Nikon Coolpix A100 Review

June 21, 2016 | Jack Baker | Rating star Rating star Rating star


The Nikon Coolpix A100 is a budget compact camera with a 20.1MP CCD sensor and a 5x optical zoom range equating to 26-130mm. The camera will record HD 720p video, and it packs some fun creative effects including Nikon’s Smart Portrait mode that automatically enhances shots of friends and family. The Coolpix A100’s svelte design can be had in five body colour options and is available exclusively at Argos in the UK for £89.99.

Ease of Use

Firstly, let’s get one thing straight: the Nikon Coolpix A100, despite its new name, is not a new camera. Apart from a couple of negligible styling tweaks, the A100 is identical to 2015’s S2900, which itself was essentially the same as 2014’s S2800. Renaming a camera rather that improving it is nothing new, and unfortunately it’s now becoming commonplace in the budget compact sector. With the relentless drive to improve smartphone cameras, the market for the standalone point and shoot snapper is rapidly decreasing, therefore it’s no surprise that camera manufacturers aren’t exactly eager to invest resources into developing all-new models.

But at least the Nikon Coolpix A100’s tried and tested design doesn’t throw up any surprises. Its controls are exactly where you’d expect and you needn’t worry about learning any new technology. The A100’s rear panel is predominantly devoted to a 2.7-inch 230k-dot monitor that has acceptable horizontal viewing angles but appalling vertical visibility, which is a pain when composing high or low angle shots. You can also forget about luxuries like touch sensitivity, and the low resolution means fine image details and menu icons are pixelated. The LCD’s one positive aspect is brightness, which is enough to counteract direct sunlight, but otherwise even a mediocre current smartphone will thrash the A100’s screen quality.

Next to the screen is a typical array of traditional controls, with the raised video record button doubling as a small but helpful thumb rest. There’s no obvious gripping point on the front of the camera for your fingers, however the Nikon logo is slightly embossed and textured, giving you just enough to grip on to. But while the Nikon Coolpix A100 doesn’t feel overly secure in the hand, it’s certainly a whole lot more comfortable to use than a smartphone, yet its fairly slim 19.8mm thickness and tapered corners mean it’ll still slip easily into a tight pocket. The camera’s 119g ready-to-shoot weight is also very light and actually undercuts most high-end smartphones.

Nikon Coolpix A100
Front of the Nikon Coolpix A100

Beneath the video record control is the playback button, which sits to the right of the mode selector button. This reveals five main shooting modes, including the default Scene Auto Selector mode that automatically detects the type of shooting scenario you’re about to capture and applies the most appropriate settings. The second mode lets you manually select various scene modes, one of which is Panorama Assist. However, as its name suggests, this isn’t and automatic sweep panorama feature, but rather a function that overlays a partial ghost image of the previous shot taken in a panorama sequence to help you line up the next overlapping photo. Next up in the main mode menu are the eight creative effects modes, each of which is previewed in real time. Check out the image quality section of the review for examples.

Nikon’s Smart Portrait system is given its own dedicated mode setting, which makes sense as this is a fairly comprehensive feature that can transform an otherwise unflattering portrait. The system works by automatically smoothing skin and applying virtual foundation make-up, plus it’ll soften an entire image and adjust colour saturation and brightness. It all works surprisingly well, but if you forget to activate it, you can always enhance a portrait shot in playback mode using the Glamour Retouch feature. Here even more touch-up options are available, including chin size manipulation and skin glare reduction, along with scope to adjust eye size, colour and whiteness, and even reduce under-eye bags. You can finish things off by reddening cheeks, adding some virtual mascara and applying lipstick. Providing your subject is directly facing the camera and fills most of the frame, these effects are targeted accurately at their relevant facial features.

Nikon Coolpix A100
Rear of the Nikon Coolpix A100

The fifth and final shooting mode is Auto mode, which functions like a programmable auto mode. Here the camera retains control of shutter speed and aperture, but you get to choose white balance and ISO sensitivity settings. In Auto mode, the A100 also has options for changing the focus point between face priority, subject tracking, target finding, centre and manual point selection, plus there’s the ability to switch between single and full-time autofocus. Auto mode also reveals the continuous shooting option. To adjust any of these settings, you simply press the Menu button located at the bottom of the rear panel.

