The Nikon Coolpix P100 is capable of some extraordinary things. Centred on a high-speed CMOS sensor married with a 26x superzoom lens, it's chock-full of shooting options. High-speed photo and video shooting, settings for almost endless experimentation, and 1080p high-definition movie-recording capability are all present and correct. The P100 is also well designed, but, for all its strengths, its photos just aren't that good. At a price of around £300, that's going to be tough for most people to swallow.
The P100 is an overhaul of the Coolpix P90 inside and out. The changes include an extension of the zoom range to 26x. Instead of the P90's 12.1-megapixel CCD sensor, the P100 uses a backside-illuminated 10.3-megapixel CMOS sensor. This sensor improves shooting speed and helps reduce noise in low-light photos. It also allows Nikon to add a few specialty shooting modes, discussed below.
The P100 is amazingly compact considering its lens and all that the camera can do. The grip is deep and comfortable, the body is well balanced, and the lens barrel gives you ample space to hold and steady the camera with your left hand.
Although you really don't want to use a zoom like the P100's without a support, the camera does have Nikon's 'optical VR' sensor-shift image stabilisation. It's difficult to hold the camera still with the zoom fully extended, but the stabilisation does an excellent job of minimising blur and, when combined with Nikon's 'best shot selector' feature, you have a better-than-average chance of getting a sharp shot of a still subject while holding the camera. Best shot selector is a high-speed shooting setting that takes up to 10 shots while the shutter release is pressed, saving only the sharpest shot.
There's a decent electronic viewfinder and a vari-angle LCD for framing your shots. The LCD pulls out from the body and can be tilted up or down, but it doesn't swing out horizontally from the body. Like all LCDs and EVFs, the screen blanks out for a second once you've taken a shot, but it recovers reasonably quickly.
The controls are comfortably placed and responsive. On top are the mode dial, power button and shutter release with zoom ring. To the left of the EVF is a button for switching from viewing information on the LCD or EVF, and a diopter adjustment dial. To the right of the EVF is a display button for changing what info is viewed on the displays, and a movie-record button with a switch for picking what type of video you want to shoot (normal or high-speed).
A horizontal dial above the thumb rest lets you quickly change the shutter speed and aperture settings, as well as zip through images and videos in playback. The rest of the controls are pretty standard. There are playback, menu and delete buttons, and a round directional pad with an 'OK' button at its centre. The pad is used for navigating menus, which look sharper than those on older Coolpix models, adjusting timer, flash, focus and exposure-compensation settings, and searching through your photos and movies.