Nikon COOLPIX P100 Ken McMahon, January 2011
 

Nikon COOLPIX P100 results : Real-life resolution / Sharpness mid-range / Sharpness telephoto / High ISO Noise


Nikon COOLPIX P100 vs Panasonic Lumix FZ45 / FZ40 vs Canon PowerShot SX30 IS High ISO Noise


 
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To compare noise levels under real-life conditions we shot this scene with the Nikon COOLPIX P100, the Panasonic Lumix FZ45 / FZ40 and the Canon PowerShot SX30 IS.

The lenses on all three cameras were set to approximate the same field of view and ISO was manually set.

The above shot was taken with the the COOLPIX P100 in Program mode with the lens at a wide angle setting of 4.6mm (26mm). The ISO sensitivity was set to 160 ISO and the exposure was 0.6 of a second at f2.8. The crops are taken from the area marked with the red square and presented below at 100%.

The COOLPIX P100's unusually high base ISO sensitivity setting might cause you to think twice about considering it. After all, at 160 ISO it's at twice the level of the Lumix FZ45 / FZ40 and PowerShot SX30 IS, both of which start at 80 ISO. But as our crops below show, there's no real need for concern. At the base 160 ISO sensitivity setting the COOLPIX P100 produces a more than acceptable result that compares very favourably with the 100 and even the 80 ISO crops from its competitors. We wouldn't go so far as to say noise is entirely absent from the 160 ISO crop, but you have to look very closely to spot it and it certainly wouldn't be noticeable at anything other than a 100 percent view.

At 200 ISO the story is much the same, though with only a 25 percent increase in sensitivity (the ISO scale is arithmetic so a doubling of the ISO number means a doubling in sensitivity or, to look at it another way an increase of one stop) that's perhaps not surprising.

At 400 ISO we start to see some of the detail disappearing from the stone column on the left of the crop and there's a softness creeping in that wasn't there before. At least it's uniform, though, and there's no evidence of localised detail smearing that you sometimes get with too aggressive noise reduction. At 800 ISO it's softer still and at 1600 ISO the softness has aquired a slightly clumpy texture. but even at these high ISO settings the results are very useable. At 3200 ISO the P100 finally loses the noise battle and the image is starting to break up quite badly. It's not nearly as bad as some 3200 ISO full resolution modes we've seen though.

At the lower ISO settings the COOLPIX results are on par with those from the Panasonic Lumix FZ45 / FZ40. As we've said, the 160 ISO crop from the COOLPIX P100 looks every bit as good as the 80 and 100 ISO crops from the Lumix FZ45 / FZ40. At 200 ISO the COOPIX P100 edges ahead with a sharper more detailed crop and from there all the way up we'd say the P100 produces better results, slightly softer but with significantly less noise and more image detail than the Lumix FZ45 / FZ40 crops.

There's less of a readily discernible difference between the noise performance of the COOLPIX P100 and the PowerShot SX30 IS. Again there's not much to differentiate between the 160 ISO setting on the COOLPIX P100 and the 80 and 100 ISO settings on the PowerShot SX30 IS. We think the COOLPIX looks better at 200 and 400 ISO though, before the PowerShot pulls it back to neck and neck at the 800 and 1600 ISO settings.

Finally, it's worth pointing out that the COOLPIX P100 has a full-resolution 3200 ISO setting whereas the Panasonic and Canon cameras have to make do with reduced resolution high ISO modes. What's more, the COOLPIX P100's 3200 ISO setting produces better quality results than the limited resolution offerings of the Lumix FZ45 / FZ40 and PowerShot SX30 IS, and even gives their 1600 ISO settings a close run.

Now head over to our Nikon COOLPIX P100 gallery to see some more real-life shots in a variety of conditions.


Nikon COOLPIX P100
 
Panasonic Lumix FZ45 / FZ40
 
Canon PowerShot SX30 IS
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Nikon COOLPIX P100 results : Real-life resolution / Sharpness mid-range / Sharpness telephoto / High ISO Noise



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