Nikon D100 Review

The introduction of the EOS-D30 by Canon marked the beginning of a new market subsegment for digital cameras, and Nikon has now moved into that space with the D100. It falls between the high-end prosumer digital cameras that cost $1,000 and the professional digital single-lens reflex cameras.

At this year’s PMA, no fewer than four new digital single-lens reflex cameras (DSLRs) at price points between $2,000 and $3,000 were introduced. It’s hard to believe that a digital single-lens reflex camera with six megapixels can now be purchased for less than $2,000, but it’s true.

Since the first publication of this article as a preview, Canon, Fujifilm, and Nikon have all made their pricing announcements. The whole equipment for the Canon EOS-D60 costs $2,199, while the entire kit for the Fujifilm S2 Pro costs $2,399, and the full kit for the Nikon D100 costs $1,999.

The D100 has a sensor with a resolution of six megabytes, a body that is largely inspired by the F80 (although Nikon is quick to point out that it only shares some of its components with that camera), a Nikon F mount, and a collection of features that combine to make it an extremely appealing and capable proposition.

Nikon D100 Major Features:

  • This list, which was made available by Nikon Europe
  • 6.1 effective megapixels producing 3,008 x 2,000-pixel pictures
  • It is also rather portable, weighing only about 700 grams (24.7 ounces) in total.
  • Low-noise CCD sensor
  • 3D Digital Matrix Image Fine-tune the exposure control for best color accuracy, as well as the auto-white balance and adaptive settings.
  • Built-in Speedlight with D-TTL control for its high level of performance
  • There are three color settings available to accommodate various workflow contexts.
  • Autofocus on five different areas, including dynamic AF operation
  • High-speed image processing is made possible by a brand-new LSI system on a single chip
  • The maximum shutter speed is 1/4000 of a second, while the maximum flash sync speed is 1/180 of a second.
  • USB 1.1 interface with plug-and-play capability for speedy PC connection
  • Grid lines can be shown on demand in the viewfinder of the camera.
  • The LCD monitor allows for the selection of user-defined settings.
  • Compatibility with the CompactFlash card format
  • cards of types I and II, as well as 512 MB and 1 GB versions of the IBM MicroDrive

The included Nikon View 5.1 software simplifies the process of transferring and viewing photos on your personal computer. It also provides fundamental RAW file processing and conversion capabilities.

Capture 3 software from Nikon, which is optional but provides superb picture management and remote operation.

For a longer shooting capacity, the optional Multi-Function Battery Pack MB-D100 may take either one or two Li-Ion batteries or six 1.5V LR6 (AA-size alkaline) batteries. These batteries come in AA size. Includes a capability for recording and playing back voice memos, a vertical shutter release button, Command and Sub Command Dials, an autofocus start button, and a 10-pin remote terminal.

Design

Anyone who is familiar with the F80 (N80) or has used it will recognize the D100 immediately due to its strikingly similar look. In point of fact, it would appear that a significant portion of the camera’s design and layout was inspired by the F80.

The height of the camera is the single most noticeable difference between the two models. Whereas the F80 comes to an end right below the lens mount, the D100 has roughly an additional 20 millimeters (0.8 inches) of body. The D100 features all the hallmarks of a contemporary Nikon SLR, including a good, clean design and a wealth of controls for various functions.

Nikon is capable of producing contemporary SLR cameras that nevertheless have the allure of having complete manual control over the camera’s settings.

The D100 is a camera that feels “just right” in your hand; the size of the hand grip is virtually ideal, and an excellent sticky rubber covering covers it. The overall distribution of weight is extremely well done, the camera has a light yet sturdy feel to it, and it is quite simple to operate with only one hand.

If you purchase the optional battery pack and portrait grip, you will have the ability to take vertical photos as well as get access to more battery power, a remote jack, a speaker, and a microphone for recording your voice. When compared to the EOS-D60, I found that the D100 had a more satisfying overall feel in my hands.

We now get a look at the two cameras that, for at least some prospective purchasers, will be competing against one another. On the left is Nikon’s six-megapixel D100 camera, which has a contemporary look but nevertheless maintains a “manual appeal.”

On the right is Canon’s six-megapixel D60 camera, which features a tried-and-true design but falls short of the D100 in terms of the tactile control feel it offers. The D100 is just 9 millimeters (0.4 inches) taller than the D60, despite the fact that you would believe there is a greater difference between the two. It is possible that the higher location of the Nikon lens mount makes the D100 appear taller than it actually is.

