Nikon COOLPIX L11
- Compact Design, Great noise performance
- High over sharpening, No manual ISO sensitivity, Sluggish operation
A decent but not outstanding unit, the Coolpix L11 will suit those who are after a compact camera to throw in their pocket or bag and whip out at parties.
Price$ 149.00 (AUD)
In the dime-a-dozen entry level compact camera market, it becomes hard to differentiate yourself from the slew of 6 and 7 megapixel models around these days. Nikon's latest consumer oriented camera, the L11, falls squarely within the middle of the pack. It doesn't do anything to separate itself from its competitors, but it does provide solid image quality in a compact design. The only things to watch out for are some prominent over-sharpening and the inability to manually adjust ISO sensitivity.
With a 6 megapixel sensor, the L11 isn't designed with image purists in mind. Instead this slim, compact device is perfect for casual users who want a camera they can slip into their bag and forget about. It scored 1448 in the Imatest sharpness test, which is a fairly decent score and indicates reasonably sharp pictures that are suitable for small and medium sized prints. Edges were relatively crisp and the shots looked about as good as we'd expect them to. However, we did notice some over-sharpening, which was most visible in our outdoor foliage shots, where the leaves had an almost cell-shaded look to them. Imatest confirmed these results, giving the L11 a score of 22.7% for over-sharpening, which is higher than we normally see.
In our chromatic aberration tests the results were similar, with a score of .117% placing this model somewhere in the middle of the field. We noticed only minor haloing in our high contrast test, and minimal blurring around the edges of shots, which is on-par with other comparable models and won't prove problematic unless you're enlarging your pictures.
This trend continued in our colour checker test, where the L11 scored 8.63. Again this is about middle of the road, with many top end cameras scoring closer to 6.0. The Imatest result charts indicated that red and blue were the main problem colours, showing some slightly inaccuracy. Nonetheless the shots were bright and vibrant, and these small errors won't be noticeable by the vast majority of users.
It was in our final test for image noise that the L11 excelled, where Imatest awarded it a score of .44%. This is a brilliant result, which was mirrored in our test shots. There was no noise visible at all, and everything was smooth and clean. This is great for a consumer camera, which typically suffer from higher noise levels due to their smaller sensors.
We also ran a few speed tests on the unit and were somewhat disappointed. It exhibited a rather lengthy .12 seconds of shutter lag, which is double what we usually see from compacts. Meanwhile its 1.8 second shot to shot time and 2.3 second startup time were a little better, but still below expectation as similar cameras tend to score better than this. Finally, the continuous shot mode operated at a paltry 1.3 frames per second, which is slow enough to make it all but useless.
While the image quality of the L11 is similar to other units we have reviewed, its real advantage is its size. Measuring 89.5mm x 60.5mm x 27mm and weighing just 125g, it is a fairly small camera and should suit those with a busy, on-the-go lifestyle. The silver, plastic chassis looks fairly standard for a compact camera these days. It isn't sturdy enough to take too much rough treatment, but should suffice for day to day use.
The controls are fairly simple, and will be familiar to anyone who has used digital cameras in the past. There is a five way directional pad, along with menu, playback and delete keys. There is no function wheel, seeing as this is just a basic model, so you switch between modes using a slider that runs along the bottom.
The L11's feature list is a little bare, but that's to be expected from an entry level unit. The most notable absence is the ability to manually alter ISO sensitivity; a feature present on almost every compact camera these days. Aside from this absence most of the normal features are there, including auto and preset white balance modes, exposure compensation and a relatively slow burst mode (it operates at about 1.3 frames per second). There are also several scene configurations for the novice user, and Nikon's new Face Detect technology, which hones in on human faces within pictures and makes them the focal point.
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