Nikon Coolpix L100 Review

3.5
May 18, 2009 | Zoltan Arva-Toth |

Image Quality


All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 10 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 4Mb.

The Nikon Coolpix L100 produced images of good quality during the review, particularly outdoors in bright light, where it did not usually resort to using high ISO values. In less light, it would often increase the sensitivity in order to keep the shutter speed high, which resulted in a loss of image quality due to noise and noise reduction. With no control over ISO, you cannot rest assured you are getting the best quality from the camera, unfortunately. On a positive note, purple fringing was fairly limited for a superzoom, which is great news. The camera can capture some stunning macros, whose quality is again only limited by its occasional choice of too high an ISO setting. Vignetting was not a problem, even with the flash turned on. Features like Vibration Reduction, D-lighting and Distortion Control all improve the usability of your photos. Night photography and red-eye removal are, however, not among the L100's strengths.

Noise

The Nikon Coolpix L100 is something of a rarity in that the photographer does not get access to the ISO sensitivity settings – they are taken care of by the camera in all shooting modes. At full resolution, the L100 uses the ISO 80-800 range to pick an ISO speed – which can be decidedly non-standard like ISO 149 for example – whereas in Sport Continuous and High Sensitivity modes, the camera will choose a high value between ISO 720 and ISO 3200. This being the case, we cannot provide you the usual series of crops of the same subject taken at standard ISO settings – what we did was photograph the same scene in Auto mode and High Sensitivity mode. In the first case the camera picked ISO 400, whereas in the second case it opted for ISO 742. We have provided a crop of each shot for you to see what the quality is like.

Auto ISO (100% Crop)

High Sensitivity ISO (100% Crop)

Focal Range

The Nikon Coolpix L100's 15x zoom lens provides a focal length of 28-420mm in 35mm terms, as demonstrated below.

28mm

420mm

Sharpening

Here are two 100% crops - he right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are soft at the default sharpening setting and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. You can't change the in-camera sharpening level to suit your tastes.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

   

Chromatic Aberrations

For a 15x zoom the Nikon Coolpix L100 displays very little chromatic aberration, seen only at 100% magnification. The crops below represent the worst case. We suspect that at least some of this is sensor-related purple fringing rather than lens CA, which is very well corrected by the camera's processor.

Example 1 (100% Crop)

Example 2 (100% Crop)

Macro

The Nikon Coolpix L100 allows you to get as close as 1cm to your subject –  in this case a Compact Flash card – with the greatest magnification achieved at the 83mm equivalent focal length. At this point, geometric distortion is minimal, and sharpness is fairly good, though detail definition may suffer if the camera chooses a high ISO setting. Chromatic aberrations are much more pronounced than otherwise.

Macro Shot

100% Crop

Flash

With the lens set to its widest angle and the flash turned off, there is basically no corner shading observable. Turning on the flash causes some vignetting, but nothing severe. At the telephoto end, no light fall-off can be detected. These shots of a white coloured ceiling were shot at a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (28mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (28mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Flash Off - Telephoto (420mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (420mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are a couple of head shots. The flash caused a bit of red-eye, and the red-eye reduction mode did not help much.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)
   

Red Eye Reduction

Red Eye Reduction (100% Crop)

Night

The Nikon Coolpix L100 is hardly the ideal tool for night photography, as the longest shutter speed is 2 seconds and you cannot set it manually. The shot below was captured at a shutter speed of 2 seconds at ISO 80 in the Dusk/Dawn scene mode. Both values were picked by the camera.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)

Vibration Reduction

These examples are 100% crops from two photos taken at around 1/20th second at the telephoto end. As you can see, the Vibration Reduction system can mean the difference between a sharp and a blurred photo when taking hand held shots.

Shutter Speed / Focal Length

Vibration Reduction Off (100% Crop)

Vibration Reduction On (100% Crop)

1/20th / 420mm

D-lighting

While the Nikon Coolpix L100 doesn't offer the Active D-lighting functionality of the manufacturer's DSLRs, it does offer D-lighting as a post-capture option. The examples below demonstrate what a difference it can make when shooting a high-contrast scene.

Off

On

Distortion Correction

The Nikon Coolpix L100 offers a Distortion Control feature that digitally reduces the geometric distortion of the lens. You can clearly see its effect along the left edge of these samples – with Distortion Control deactivated, the door appears curved, whereas it is more or less straight with the feature enabled. Distortion Control can only be used in single shot mode.

Off

On

Entry Tags

3 inch LCD, nikon, super-zoom, coolpix, 10 megapixel, 15x zoom

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