Nikon Coolpix P100 is like P90, but really it's not

Nikon basically changes everything about the P90 except the fact that it's a megazoom camera.

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So this is the Nikon Coolpix P100. It's a complete overhaul inside and out of the flagship P90 . The changes include, for starters, the zoom on the camera's f2.8-5 26-678mm-equivalent lens now goes out to 26x (just in case you were still having trouble seeing into your neighbor's house or their neighbor's house). Though you really don't want to use a zoom like that without a support, the camera does have sensor-shift image stabilization, contrary to Nikon calling it Optical VR.

While I'm on the sensor, it uses a 10-megapixel backside-illuminated (BSI) CMOS type, which in other cameras I've tested, improves shooting speed and helps reduce noise in low-light photos, which Nikon claims it will do for the P100. It'll do a continuous burst at up to 10 frames per second, but like the other BSI CMOS models, once they're shot you have to wait a bit for them to be stored before you can shoot again. It also has a high dynamic range option that'll combine several shots of the same scene to get a single image with a broad range of tonal detail. There's a similar low-light landscape mode that does the same thing, but to reduce blur and noise.

Nikon

Now onto video: The P100 supports HD movie capture up to a resolution 1080p and has a stereo mic on top and an HDMI output on the left side for connecting directly to an HDTV or monitor. Along with the HD movie recording, the P100 does high-speed movie capture creating slow-motion video by shooting at up to 240 frames per second. There's also a switch on back for changing between the two and a one-press record button.

Shooting modes include full manual and semimanual options in addition to a bunch of scene modes, auto scene recognition, subject tracking autofocus for moving subjects, and a single spot for a group of user-selected settings. There's no raw support, though, which seems silly to leave out on this model.

The feel is overall very nice and amazingly compact considering the lens and all the camera can do. The grip is nice and deep and comfortable and all the controls are well placed and responsive. Even the menu systems look sharper than those on older Coolpix models. There's an electronic viewfinder and a 460K-dot 3-inch vari-angle LCD for framing up your shots.

The whole package seems sound and a lot of fun, and with a new sensor and no doubt new processing to deal with its results, there's hope the P100's photos will be better than the P90's shots. Look for the P100 in stores in March for $399.95 and a full review from us shortly.

About the author

Joshua Goldman is a senior editor for CNET Reviews, covering cameras, camcorders, and related accessories. He has been writing about and reviewing consumer technology and software since 2000.

 

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