Andrew P Watson

Web Developer

Nikon Coolpix P100 – Real world, non-photographer use and examples.

Sun, 08/29/2010 - 20:23

This summer I picked up the Nikon Coolpix p100 digital camera. I wanted something decent, but not overly challenging for an average, non-camera savoy user. I had been using the Cannon PowerShot A540 with fair results, but after it took a swim in a local river as I pulled my kayak out – it just hasn’t been the same. Besides, the Cannon was old technology. I wanted something a little newer.

I pondered getting a real camera (dSLR), but truth be told… I’m just not that into it. I figured I would do better getting decent pictures from a good point-and-click, rather than getting frustrated and crappy pictures with an expensive “do it all yourself” SLR. I went to a Ritz Camera and talked to a salesperson for like an hour over what I should get. We settled on the Nikon Coolpix p100.

It has 10.3 megapixels, full 1080p HD video, and a crazy 26x zoom. What the heck would I need more camera than that for? All I’m going to be doing is catching birthdays, random wildlife sightings, or events. For the price, it made sense.

My Goal: I am a complete photography novice, trying to use a camera that is marketed as super easy to use. Basically, from what I read, you don’t need to be an expert to use this machine. And if the commercials are anything to go by, I’ll be getting incredible shots right out of the box. Yeah.. we’ll see about that.

I just get tired of “skewed” marketing tactics. You know, product advertisements that show models, living in a perfect world, dancing around and using some product, effortlessly providing outstanding results. Or fast food commercials showing a “picture perfect” meal being enjoyed by slim, smiling, happy people.

We all know, or least I do, that no meal EVER looks like that. And we’ve all seen the REAL people that eat them. I also know that no product produces the perfect bliss that it’s marketing seems to suggest. I realize that there are some great products out there, I just get frustrated when bombarded by advertisements that sell improbable, or even impossible results…


This weekend I had a go at actually “learning” the settings on the camera. Prior to this model, and even with this model up to this point, all I would do is turn the thing, make sure it’s on auto, point.. and click. I had no clue what any of the settings where. Actually I’m still pretty baffled by them, but I did get some cool results tinkering with some of the options. I wanted to share in case anyone else was pondering this machine.

Nikon Coolpix p100 – real life, non-photographer pictures.

This shot is my favorite. I was literally like ten feet away. It took a few tries, but I got this one using the “shutter speed priority” setting and manual focus.

Coolpix P100 zoomed in bright light

One big problem I have when using the auto-mode is focusing on the item I actually want to focus on. I tried to get this spider into focus, but even on the macro setting the camera tried to focus on the tree in the background. Finally, using the manual focus, I was able to get this. The spider is really small, maybe half an inch long.

Nikon CoolPix P100 manual focus on spider

This shot did basically what I wanted it to do; get the flower in focus while the background blurs out. I used the shutter speed setting and manual focus. It’s a little dark, but if I’d adjusted the shutter speed it would have been a great picture.

Testing light with flower

I had the same goal with this picture, to have the bloom in focus and the rest out. The colors are only fair, but overall I thinks it’s decent.

Depth of field using Coolpix

I really dig the colors on this shot. I had the shutter open a little longer than the other shots, and again used manual focus. At this point I was getting the hang of it.

Examle of awesome color from Nikon Camera

This was a test of low-ish light. I wanted the main focus to be a little sharper, but every time I slowed down the shutter to let more light it – I found it very hard to hold the camera steady enough to get the picture I wanted.

Low light using manual settings

I’m a little surprised at the color of this one. In the woods these mushrooms were a vibrant yellow, but in the picture they look a little washed out. Like I said, I really don’t know what I’m doing. I’m sure with a little more practice I’d know what button to push in order to get better outdoor colors.

Nikon CoolPix P100 auto focus outside in woods

This picture is interesting for a couple reasons. The one reason I leaned towards point and click camera was because they are just easy to use. But, seeing that I’m trying to actually learn to use the settings correctly, when I saw this little guy in the woods it was like a race. I had to power-up the camera, select the setting, adjust the shutter speed, focus, and zoom quicker than I’ve ever needed to. It was a test for sure. I’d like to have been a little sharper, but he was like ten feet away and I was fumbling over what settings to adjust.

Zoomed to the edge of digital zoom

I wanted this picture to be crisper than it is. The colors out in the open where really slick. The picture just looks a little bland. Again, maybe if I knew what I was doing. Still, it’s a better than my Cannon did – of course I never used any of the custom settings on that.

tree - focus was not what I expected

Again, this is an example of how settings can effect the picture (well, duh). In the woods, this was an awesome shot. Apparently, I had the shutter open too long because the light is all washed out. I should say, for the record, I did try one shot of this on the full-auto mode and it came out a little worse.

Nikon Coolpix in mixed light, auto settings

Finally, another example of how using the manual fo"cus can allow you to take a picture that you simply can’t with the auto focus. I tried both ways on this, but the auto focus just adjusted in on the tree in the background (on macro). With the manual, I was able to bring the web into focus fairly painlessly.

Manual focus on spider web


Hi This is the first time I see your web . and it is great . actually I searched for information about Nikon cooplix p100 and Fortunately I found this site . the pic are awesome . specially the spider . Unfortunately I dont know how to get some photo like that and i really need to know . I would be pleased if you could let me know about setting of the camera in those pic that you focused on the subject and background is blur . p.s. sorry if you found mistake , I am non English speaker .

