Nikon COOLPIX L25 review
Review Date : Thu, 12 Apr 2012
Author : Doug Harman
Nikon’s Coolpix L25 is a budget, £69.99, 10-megapixel snapper with 720P HD video and ease of use at its core. But what type of Nikon is it that you get for less than £70? What Digital Camera investigates.
|Pros:||Price, Styling, Ease of use, Build, Handling, Low ISO image quality.|
|Cons:||High ISO image noise, Lack of detail, Sluggish AF, Muddy and grainy HD video|
Nikon Coolpix L25 review - Features and Handling
The Nikon Coolpix L25 comes in red, black, silver and white liveries, the latter one also the one we tested here. Its attractively curved plastic body has a nice ergonomic shape that's reflected around all the camera's main styling elements. But it is the price of the camera that first grabbed headlines, so what other headline grabbers does a budget Nikon come equipped with?
For a kick off, there's the 5x optical wide zoom lens that gives a focal range from 28mm to 140mm (in 35mm film format terms), so a lens more than capable of most normal snapping tasks. The sensor is a 10-megapixel 1/3rd-inch CCD, used to turn the light funneled onto it by the lens into your snaps or videos.
The latter offers a 720P HD maximum resolution setting - with sound - and you can zoom and film at the same time too and all with sound too. Thanks to a near silent lens zoom motor it does not adversely affect footage either, although you can hear the focus system and slight ticks as the lens moves; it's still impressive nonetheless.
In terms of controls, you get a shutter button surrounded by the lens zoom switch and a recessed on/off button all on the top plate. The front of the camera has a small, rather low powered flash unit and a bright AF illuminator LED along with a microphone port that is positioned so that it falls right under where your middle finger of your right hand naturally falls when holding the camera.
Nikon has provided small raised dots around the microphone to let you know when your finger is going obscure the microphone, but its still a bit of a mystery as to its positioning. Why there, under a finger?
But that's a relatively minor issue however, as overall, the camera's ergonomics are very nice. The camera feels tough in the hand (the curvy nature of the design undoubtedly lending it extra strength) although the flap over the battery and memory card slot is less rugged; in fact it feels rather flimsy in comparison to the rest of the camera.
Two AA cells supply power and you can use (and choose in menus) Alkaline, (two LR6's are supplied to get you started), Nikon's own NiMH cells or Lithium high power batteries. You have to "tell" the camera what batteries you've loaded from the menus, more of which shortly.
The housing for the batteries and SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards is neatly bulged to act as a nice hand grip; its needed too because the camera's smooth exterior is very slippy otherwise, so use of the wrist strap is recommended, particularly if you're wearing gloves.
The camera's back plate houses the 3-inch colour display, a display that is good to use in most conditions, but some of the brighter days I had for the test made using the screen very difficult, put bluntly, it was extremely hard to see what you were composing or reviewing in direct sunlight.
Controls that run alongside the display include the direct video shooting button, which means you can quickly start filming from any mode; above it is a flash-ready LED while below it, you have the camera's main shooting mode or "Scene" button (also denoted with a green camera icon).
Press this and a menu of four options is revealed on screen for Auto, Smart Portrait, access to the 18 scene modes and the Easy Auto mode, which allows you to press the shutter and let the camera decide what the scene is before it. It does this rather well too.
Each setting is self-explanatory but the Smart Portrait mode is impressive in a camera at this prince point. It uses a set of neat technologies including Nikon's Smile timer, which automatically takes a shot when your subject smiles. Then there are Blink alerts that notify you if one of your subjects has their eyes closed in a shot so you can retake it.
Skin softening adjusts skin tones for smoother-looking skin while the Red-eye Fix corrects red eye and all within the same system; blink warnings can be switched on (or off) in menus too.
Other controls include the playback button, direct delete and a four-way jog control for activating flash, exposure compensation, self timer and macro modes. The central OK button works in conjunction with any of the settings you've chosen when scrolling with the four-way controller, and activates them when pressed or selected.
A Menu button activates a three-tiered set of menus for stills, video and settings and as you might expect, the options are quite limited given the cameras market.
There are options for white balance (seven modes including auto and the usual stuff such as daylight, cloudy and fluorescent), resolution, continuous shooting and colour modes of sepia, black and white, vivid and cyanotype.
Movie settings are limited to choosing a resolution while the main settings menu options run through formatting the memory to date and time settings along with one of the nattier features of this camera, Eye-Fi.
Eye-Fi uploading of images can be achieved with compatible SD cards, it allows you to wirelessly send images direct from the camera to a PC, say, if you're shooting within range of a wireless network at home for example. It is also in this settings menu you get to choose the type of battery you've installed too.
In playback, there's another level of menus to tinker in as well, these provide further image controls such as Nikon's D-Lighting technology (to get detail out of shadows without affecting highlights) and skin softening, as well as image protection, rotation and cropping or reducing image's in size.
You can also copy images across from the internal memory to a SD card if you have images snapped on the camera's 20MB of internal before putting in more storage.
Incidentally, in playback, if you use the zoom switch you can magnify an image, as you'd expect. If you zoom out however, you get a set of smaller thumbnails to quickly scroll snapped shots, zoom out further and you eventually get a calendar view of the images so you can scroll though images by month and date, which is great to have and speeds up scrolling images on larger capacity cards.