I’m lucky enough to teach a wide variety of students in person and get my hands on so many different cameras. Lot’s of my students are DSLR users and some people just have a compact camera that they want to get the most from. But a trend I’ve been beginning to notice is the popularity of the bridge camera.
A bridge camera is not a DSLR – it doesn’t use the mirror system that a digital SLR uses, you can’t change the lenses and the sensor size is much smaller – but it’s not quite a compact either.
Bridge cameras usually have lots more features and mainly lots more controls than you get with the average point and shoot. The biggest bonus is usually the inclusion of a super dooper telephoto zoom lens. In the following article I’ve taken one of the very popular bridge cameras by Nikon – the P100, and reviewed it for you so you an get an ideas of what I mean by a bridge camera and if you’re thinking of buying a new camera, perhaps this is the next step for you.
As you can see from the picture below, on first look, the Nikon P100 is a really compact little machine.
It weighs in at a mere 3lbs which means it’s perfect if your going to be traveling or out walking or even dare I say it fit, to into your diaper bag! It’s packed with really useful features, most of which you’ll find on most bridge cameras but some are unique to the P100. One of these is the 3 inch vari-angle LCD screen with you can pull out and adjust to suit your shooting position.
The camera comes with a brilliant Lithium ion battery and charger which, by all accounts, really holds it’s charge for a long time. I’m not really an advocate of buying a spare battery as they can be quite expensive. Instead I suggest that if you are going on a trip, just take your battery charger with you and charge up every night. Of course if your climbing in the Himalayas this might not apply…
As you can see from the image of the mode dial below, the P100 has many of the manual modes you would expect to see from a DSLR camera.
This means it’s the perfect camera for giving you an introduction to shooting in manual modes and enables you to really get creative with your shots. For those times when you don’t want to think too much about what your shooting, flip it to one of the 17 scene modes and you’ll be assured of a great result.
Of course the best thing about the P100 as far as I’m concerned the lens. Not only do you get a 26mm wide-angle lens which will give you a much wide angle of view than most compact cameras, you also get a whopping 26 x optical zoom lens. If you wanted this type of magnification on your DSLR you’d have to pay a LOT of money, not to mention tote a massive bag around! And to have a 26mm wide angle in there as well means that scenery, big group shots or anything where you need to get more of the picture in, is a breeze.
Something which I’m usually not that into as I’m definitely a stills kinda gal is the High Definition 1080i video capabilities of this little camera. It is awesome! You even get stereo sound. This really would cut down on the amount of gear you’d need for a big trip.
I would say that this is a great camera for anyone who wants to challenge themselves a little more than what they can do with a simple point and shoot camera. It is definitely more bulky than a compact but what you get squeezed in there is that massive, high quality zoom lens. If wildlife, or travel is you thing – then this camera is definitely for you. Not ready to commit to a DSLR? Try out this bridge camera for lots of the manual control without the added bulk. If however you don’t think you’ll ever use the big zoom then maybe this isn’t the camera for you, although truthfully once you get used to a zoom this size it is difficult to adjust to not having one. I also think this in some ways this camera is ideally suited to females. The small size and grip might make it a little awkward in a guys hands – perhaps a little too small for them.
So just to give you an idea of what it is exactly I’m talking about when I say BIG zoom we took some pictures to show you what you can achieve without having to move your feet! Watch for the monument way far in the distance in the first shot.
As you can see that’s pretty powerful! The P100 also has the added bonus of an VR or Vibration Reduction – which means that every shot should be steady as a rock – really important when you have a big zoom like this.
The one negative I see with the this camera is the electronic viewfinder as opposed to an optical viewfinder. Being a traditionalist I still like to use this type of camera by peeking throughout the viewfinder and the digital display just doesn’t do it for me. I guess it’s probably because I’m used to a DSLR. This probably wont make a difference to most of you though because most people are totally comfortable using the LCD screen to frame their shot.
So all in all I would give this camera very definite thumbs up, for the right person. As I have said many times there’s no camera where one size fits all and it’s important to choose the best camera to suit your own specific needs.
But if you like to travel, nature, birds or just the all round flexibility of having the convenience of a large telephoto zoom in a small package then the Nikon P100 is for you! Get Free Shipping from ordering here through Amazon.
P.S. Still not convinced? Check out what other consumers have to say about the P100 here.