Nikon D100 - Hands on Review
 ©Darrell Young
 Please note. This article is incomplete. It is "under construction!"


If ever a camera could change the direction of photography as we know it, the Nikon® D100 is surely doing so...right now! Things will never be the same.

As I look at my beloved Nikon® F5, I realize that its days are numbered. Oh sure, film will be around for a long time yet, but this is a change comparable to when DVD started replacing video tape. No matter how many video tapes you have in the cabinet, I bet you now have a DVD player too. Are you buying any more video tapes of your favorite movies?

I swore that I wouldn't touch digital as a serious medium until I could buy a camera that would make a good 8x10, use my current selection of AF Nikkor lenses, and cost less than $2,000.00. Guess what...it's here!
I finally accepted digital as a new way of capturing slices of time when FedEx delivered my new digital powerhouse. I really believe that the D100 is the DVD of cameras. Is film doomed? Well, why are YOU considering or already using a D100?

In my experience with the camera so far, it's easy to operate, extremely sharp, deeply colorful, and downright cool. The "snoot factor" is very high on this camera (snoot factor = nose in air). When I pulled the D100 out in a group of friends the other day, they all stopped talking and their mouths fell open. Everyone surrounded me to see Digital Darrell's new toy. They've all seen me carrying my F5 or N80, but this camera is different. The reaction I got to it was astounding. Everyone wanted to touch it, peer through the finder, and know "how much does it cost?" No one has ever reacted that way to my F5. What's the difference?

Everyone knows about digital photography, that's what! When you watch TV tonight, notice how many commercials you see for the latest color printer. All you need is a nice digital camera, and a sharp inkjet to make your own pictures at home. Aren't YOU doing it even now, or wishing you could? The D100 pushes the market even closer to the edge of film oblivion. Film processors...beware!
But, rhetoric and hyperbole aside, why don't we look at the camera and its considerable capabilities.

To test the camera in a variety of situations, I took my family on a short vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the tourist town of Gatlinburg. While in the Park, we went around the beautiful Roaring Fork Motor Trail above Gatlinburg. I took a few scenics to test the light range and color balance of the D100. I took some close-ups of flowers, leaves, and family. I even shot directly into the sun, well, at least the sun shining through the trees into my camera.

Then, as the light was fading, I tested the slow flash sync and direct flash capabilities of the D100 with an SB-50DX attached. After dark we went to Gatlinburg to blend in with the tourists, and test the low-light (High ISO settings) of the D100, and the pop-up on-camera "Speedlight" flash.

I am impressed! This jewel of a camera handles just like a Nikon. I own an N80 (F80 out of the USA) and find that there is little difference in the handling of this camera in comparison. My F5 is faster, but is heavier, and uses large quantities of film.

During this short trip, I shot over 100 images. If you consider the cost of film and processing, I estimate that I didn't have to spend about $42.00 that I'd have had to spend otherwise. (Three rolls of Provia @ $6.50, plus $7.50 each for E6 processing) I had the benefit of seeing each of my images after the shot was taken, and I had all of them on the Compact Flash (CF) memory card for immediate use. No waiting even for one-hour processing.
I bought a one-gigabyte IBM Microdrive for my D100, so YES, it uses both Type I and Type II CF memory cards.

Let's look at a few of the camera's controls, without getting deeply into the standard boring review details. There are several good
reviews out there that have a big pile of charts and graphs to show just how good this camera really is. Plus, they generally go into excruciating detail about each button and dial on the camera. I won't bore you with that. If you want to do a study of buttons and dials, I suggest you buy the Magic Lantern guide for the D100, which gives you all the detail you'll ever need. The users manual is pretty thick at 208 pages, so you'll have plenty to study. I did a lookover of the manual and was ready to use the camera right away. It's not hard to use. If I didn't have the manual, I could figure most of it out. Even the Custom Settings (24 of them) are easy to figure out, since each setting is viewable in the little video monitor on the back of the D100. The Custom Settings are written out in human readable text like, "Grid Display - On/Off," or "Flash Mode D/TTL" instead of Nikon's normal CS 1 - 1, or CS 2 - 0.

