in the one compact package.

The Nikon P100 is out now, find out more from Nikon

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SPECIFICATIONS
Sensor: 10.3 megapixels, CMOS
Lens: 26-678mm (26x optical)
Screen (size and res): 3-inch, 460k dots
Max ISO: 3200
Flash: Pop up integral flash
Viewfinder (type): Electronic viewfinder, 230,000
Stabilisation (type): Sensor shift, Vibration Reduction
Video: Full HD 1920x1080 at 30fps
Storage (card and internal): SD/SDHC, 43MB internal storage
Connections: HDMI, USB 2.0, AV output
Battery life: 250 shots per charge
Dimensions/weight: 114x83x99mm/418g
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