The remaining controls on the back of the Nikon Coolpix A100 include a directional control pad that doubles as controls for the flash (chose between Auto and Off when in Scene Auto Selector mode, while Auto mode adds Auto with red-eye reduction, Fill flash, and Slow sync options), self-timer (2 and 10 second delay options are available), macro mode, and exposure compensation (+/-2EV).

Nikon Coolpix A100
The Nikon Coolpix A100 In-hand

On the top of the A100 you’ll find the power button and shutter release button that’s surrounded by a conventional zoom rocker ring. This only has one speed, so making very fine focal length adjustments can be slightly hit or miss. Flip the camera over and there’s a tripod mount, as well as a single socket that takes care of charging and AV output duties. Alongside this is a small door covering the battery and SD card compartment.

When it comes to shooting with the Nikon Coolpix A100, it’ll power on in a fairly spritely 2 seconds, but from then on Nikon’s lack of technical development starts to show. You’ll have to wait up to three frustrating seconds between snapping a shot and being able to view it, thanks to the camera’s outdated and underpowered image processer. At least the autofocussing system is pretty nippy and doesn’t slow too much in low light, although in these conditions the A100’s autofocussing isn’t entirely reliable. Macro focussing is much more hit or miss, however. In the default Scene Auto Selector mode the camera struggles to detect close subjects and often requires you to leave more than the quoted 10cm minimum distance in order to focus. To get more consistent macro focussing, you’ll need to switch to Auto mode and manually activate macro focussing using the rear panel Macro button. It’s a tedious workaround to an issue that should have been properly addressed years ago.

Finally, unlike the cheaper Coolpix A10 that’s powered by two AA batteries, the A100 uses Nikon’s EN-EL19 rechargeable Li-ion battery that’s rated for a reasonable 250 shots per charge.

Image Quality

In good light, the Coolpix A100’s 20.1MP 1/2.3-inch CCD sensor produces acceptable image quality. Fine detail is fairly well resolved, especially in landscape shots, where distant foliage isn’t smeared by noise reduction and image smoothing. Colour vibrancy may be slightly underwhelming for some tastes, as it tends to be more natural than eye-catching. Dynamic range is similarly average and the camera struggles to preserve strong highlights at the same time as keeping shadow areas clearly visible.

The A100’s 5x, 26-130mm lens manages to keep corner sharpness almost on a par with detail in the centre of frame, and you won’t see any distortion in real world images. However, chromatic aberration is easily visible on high contrast boundaries, even when viewing shots at half size.

But it’s the lens’ lack of image stabilisation that’s most problematic. Shoot in moderate to low light and camera shake is hard to avoid, especially at longer focal lengths. Assuming you can hold the A100 very steady, low light image quality is acceptable up to ISO 800 with minimal noise and only slight detail loss. However, at ISO 1600 images look noticeably softer, and the maximum ISO 3200 sensitivity is best avoided due to the significant grain, obvious image processing, and reduced image size of just 3.87 megapixels.


The Nikon Coolpix A100 has six sensitivity settings ranging from ISO 80 to ISO 1600 at full resolution. Switch from the default Scene Auto Selector mode to regular Auto mode and you can manually select ISO 3200, however images at this sensitivity are recorded at a small 2272x1704 resolution.

