Conclusion - Pros
- Excellent resolution, good colour, tonal balance tends to be more 'contrasty'
- Superb 3D matrix metering
- Selection of output colour space (however JPEG files not tagged correctly)
- Very nice ergonomics, good feel, balance and control layout
- Wide selection of ISO sensitivities, all the way up to ISO 6400 equiv.
- Low noise in JPEG images up to ISO 800, more noise visible in RAW converted images
- Very fast operation, instant power up and no delays in menus or playback
- Excellent auto focus, works well even in low light, AF assist lamp
- Great selection of white balance options, fine tuneable white balance
- Great flexibility, custom control over self-timer, meter power off times etc.
- Nice 'loupe' style playback magnification
- Good suite of software included (Nikon Acquire, View, View Editor, Camera Control)
- RAW mode option, included 'Nikon View Editor' provides rudimentary RAW conversion
- Remote capture software for studio setups
- Full Nikon F mount lens compatible (better with D and G type lenses)
- IBM Microdrive compatible
- Built as a Digital SLR from the ground up
- Easy to use, integrated digital / photographic controls and displays
- Gridlines in viewfinder display
- Top panel LCD illuminated
- Nice LCD monitor cover included
- Custom functions to control camera operation
- Excellent battery life, light weight and small batteries
- Lighter than the competition (D60, S2 Pro)
- Superb value for money
Conclusion - Cons
- Lacking in-camera sharpening leads to 'soft' looking images (to keep noise down?)
- Internal / external D-TTL flash metering problem
- Higher noise levels from images converted from RAW through Nikon Capture 3
- Nikon View Editor RAW conversion has limited functionality (NC3 required for full control)
- JPEG files not tagged with correct colour profile when color mode II selected
- No onboard PC Sync flash socket (req. optional adapter)
- Awkward ISO selection on mode dial
- Firewire would have been nice
- Compressed RAW mode is almost unusable (40+ seconds to store)
- Viewfinder view is smaller than 'higher end' D-SLR's
Nikon started the current D-SLR revolution. Yes, we saw digital SLR's before the D1 but that camera in particular was a breakthrough. It broke down price barriers and announced the fact that the traditional camera manufacturers were serious about producing their own digital SLR's. No longer tied to Kodak's digital back Nikon's designers produced a serious camera in a small(er), more robust body, excellent image quality and at a price which turned the D-SLR world on its head.
Since then Nikon has built on the D1 design with the D1x and D1H, but at the same time Canon decided it could go one better and introduced the EOS-D30 at the end of 2000 pushing price levels even lower and just teetering on the brink of the lucrative 'prosumer' end of the market. D-SLR's were coming to the masses.
So here we are, in 2002 with no less than four new high resolution digital SLR's, the first three of which are now making their way into end users hands. The most amazing thing is that we're looking at six megapixel digital SLR's at or around the US$2,000 mark. Pretty stunning when you consider Kodak were selling six megapixel D-SLR's for $16,000 as recently as August 2000.
Nikon's D100 was a response to the Canon EOS-D30, and obviously had to include a resolution hike knowing where the market was heading this year (six megapixels). Nikon's designers once more should take a lot of credit for producing a superbly well designed camera. Ergonomics, balance and control layout are excellent, the D100 feels both professional enough to be used on the most important days, yet small and light enough to be taken out on the most casual outing. Build and finish quality are second to none, you really are getting $2000 worth of camera.
Performance is also very good, power up times are instant, this means the camera will always be ready for your shot, menus and playback feel snappy and there's never really a time you find yourself waiting for the camera. Continuous shooting performance is good if not quite as good as the EOS-D60's double buffer (but we're really splitting hairs here).
The D100's feature set is also excellent, the provision of selectable colour space shows that Nikon takes the D100 very seriously, despite the price level this camera can be used by almost any type of user. Custom functions provide control over almost every camera feature, you can select a self-timer of 2, 5, 10 or 20 seconds, enable mirror anti-shock, enable or disable noise reduction, change the EV step level or even change how long the meter display stays on. There's plenty here for the shutterbug.
Image quality is also excellent, good colour and metering, nice tonal balance (if sometimes a little 'contrasty', this can be modified using the tone setting). I found the camera's internal sharpening to be too much on the soft side, this left some images looking soft at 100% view, a quick check against an equivalent RAW shot shows what the camera is capable of. This may be the only weakness in what is otherwise an excellent camera, very well built and offering superb value for money.
So which one should I buy? A question I get asked several times a day, and I wouldn't like to say. In a new addition to my reviews (after the amount of feedback I normally get) I've added a link to a specific forum in which you can discuss the review or ask me specific questions which I've not answered in these pages.
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