Nikon Coolpix 3100 Review
Timings & File Sizes
The Coolpix 3100's slowest function is power up, which was a surprise because the lens takes around 1.5 seconds to extend, the remaining time appears to be taken by the camera's CPU. This caused the camera's Off to Shot Taken time to suffer. Auto focus was fast in good light (at both wide angle and telephoto) but quite slow with a tendency to 'hunt' in low light, remember the 3100 doesn't have an AF assist lamp. Shot to shot time was good but the camera's buffer is just too small as it stopped us from taking more than two 3mp High JPEG shots in a row. Playback and play zoom were both fast. Camera menu operation felt speedy enough.
Timing Notes: All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 2048 x 1536 High JPEG image (approx. 900 KB per image). The media used for these tests was a 256 MB SanDisk Ultra CF card.
|Power: Off to Record||Lens extension||3.5|
|Power: Record to Off||Lens extended||2.5|
|Mode: Record to Play *1||Image displayed||0.8|
|Mode: Play to Record||1.3|
|Play: Magnify||To 6x magnification||2.5|
|Play: Thumbnail view||2x2 index, 4 images||0.5|
|Zoom from Wide to Tele||Full zoom from 38 mm to 115 mm (3 x)||1.5|
|Auto Focus LAG||Wide angle||0.7 - 1.6|
|Auto Focus LAG||Telephoto||0.8 - 2.2|
|Shutter Release LAG||Using Viewfinder||<0.1|
|Shutter Release LAG||Using LCD Monitor||0.1|
|Total LAG||Wide angle||0.8|
|Off to Shot Taken||Wide angle||4.3|
|Shot to Shot||Wide angle||1.7|
|*1||This is a 'rough image' displayed from a thumbnail stored in the image file header, this is replaced by a more detailed image approximately 1.4 seconds later (once the camera has loaded the full image data from the CF card).|
Auto Focus LAG is (roughly) the amount of time it takes the camera to autofocus (a half-press and hold of the shutter release button), this timing is normally the most variable as its affected by the subject matter, current focus position, still or moving subject etc. This timing is an average.
Shutter Release LAG is the amount of time it takes to take the shot from the moment you fully depress the shutter release button, measured both as a time including auto focus and a time assuming you have already pre-focused by holding a half-press of the shutter release.
The Coolpix 3100 has only one continuous shooting drive mode as well as a '16 on a frame' mode seen on previous Coolpix digital cameras. In continuous drives mode the camera will shoot continuously while the shutter release button is held or until the internal buffer is full.
The table below shows the results of our continuous shooting test, indicating the actual frame rate along with maximum number of frames and how long you would have to wait after taking the maximum number of frames before you could take another shot. The media used for these tests was a 256 MB SanDisk Ultra CF card.
|Image Type||Frames per sec||Max no. of frames *1||
|2048 x 1536 High JPEG||1.07 fps||3||3.4 secs|
|2048 x 1536 Normal JPEG||1.83 fps||5||4.2 secs|
|1600 x 1200 Normal JPEG||1.45 fps||7||3.2 secs|
|1024 x 768 Normal JPEG||1.55 fps||17||2.7 secs|
|*1||In a single "burst" (finger held down on shutter release)|
|*2||You can take a frame as soon as there is space in the cameras internal buffer (writing continues "in the background").|
Shooting continuously with the Coolpix 3100 you can hear the camera shooting rate increase after the second frame and slow slightly before the last. This explains the inconsistent frames per second measurement, in 3mp High mode because there are only three frames the overall speed is dragged down by the slow first to second frame time. In 3mp Normal mode the camera gets into its stride nicely and then stops suddenly, the rest are a closer measurement of the true rate. To be honest these results aren't great, most other cameras at this price point shoot at a similar rate but are able to buffer more images.
File Write / Display and Sizes
Timings shown below are the time taken for the camera to process and "flush" the image out to the CF card, the timer was started as soon as the shutter release was pressed and stopped when activity indicator beside the viewfinder stopped blinking. This means the timings also include the cameras processing time and as such are more representative of the actual time to "complete the task". The media used for these tests was a 256 MB SanDisk Ultra CF card.
on a *3
256 MB CF
|2048 x 1536 High JPEG||2.8||1.3||900 KB||161|
|2048 x 1536 Normal JPEG||2.5||1.1||600 KB||316|
|1600 x 1200 Normal JPEG||2.4||0.9||380 KB||504|
|1024 x 768 Normal JPEG||2.2||0.8||170 KB||>999|
|*1||The 3100 displays a "rough image" almost immediately after moving to another image in play mode, the time here is the time for the camera to load the full resolution image which it then applies over the rough image. You can't magnify an image until the full resolution image has been loaded.|
|*2||All file sizes are an average of three files. As is the case with JPEG it's difficult to predict the size of an image because it will vary a fair amount depending on the content of the image (especially the amount of detail captured). For example, take a photograph of a fairly empty wall and you'll get a small JPEG, take a photograph of a bush with a lot of detail and you'll get a larger image. File sizes here are closer to the later, the larger size of file you should expect.|
Average performance for a camera at this level, the time to write doesn't affect taking the next shot unless the buffer is full (two or three 3mp images). Playback is virtually instant, there is only a slightly delay for the camera to load the full resolution image.
