Using Nikon P100 super-zoom as ultra versatile digital camera

"Super-zoom" digital cameras like the P-100 have lenses that can zoom from wide-angle to telephoto.

I had read that the photo quality is not so great, but this seemed to be by comparison with DSLRs, which are both far bulkier and far more expensive. Also found at least one reviewer who was very happy with the camera.

nikon p100

For me, the Nikon P100 proved excellent: lightweight, readily carried everywhere with me (not in pocket, but in small carrying case), felt comfortable to hold and use, and capable of taking shots from close ups of a dragonfly, through landscapes, to birds in flight. The results might not stun National Geographic editors(!), but made for good shots to view online, and for including in my survey report.

Avoiding Nikon P100’s default settings

As typical with cameras, I found it important to override the default settings. Most notably: I considered images were quite noisy, even from around 400ASA, so I mostly used at the minimum ISO setting of 160ASA: noise much less here.
Also, for longer telephoto shots I used a tripod. Mainly kept within the optical zoom range – up to 26x the wide angle view. Also tried zooming further, with digital zoom – results just about ok. When shooting with telephoto, I found the digital viewfinder much easier for composing shots than the screen; also felt using the viewfinder helped with holding the camera steadier if hand holding.

nikon p100 nikon p100 superzoom

Shots of P100 with zoom set to wide-angle, and full optical zoom.

The rear viewing screen can be tilted, which helps when taking shots from low down, and from overhead.

nikon p100 nikon p100

TIlting screen up helps take shots from low angles; while tilting it down is good for, say, holding camera aloft to take pictures over people’s heads.

Here are some of the shots I’ve taken with the Nikon P100; all trimmed from originals to 800pixels max length (for web), and with a little photoshop used – for contrast mainly, also some sharpening w birds and damselfly:

damselfly w nikon p100

A damselfly: just quickly grabbed this shot, hand holding. Cropped from the original.

Black-winged Stilt. Using telephoto zoom, viewfinder: not so easy to get flight shots with this camera (the viewfinder image is quite small, w low resolution), though again I took this in a relatively short session, involving surveying as well as grabbing a few photos.

swan geese p100

Swan Geese. Trimmed from original; taken from vehicle (the geese were wary, so couldn’t get very close).

isabelline wheatear

Isabelline Wheatear – a confiding bird, so this is barely cropped from the original (tho is also resized to 800px max length).

red lily nikon p100

Red Lily; the camera’s tilting viewing screen helped with taking this shot.

manzhouli p100

Park at Manzhouli. Standard type shooting conditions.

hailar park nikon p100

Hailar park with reflections, at dusk. Again, the tilting rear screen helped take this shot, as I steadied the camera on the ground (also for maximum reflection).


  1. Settings

    I’m not sure how to set my P100 to wide angle. This may a really dumb question, but I’m new to photography and I am not quite comfortable with my camera yet.

    Also, I cant seem to get the zoom to go all the way. On the monitor it stops about half way. I most likely have it on the wrong settings, but I have no freaking clue what to do..



    • P100 zoom

      Hi Katie:

      Maybe you mean you can't set to full zoom – to maximum magnification?

      You should see a zoom bar, moving towards right, as you zoom – increasingly towards telephoto (and away from wide-angle). This can stop at a small vertical bar.

      With settings I have, can then stop zooming, release pressure on zoom button, and then start zooming again.

      BUT – very big BUT – zooming this far means you are no longer using optical zoom (with the lens), but instead the camera is using basic software method so that it kind of expands from part of the image on the sensor. Rather like using a magnifying glass on a tv set, this leads to noise becoming more obvious.
      – plus, at higher magnifications, harder to keep camera still enough to take a photo without blur from shake.

      So what you are seeing is like a fail safe; reach maximum level, then proceed at your own risk…

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