ISO 80 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

iso80.jpg iso100.jpg

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

iso200.jpg iso400.jpg

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

iso800.jpg iso1600.jpg

Focal Range

The A100’s 5x zoom lens achieves a maximum wide-angle focal length equivalent to 26mm, and can zoom in to 130mm (in 35mm-camera terms). As you can see, with no image stabilisation and the default Scene auto selector mode’s reluctance to engage high ISO sensitivities, blur from camera shake is a problem when using full zoom.



focal_range1.jpg focal_range2.jpg

File Quality

Shooting the Coolpix A100 at its maximum 20MP resolution with fine jpeg quality produces images around 8MB in size. Switching to normal quality at the same resolution brings that down to roughly 4-4.5MB. Other resolution options are also available: 10MP (approx. 2.2MB), 4MP (approx. 1MB), 2MP (approx. 0.5MB), and VGA 640x480 (approx. 100-150KB).



quality_fine.jpg quality_standard.jpg


The A100’s lens will focus as close as 10cm from your subject when the lens is at maximum wide-angle. However, the camera will only consistently focus at this distance when you switch to Auto mode and manually activate macro focussing.




The A100’s flash has four settings when shooting in standard Auto mode: Auto, Auto with red-eye reduction, Fill flash & Slow sync. Shooting a white surface from a distance of 1.5m shows the flash provides even illumination with the lens zoomed in, though some minor vignetting is visible in the wide-angle shot.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (26mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (26mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Flash Off - Telephoto (130mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (130mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

With the flash is set to Fill Flash, red-eye is fairly obvious, but it’s just about eliminated by switching to Auto with red-eye reduction mode.

Fill Flash On

Fill Flash On (100% Crop)
flash_on.jpg flash_on1.jpg

Flash Auto with red-eye reduction

Flash Auto with red-eye reduction (100% Crop)
flash_on.jpg flash_on1.jpg

Night Landscape Mode

This mode includes two sub-settings: Tripod, and Handheld. In Tripod mode the A100 captured this scene at the base ISO 80 sensitivity with a 2-second exposure. However there’s still noticeable image noise and the overall exposure is about a stop darker than it should be. Switching to the Handheld sub-setting produces images identical to simply shooting in regular Auto mode. The result is an ISO 800 shot recorded at ¼-second. It’s still too dark, and despite making several attempts at this shot, the A100 wouldn’t focus correctly (although the camera claimed otherwise). All in all, a very poor performance.





Digital Filters

The A100 offers eight filter effects, all of which are previewed live and recorded at full resolution. Your options are: Soft, Nostalgic sepia, High-contrast mono, Selective colour, Pop, Toy camera effect 1, Toy camera effect 2, and Cross process.



digital_filters_01.jpg digital_filters_02.jpg

Nostalgic Sepia

High-contrast Monochrome

digital_filters_03.jpg digital_filters_04.jpg

Selective Colour


digital_filters_05.jpg digital_filters_06.jpg

Toy camera Effect 1

Toy camera Effect 2

digital_filters_07.jpg digital_filters_08.jpg

Cross Process


Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Nikon Coolpix A100 camera, which were all taken using the 20 megapixel High JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample Movie & Video

This is a sample movie at the highest quality setting of 1280x720 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 20 second movie is 64.7Mb in size.

Product Images

Nikon Coolpix A100

Front of the Nikon Coolpix A100

Nikon Coolpix A100

Front of the Nikon Coolpix A100 / Lens Extended

Nikon Coolpix A100

Side of the Nikon Coolpix A100

Nikon Coolpix A100

Side of the Nikon Coolpix A100

Nikon Coolpix A100

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix A100

Nikon Coolpix A100

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix A100 / Image Displayed

Nikon Coolpix A100

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix A100 / Main Menu

Nikon Coolpix A100

Top of the Nikon Coolpix A100

Nikon Coolpix A100

Bottom of the Nikon Coolpix A100

Nikon Coolpix A100

Side of the Nikon Coolpix A100

Nikon Coolpix A100

Side of the Nikon Coolpix A100

Nikon Coolpix A100

Front of the Nikon Coolpix A100

Nikon Coolpix A100

Front of the Nikon Coolpix A100

Nikon Coolpix A100
Battery Compartment / Memory Card Slot


The Nikon Coolpix A100 isn’t a particularly bad camera, but it is a thoroughly average and outdated token effort that exists purely to give Nikon a presence in a dying segment of the camera market. It is largely unchanged from the Coolpix S2900 and even the S2800 before that, evidenced by the lack of reactively modern features like Wi-Fi or a touch screen.