Low Light Auto Focus
This test is designed to measure the minimum amount of light under which the camera can still focus. The focus target is our lens distortion test chart (shown here on the right), camera is positioned exactly 2 m (6.6 ft) away.
Light levels are gradually dropped until the camera can no longer focus. This is carried out at both wide angle and telephoto zoom positions (as more light reaches the focusing systems with a larger aperture).
This test target is the optimum type of subject for most "contrast detect" AF systems (as it has a vertical line at its center), you should consider the results below the best you could expect to achieve.
|Lens position||Aperture||Lowest light focus|
|Wide angle (38 mm equiv.)||F2.8||1.0 EV (5.0 Lux, 0.46 foot-candle)|
|Telephoto (115 mm equiv.)||F4.9||2.5 EV (14.1 Lux, 1.31 foot-candle)|
Light intensity (Lux) = 2.5 x 2^EV (@ ISO 100), 10.76391 Lux = 1 foot-candle (fc)
For a camera without an AF assist lamp the Coolpix 3100 does well at wide angle and slightly less so at telephoto. All things considered this performance is slightly better than we would expect at this price level (and without an AF assist lamp).
We ran the camera through our new battery life test. This test is designed to be fair and comparative to each camera and battery type:
- Take 4 shots without flash
- Wait 2 minutes (50% of the time powering the camera off)
- Take 1 shot with flash
- Wait 1 minute
Batteries are fully discharged and recharged before the test and all cameras were reset to their factory default settings. Here are the results:
Compact / Ultra compact
|Battery||Power||Battery life||Number of shots|
|Kyocera S3||BP-800S||2.1 Wh||54 mins||95|
|Canon PowerShot S300||NB-1L||2.5 Wh||1 hr 26 mins||155|
|Pentax Optio 430||D-LI2||3.3 Wh||1 hr 33 mins||160|
|Olympus C-40Z||2 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||3.6 Wh||1 hr 33 mins||165|
|Nikon Coolpix 3100||2 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||3.6 Wh||1 hr 42 mins||175|
|Minolta DiMAGE F100||2 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||3.3 Wh||1 hr 42 mins||175|
|Minolta DiMAGE X||NP-200||2.8 Wh||1 hr 45 mins||180|
|Pentax Optio 330||D-LI2||3.3 Wh||1 hr 48 mins||185|
|Canon PowerShot S330||NB-1LH||2.5 Wh||1 hr 48 mins||185|
|Sony DSC-P71||2 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||3.6 Wh||1 hr 50 mins||185|
|Kodak DX4900||2 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||3.5 Wh||1 hr 51 mins||190|
|Sony DSC-P5||NP-FC10||2.4 Wh||1 hr 51 mins||190|
|Nikon Coolpix 3500||EN-EL2||4.1 Wh||1 hr 54 mins||195|
|Sony DSC-P9||NP-FC10||2.4 Wh||1 hr 59 mins||200|
|Nikon Coolpix SQ||EN-EL2||3.7 Wh||2 hr 03 mins||210|
|Minolta DiMAGE Xt||NP-200||2.8 Wh||2 hr 12 mins||225|
|Canon PowerShot S400||NP-1LH||2.5 Wh||2 hr 17 mins||230|
|HP Photosmart 812||2 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||3.6 Wh||2 hr 21 mins||240|
|Nikon Coolpix 885||EN-EL1||4.8 Wh||2 hr 21 mins||240|
|Nikon Coolpix 775||EN-EL1||4.8 Wh||2 hr 27 mins||250|
|Canon PowerShot SD100||NB-3L||2.9 Wh||2 hr 29 mins||250|
|Pentax Optio S||D-LI8||2.6 Wh||2 hr 33 mins||260|
|Nikon Coolpix 2500||EN-EL2||4.1 Wh||2 hr 33 mins||260|
|Fujifilm FinePix F601Z||NP-60||3.7 Wh||2 hr 47 mins||275|
|Casio EXILIM EX-Z3||NP-20||2.5 Wh||2 hr 48 mins||285|
|Casio EXILIM EX-S3||NP-20||2.5 Wh||2 hr 48 mins||285|
|Olympus C-50Z||LI-10B||4.0 Wh||2 hr 54 mins||295|
|HP Photosmart 935||2 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||3.6 Wh||3 hr 09 mins||320|
|Canon PowerShot A70||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||5 hr 08 mins||515|
|Other test notes:|
| LCD monitor is left on during
the battery test
The camera is powered off half of the time and left on half of the time (switch every 10 iterations)
There are now higher capacity AA NiMH batteries available, however in the interests of fair
comparison we will continue to use our 1600 mAh test set
The Coolpix 3100 lasted for approximately one hour and forty five minutes, which was a match for Minolta's DiMAGE F100 and the Olympus C-40Z both which were also powered by two AA NiMH batteries. I personally would like to have seen the 3100 lasting at least as long as HP's 812 (two hours twenty minutes). This performance means that you would almost definitely have to carry a spare set of batteries (although not much of a hardship as it only takes two).
