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Nikon Coolpix L810 Review
The Nikon Coolpix L810 is an easy to use mega-zoom digital compact camera with a 26x optical zoom, 16 megapixel CCD sensor, 720p HD video, EXPEED C2 image processor, Vibration Reduction, 3-inch LCD screen with 921,000 dots and AA batteries.
The L810 is a delight to hold, thanks to a substantial, textured speed grip and its light weight. Controls are grouped around the shutter button, so a thumb and forefinger can usually drive all the buttons. The camera has a marvelous ‘hold me’ appeal. A surprisingly attractive and useful feature is a second zoom control, built into the zoom barrel’s left side, which allows firmer two-handed operation of the camera. The camera’s CCD can hold 16.1 million pixels, with a maximum image size of 4068×3456 pixels, sufficient to make a 34x29cm print. Movies are recorded at a maximum res of only 1280×720 pixels.
While auto exposure is the main ‘go’, there is a large bundle of scene modes which can help the raw amateur make huge leaps in ability: among these are portrait, night landscape, fireworks, panorama and so on. There’s also a 3D shooting facility, with the result viewable on suitable 3D TV sets.
Like most entry-level point-and-shoots, you'll want to give the Nikon L810 as much light as possible. Photos are best at and below ISO 200. As the sensitivities increase, so does the noise and smeary details from noise reduction. Also, colors appear slightly washed out and muddy from noise from ISO 400 and above. This, combined with the increased softness at higher sensitivities, means the indoor and low-light photo quality just isn't very good.
The camera's color performance is its best attribute, though again it's dependent on using ISO 200 or lower. At those sensitivities, colors appear bright and vibrant. Exposure is good, highlights will occasionally blow out. Its white balance is good overall, though the auto white balance is warm under unnatural lighting.
Video quality is the same as photo quality. Panning the camera will create a little judder and you may notice some motion blur with fast-moving subjects. The zoom lens does work while recording, which is definitely a selling point with such a long lens. Its movement is slow - as is the autofocus, if it focuses at all.
Shooting performance is slow, though it's on par with other lower-end compacts. The camera starts up and shoots in 2.3 seconds in good lighting. Its shot-to-shot times are about 3.3 seconds without the flash and 4.1 seconds with--both slower than the model it replaces. The camera can continuously shoot, at full resolution, up to four photos at a rate of about 1.1 frames per second, which is decent. However, focus and exposure are set with the first shot, so it's not ideal for fast-moving subjects. What's worse is its autofocus is very slow when you extend the lens. Along with its focusing issues, the camera's zoom didn't always respond immediately when using either of its controls, one around the shutter release, and the other on the lens barrel.
Using the Coolpix L810 is straightforward. The controls and menu system are fairly uncomplicated, so out-of-the-box shooting shouldn't be a problem. The menu system is broken into three tabs: Shooting, Movie, and Set up. The layout keeps you from doing too much hunting through settings, not that there's all that much to adjust. That's not to say it won't take a little effort to get the most from this camera, but the basics of shooting a photo or movie are easy.
With the camera loaded with its four, AA-size batteries, it has a nice weight to it, and the ample hand grip gives you something substantial to hold. Unfortunately, without a viewfinder, the camera is difficult to keep steady with the lens extended. On the bottom is a locking door covering the SD card slot and batteries. You can use alkaline, NiMH rechargeables, or lithium AA batteries. Nikon includes alkaline batteries, which will last for up to 300 shots; using lithium batteries should last for nearly 750 shots. NiMH rechargeables are rated for up to 450 shots. On the left side of the body is a covered panel with a small DC input for an optional AC adapter, a Mini-HDMI port, and Micro-USB/AV port.
Overall, the Nikon Coolpix L810 is a no-frills superzoom with a long range, point-and-shoot functionality and a budget price tag. For those looking for a longer range than is currently available from compact super-zooms, and who aren't interested in manual exposure control or fancy filters and effects, it's an attractive proposition.