We'll talk about the controls a bit, and then get right into looking at real images. Isn't that why we all want a D100 in the first place? Aren't you really interested in whether this camera can make pictures as sharp as Provia? Can it saturate the image with deep color like Velvia? How does it perform with skin tones in a portrait? How many pictures can I take in quick succession before I run out of internal image buffer? We'll look at those things shortly. But, since this is a "hands on" review let's look at some necessary detail.

<<< Camera Controls >>>


First, let's see an overview of the camera. What controls does it have? Where are they located? What is the same, and what is different, in comparison to other recent Nikons?

In the image at left you will see the top right of the D100 as viewed from the shooting position.

note that it has a Shutter Release, an On/Off Dial, a Flash Sync Mode button, an image Exposure Compensation button, an LCD Control Panel, and a button for the LCD Backlight (LCD Illuminator as the manual calls it).
This is almost identical to the F/N80 camera, except that the Flash Sync Mode button on the D100 is where the Flash Exposure Compensation button is on the F/N80. They have decided to reverse these two button positions for some reason. The Flash Exposure Compensation button on the F/N80 is next to the image Exposure Compensation button. On the D100 it's on the back of the camera under your left thumb. We'll see that in another picture. Why the change? Who knows! Seems like both exposure compensators - Flash and Image - should be next to each other like on the F/N80. Maybe some people were setting the wrong one? Let's look at each of the buttons and dials.

On/Off Dial

This dial is operated easily with one finger. As you put your index finger on the shutter button, you simply pull the on/off dial to the right. It's very simple to operate. Push left to turn off. It works like the F5, except there is only one dial to turn. There is no extra safety button to push while turning the dial.

Shutter Release

Press half way down, and the meter is activated and the autofocus (AF) system focuses on whatever is under it's viewfinder sensor. Press all the way and the picture is taken. The D100 has no appreciable shutter lag.

Flash Sync Mode(s)

You'll note the flash sync button in the image above. See the little green dot. The flash sync button is shown with a little lightning bolt arrow image.

Below are the sync modes provided with the D100. it is capable of about any type of flash needed. Slow Sync mode is especially good for "fill-flash," which we'll talk about later in this article.

  • Front-Curtain Sync
  • Red-Eye Reduction
  • Red-Eye Reduction with Slow Sync
  • Slow Sync
  • Rear-Curtain Sync
Exposure Compensation

Exposure Compensation can be set to values between -5 EV (Underexposure) and +5 EV (Overexposure) in 1/3 EV steps. Or, if you set Custom Setting # 9, you can compensate in 1/2 EV steps instead. Default is 1/3 EV increments.

Once you set the compensation, it stays set, even if you turn the camera off. I leave mine at + 0.3 EV most of the time. It seems Nikon has deliberately caused the D100 to slightly underexpose, and for
good reason.

You'll see the exposure compensation button in the image above. It is right next to the flash sync mode button. it has a little -/+ (Plus/Minus) symbol on it.
LCD Control Panel and Illuminator (backlight)

The number of images remaining is shown all the time that a Compact Flash card is inserted. If you change cards, the camera adjusts to how many images that card will hold and displays it within seconds.

To turn on the "LCD Illuminator," as Nikon calls it, you simply press the little button next to the LCD Control Panel. Custom Function #
XXX lets you set the backlight to come on whenever any button is pressed on the camera.

The LCD screen (shown) provides the following information: Battery full charge, Shutter speed and Aperture, Flash and Exposure compensation set, Custom settings are in use, Large mode (3008x2000) Fine JPEG in use, White Balance set to Auto, and number of exposures left.

Camera Modes  and Settings

The D100 is a multi-mode camera. In Program mode, it can be used as a point-and-shoot camera for users with little experience. Or, it can be used in Manual, Shutter Priority, or Aperture Priority modes. The Mode dial shows P, S, A, M (plus settings ISO, WB, Qual, and [+]). We will consider each of these in turn below.

