Being a superzoom, or bridge camera, means the majority of the Nikon P100’s design is dictated by the large zoom barrel. There’s an element of DSLR about the form the P100, with a right hand grip and the controls being split evenly between the rear and top of the camera. The mode dial is reminiscent of a removable lens camera as well, which is by no means a surprise thanks to Nikon’s obvious pedigree in that field.
The dial is superbly sturdy and well built, moving with a satisfying amount of resistance and locating into each position cleanly. The zoom switch, on the other hand, feels light and somewhat flimsy. With such a hefty amount of magnification to temper, it’s surprising Nikon didn’t offer something sturdier. Unlike the majority of its rivals, the P100 also has an option dial to alter the likes of the shutter speed and aperture when in the relevant mode. This makes the settings far quicker to alter and the control much more natural for anyone with even a passing familiarity with a DSLR’s controls.
All round the build quality is generally impressive, even if a few of the controls are a touch flimsy. The body feels strong and sturdy, even when the hinged LCD is fully extended. Having a rotatable screen is certainly useful for those odd occasions when a more awkward angle is required to be shot from, such as close to the ground. As it’s tricky to see the screen from any other angle than straight on, being able to twist it into a viewable position is necessary rather than a novelty feature. Thankfully it’s of high enough definition to make it simple to frame up and verify the images are sharp.
One element woefully underpowered through no fault of its own is the stabilisation. Trying to keep a 26x zoom on the straight and narrow is nigh on impossible anyway, and the sensor shift does little to remedy this. In order to have any chance to keep the images sharp as much light as possible needs to be allowed into the lens, which having a 26-678mm lens made particularly difficult. Switching to the EVF and pressing the camera up to the eye makes this slightly easier, or alternatively a tripod can be used. The 1080p HD movie mode allows for the zoom to be employed which, unsurprisingly, once again puts the focus under undue pressure. Annoyingly the P100 also takes far too long to start up, whirring and straining for a few seconds before eventually becoming active.