Even disregarding the no-frills specs, the Coolpix A100 hardly excels at the basics. Image processing speed is leisurely at best, while the 2.7-inch screen’s low resolution and restrictive viewing angles make it one of the most disappointing camera monitors on the market today. At least image quality is acceptable in good light, and this is one of the few areas where the A100 can actually match a half-decent smartphone camera. However, low light shooting is much less accomplished due to the lens’ lack of image stabilisation and unreliable autofocussing, along with the poor high ISO image quality.

While the Nikon Coolpix A100 will never impress a keen photographer, its low price and svelte size are likely to attract casual shooters on a tight budget. Trouble is, even at this price, the Coolpix A100 faces stiff competition from cameras like the Canon PowerShot SX610 HS. This is in a different performance league to the Nikon, yet shop around and it’ll only cost you £10 more than the A100’s £89.99 RRP. Even so, if you can find the Nikon Coolpix A100 generously discounted, it just about makes sense as a cheap occasional camera to replace a much older model.

3 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 3.5
Features 2.5
Ease-of-use 3.5
Image quality 3
Value for money 3

Main Rivals

Listed below are some of the rivals of the Nikon Coolpix A100.

Canon PowerShot SX170 IS

The Canon PowerShot SX170 IS is an affordable travel-zoom compact camera. For less than £150 / $200, the Canon SX170 offers a 16x optical zoom lens, 16 megapixel sensor, 3 inch LCD screen and 720p movies. Read our in-depth Canon PowerShot SX170 IS review now...

Nikon Coolpix S2900

The Nikon Coolpix S2900 is an entry-level, slim and stylish compact camera featuring a 5x zoom lens, 20 megapixels, 720p HD movies, 2.7 inch screen and a range of special effects. Read our in-depth Nikon Coolpix S2900 review now...

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ10

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ10 is a brand new travel-zoom compact camera for 2015. The stylish Panasonic SZ10 offers 16 megapixels, a 12x zoom lens (24-288mm), a 3 inch LCD tilting screen for easier selfies, built-in wi-fi connectivity, and 720p HD movies. Read our expert Panasonic DMC-SZ10 review now...

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W570

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W570 is a new 16.1 megapixel compact camera with an ultra-wide angle 25-125mm 5x zoom lens. The W570 has a raft of auto features aimed at improving your pictures, from the Easy shooting mode for complete beginners, smile shutter for easier portraits, dynamic range optimiser for more detail, to the Sweep Panorama mode that never fails to impress. Read our Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W570 review to find out if this is the right point-and-shoot camera for you.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX220

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX220 is a slim and stylish compact camera with wi-fi and NFC connectivity. The WX220 also features a 10x zoom lens, 18 megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor, 10fps continuous shooting and Full 1080p HD movie recording. Priced at around £179, read our Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX220 review to find out if it's worth considering...

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Nikon Coolpix A100 from around the web. »

The Nikon Coolpix A100 is one of Nikon's cheapest compact cameras with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, it's priced at a low price of £69.99, and is available in a number of colours. The A100 features a 20.1-megapixel sensor and a wide-angle 5x optical zoom lens.
Read the full review »


    • Type

    • Compact digital camera

    • Effective pixels

    • 20.1 million (Image processing may reduce the number of effective pixels.)

    • Image sensor

    • 1/2.3-in. type CCD, Total pixels: approx. 20.48 million

    • Lens

    • NIKKOR lens with 5x optical zoom

    • Focal length

    • 4.6 to 23.0 mm (angle of view equivalent to that of 26 to 130 mm lens in 35 mm [135] format)

    • F-number

    • f/3.2 to 6.5

    • Lens construction

    • 6 elements in 5 groups

    • Magnification

    • Up to 4x (angle of view equivalent to that of approx. 520 mm lens in 35 mm [135] format)

    • Vibration reduction

    • Electronic VR (movies)

    • Motion blur reduction

    • Electronic VR (still images)