These various modes and settings allow an experienced user to set the camera to fit the current photo opportunity. If a person is comfortable with full manual operation, the camera will allow it.

If one would rather let the camera control the technical details, while paying careful attention to composition personally, the D100 is happy to oblige.

Exposure Modes...

In "P" or Program mode, the camera carefully selects the proper aperture and shutter speed, while the AF system focuses. In effect, the D100 becomes a point-and-shoot camera. You just pay attention to your subject, and the camera does the rest. Excellent pictures will result in most all conditions. If you want a little more control than Program mode offers, you can simply adjust either the Shutter speed or Aperture while in Program mode, and the camera will compensate to keep the exposure accurate. This is called "Flexible Program" by Nikon. It is like the best of both worlds combined. You normally use the Program mode to set the camera up for you. But, if you want a little more shutter speed to stop some action for one shot, you just turn the shutter speed dial, automatically switching the camera to Flexible Program mode, and the D100 will adjust the aperture accordingly to keep the exposure in range. It works the same way for the aperture. If you need a little more depth of field for one particular shot, just turn the aperture wheel to your preferred aperture, and the D100 compensates by changing the shutter speed. Once you have taken the picture, the camera returns to normal Program mode. This may sound complicated to beginners, but it is easy to use. It simply allows you to override the Program mode for that one picture in any way you would like, while it keeps you out of trouble by compensating all the related camera settings. Pretty clever, eh?

In "
M" or Manual mode, you take complete control of the camera. You set the aperture, shutter speed, etc. This allows you complete control of the subject matter and exposure. The camera meter, of course, suggests a proper exposure. If you would like, you can turn the auto-focus system off and focus manually too.

In "
S" or Shutter Priority mode, you set the shutter speed, and the camera adjusts the aperture opening for a correct exposure. This is nice, if you need a high shutter speed in an action shot. You can set the cameras shutter anywhere between 30 seconds and 1/4000th of a second in ½ steps.

In "
A" or Aperture Priority modes, you set the aperture (lens opening), and the camera adjusts the shutter speed. This is important if you want to control "depth-of-field" while paying less attention to shutter speeds. This is the mode that the majority of advanced photographers will use. It provides some automation, while allowing the photographer to control the very important "depth-of-field."



More coming here...


Metering Systems

In the old days, we were limited to an averaging meter that averaged the exposure, and hopefully gave a nice average picture. If we were shooting pictures in abnormal light conditions, such as snow, or darkness, or backlighting, and we didn't learn to compensate, our cameras would happily under or overexpose our pictures.

Through the various meter types provided in the D100, we have the ability to use our camera in all sorts of ways. If you are used to the older averaging meter, it is still here. If you would like to use a spot meter to very carefully examine each area of the scene, you can so it.
If you want to let the camera make the decision, and do so accurately virtually all the time, that too is available. Notice in the picture above that the D100 has three specific meter settings.

Locate the round AE-L button next to the eyepiece and you will see three symbols to the left of it, between it and the eyepiece. The little knurled ring around the AE-L/AF-L button is used to set the metering mode. The picture shows it set to 3D Matrix Metering currently (middle). The top setting is the Averaging Meter setting, and the bottom is the Spot Meter setting. We'll consider each of these below.

3D Matrix Meter...

The "3D Matrix" meter mode in today's Nikon cameras is world renowned for its accuracy and flexibility. In fact, in the D100, through complex mathematical formulas, there are characteristics for over 30,000 professional images stored in the camera. These images are used, along with proprietary Nikon software and complex evaluative computations, to analyze the image appearing in your viewfinder. The meter is then set to provide very accurate exposure for the greatest majority of your images. A simple example of this might be a picture where the horizon runs through the middle of the image. The sky above is bright, and the earth below is much dimmer. By evaluating this image, and comparing it to hundreds of like images in the camera's database, an accurate meter setting is automatically input for you. It is incredibly accurate!

