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UPDATE: our full review of the L100 is now live.

Overview


The L100 has a 10-megapixel sensor and a 15x zoom lens and is priced at $279.95. Ultra-zoom cameras like the L100 are in their own category, lacking the smallness of the compact point-and-shoots and the complexity and flexibility of the full-on DSLR. The L100 is accordingly not petite, but it's attractive in a professional way and feels well-built.

 

 **Front**


The autofocus assist light is to the left of the lens. The flash is a pop-up located on the right side, above the Nikon logo.

 

 **Back**


The 3.0-inch LCD display is the predominant feature of the back of the L100. To its right are the settings control buttons, including a 4-way circular controller with a center select button that's surrounded by the Scene/Mode, Playback, Menu, and Delete buttons. Above all of these buttons is a textured empty space for your thumb with a flash ready indicator light next to it.

 

 

Sides


There is nothing on the left side of the L100 except for a loop for the shoulder strap.

 

On the right side of the L100 are the AV-out and DC-in ports covered by a tethered plastic cover. There's a chrome bit above the ports that does nothing but spruce up the other shoulder strap loop hole.

 

Top


On the right side of the top of the L100 are the shutter button surrounded by the rotating zoom control and the on/off button. From this angle, you can see the outline of the pop-up flash on the left side behind the lens.

 

Bottom


The battery and SD card slot compartment is on the bottom of the L100, hidden by a very secure cover with a sliding locking mechanism. A metal tripod socket sits in the middle of the bottom panel.

 

 

 

UPDATE: our full review of the L100 is now live.

Viewfinder


The L100 does not have an optical viewfinder. Read on to find out about the LCD display that you'll rely on instead.

 

LCD


The L100's TFT-LCD display measures 3.0 inches diagonally and has 230,000 dots. We found it to be bright and relatively crisp during our time with the L100. Brightness can be adjusted among 5 levels in the main settings menu.

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 **Flash**


The L100's flash is a pop-up one that operates manually. If the flash is needed, you'll see a message on the screen asking you to open it. We were told tby a Nikon representative hat it operates manually since it's not likely to be used often to begin with on an ultra-zoom camera. Additional specs and guide numbers for the flash have not yet been provided.

 

Lens


The L100 has a fixed lens that is not interchangeable. Well, you could remove it once, but then you'd have to buy a new L100 afterward. The lens is capable of up to 15x optical zoom and spans 5.0 - 75.0mm, which has a 35mm equivalent of 28 - 420mm. In macro mode, it can focus as close as 0.4 inch and as close as 1 foot and 8 inches in normal mode.

 

 **Jacks, Ports & Plugs**


The L100 has 2 ports on its right side hidden behind a tethered plastic cover - AV-out/USB, for which both cables are included, and DC in, for the optional AC power adapter.

Battery


The L100 takes 4 AA batteries, which avoids the need to carry around a battery charger. The spec sheet states the L100 will capture 350 shots with alkaline batteries and 900 shots with Lithium batteries.

 

Memory


The L100 has 44MB of internal memory, which is nice in case you want to capture a few pictures and you don't have a memory card on hand, but not enormously useful. The camera takes SD and SDHC memory cards, which are inexpensive even in high capacities today..

 

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UPDATE: our full review of the L100 is now live.

Design & Appearance


The L100 has a very no-nonsense look to it in a solid matte black with only a few chrome-look pieces here and there. In general, the L100 is a very professional-looking camera that won't draw any undue attention compared to brightly-colored point and shoots, though it won't get you quite the same amount of street cred that a DSLR would.

 

Size & Handling


The L100 is 4.3 x 2.3 x 3.0 inches (109 x 58.4 x 76.2mm), and it weighs 12.5 oz. (354g). Compared to the tiny point-and-shoot cameras available these days, the L100 is a bit portly, but it's definitely not unwieldy and isn't heavy enough to tire you out after carrying it all day. We found it fits nicely in the hand, with well-placed areas for your fingers and thumb and good balance overall.

 

 

Menu


The L100's Menu button gives immediate access to the Shooting and Set-up menus, and you can navigate through them with the 4-way controller and its center select button. We found the menus to be very straightforward; very few menu items prompted us to seek out the manual to find more information.

 

 

Ease of Use


Although it's in the ultrazoom category, the L100 is really a point-and-shoot at heart and offers the straightforward automatic and preset scene modes you'd find in a compact camera. All you need to do to get to them is press the Scene/Mode button at the 11 o'clock position relative to the circular 4-way controller, and bam! Pressing the Menu button while you're in any automatic or scene mode will bring up a shooting menu that shows what you can change in that particular mode, as well as the global settings menu on a second tab.

