Thinking of a Bridge Camera? – Nikon P100 Review

What’s a Bridge Camera?

I’m lucky enough to teach a wide variety of students in person and get my hands on so many different cameras.  Lot’s of my students are DSLR users and some people just have a compact camera that they want to get the most from.  But a trend I’ve been beginning to notice is the popularity of the bridge camera.

A bridge camera is not a DSLR  – it doesn’t use the mirror system that a  digital SLR uses, you can’t change the lenses and the sensor size is much smaller -  but it’s not quite a compact either.

Bridge cameras usually have lots more features and mainly lots more controls than you get with the average point and shoot.  The biggest bonus is usually the inclusion of a super dooper telephoto zoom lens.  In the following article I’ve taken one of the very popular bridge cameras by Nikon  – the P100, and reviewed it for you so you an get an ideas of what I mean by a bridge camera and if you’re thinking of buying a new camera, perhaps this is the next step for you.

A closer look at the Nikon P100

As you can see from the picture below, on first look, the Nikon P100 is a really compact little machine.

Nion P100

It weighs in at  a mere 3lbs which means it’s perfect if your going to be traveling or out walking or even dare I say it fit, to into your diaper bag!  It’s packed with really useful features, most of which you’ll find on most bridge cameras but some are unique to the P100.   One of these is the 3 inch vari-angle LCD screen with you can pull out and adjust to suit your shooting position.

The camera comes with a brilliant Lithium ion battery and charger which, by all accounts, really holds it’s charge for a long time.  I’m not really an advocate of buying a spare battery as they can be quite expensive.  Instead I suggest that if you are going on a trip, just take your battery charger with you and charge up every night.  Of course if your climbing in the Himalayas this might not apply…

Lots of Options

As you can see from the image of the mode dial below, the P100 has many of the manual modes you would expect to see from a DSLR camera. 

This means it’s the perfect camera for giving you an introduction to shooting in manual modes and enables you to really get creative with your shots.  For those times when you don’t want to think too much about what your shooting, flip it to one of the 17 scene modes and you’ll be assured of a great result.

26X Optical Zoom Lens

Of course the best thing about the P100 as far as I’m concerned the lens.  Not only do you get a 26mm wide-angle lens which will give you a much wide angle of view than most compact cameras, you also get a whopping 26 x optical zoom lens.   If you wanted this type of magnification on your DSLR you’d have to pay a LOT of money, not to mention tote a massive bag around!  And to have a 26mm wide angle in there as well means that scenery, big group shots or anything where you need to get more of the picture in, is a breeze.
Something which I’m usually not that into as I’m definitely a stills kinda gal is the High Definition 1080i video capabilities of this little camera. It is awesome!  You even get stereo sound.  This really would cut down on the amount of gear you’d need for a big trip.

Who is this camera best suited to?

I would say that this is a great camera for anyone who wants to challenge themselves a little more than what they can do with a simple point and shoot camera.  It is definitely more bulky than a compact but what you get squeezed in there is that massive, high quality zoom lens.  If wildlife, or travel is you thing – then this camera is definitely for you.  Not ready to commit to a DSLR?  Try out this bridge camera for lots of the manual control without the added bulk.  If however you don’t think you’ll ever use the big zoom then maybe this isn’t the camera for you, although truthfully once you get used to a zoom this size it is difficult to adjust to not having one.  I also think this in some ways this camera is ideally suited to females.  The small size and grip might make it a little awkward in a guys hands – perhaps a little too small for them.

So just to give you an idea of what it is exactly I’m talking about when I say BIG zoom we took some pictures to show you what you can achieve without having to move your feet!  Watch for the monument way far in the distance in the first shot.

Zoom 1 Zoom 2

Zoom 3 Zoom 4

As you can see that’s pretty powerful!  The P100 also has the added bonus of an VR or Vibration Reduction – which means that every shot should be steady as a rock – really important when you have a big zoom like this.

Is it all good?

The one negative I see with the this camera is the electronic viewfinder as opposed to an optical viewfinder.  Being a traditionalist I still like to use this type of camera by peeking throughout the viewfinder and the digital display just doesn’t do it for me.  I guess it’s probably because I’m used to a DSLR.  This probably wont make a difference to most of you though because most people are totally comfortable using the LCD screen to frame their shot.

So all in all I would give this camera very definite thumbs up, for the right person.  As I have said many times there’s no camera where one size fits all and it’s important to choose the best camera to suit your own specific needs.

But if you like to travel, nature, birds or just the all round flexibility of having the convenience of a large telephoto zoom in a small package then the Nikon P100 is for you!  Get Free Shipping from ordering here through Amazon.