In extremely bright situations, such as sunlit snow, it may be necessary to add a little bit of extra exposure time, since the meter does not take into account the color of the snow, like the Nikon F5 does with it's RGB meter. It will slightly underexpose extremely bright scenes with a lot of white. In my experience, it is good to add an additional 1/2 to 1 f/stop of exposure. In 98% of the images though, it performs better than any other camera brand. Test your D100 well, and learn where you need to help it a bit, and you'll have excellent pictures virtually all the time!

Averaging Center-Weighted Meter...

The "Averaging Center-weighted" meter mode is there for those who want to work with the older style of an averaging meter. In this type of metering, the entire image area is measured. 60% of the sensitivity of the meter is concentrated inside the 12mm circle in the middle of the focusing screen. The other 40% is layered out toward the edges of the focusing screen. Since this is an averaging meter setting, you must be aware of the consequences of paying no attention to the subject's color and brightness level. In this mode the meter will attempt to average all images to 18% gray. That means that close-up whites will not be quite white, and blacks will not be quite black.

It is not recommended that this mode be used by point and shooters, since some human thought must be put into the brightness, contrast, and color of the image. Many of us cut our teeth on this type of metering system, so it is second nature. It will perform well with average scenes such as a landscape or group picture of people. But, when you start shooting snow scenes, if you don't add one or two stops of extra exposure, you will have 18% gray snow. And, if you are shooting that big black locomotive up close, it will be a big 18% gray locomotive instead. Don't be discouraged, though, about this meter mode. The flexibility inherent in the D100 allows photographers with different experience levels to use the camera effectively.

Spot Meter...

The "Spot" meter mode of the D100 is similar to the Averaging Center-weighted mode. Instead of a 12mm circle providing 75% of the metering, a smaller 4mm area in the center of the focusing screen provides 100% of the metering. This "1%" spot meter allows the photographer to selectively meter very specific areas of the subject, such as a particular face in the crowd, or a group of trees in the forest. This metering mode is still an averaging mode, so it requires thought as to the brightness, contrast and color of the subject within the 4mm spot.

This mode is best left to experienced photographers that want to manually meter areas of the scene, while figuring ranges of light values and film capability. If you are a "Zone System" user this is very useful. There is no actual 4mm circle on the D100's focusing screen. The 1% spot meter actaully reads its values from the same area as the autofocus sensor in use. So, you can move the spot meter around on the focus screen by using the thumb rocker switch to move between autofocus sensors. In effect, you have five separate spot meters available according to where your subject is in on the focusing screen. Neat, huh?

Built-in Speedlight Flash & External Flash

One of the nice things about this little camera is the built-in flash--called a "Speedlight" by Nikon. Neither the Nikon F100 or F5 have the built-in Speedlight. This little flash unit is tucked into the body until needed, just like on the N/F80.

The flash has a guide number of 51 at the ISO 200 setting, which means it will cover your subjects well out to 15 feet or so.

It is not as powerful as an external flash unit, but it is always with the camera. You can pop it up anytime for a snapshot or fill flash..
Simply push the little button on the side of the prism finder, and the flash pops up, fully charged and ready to go.

I find that the little built-in speedlight is very useful. I use it constantly for fill flash, and snapshots. One of the problems with a larger camera with no built-in flash is the extra weight and larger camera bag size to carry the flash unit.

I can take my D100 with me everywhere and be reasonably assured of getting great images. The weight is much less. I really appreciate the built-in flash. You will too!

There is also a "hot-shoe" on top, so that you can use a more powerful external flash unit for greater distances. If you need more flash power, you can use it. I use the Nikon SB-50DX and SB-80DX flash units when I need more than the built-in unit provides.

The built-in flash has a beam width that will cover the view of a 28mm wide-angle lens, and any longer lens. A marvelous technology that Nikon includes in this camera is "3D Multi-sensor Balanced fill flash." This is a technical name for a technology that helps your flash pictures come out very well, even in bad photography conditions.

