Thinking of a Bridge Camera? – Nikon P100 Review

What’s a Bridge Camera?

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.

A closer look at the Nikon P100

As you can see from the picture below, on first look, the Nikon P100 is a really compact little machine.

Nion P100

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…

Lots of Options

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.

26X Optical Zoom Lens

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.

Who is this camera best suited to?

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.

Zoom 1Zoom 2

Zoom 3Zoom 4

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.

Is it all good?

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.

Happy Snapping

P.S. Still not convinced?  Check out what other consumers have to say about the P100 here.

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Tweets that mention Thinking of a Bridge Camera? - Nikon P100 Review | Beginners Photography Blog -- - January 31, 2011

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ingrid Owens and Ingrid Owens, Ingrid Owens. Ingrid Owens said: @mark_cafferkey @nerdish I've done a review of the Nikon P100 here – might be a good alternative to the HS10 […]

Jaimie Dee - Atlanta Wedding Photographer - January 31, 2011

I started off with a bridge camera! It lasted me two weeks before I sold it and bought my first nikon slr! Great article though

Ingrid Owens - February 1, 2011

Can’t beat a DSLR Jaimie but I know they’re not for everyone. Thanks for stopping by!

Optical Zoom vs Digital Zoom | Beginners Photography Blog - February 2, 2011

[…] week on the blog I did a review of the Nikon P100.  I was inspired to do so because of a video my dad , Joe made about it at Diamond Imaging.  You […]

Barry Holdsworth - February 2, 2011

I’m still trying to find the right camera. I don’t need telephoto but I do need a high resolution for the before and after garden shots and I need something simple so I guess it’s a point and shoot type. Any recommendations?

Ingrid Owens - February 3, 2011

Barry, I think most important for you would be something with Wide-Angle capabilities, that way you can get the full width of the garden in without having to stand way back or take it in sections. Honestly you don’t need anything higher than 10 or 12 mega pixels to give you excellent quality unless you want to enlarge the images to billboard size! I’d suggest looking at the Canon Powershot range, for example the SD1300 IS. It’s small enough to stick in your pocket and easy to use but has a great lens with wide angle capabilities. Love your site by the – looks great 🙂

Denver Photographer - February 22, 2011

I definitely like the full manual mode on this big guy.

Coby - February 28, 2011

I always wanted this kind of camera… the Nikon P100. I believe I like to take photos but it is just to expensive for me to have such kind of camera for now.

Dany - March 9, 2011

Looks great but I still prefer an interchangeable.

Eyal Gurevitch - April 17, 2011

The P100 is a great camera indeed.
Now that the P500 is out – the P100 seems obsolete.
The lens got wider and the zoom got larger.
Too bad Nikon still didn’t add RAW and a Flash hot-shoe.

Matt - May 10, 2011

looks like a beast! does it have a good manual focus? love adding depth of field to pictures 🙂

mark - September 22, 2011

I am going to buy this one next month. I was thinking for Nikon P500 and Canon sx30is, but I found p100 is worth buying. Those two cameras got better zoom though of 35x and 36x, but 26x is not too bad either. i heard the low light image is better for p100. I hope it would be a great journey with Nikon coolpix P100.

Mihail - October 13, 2011

I love this camera, but I am having a real hard time taking a macro picture. Any help with this one? I tried the “auto” mode, with the macro on – doesn’t work. Tried A and S, again with “macro” on nothing what I want + a grid that is displayed in the viewfinder and a bunch of pictures as result. I had a Nikon previously (one that you can flip flop the lenses), I had no problems what so ever. My subject is an insect, and I want to background blurred out.
I would appreciate an advice, it has to be something in my settings…


Ingrid - October 13, 2011

Are you zooming in when taking the picture? Try to use the lens at it’s widest angle setting and turn off your flash. See this past post for more information. Let me know how you get on!

Mihail - October 27, 2011

No, I am not, the distance between the lens and subject is under 20 cm. I tried on a still subject,a price label on a package. Get the price exactly how I want it, when half depressing the button the focus changes – the label is showing smaller and the background is clear.

Ingrid - October 27, 2011

Mihail – make sure the FOCUS POINTS are on the insect when you half depress the shutter. This may require you to first lock the focus on your subject (the insect) then recompose with your finger still pressed halfway on the shutter button. This is applicable in any mode, macro or not.

Joe kelly - October 30, 2011

Ingrid ment to let you know Nikon Dslrs are not available in Uk or Ireland i have been told because of the serious flooding in thailand

Christa - April 28, 2012

I love this post! I am looking to upgrade from a point and shoot but am a recent college grad and don’t have the funds for a DSLR. I found a P510 for the same price which has 16MP and a 42x optical zoom …any comments on pros or cons between the two? Thanks!! 🙂

Jennifer Lane - May 15, 2012

Being only a casual photographer I’ve been using the Nikon CoolpixL18now for about a year. A friend of mine has the P100 and as my interest in photographer grows the more envious I am of her.

Indranil - May 27, 2012

Pls do not mix up the cameras like dslr and super zoom bridge cameras. First know your need , I mean what is your purpose. If you look for macro images go for Super zoom bridge and if you look for micro images then definitely go for DSLR. Eg: Natural photography like wild life, go for Bridge and if you looking for taking a very pure quality of pictures like Volvox then DSLR. In both cameras you can fix Raynox lens. Don’t confuse about Mega Pixels ……10 to 12 mega pixels are enough.

Ingrid - June 25, 2012

Thanks for the tips Indra

Ingrid - June 25, 2012

Sounds like a good deal Christa. I guess the main difference is that with the P510 you’ll have an even bigger zoom which you’ll love. The P100 is better in low light conditions as it has a slightly wider maximum aperture but I think I’d go for the bigger zoom 🙂

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