In the days where megapixels are the buzz word, it's rare to find a camera below 7. But Nikon's latest entry level unit, the COOLPIX L10, defies this trend by packing in a 5 megapixel sensor. This may seem surprising to some, but with a price tag this low it's understandable. The unit suffers a little with regards to picture quality and doesn't have the most robust feature set in the world, but for occasional happy snaps it does the job, and the tiny design makes it suitable as a second camera for on the road photographs.
- Tiny design, Low price tag
- Image quality issues, Very slow shutter speed
Nikon's COOLPIX L10 is a decent choice if you're looking for a low price unit to use as a backup camera or are taking your first steps into the world of digital photography. However, the 5 megapixel sensor does exhibit a few problems and the slow shutter speed will be unbearable for more experienced photographers.
Price$ 149.00 (AUD)
We ran the L10 through our usual combination of subjective tests shots and Imatest software to make a thorough assessment of the image quality. It performed as expected and will produce pictures that are fine for making 4in x 6in prints, but not great for anything much larger.
There was prolific noise, which wasn't helped by the fact that ISO can't be manually adjusted. It appears the camera is set on auto, and thus you'll often wind up taking shots at a higher sensitivity than you'd like, resulting in excess noise. Our test shots achieved a score of 1.14% in this area, which is quite a bit higher than most models. The noise was evident in the shots although it was largely white and quite fine, meaning it won't be too obtrusive at smaller magnifications.
Similarly, in our sharpness test the L10 scored 1160, which is again behind the competition. Our test shots looked relatively good when viewed at normal magnifications, but at full size they lost a little clarity. This was particularly evident in our motherboard test shot which lost a fair bit of crispness in areas of fine detail.
The clarity of the pictures was also impacted on by the chromatic aberration, for which Imatest gave a score of 0.135%. There was a little blurring towards the corners of the frame but haloing was notably absent for the most part. That being said, our outdoors shots did lose a fair bit of clarity in high exposure areas thanks to purple fringing.
We found most colours were quite accurate. Everything was slightly oversaturated, but that is a common trait of most mid range consumer cameras and the balance will be pleasing for most people. Imatest gave the L10 a score of 9.82 for colour, which is a decent but not outstanding result. It showed that most of the inaccuracy came in the primary colours, with red, green and blue all exhibiting some error.
We also ran our speed tests on the L10, but it achieved less than impressive results. Its shutter lag was extremely slow at .2 of a second, which will have a big impact if you regularly snap off spontaneous pictures. The unit also took 2.4 seconds to start-up and take its first picture, which is a little sluggish. Fortunately shot-to-shot time was quite speedy at 1.2 seconds.
The feature set is fairly standard for a Nikon compact, with the notable absence of manual ISO controls. There are however a variety of white balance and colour presets and 15 scene modes for more novice users. Nikon's best shot mode makes another welcome return. This option captures your pictures at a variety of exposure settings, allowing you to pick and chose the best looking combination. Also thrown into the package is a Face Detect focus mode, which as usual is a brilliant inclusion. Turning this option on makes human faces the focal point of the picture; ideal for users who find themselves regularly photographing family and friends.
The one big selling point of this model is its design. Measuring 89.5mm x 60.5mm x 26mm and weighing just 115g, it is a tiny unit which is ideal for throwing into a bag and forgetting about. Many people are more than happy to sacrifice a little image quality and functionality for a slim and petite design, and if so, the L10 will be right up your alley.
The unit is constructed entirely of plastic, but it feels relatively sturdy and should be able to handle a few knocks. The controls are in a standard Nikon configuration and the directional pad and mode switch should cause no problems, even for novice users.
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