Elnaz, There are several modes in P100, I think it's one of the best point and shot camera out there. Better then it's own predecessor P500 (which is a bit slower in performance), The basic things you need to do is to take pictures based on the scene and mode you want. Choose different mode and scene and click multiple pictures. Practice and only practice will help you to get cool pictures. some of my shots I have uploaded here Most basic fundamental for this camera: Choose green icon of camera if you want to rely on internal software to choose setting for the picture based on environmental condition. Trust me you'll get most of the time awesomeness in your pictures in this mode. Choose Shutter speed 'S' in the top wheel, if you want to take a picture of a moving object Choose scene selection and then choose backlight from menu when ever you have light coming from background of the object you are trying to capture. There are lots and lots of such small tips which you can find and learn from google and practice.

Your pictures are nice. It will be good if you displayed the camera setting details along with the pictures. Good Luck

I was thinking the same! It would be nice to know what settings he used. Would help a lot! :)

I just got a P100 a couple weeks ago. For its price its an amazingly good camera, equal to, actually better in some respects to far more expensive and more fussy to use DSLR cameras costing way more. Couple points. The mushroom photo was probably off color a bit most likely due to white balance. That can be changed in P S A M modes. Try using “measure”. Page 83 in manual. For Elnaz… To blur background you need to adjust depth of field. The closer the camera is to the subject (think close-up or macro mode if your camera supports it) the shorter the depth of field or what remains in focus. Do that with a fast Apeture setting like 2.8. The “trick” is what you want to be in focus, in this case the spider in the foreground needs to be some distance from the background. If not then the camera won’t be able to seperate the two and either both the spider and background will be in or out of focus.

Thanks for the notes. I need help using my nikon coolpix p100. I need more detailed insructions than the manual.

Fantastic demo of the camera. I have been trying to find information on the manual focus of the p100 but nobody has really included it in their reviews. Now I know that it does what I want it to I will go out and buy one! If it’s not too much trouble would you be able to tell me how the manual focus works, do you use the dial or a button?

These are nice suggestions for closeup photography. I have purchased a Nikon P100 couple of month ago. I am a insect biologist and I want to shoot some insect photographs like mosquitoes. I tried every setting including manual focusing, aperture and shutter mode and user setting but I am not satisfied with the focus of this camera. The details of photographs never come up and even the photographs are not sharp as it was in L series (3x zoom) camera.I think Nikon play very tricky with aperture and shutter mode, if you increase the shutter speed the aperture will down automatically and I found one more thing that the depth of field in not increased after reducing the aperture size and increase light as with the use of flash. I tried closeup lens using adapter on it, however it also not worthy. Can somebody suggest me what is the best setting for sharp focus as shown in spider photograph in which all the clours are looking good, the colour bands of spider as seperated clearly and spots on spider are also looking good. Don’t mind but I am suspecting that this can be the picture from Nikon P100. I agree with the photo of tree from Nikon P100 as I have many same photographs with this camera, when you magnify this image you will see the bluish border, the color aberration. Some features are also good like it has nice speed, it works well in dim light situation, however, I dont think this is good camera for closeup photography. Again, if somebody has played well with Nikon P100 using closeup photography, I want to discuss and share the images that tried to improve my skills with this camera, though I have played with SLRs earlier. I welcome your suggestions

be sure your image quality setting is to "fine" rather than normal. I figured normal was okay, but I've been using fine quality and am much happier with sharper images. The macro setting is one of my favorites with this camera and I don't even use manual focus. Do u have it set to macro?

Hello I am a communication major film/broadcasting and i felt learning how to use a dslr. I love it i am progressively learning more and more, but there is one thing i can’t seem to figure out. The depth of field i read books, watched videos i understand it has to do with the f/stop but i can’t seem to figure it out. And i do have the p100, any advice?

fstop: it's "opposite"...large fstop, f8 is a narrow amount of light which allows more depth of field, small fstop numbers get wider, f2 for exanple opens the aperature, lets more light in at one click, which then doesn't offer as much depth of field, when u want depth of field go to the largest f stop you can considering the settings you're using.

As I experimented with manual focus on my new P100 this past week, the indicator on the right side of the screen moved slowly and evenly the first few times I ran the focus up and down but then sped up some and most unfortunately began jumping as it reached the top half of the scale. Do you have any idea why this happens and how to fix it?

i got nikon p100 coolpix for personal use…..a few days ago…bt having prob with that…plzz help!! sometimes… stops working….i cant even turn off…its like hanged!!! any solution ???

Firmware update might help [1] [1]
andrew's picture

<p>Hey thanks for this! It never occurred to me that I should update the firmware.</p> <p>Cheers!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>

I love this cam. had it for 2.5 years now. Amazing capture of colours and great ease of use... Good to capture some lovely family pics and also great for not professional photographers...

Just bought one of these babies from eBay for $160 US. Can't wait to use it!
andrew's picture

<p>It&#39;s a great machine. I&#39;ve been taking a lot of sunrise pictures lately. I think I&#39;ll do another picture post soon.</p> <p>Cheers!</p> <p>A</p>

i am off to India soon and like to take beautiful pictures of taj mahal. I want some advise that what sort of setting i should use? I have nikon p100. thanks

I loved you article and it was very helpful to me. How is the video and does it focus well while zooming during video? Also how far does it zoom while video taping. I would just like some info on the video side. -Thanks Austin

I can"t figure out how to record with my p100 Nikon email is it would be so helpful and I would realy appreciate it (HAPPY 4th of july be safe)THANK YOU

Hi, press the red button near DISP button. Set it to HD to better filming.

My Nikon Coolpix p100 stopped taking pictures in day light. It records video and click pics in low light but does NOT snap a still picture in day light. Plz help

frm where to adjust the shutter speed.....i cannot find in the camera

in my coolpix p100, i am unable to change shutter speed and aperture when i select manual mode. I think the button on right top corner of camera which we use to vary shutter speed and aperture not working. how can i resolve this problem.

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