 

 

UPDATE: our full review of the L100 is now live.

Auto Mode


The L100 has 2 — count 'em: 2!  — automatic modes. One of these modes still allows you to change the white balance preset, adjust exposure along a fixed scale, etc. while the other doesn't let you change anything at all. 

Movie Mode


The L100 movie mode records video in 2 resolutions - 640 x 480 and 320 x 240. It's not listed in the specs, but we were told that the recording file format is AVI. Using movie mode is as easy as taking still images - once you switch to movie mode, pressing the shutter button will begin and end video capture. You can zoom while recording video, a feature which is often locked out on point-and-shoot cameras.

 

Drive/Burst Mode


The L100 has a Sports Continuous Scene mode that will shoot up to 13 frames per second, or up to 30 frames per second when the resolution is set to 3 megapixels or lower. It also has a Best Shot Selector feature that will automatically take up to 10 pictures with a single shutter press and then save the sharpest one out of the bunch.

 

Playback Mode


Reviewing your captured images and videos is easy - the Playback button at the 1 o'clock position relative to the circular 4-way controller brings you right to them, showing each in full-screen view by default. You can use the zoom control to magnify the currently-selected image and to switch to a thumbnail view or to a calendar view that shows you the current month - assuming you have the date correctly set in the main settings menu - where you can scroll to a specific date using the 4-way controller to look at the images captured on that date.

 

Custom Image Presets


The L100 has a number of preset scene modes: Landscape, Beach/Snow, Night Portrait, Museum, Panorama Assist, Sports, Portrait, Sunset, Night Landscape, Copy, Food, Back Light, Dusk/Dawn, Fireworks Show, Close Up, and PartyScene. All of these are labeled and have an illustrative icon to represent them in the mode menu. All of the standards are included here, but we admit that the Food scene mode feels like the correct answer in a Sesame Street 'One of these things is not like the others' skit. Market research must have indicated that there are consumers who like to take pictures of food often enough to include this preset in an ultra-zoom camera.

 

There is also a Scene Auto Selector that will automatically evaluate the current shooting conditions and apply one of six scene modes without requiring any user input.

 

UPDATE: our full review of the L100 is now live.

Manual Controls


The only semi-manual control the L100 offers is a exposure compensation with ± 3 EV.

 

Focus


The L100 has an auto-focus lens and an assist light for low-light conditions. There is no way to turn off auto-focus and focus manually. It does have Face-Priority AF that will automatically identify and focus on up to 12 faces at a time..

 

ISO


The L100 has nine ISO levels between 64 and 6400, although the two highest levels - 6400 and 3200 - can only be applied at resolutions of 3 megapixels or lower.

 

White Balance


The L100 has an Auto white balance mode and a custom mode to set white balance based on current conditions. Beyond this, there are presets to cover taking Daylight, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Cloudy, and Flash.

 

Metering


The L100 has 3 metering modes - continuous, spot, and center-weighted average. As previously mentioned, you can manually adjust the exposure ± 3 EV.

 

Shutter Speed


The L100's shutter speed specs have not yet been published, and there were no options in any menu to control shutter speed in any way.

 

Aperture


The L100 will automatically adjust the aperture from f/3.5 to f/5.4. There is no manual aperture control.

 

Image Stabilization


The L100 has Nikon's Optical VR Image Stabilization feature that will move the image sensor to compensate for camera shake. It can also detect movement in the scene and adjust the shutter speed and ISO automatically to compensate for it.

 

Picture Quality & Size Options


The L100 offers a number of picture quality and size options:

  • 3648 x 2736 (10M)

  • 2592 x 1944 (5M)

  • 2048 x 1536 (3M)

  • 1024 x 768 (PC)

  • 640 x 480 (TV)

  • 3584 x 2016 (16:9: 3584)

  • 1920 x 1080 (16:9: 1920)(16:9)

 

Picture Effects


The L100 offers color effects that can be applied during image capture, including vivid, black and white, sepia, and cyanotope effects. Images that have already been captured can be modified in the Playback menu using a D-lighting menu option that will automatically adjust dynamic range to optimize a photo. The L100 will also automatically remove red-eye from captured images without requiring any action from the user.

 

Meet the tester

Marianne Schultz

Marianne Schultz

Editor

Marianne Schultz is a valued contributor to the Reviewed.com family of sites.

See all of Marianne Schultz's reviews

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