Nikon Coolpix P100 bridge camera
Superzoom with 1080p video – nice
Review It's a Nikon; that name is certainly not tarnished with a reputation for cheap and nasty cameras. Even your friend who doesn't own a camera knows Nikons are a pure photographic mainstay. So for Nikon to make a £300 camera with all the features that an active hobbyist would need – well, it's a tall order.
Nikon's Coolpix P100: lower pixel count, but a new style sensor
With the Coolpix P100 we have a long optical zoom, an unfashionable drop in megapixels to 10.3, due in no small part to the increasingly fashionable use of a backlight illuminated CMOS sensor – a design that, apparently, allows a more direct light path to the image sensor. We also have HD video at 1080p for the first time on a Nikon compact camera. Every manufacturer seems to have models for every pocket, and here is Nikon's offering, giving you a long reach in a compact.
The P100 feels pretty lightweight, and can be conceivably kept in the bag that someone else carries, or a large overcoat pocket, though you may attract the wrong crowd. It is just a little too big to be something you don't notice you have. But having said that, it is aimed squarely at people who want to go out and shoot in the great outdoors.
This camera shines when you can use it on distant subjects in bright light and you have something to rest on, or against. Such is the magnification, that slight movements become pronounced. The image stabilisation makes a reasonable attempt overcoming these issues, but you really should be thinking of higher than 1/125th sec here.
With a decent wide angle and a serious telephoto lens there is no reason not to get great stills and footage with this camera’s 4.6-120mm lens. It’s equivalent to 35mm camera zoom of 26 to 678mm. Going from f/2.8-5 there’s quite a range of maximum stops in the zoom. On top of that, there’s a 4x digital zoom option too, if you must.
Simple layout but, alas, no quick button for shortcuts
In use, the zoom control switch feels particularly flabby and imprecise – taking too long to respond. Before you know it you are at the maximum again, as it's just too vague in its adjustments, particularly in the digital zoom range. Moreover, with this camera taking a couple of seconds to start, and then to zoom – well, the moment would probably have been lost. And better not leave the lens cap on before starting up, as you'll be forced to start it up again with it off. I appreciate that this impressive lens needs protecting, yet, I still found myself making that mistake over and over again.
Is it just me?
...who thinks that rating the battery as 250 shots is just stupid? it'd be fine for an SLR without constant display which you can look through all day without taking a shot. But I feel that a usage time in muntes would be more appropriate for devices that require an always on display screen / electronic View finder. I suspect that saying it lasts for just 2 hours (on time based on 30 seconds per shot) ) might change some opinions.
All my Nikon's have this.
Maybe it's just me...
Maybe it's just me, but I think the pictures were quite noisy? Even the ISO 100 ones seemed noisy. Weird.
1) NTSC/PAL ceased to mean anything much when the CRT died - every flatscreen is progressive and supports all frame rates. PCs/media centres, etc, etc ONLY support progressive. So interlaced footage is only notionally supported as a transmitted stream which must then be deinterlaced either by the source (PC, etc) or destination (the plasma/LCD)
2) any DVD writer or player in the last 10 years will playback oldie worldie SD resolution PAL or NTSC footage if you insist on burning it. if its a UK player - you just need to set the region to UK - nothing to stop you still burning NTSC MPEG2 footage.
3) In HD, there is no such thing as 'NTSC' - there are various different frame rates, all supported by all HD tvs - 1080p30 is not 'HD NTSC'.. it is just 1080p30 - it is as valid as 1080p24 or 1080p25.. ah well except there is in fact, no such standard, only 1080p24 - why ? because it would be bloody stupid - the only reason there is a different frame rate between PAL and NTSC is the difference in vertical lines count - hence the extra bandwidth on NTSC being available for more fps.
NTSC DVD SD: 720x480, 29.97fps
PAL DVD SD: 720x576, 29.97fps
e.g: PAL has more definition, but has less temportal information. i.e. NTSC is not 'worse'... a common mistake people make - for fast moving scenes it may be significantly better....
this difference in vertical line count was due to the ANALOGUE NTSC vs PAL standards.
It ceased to mean much at all when we went digital, and ceased to mean anything at all when we went to HD...
so in HD there is:
720p (1280x720) and 1080p(1920x1080)
thats it! not a different size for UK and USA.
There are various different frame rates in the standard - these are there to support various different content types and are various trade offs between resolution integrity vs temportal data for a given framerate.
They have precisely FA to do with countries, or NTSC/PAL.
In reality, the artificial 720p25 and 1080i50 that were put into the standard were very much transients to support upscaling of SD content. They have FA other reason to exist. I can't think of a single device that shoots 720p25, and 1080i50 is hanging on only in the HDCAM/AVCHD standards and is rapidly losing favour to progressive - I'd expect it to disappear in the next few years to be replaced by progressive p30 and p60 as we are already seeing in cameras such as the EOS series.
In reality, the vast majority of HD currently is in 30p, 24p (movies), and 60i (sport).
Let NTSC and PAL die a death please.
From Amazon, the E-PL1 is £500, so hardly the same kind of money as the P100 (£300). It also comes with a 3x zoom rather than a 26x zoom. If you want a 26x range you'll need to lug around several more lens. If you want a viewfinder you have to pay more for that, too. It probably gives better quality pictures, though. It's a very different kind of camera.