Nikon Coolpix A100 Review

June 21, 2016 | Jack Baker |
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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.

Noise

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.

26mm

130mm

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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).

Fine

Standard

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Macro

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.

Macro

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Flash

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)
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Flash Auto with red-eye reduction

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

Tripod

night2.jpg
 

Handheld

night1.jpg

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.

Off

Soft

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Nostalgic Sepia

High-contrast Monochrome

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Selective Colour

Pop

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Toy camera Effect 1

Toy camera Effect 2

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Cross Process

 
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