    • Autofocus

    • Contrast-detect AF

    • Focus range

    • [W]: Approx. 50 cm (1 ft 8 in.) to infinity, [T]: Approx. 80 cm (2 ft 8 in.) to infinity, Macro mode: Approx. 10 cm (4 in.) to infinity (wide-angle position) (All distances measured from center of front surface of lens)

    • AF-area mode

    • Face priority, center, manual with 99 focus areas, subject tracking, target finding AF

    • Monitor

    • 6.7 cm (2.7-in.) diagonal; Approx. 230k-dot, TFT LCD, and 5-level brightness adjustment

    • Frame coverage

    • Approx. 98% horizontal and vertical (compared to actual picture)

    • Frame coverage (playback mode)

    • Approx. 98% horizontal and vertical (compared to actual picture)

    • Storage media

    • SD, SDHC, SDXC, Internal memory (approx. 25 MB)

    • File system

    • DCF and Exif 2.3 compliant

    • Storage file formats

    • Still images: JPEG, Movies: AVI (Motion-JPEG compliant)

    • Image size (pixels)

    • 20M (High) [5152 x 3864 (Fine)], 20M [5152 x 3864], 10M [3648 x 2736], 4M [2272 x 1704], 2M [1600 x 1200], VGA [640 x 480], 16:9 (14M) [5120 x 2880], 1:1 [3864 x 3864]

    • ISO sensitivity

    • ISO 80 to 1600, ISO 3200 (available when using Auto mode)

    • Exposure metering

    • Matrix, center-weighted (digital zoom less than 2x), spot (digital zoom 2x or more)

    • Exposure control

    • Programmed auto exposure and exposure compensation (–2.0 to +2.0 EV in steps of 1/3 EV)

    • Shutter type

    • Mechanical and CCD electronic shutter

    • Shutter speed

    • 1/2000 to 1 s, 4 s (Fireworks show scene mode)

    • Self-timer

    • Can be selected from 10 s and 2 s

    • Aperture

    • Electromagnetic ND filter (–2.6 AV) selection

    • Aperture range

    • 2 steps (f/3.2 and f/8 [W])

    • Built-in flash

    • Yes

    • Flash range (approx.)

    • [W]: 0.5 to 4.0 m (1 ft 8 in. to 13 ft) [T]: 0.8 to 2.0 m (2 ft 8 in. to 6 ft 6 in.)

    • Flash control

    • TTL auto flash with monitor preflashes

    • USB

    • Hi-Speed USB, supports Direct Print (PictBridge), also used as audio/video output connector (NTSC or PAL can be selected for video output.)

    • Audio input

    • Stereo mini-pin jack (3.5-mm diameter; plug-in power supported)

    • Audio output

    • Stereo mini-pin jack (3.5-mm diameter)

    • Supported languages

    • Arabic, Bengali, Bulgarian, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Marathi, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese (European and Brazilian), Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Swedish, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese

    • Power sources

    • One Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL19 (included), AC Adapter EH-62G (available separately)

    • Charging time

    • Approx. 3 h (when using Charging AC Adapter EH-72P/EH-72PCH and when no charge remains)

    • Battery life1

    • Approx. 250 shots when using EN-EL19

    • Actual battery life for movie recording

    • Approx. 1 h 5 min when using EN-EL19

    • Tripod socket

    • 1/4 (ISO 1222)

    • Dimensions (W x H x D)

    • Approx. 94.5 x 58.6 x 19.8 mm (3.8 x 2.4 x 0.8 in.) (excluding projections)

    • Weight

    • Approx. 119 g (4.2 oz) (including battery and memory card)

    • Operating environment - temperature

    • 0°C to 40°C (32°F to 104°F)

    • Operating environment - humidity

    • 85% or less (no condensation)

    • Supplied accessories

    • Camera Strap, Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL19, USB Cable UC-E16, Charging AC Adapter EH-72P (A plug adapter is included if the camera was purchased in a country or region that requires a plug adapter. The shape of the plug adapter varies with the country or region of purchase.)

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