Nikon Coolpix L100 Mega Zoom Camera Review
Controls, Response, and Menus
As we alluded to earlier, the L100 focuses on automatic controls and offers very little in terms of manual controls. In fact, the L100 is one of the most highly automated cameras we've tested so far. You may have already picked up on this since the camera lacks manual, shutter priority, and aperture priority shooting modes. What may not be quite as obvious is that the camera doesn’t let you change the ISO sensitivity. All of the camera’s shooting modes control the camera’s shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. In Easy Auto mode, the only settings that you can change are the flash and resolution settings. The camera does the rest, choosing what it determines to be the most appropriate scene mode (i.e. Portrait, Landscape, Night, etc.).
Ironically, the automatic mode offers the most options that are within your control. In this mode, you can select the flash mode, self-timer, macro mode, and exposure compensation. You can also enable or disable the vibration reduction system, switch the Motion Detector on or off, turn on Distortion Control, set the white balance, pick a color option, and select from a number of drive modes including single shot and continuous.
The L100 has a single AF point located in the center. To focus on an off-center subject, you’ll need to press the shutter halfway while your subject is within the AF point and then recompose your shot before fully depressing the shutter button. When the camera has successfully focused, the box that surrounds the AF point will turn green. There were a number of times during my tests that I struggled to get that little green box that indicated the camera had successfully focused on my subject, particularly when shooting indoors. In many of these instances, I could still take a relatively sharp picture.
The menu system on the L100 is relatively simple and easy to use. When shooting, you’ll see two tabs on the left: Shooting Menu and Set Up. In playback mode, you’ll see the Playback Menu and Set Up tabs. The Shooting Menu provides access to the image quality settings, white balance options, continuous shooting modes, color options, and distortion control when shooting in Auto mode. When you’re in Easy Auto mode, one of the preset shooting modes, or movie mode, the only options you’ll see when pressing the Menu button are image/movie size controls. In Sport Continuous mode, you’ll get continuous shooting options as well as image quality options.
The Set Up menu provides access to basic camera settings and features, such as the ability to set the date and time on the camera, the ability to turn on/off vibration reduction and motion detection, sound settings, language controls, and a handful of other options.
The Playback menu is relatively simple, providing access to the L100’s D-Lighting feature, Print set (to print directly from the camera), Slide show, Delete, and Small picture options.
Regardless of which menu you are in, you’ll need to press the Scene button or the Menu button in order to get back to the playback and shooting screens. There’s nothing wrong with this implementation, but since many cameras let you switch back to playback/shooting screens by pressing the shutter button, some users will need to retrain themselves on how to exit the menu system.