As an example, you have probably seen flash pictures where the subject is "burned-out" or faded due to too much light. This is because the camera is trying to average out the flash coverage in the picture. With most other cameras, if there is a dark background then the subject will usually be burned out. The D100 will rarely give you a picture with burned out subjects. What makes it different is how it looks at the scene to be lit by the flash. When you press the shutter release button a rapid series of events occur. First, the mirror inside the camera moves up out of the way. Then the D100 fires five quick flashes (called monitor pre-flashes) that allow the camera to examine the potential picture area. As each of the pre-flashes occur the camera meter looks at a different section of the scene. If one or more sections reflect almost no light, or too much light, they are ignored. Then the shutter opens and the main flash fires, fully exposing the scene, but balanced for the subject. After that the mirror returns to its down position. It is impossible for most people to see the five pre-flashes, since all this is happening so quickly. To the user and subject it just looks like a single burst of light from the flash.

If a "D" or "G" lens is used, this system is even more accurate since it can more easily determine exactly where the subject is in the photograph. Also, if a more powerful external flash unit is used, such as the Nikon SB-50DX or SB-80DX, the five monitor pre-flashes are fired by the external unit, just like the built-in flash unit.

The built-in flash unit uses this same technology to provide very accurate "fill" flash. As an example, let's say that you are taking a picture of some friends standing in directly overhead sunlight. Their noses and chins will cast long weird looking shadows. Or, if a hat is worn, the brim blocks the light so much that the face can disappear. If you pop open your D100's little flash unit, it will sense that there is a lot of available light, and will attempt to let that light provide the main exposure. It will only provide "fill" flash that tends to remove the weird shadows, and provides "pop" to the image. It does this without making the image appear unnatural or unbalanced. In most cases, an average person will not be able to tell that fill flash was used. The photographs just look really good, since there are no heavy shadows, or overexposure of the subject. The light from the flash is "balanced" with the light from the surroundings.

Note how balanced this image is between ambient and flash exposure:

This new "3D Multi-sensor Balanced fill flash" with "5-segment TTL flash sensors" is a very powerful technology, and gives Nikon users a distinctly better flash system.


LCD Viewfinder Information Here

LCD Viewfinder Controls Information Here


Bracketing button info here

Flash Exposure Comp info here


Sub-command dial Information here

AE-Lock info here

Thumb-Toggle Switch Info here


Focus-Assist Light info here

Depth of field-preview button info here


CF-Card Slot info here


Battery info here

Tripod-Socket info here


Film-Advance Select info here


Focus-Select info here

Lens-Release button info here


Mirror info here

Bayonet F-Mount info here

Grip info here


<<< Hands-On Use >>>

Using the D100

Let's consider the camera from a user's standpoint. How does it handle? How do its images look in comparison to similar film images? Will it stand up to long-term usage?

Handles like a Nikon...

I shot a wedding with my D100 and F5 recently. In using both cameras in a high-pressure environment, I can attest personally to the quality of Nikon® equipment. The D100, although not quite as fast as the F5, is quite a capable performer. It feels like a Nikon! That is very important to me, as I'm sure it is to you. You've invested quite a bit of time in learning the features of Nikon's newest cameras. This camera is, thankfully, as easy to use as my F5 or N80. Nikon SLRs have a particular feel that users have come to expect. It's hard to describe this feeling; one of balance, sturdiness, and dependability. The D100 has it! It is a real Nikon SLR, just like you're used to.

The Camera's Images...

One thing that really impressed me about the camera's images, is the smoothness and lack of grain. Having used film cameras and film like Fuji Provia for years, I am sensitive to sharpness and grain. One of the reasons I normally used transparency film in the first place, was to minimize the grain in my images. At the ISO 200 setting, the look of the image is very smooth and grainless. It was quite suprising to me at first, but I have come to love it. During the wedding I shot recently, I was not allowed to take flash pictures during the ceremony. In fact, I had to stay up on the balcony and shoot quietly. The church I was shooting in was an old church built in the 1700's, and had poor lighting for non-flash photography. I was using a 50mm f/1.8 Nikkor® on my Nikon F5 with Fuji NPS 160 ISO film. Even at the f/1.8 aperture I was only able to shoot at 1/20th of a second. Since I had the F5 on a tripod I was able to get my film shots. With the D100 the situation was much better. I could crank up the ISO setting to whatever I needed to get the image. I ended up shooting at ISO 800 for the entire ceremony. I would handhold the D100 by bracing it on the F5, which was on my large tripod. I found I could use my 24-85mm zoom lens at 85 mm to get some nice shots. The images are smooth! In fact, I feel that they are much less "grainy" than any 800 ISO film. Here is a 800 ISO sample image from the D100 with no flash:

