This summer I picked up the Nikon Coolpix p100 digital camera. I wanted something decent, but not overly challenging for an average, non-camera savoy user. I had been using the Cannon PowerShot A540 with fair results, but after it took a swim in a local river as I pulled my kayak out – it just hasn’t been the same. Besides, the Cannon was old technology. I wanted something a little newer.
I pondered getting a real camera (dSLR), but truth be told… I’m just not that into it. I figured I would do better getting decent pictures from a good point-and-click, rather than getting frustrated and crappy pictures with an expensive “do it all yourself” SLR. I went to a Ritz Camera and talked to a salesperson for like an hour over what I should get. We settled on the Nikon Coolpix p100.
It has 10.3 megapixels, full 1080p HD video, and a crazy 26x zoom. What the heck would I need more camera than that for? All I’m going to be doing is catching birthdays, random wildlife sightings, or events. For the price, it made sense.
My Goal: I am a complete photography novice, trying to use a camera that is marketed as super easy to use. Basically, from what I read, you don’t need to be an expert to use this machine. And if the commercials are anything to go by, I’ll be getting incredible shots right out of the box. Yeah.. we’ll see about that.
I just get tired of “skewed” marketing tactics. You know, product advertisements that show models, living in a perfect world, dancing around and using some product, effortlessly providing outstanding results. Or fast food commercials showing a “picture perfect” meal being enjoyed by slim, smiling, happy people.
We all know, or least I do, that no meal EVER looks like that. And we’ve all seen the REAL people that eat them. I also know that no product produces the perfect bliss that it’s marketing seems to suggest. I realize that there are some great products out there, I just get frustrated when bombarded by advertisements that sell improbable, or even impossible results…
This weekend I had a go at actually “learning” the settings on the camera. Prior to this model, and even with this model up to this point, all I would do is turn the thing, make sure it’s on auto, point.. and click. I had no clue what any of the settings where. Actually I’m still pretty baffled by them, but I did get some cool results tinkering with some of the options. I wanted to share in case anyone else was pondering this machine.
Nikon Coolpix p100 – real life, non-photographer pictures.
This shot is my favorite. I was literally like ten feet away. It took a few tries, but I got this one using the “shutter speed priority” setting and manual focus.
One big problem I have when using the auto-mode is focusing on the item I actually want to focus on. I tried to get this spider into focus, but even on the macro setting the camera tried to focus on the tree in the background. Finally, using the manual focus, I was able to get this. The spider is really small, maybe half an inch long.
This shot did basically what I wanted it to do; get the flower in focus while the background blurs out. I used the shutter speed setting and manual focus. It’s a little dark, but if I’d adjusted the shutter speed it would have been a great picture.
I had the same goal with this picture, to have the bloom in focus and the rest out. The colors are only fair, but overall I thinks it’s decent.
I really dig the colors on this shot. I had the shutter open a little longer than the other shots, and again used manual focus. At this point I was getting the hang of it.
This was a test of low-ish light. I wanted the main focus to be a little sharper, but every time I slowed down the shutter to let more light it – I found it very hard to hold the camera steady enough to get the picture I wanted.
I’m a little surprised at the color of this one. In the woods these mushrooms were a vibrant yellow, but in the picture they look a little washed out. Like I said, I really don’t know what I’m doing. I’m sure with a little more practice I’d know what button to push in order to get better outdoor colors.
This picture is interesting for a couple reasons. The one reason I leaned towards point and click camera was because they are just easy to use. But, seeing that I’m trying to actually learn to use the settings correctly, when I saw this little guy in the woods it was like a race. I had to power-up the camera, select the setting, adjust the shutter speed, focus, and zoom quicker than I’ve ever needed to. It was a test for sure. I’d like to have been a little sharper, but he was like ten feet away and I was fumbling over what settings to adjust.
I wanted this picture to be crisper than it is. The colors out in the open where really slick. The picture just looks a little bland. Again, maybe if I knew what I was doing. Still, it’s a better than my Cannon did – of course I never used any of the custom settings on that.
Again, this is an example of how settings can effect the picture (well, duh). In the woods, this was an awesome shot. Apparently, I had the shutter open too long because the light is all washed out. I should say, for the record, I did try one shot of this on the full-auto mode and it came out a little worse.
Finally, another example of how using the manual fo"cus can allow you to take a picture that you simply can’t with the auto focus. I tried both ways on this, but the auto focus just adjusted in on the tree in the background (on macro). With the manual, I was able to bring the web into focus fairly painlessly.