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Nikon COOLPIX L120 review
|DATE REVIEWED: 19th Apr 2011||Add Camera To Comparison Chart|
|Camera Type||Bridge||Shutter Speeds||4 - 1/4000 sec|
|RRP||£249||ISO Range||80 - 6400|
|Megapixels||14||Focal Length||25 - 525mm|
|Weight||431g||Aperture||f3.1 - 5.8|
|Dimensions||110 x 76 x 78mm (WxHxD)||Focus Distance||1cm - inf|
|LCD Size||3 inches||Zoom (Opt)||21x|
|Zoom (Dig)||4x||Storage||SD / SDHC / SDXC|
|Max Resolution||4320 x 3240||Battery Type||AA|
Value for money is an important consideration when buying a camera. Spending time finding the best deal can reward us with extra features and functionality within our price range – the best specs rarely come at the best price, but there are exceptions.
Nikon’s COOLPIX L120 is an example of such an exception. Despite being more expensive than its predecessor, its improvements in both hardware and handling more than justify the RRP.
One of the key areas where it stands out from the crowd is its ‘superzoom’ lens. Even when fully retracted the lens casing stands proud of the main camera body by twice its depth, meaning the L120 is by no means the most compact point-and-shoot. Although far from being the fastest zoom lens (f3.1 at wide angle and f5.8 at the telephoto end), its impressive 21x optical zoom boasts an focal range equivalent to that of a 25-525mm lens in 35mm format. Surprisingly, the L120 is also capable of some impressive close-up photographs too – its 1cm macro mode performed well beyond our expectations.
The technical prowess of the L120 continues on the rear-face of the camera with its 3-inch screen. The resolution has been vastly improved over last year’s L110, offering a staggering 921k wide-angle viewing window featuring an anti-glare coating that actually works.
Another addition is a dedicated movie mode button placed just beyond the top right-hand corner of the screen. A quick tap puts you immediately into video mode enabling you to start shooting up to 720p. We were pleased to see that the zoom lens is fully functional, though its action has been slowed down dramatically – partly to silence the lens motor, and partly, we suspect, to mask the slow response from the autofocus while shooting in HD.
In terms of handling the L120 deserves top marks. The battery compartment doubles up as an ergonomic right-hand grip complete with an ample amount of non-slip rubber. The camera is light and Nikon has put a second zoom tilt on the left-hand side of the lens housing. Users can still use the arm attached to the shutter button, but we found the vertical tilt on the lens housing much more comfortable.
There’s always a rub in this highly contested market, though, and in the case of the L120 it’s a lack of advanced and manual controls. Nikon prefers to reserve these for its high-end cameras, so users wishing to take aperture and shutter speeds in hand will likely want to shop elsewhere.
Assuming you haven’t been turned off by this, you’ll be glad to hear that there are 20 shooting modes encapsulating just about every situation from night, snow, various portrait and landscape modes and plenty more besides. Since the L120 is targeted at the beginner there’s also an Easy Auto Mode that does a fair job of automatically picking a suitable Scene Mode depending on what its 14MP CCD sensor picks up.
Regardless of the wealth of Scene Modes, L120 users will have to put all their faith into the camera’s own filtering, noise reduction and red-eye algorithms. Though in most cases the L120 does a fairly even-handed job, its noise reduction is quite aggressive and leaves low-light images softer than we’d like.
It’s also worth noting that taking the ISO range above 800 doesn’t provide terribly useful results, with images taken at 1600 proving unsuitable for printing altogether and 3200 and 6400 ISO images limited to 3MP resolution. We weren’t surprised to see that our images increasingly softened towards the corners of the frame as we started putting the 21x optical zoom to good use, and it’s forgivable considering the price.
We had concerns that the reach on the lens would write cheques the CCD sensor couldn’t cash. While shots are tricky at full tilt, decent images are obtainable
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|We had concerns that the reach on the lens would write cheques the CCD sensor couldn’t cash. While shots are tricky at full tilt, decent images are obtainable|
Russell is a technology expert, editor of Total PC Gaming and a keen amateur photographer who can build a computer from scratch with little effort, making him the perfect candidate for tackling the more innovative features present on both DSLRs and compacts.
|Total Camera Reviews||9|
|Average Camera Rating||3.4|
|Russell's Last 5 Reviews|
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