(ISO 800, 85mm, 1/15th sec., Auto White Balance, sRGB Mode III, 3008x2000 pixel RAW to JPEG conversion)

I can't really see a big difference in image quality up to about 800 ISO. After that I can see some random grain (noise) from the CCD. At 6400 ISO (the maximum ISO "high" setting) the grainy look is quite pronounced, but the image is still quite usable. Phil Askey's review at DPReview.com has some examples showing the difference in CCD noise between the various ISO settings. Below, I have some real images of the same object taken at the different ISO settings.

ISO Comparisons

First, here is the entire image taken with the D100, an AF Micro-Nikkor 60mm at f/8, Aperture Priority, 3D Matrix metering, Normal sharpening, White Balance Cloudy -3. Then below are 100% image cutouts starting at 200 ISO and ending at 6400 ISO:

200 ISO

400 ISO

800 ISO

1250 ISO

1600 ISO

3200 ISO

6400 ISO

Overview Comparison

As I mentioned before, I see very little difference between 200, 400, and 800 ISO images. At around 1250 ISO some noise starts appearing, and gets progressively louder up to 6400. Nikon does not officially call the 3200, and 6400 ISO settings by those numbers. Instead the 3200 setting is called "1 Step Above 1600," and the 6400 setting is called "2 Steps Above 1600."

In any case, it's really nice to carry this incredible range of sensitivity in one camera. I don't shoot much after dark, but if an alien spaceship landed in my backyard under a full-moon at midnight; I am sure I could get some viewable images, even without flash. Not to mention that I can take beautiful images at normal settings between 200 and 800 ISO with very little noise (grain). In fact, the print enlargements I have been making up to 11x14 inches, at 200 ISO, are, in my opinion, completely grainless. To me the images look much smoother than comparable film images.

Digital vs. Film

Look at the digital vs. film comparison below. The D100 image on the left seems smoother to me. The Provia, which is in my opinion the best transparency film available, does not seems as smooth. It is, at the least, extremely close. Click on each of the two images below and compare them for yourself.

To overcome some of the inherent noise problems when you boost the ISO rating of the D100, there is a really cool custom feature. You can set Custom Setting #XXX, so that the camera will take two images of each subject. The camera then combines the two images into one, thereby canceling any random noise in the CCD. A very clever solution!

Long-Term Usage...

The D100 has a robust magnesium-alloy frame with a rubbery-coated polycarbonate shell. It is easy to hold onto the camera. It is not quite as heavily built as my F5 tank, but seems quite similar to the reassuring build of my Nikon N80. I feel confident that this camera will last me for many years of constant usage. Not too long back, I dropped my N80 on a concrete floor from about four feet up. (camera bag was unzipped) It landed on the end of the lens. The filter and lens cap shattered, but the N80 was not damaged. Now, I wouldn't recommend throwing any camera on a concrete floor, but I feel good that my N80 survived. If anything, the D100 is better built. I'm not going to drop it anytime soon, but I will do my best to wear it out taking pictures. In the first month of owning the D100, I have already taken about 1,500 images. It is clicking right along! I think it will last like a Nikon!

... More coming here ...

Deliberate Underexposure?

Digital cameras aren't as capable in recording a high-contrast image. They are very close to how transparency film acts, but not able to contain the same range as negative film. They lose all detail in bright highlights, which is called by many a highlight "blowout." I suppose Nikon wants to protect the user from losing detail in the highlights, so they cause the camera to underexpose the image very slightly, unless you modify the normal settings of the camera with your own "custom curves." Let's examine why...