Google is holding a competition that could see your Pixel photos gracing millions of screens.
Nikon's 100th birthday party continues worldwide as a distributor in Italy organized a one-of-a-kind feat: assembling the world's largest 'human camera' from over a thousand volunteers.
Ricoh has dropped the price of its Theta SC 360 spherical camera by to $199, a reduction of roughly $50. The camera features two 12MP sensors and can record Full HD video in addition to stills.
Photojournalist Pete Souza served as the presidential photographer for both Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. In an interview with fellow photographer Marcia Nighswander, he discusses several of his most noteworthy images.
Photographer Michael Wolf has been documenting the crowded conditions of Tokyo's subway trains since the 1990s. The photos have gone viral regularly in the years since he started the project, and he just published the final edition in the series.
The just-launched OnePlus 5 is getting a minor update that should improve camera function.
A Belgian camera shop is showing off an extremely rare, limited 'Rex Edition' Nikon D500. The cosmetic alterations were provided by a customer's German Shepherd Rex, who got ahold of the camera within a day of its purchase.
Adobe says that many of its users have been relying on SkyBox for VR editing and it therefore made sense to make the plug-ins available to all subscribers through Creative Cloud.
The Pictar grip provides a number of customizable physical controls for your iPhone camera, but at its price point we would like to see better materials and build quality.
Peak Design's 'consider every detail' approach shines in the Everyday Backpack. While expensive, it's one of the best options out there for a photographer who needs to pack a lot of stuff in addition to gear.
If you're thinking of using Canon's sports glass on the Sony a9, think again. The ultra-fast camera slows way down when you attach off-brand glass.
The Polish town of Katowice is not famed as an area of beauty, but as all photographers know, that doesn't mean that beauty can't be found if you look in the right places. Mariusz Pietranek used a drone to look down on the colorful sedimentation tanks at an ironworks.
New York Times video journalist Ben Solomon spent a harrowing three weeks accompanying Iraqi Major Sajjad al-Hour as he and his men fought to retake Mosul from I.S. forces.
The 3D VR camera launched through a crowdfunding campaign in 2015 goes on sale beginning June 26.
Noctilucent clouds, a crescent moon and Venus were visible in the pre-dawn sky over Budapest yesterday. Photographer György Soponyai captured NASA's astronomy picture of the day.
Squirming pets won't sit still for photos? A Kickstarter campaign is looking to help.
Find out how Chris Burkard shifted from editorial photography to his true passions: landscapes, conservation and, of course, surfing.
The updated EyeEm app scans your camera roll and picks images that are composed particularly well, have the best quality, or highest chance of selling on EyeEm Market.
It's three years old but still a solid option for a Micro Four Thirds shooter looking for a high-quality, fast, wide-angle prime. Take a look at how we got along with it.
Tamron has announced the longest all-in-one zoom lens currently available, the 18-400mm F3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD. Designed for Canon and Nikon crop-sensor cameras, the lens will be available in July.
When you're ready to step-up to full-frame from an entry-level or midrange camera, the choices can be overwhelming. Find out which models came out on top in our $1200-2000 enthusiast ILC roundup.
Just a guy wearing a VR headset, smashing invisible Goombas in Central Park.
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured this gorgeous aerial photo of the Martian landscape. And if you look really close, you can actually see the Mars Curiosity rover in the very middle.
The city of Laguna Beach, California has provided some clarification around the kinds of photography permits it offers.
Later this year, a VR180 camera will be Joining Yi's Halo and 360 VR cameras, which will offer stereo 3D capture, yet be as easy to use and compact as a 2D camera.
Caltech researchers have developed an 'optical phased array' chip that uses time delays instead of a lens to focus the incoming light.
Pricing and shipping have finally been revealed for two highly anticipated lenses from Sigma, announced in February.
These macro photos of clouds of paint billowing through clear water might look like high-quality CGI, but they're real photographs. And photographer Alberto Seveso told us how they were made.
Facebook is testing a feature that prevents people from saving, sharing, or even taking a screenshot of your profile picture.
We've reshot the Sony a9 in our studio. The short story: it's sharper! The long story... well you can read it all here.