Happy Snapping

P.S. Still not convinced?  Check out what other consumers have to say about the P100 here.

Picaboo Calendar Giveaway!!


This week I have something special for all my readers here on the blog.  My friends over at Picaboo.com have given me a free 11 x 14 Premium calendar to give away to one lucky ready  – a retail value of $29.99!  I’ve been a fan of Picaboo and creating photobooks there for a while now and their calendars are a great way to try out their services.

With more than 40 themes and hundreds of backgrounds to choose from, and the ability to create your own from scratch, Picaboo makes it easy and fun to create gorgeous calendars that will make it hard to resist flipping to the next month. Photo pages are completely customizable allowing you to move photos and captions anywhere on a page – so easy to do. They recently added editable calendar grids, which allow you to personalize special dates with important dates like birthdays, anniversaries, or anything else you want to be sure to remember :)  I think this is a super cool feature and makes your calendar truly unique.

The Premium calendar features 12 laminated, glossy photo pages that give your pictures a little extra pop, and matte date pages allow for easy writing.  Use photos from 2010 to create the perfect gift that is enjoyed every day of 2011!

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How to win:

Mandatory Entry: Leave a comment below telling me you’d like to win – How’s that for easy?!

Extra Entry: “Like” CameraShy on Facebook and leave a comment below telling me that you did

Extra Entry: Subscribe to Snapshot – my Newsletter (see above right) and leave a comment below telling me you did

Extra Entry : Follow me on Twitterleave comment below letting me know you did

That’s 4 possible entries peeps!

The contest will end on Tuesday Jan 18th at 9pm EST and the winner will be contacted by email on Wednesday Jan 19th.

Please note that the contest is for a coupon  code which will allow the winner to create their own fully customizable Premium calendar.  It does not cover the cost of shipping.  The coupon will expire on 2/15/11 – this could be a great Valentine’s
Day gift for a friend or loved one! Order by Monday, 2/1 to ensure delivery by Valentine’s Day with Ground shipping (within the continental US).

Good luck!

Ingrid

Picaboo

Introducing CameraShy’s Online Photography Courses

Online Photography Courses As you may or may not know I’ve been teaching Photography Courses in the  offline world for many years.  This year actually I’m celebrating my 10th year as a photography instructor.  Wow!  I hadn’t really thought about that until right now but that’s a LOOONG time!  Here in Atlanta I have the privilege of teaching students on a one-on-one basis and although I love doing this, I also wanted a way to share all the stuff that I teach with everyone, including people like you!  So over the last 6 months I’ve been creating my very own CameraShy University over at www.CameraShyClasses.com.

Access Material Online – Anytime!

So now you don’t have to be located in Atlanta to benefit from my training material.  By visiting www.CameraShyClasses.com you can check out some of the courses I’m currently offering (more being added all the time!)  You can take these courses online at any time that suits YOUR schedule.  If you like to access lots of information quickly, then all the material is available for you right from the point you sign-up.  Conversely, if you would like to absorb the information slowly, and take your time with the Action Points and Assignments, the material can be accessed for up to 6 months.

One of my most popular online photography courses is “Master your DSLR” which teaches you how to get a handle on your Digital SLR camera so that the basics of photography become second nature to you.  This is perfect for any beginners in photography or someone just starting out with a Digital SLR for the first time.

The material is designed to be completed in 5 weeks, each week comprising of a different topic.  Each week is further broken down into smaller sections so that you can learn the information in easy to manage, bite-sized chunks.  I’ve included several Action points throughout, which will help you put the theory into  – you got it – action!

Weekly Assignments

At the end of every week I’ve created an assignment for you to complete so that you can demonstrate what you have learned.  These pictures can be uploaded to the Flickr group so that the can be critiqued by others in the group and by me.  And of course,  I’m here via email to answer any questions that you might have throughout your course.

So if you’ve got a Digital SLR (DSLR) camera, and you know your only using about 20% of it’s functionality, if you want to move out of Auto mode and start shooting in Manual or if you want to begin to take your photography to the next level check out www.CamerashyClasses.com and sign up for a course today!

Happy Snapping

P.S. If you have questions about any of the courses, feel free to shoot me an email to ingrid [at] CameraShy [dot] info

Buying the Best Tripod for your DSLR

Last week I did something I’ve never done before…I faced the crowds and the stores in search of a bargain.  Well, actually, I was working with a client – helping her choose some new photographic equipment.  Amongst other things she was looking for the best tripod and was totally overwhelmed by the choices available to her.  While shopping with her I could only come to the same conclusion that it is bewildering to even the seasoned photographer when buying a tripod and trying to figure out the best tripod for your needs.  So I decided to put together this short guide in case any of you guys are heading out to shop for this vital accessory.