Click any image to see a larger version

Here is an example of an image that tests the very edges of the D100's exposure range. You can see a highlight blowout on the window of the truck.

It has been my recent experience, that the good exposure range is about the same as a film like Fuji Provia or Velvia. Provia slide film can record about 5 stops of light. The general agreement is that the D100 has an EV range that is a little less than negative film, and slightly more than transparency film. Here is some
proof of that assertion. It does seem though that digital blows out the highlights more suddenly, or abruptly than film. Highlights outside of the range disappear immediately into pure white.
This image was shot almost directly into the sun, so there is some flare and contrast reduction from that. Note how the hood and the front of the fenders on the Jeep above are barely holding any detail. If I put this image into Photoshop, I could pull out a lot of detail from the shadow areas, by using the Levels or Brightness controls. But, once the detail is blown out in the highlight, there is nothing left to pull out. This is a fact of life with current digital cameras, and the D100 is no exception. The exposure range is somewhat limited, about the same as transparency film. It's not a big deal, you just need to be careful to watch your highlights. The D100 makes that easy, since you see the image immediately after taking it. The camera also has a feature you can enable, that shows the areas of the image with burned out detail in the highlights. The viewscreen on back will flash the burned out areas, by alternating them in black and white.

I personally feel that it does this for not only highlights but also for intense colors, since I have seen it flash the image when all the white highlights looked good. I think that this camera is looking at the overall saturation of each of the color channels it is recording. So, if you have an extremely dense red, blue, or green the edges may flash a bit in the viewscreen for those colors.

Please do not let the lesser exposure range bother you, as you will not find this to be a problem unless you want to take pictures of really high contrast images. For instance, a landscape with a bright sky, and a dark valley will not record well with the D100, unless you use a graduated neutral density filter to lower the highlight of the sky a bit. Of course, this is a problem with film cameras too, else they would not be making graduated neutral density filters, eh?

Many people take advantage of the flexibility of the D100 in exposure bracketing the image. In one image you expose for the sky, and in the other image you expose for the ground. You can then take the two images and blend them together seemlessly in Photoshop, for a perfect exposure.

Here is an example of an image taken in less contrast. Note how the hair is lit by the late afternoon sun, while the 3D-Matrix Balanced fill flash provides a perfect exposure of the kids. I shot this image using Slow Sync flash mode. This exposed the background well also.The D100 performs flawlessly in this type of shot.

If the sun had been more directly on the back of their heads, some of the detail would have been lost in that area. Not a big worry, just keep it in mind. You have to adjust your shooting techniques a little, but not much. If you use mostly slide film, you are, most likely, already sensitive to light range limitations.
Below, we see a view of the way the D100 normally exposes a flash picture with an external flash unit. And, next to it we see an adjusted image. I simply put the image in Photoshop adjusted the "Levels" a bit. The D100 has plenty of detail in the shadow. It may look underexposed, but it really isn't!

There is plenty of detail in the darker image. Had the image been full brightness, I might have lost detail in areas of highlight, like the little girls teeth, or hair bow. As it is the image is well balanced for a direct flash image, after a little adjustment is made in the editing software.


An interesting thing is that the D100 seems to expose the image more normally with the on-camera pop-up speedlight flash unit. I find that my images are not as dark in most cases. It seems like Nikon has decided to give an "amateur" user, who is more likely to be using the pop-up flash, a more balanced image out of the camera. An external flash unit, like the Nikon SB-50DX seems to expose consistently like above, so maybe the designers though the "pro" would be able to adjust the image as part of his or her workflow, and opted to keep as much highlight detail as possible.

In either case, the image seems to be very detailed and adjustable under a good image editing program like Photoshop, or Picture Publisher. In fact, the free Nikon View software that comes with the D100 allows you to adjust contrast, brightness, and color. So most people will not even have to buy additional software to make these necessary adjustments.

 Article to be continued...


Other Nikon® D100 Information Resources


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