The Nikon Coolpix L100: with 15x optical zoom, is this chunky superzoom the perfect compact for shooting from afar? Mike Lowe investigates...
Design & Performance
Nikon L100 Design
In hand the Nikon L100 is quite a beast – a bright and sharp 3in screen adorns the rear, whilst a chunky grip to the right and even chunkier lens dominates the left. A simple Wide/Tele zoom control atop the camera makes for quick and easy control, though the lens has no hands-on manual zoom or focal capabilities which can slow proceedings somewhat.
The manually operated flash is a real design gem. Raising it by hand ensures that a big flash won’t go off at the most inappropriate of moments. Though, by contrast, the rest of the camera doesn’t expand greatly into manual controls. However, the menu system is of intuitively simple fare, both clearly laid out and quick to use – following the standard format akin to many compacts.
Nikon L100 Performance
The lens is, when considering the magnitude of processes to capture from 28-420mm, the jewel in the Nikon L100’s crown. Whilst it’s mighty tough to shoot handheld at 15x optical zoom (420mm in this case) whatever camera you’re using, the vibration reduction assists in keeping images that extra bit sharp and can easily be switched on or off.
The 14 various scene modes offer a good array of options for tackling the scene at hand, though having only a single ‘Hi ISO’ mode is rather limiting; frustrating even, not least because it automatically drops to a 3 megapixel quality.
Sadly the Nikon L100’s performance dips further when fronted with many of the more standard functions. Whilst the lens ensures that your distant telephoto shots will be of admirable quality, it all comes a cropper when shooting close-up or in low light. The macro mode struggles to attain focus and is persistently temperamental, in frequent cases having difficulties focusing on objects at a multitude of zoom ranges. Macro and telephoto don’t tend to go hand in hand, so this may not be an entire surprise, yet the Nikon L100 official manual claims objects as close as 1cm can be photographed – something that rarely rings true. The autofocus assist (AF) seems lacking, often excessively compensating before eventually finding focus, which makes for a big let down.