Best Tripod

Do I really need a tripod?

Anyone who considers themselves a serious photographer really does need a tripod.  I know, I know!  They’re heavy and awkward to lug around but if you REALLY want that shot, that award winning, hang on the wall, amaze your friends shot, then you need to think seriously about using a tripod.  Especially if you are a landscape photographer or shoot in low lighting conditions.  For landscapes shot with a very high f number eg f/22, you absolutely need a tripod to steady your camera.  In low light conditions, its absolutely pointless trying to achieve slow shutter speeds  (anything slower than the focal length of your lens) without a tripod’s help.  Macro photographers will also

drive themselves slowly insane without using a tripod and even in studio portrait shots its always useful to have a safe place to put your camera during takes.  For still lifes, mounting your camera on a tripod allows you to change various settings while keeping the distance/ focal length exactly the same.  This can save a lot of hassle when your trying to get the shot just right.

Budget

Anytime you go shopping for new photographic equipment you know your going to be dropping some (quite a bit of ) cash.  Tripods are definitely not one of the cheapest photographic accessories but there are a wide variety of price points available.  Your budget will dictate several things such as weight, added features, ease of use and functionality.  One thing I will say is however try to extend your budget as much as possible because trying to use a cheap tripod could well put you off photography for life!  For one, you don’t want to put your expensive camera body and lens on a flimsy  – one puff of wind will knock it down- tripod.  Also getting fingers pinched in difficult to maneuver leg hinges will drive you to distraction.  Be prepared to spend a little more than you though you’d have to.

Is the best tripod, the heaviest?

Not necessarily as a heavy tripod that stays in the closet is no good to you compared with a light one that you are more inclined to bring with you!  That being said you need a certain degree of stability – that’s the whole point right?! You can generally choose from Aluminium tripods or Carbon fibre tripods.  My student ended up opting for the carbon fibre version of a Manfrotto she was looking at which was about $200 more than the aluminium one.  She felt that given the amount of traveling she’d be doing with it, and all of the new weight restrictions on airline luggage limits it would be worth it to save the few pounds.

Aluminium tripods are heavier but can still provide decent support.  If you’ll mostly be using your tripod in the same place then these would be fine.  If your buying your tripod online – I highly recommend Amazon, do a weight comparison and physically get out the equivalent weight of bags of sugar or free weights if you have them, to see how heavy 5 lbs really is.

Separate Legs and Ball Head

Entry level tripods are generally a single unit of legs that are permanently attached to the head, which has a removable plate that can be screwed into the base of your camera.  These are cheap and cheerful and can serve the beginner in photography very well.  As you go up through the models of tripods you will notice that the legs and the heads can be purchased separately.  This is to give the photographer more choice in the type of tripod best suited for his needs.

Legs

Check out the type of hinges on your tripod legs.  They need to be able to released and locked quickly and easily (without pinching your fingers!)  I like the quick release hinges as opposed to the screw-type ones as they maneuvered more quickly.  Check and see how high the legs extend without raising the center column and also how low to the ground they go.  This ability is really useful for macro shots, product photography and shooting sweeping landscapes with a great perspective.  Added features here can be the middle column extending out to the side or inverting so that the camera is almost at ground level.  The Manfrotto 055XPROB is an example of legs that have these features.

The Head

The head is the top part of the tripod which holds the camera and allows you to adjust it’s position.  Again, here you have a few choices to make and again it will depend on the majority of the type of photography you shoot.  If you do a lot of architecture and landscape photography a three-way pan head would be suitable for you.  This allows you to fine tune and adjust each axis of the head individually.  Great for precision but a little slow to use.

I much prefer the Ballhead type head.  These are as they sound, like a ball and socket joint which allow you to manuever your camera in any direction quickly, easily and most importantly smoothly.  My student opted for a grip action or joystick grip ball head which is super easier to manipulate and she loves it! Ballhead

Ingrid’s recommendations

As like all things in the photographic world there are so many choices available and each person has a variety of needs I recommend that you do you research before running out and buying a tripod.

  • Think about the things I’ve outlined above
  • Think about the types of photography you’ll mostly be using it for
  • Think about it as an investment
  • And compare several products till you find the right one for you.

A great place to start is by checking out the Manfrotto range.  I’ve been using (and selling) Manfrotto for 10 years and I find them excellent with a great range suitable for the beginner to the seasoned pro.  You can check them out here at Amazon.com.

Happy (steady) snapping!