Displays

Audit of the Records

You have the option of configuring the D100 such that it shows you a preview of the image as soon as the photo is taken. This can be a standard image view, an image view with a histogram, an image view with highlights, or an image view that combines the two.

There is no difference between these picture views and the playback view (except for combined histogram and highlights). The image will continue to display on the LCD monitor until the monitor off’ period has passed (custom function 6), or until you half-press the shutter release button.

Playback

When you press the display button (), the most recent image that was taken will be shown. In the same manner, as the D1x and D1H, you may examine up to seven different “pages” of visual information by pressing the four-way controller to the left or right (including exposure details, histogram, etc.).

To navigate between the photographs, use the up or down button on the 4-way controller (this is remarkably quick, although it would have been nice if the command dial also performed the same function). You may safeguard photographs by pressing the protect button (), or you can unprotect them by pressing the button again.

ISO Sensitivity / Noise levels

The ability to enhance the sensitivity of the sensor of a digital camera to allow for quicker shutter speeds and/or better performance in low light is referred to as the ISO equivalent setting.

This is accomplished with a digital camera by “turning up the volume” on the CCD’s signal amplifiers. However, there is a cost associated with this action, as it also amplifies any noise that may be present and frequently alters the color saturation.

The D100 has a wide range of customizable sensitivities, ranging from ISO 200 all the way up to ISO 1600 in 1/3-stop increments. In addition to this, it offers the HI-1 and HI-2 sensitivities, which correspond to an ISO setting of 3200 and 6400 respectively.

Nikon D100 Specifications

Body materialHigh-impact plastic / rubber (metal sub-structure)
PriceUS – $1,999 (Body only, no lens) [check /order]
UK – £2,099 (Body only, no lens) [check /order]
SensorCCD, 23.7 x 15.6 mm
Sensor total pixels3110 x 2030 (6.31 megapixel)
Sensor effective pixels3026 x 2018 (6.11 megapixel)
Final image size3008 x 2000 (RAW images are recorded as 3034 x 2024)
Sensor CFAPrimary (GRGB)
Pixel pitch7.8 µm x 7.8 µm
Analog to digital converter12-bit
Optical filterIR cut & Optical LPF (uses LiNB)
Sensitivity • Auto (200 – 1600) – enabled via custom func.
 • ISO 200
 • ISO 250
 • ISO 320
 • ISO 400
 • ISO 500
 • ISO 640
 • ISO 800
 • ISO 1000
 • ISO 1250
 • ISO 1600
 • HI-1 (~ISO 3200)
 • HI-2 (~ISO 6400)
Image sizes • 3008 x 2000 (L)
 • 2240 x 1488 (M)
 • 1504 x 1000 (S)
Image formats • JPEG (EXIF 2.2) – Fine, Normal, Basic
 • TIFF RGB (EXIF)
 • Uncompressed RAW (12-bit per pixel)
 • Compressed RAW (12-bit per pixel)
Recorded pixels • JPEG/TIFF – 3008 x 2000
 • RAW – 3034 x 2024
Color mode • I (sRGB)
 • II (Adobe RGB)
 • III (sRGB – stronger greens & blues for colourful landscapes)
Lens mountNikon F mount (with AF coupling & AF contacts)
Lens compatibility • D-type/G-type AF Nikkor: All functions possible
 • D-type Manual-Focus Nikkor: All functions except autofocus possible
 • AF Nikkor other than D-type/G-type: All functions possible except 3D Matrix Metering
 • AI-P Nikkor: All functions except 3D Matrix Metering and
autofocus possible
 • Non-CPU: Usable in [M] mode (camera’s built-in exposure meter does not work)
Electronic Rangefinder usable with lens with maximum aperture of f/5.6 or faster; IX-Nikkors cannot be used.
Field of view crop1.5x (also known as focal length multiplier)
AutofocusTTL phase detection, Nikon Multi-CAM900 autofocus module; Detection range: EV -1 to EV 19 (ISO 100 equivalent, at normal temperature: 20°C/68°F)
AF Area mode • Single Area AF
 • Dynamic AF (Closest Subject Priority is available)
AF IlluminatorLamp, range 0.5 – 3 m (1.6 – 9.8 ft).
Focus areaOne of five areas can be selected
Lens servo • Single Servo AF (S)
 • Continuous Servo AF (C)
 • Manual focus (M)
Focus lockFocus is locked by pressing AE-L/AF-L button or lightly pressing shutter release button in (S) AF
Metering • 3D Matrix Metering with 10-segment SPD
 • Center-Weighted Average
 • Spot
Metering range • Matrix: 0 – 21 EV
 • Center-Weighted Average: 0 – 21 EV
 • Spot: 3 – 21 EV
(Normal temperature with F1.4 lens)
Exposure mode • [P] Auto-Multi Program (Flexible Program possible)
 • [S] Shutter-Priority Auto
 • [A] Aperture-Priority Auto
 • [M] Manual; shutter speed/aperture adjustable in 1/2 or 1/3 EV steps
ISO Automatic Control Mode (Custom setting) is available in any exposure mode (P, S, A, M)
Exposure compensation+/-5 EV in 0.3 or 0.5 EV steps
AE LockDetected exposure value locked by pressing AE-L/AF-L button
AE Bracketing • Number of shots: two or three
 • Compensation steps: 1/3, 1/2, 2/3 or 1 step
Shutter type • Electronic controlled vertical slide FP shutter
 • Speed: approx. 6.3 m/s (equiv. to 24 mm)
 • Curtain direction: bottom to top
 • Number of blades: 4 blades each (front & rear)
 • Blade material :aluminium
 • Blade color: Front: Grey (50% +/-5%), Rear: Black
Shutter speedBulb, 30 sec – 1/4000 sec (1/3 EV steps)
Depth-of-field previewButton, stops-down lens aperture
X-Sync shutter speedUp to 1/180 sec
Shooting modes • Single frame (S)
 • Continuous shooting (C)
 • Self-timer mode
Continuous mode • 3008 x 2000 RAW, 3 fps, max ~3 frames
 • 3008 x 2000 TIFF, 3 fps, max ~5 frames
 • 3008 x 2000 JPEG Fine, 3 fps, max ~6 frames
~ = approximately
Self-timer • 2 sec
 • 5 sec
 • 10 sec (default)
 • 20 sec
White balance • Auto
 • Incandescent *
 • Fluorescent *
 • Sunlight *
 • Flash *
 • Cloudy *
 • Shade *
 • Preset
* Can be fine tuned +/-3 levels
White balance bracketingYes
Sync contactX-contact only
Flash control • D-TTL (Automatic Balanced Fill-Flash controlled by five-segment TTL Multi Sensor ) with built-in Speedlight and external Speedllight such as SB-80DX/28DX/50DX: three modes available
 • Non-TTL Auto Flash with an external Speedlight
Flash sync mode • Front-Curtain Sync (normal sync)
 • Red-Eye Reduction
 • Red-Eye Reduction with Slow Sync
 • Slow Sync
 • Rear-Curtain Sync
Built-in Speedlight • Manual pop-up type, GN: 11/36 (ISO 100, m/ft.)
 • Sensitivity range: ISO 200 – 1600 equivalent
 • Sync flash system with external Speedlight: Not available
 • Ready light indicator inside viewfinder
ViewfinderOptical-type fixed-eye level pentaprism; built-in diopter adjustment (-2 to +1 m-1)
Viewfinder eyepoint24 mm (at -1.0 m-1)
Viewfinder frame coverageApprox 95%
Viewfinder magnificationApprox. 0.8x with 50mm lens set to infinity and -1.0 m-1
Viewfinder informationFocus indicator, Metering mode, AE Lock, Shutter speed, Aperture value, Exposure indicator, Exposure compensation, Flash output level compensation, frame count etc.
Focusing screenB-type Bright View Clear Matte screen II
Focusing screen information • Focus frame
 • Grid lines
 • Center-weighted metering area
Shooting memory banks • A
 • B
Image sharpening • Auto
 • Normal
 • Low
 • High
 • None
Tone compensation • Auto
 • Normal
 • Less contrast
 • More contrast
 • Custom
Hue adjustment • -3 to +3 in 1 increments
Settings memory banksTwo: A & B
StorageCompactFlash Type I/II
Microdrive compatibleYes
LCD monitor1.8″ 118,000 pixel TFT (100% frame coverage)
Compliance • DCF
 • DPOF
 • ExifPrint (EXIF 2.2)
Playback functions • Single image
 • 4 or 9 thumbnails
 • Magnified playback
 • Slide show
 • Histogram indication
 • Highlight point display
Custom func. memory banks • A
 • B
Custom functions• 24 functions
Image commentCan be input and automatically attached to image
Video outputNTSC or PAL selectable
ConnectivityUSB 1.1
Voice memoOnly with optional multi-function battery pack
Remote controlOnly with optional multi-function battery pack
Power • Lithium-Ion battery pack EN-EL3 (7.4V, 1400 mAh)
 • AC Adapter EH-5
 • Multi-function battery pack MB-D100
Dimensions144 x 116 x 81 mm (5.7 x 4.6 x 3.2 in)
Weight (no battery)700 g (1.5 lb) – approx.
Included SoftwareNikon View 5
Optional accessoriesMulti Function Battery Pack MB-D100, Li-ion Battery Pack EN-EL3, Charger, MH-18/19, AC Adapter EH-5, CompactFlash™ Cards, Speedlight SB-80DX/SB-28DX/SB-50DX, Semi-Soft Case CF-D100, Nikon Capture 3
MB-D100 Battery packAdditional function: Sound record/play, 10pin terminal
Operating buttons: Shutter Release button, Lock-lever, Main command dial, Sub command dial, AE/AF-L button & Focus area selection button, Sound record/playback button, Battery chamber cover, Attachment wheel
Display: Sound record/playback display LED

Conclusion

The current D-SLR revolution was launched by Nikon. Yes, digital SLRs existed before the D1, but that specific camera was a breakthrough. It eliminated pricing restrictions and made it clear that conventional camera makers were committed to making their own digital SLRs. No longer dependent on Kodak’s digital back, Nikon’s designers created a serious camera with superb image quality, a small(er), a more durable body, and a price that completely altered the D-SLR market.

Since then, Nikon has improved upon the D1 design with the D1x and D1H, but at the same time, Canon believed it could do better and launched the EOS-D30 at the end of 2000, driving prices further lower and perched precariously close to the lucrative “prosumer” end of the market. D-SLRs were becoming widely available.

Thus, we have not one, not two, not three, but four new high-resolution digital SLRs in 2002, the first three of which are currently reaching end consumers’ hands. The fact that six-megapixel digital SLR cameras are available for under or equal to US $2,000 is the most remarkable thing. Pretty amazing when you realize that as recently as August 2000, Kodak was selling six-megapixel D-SLR cameras for $16,000.

Knowing where the market was going this year, Nikon had to add a resolution increase in its D100 answer to Canon’s EOS-D30 (six megapixels). Once again, Nikon’s designers deserve a lot of praise for creating such a beautifully crafted camera. The D100 feels professional enough to be used on the most critical days and compact and light enough to be taken out on the most informal outing thanks to superb ergonomics, balancing, and control arrangement. You actually are getting a camera that costs $2000 in terms of build and finishes quality.

Performance is also excellent; menus and playback seem quick, and you never really find yourself waiting for the camera. Power-up times are rapid, so the camera will always be ready for your shoot. The continuous shooting performance is adequate, albeit not quite as excellent as the double buffer of the EOS-D60 (but this is really picking at straws).

The feature set of the D100 is also extremely good; the inclusion of a customizable color space indicates that Nikon takes the D100 very seriously. Despite its price point, practically any user can use this camera. Nearly all camera features may be controlled via custom functions, including setting a self-timer for 2, 5, 10, or 20 seconds, turning on mirror anti-shock, turning on or off noise reduction, adjusting the EV step level, and even adjusting how long the meter display is shown. The photographer will find much to shoot here.

Nikon D100 Price

Pros & Cons

Good For
  • Superb 3D matrix metering
  • Excellent resolution and color, although the tonal balance is typically more “contrasty” than it should be.
  • Large range of available ISO sensitivities, all the way up to an equivalent of ISO 6400.
  • Exceptionally well designed in terms of ergonomics, touch, equilibrium, and control arrangement.
  • Optional selection of the color space for the output (however JPEG files are not tagged correctly)
Need Improvements
  • Having trouble with the D-TTL flash metering both internally and outside
  • The absence of in-camera sharpening results in photos that have a “soft” appearance (maybe to reduce noise?)
  • The RAW conversion in Nikon View Editor has a restricted feature set (NC3 required for full control)
  • Higher levels of noise in photographs that were converted from RAW format using Nikon Capture 3.

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