Nikon CoolPix L18

Entry-level camera with a low price tag

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Nikon CoolPix L18
  • Nikon CoolPix L18
  • Nikon CoolPix L18
  • Nikon CoolPix L18

Pros

  • Low price, simple interface

Cons

  • Pictures a little over-sharpened, some visible graininess, can't manually adjust ISO, somewhat sluggish

Bottom Line

Nikon's CoolPix L18 is a basic, entry-level compact camera that does little to separate itself from the pack. It will be fine for novice users but anyone more discerning will be frustrated by the image quality and speed issues.

Would you buy this?

  • Buy now (Selling at 1 store)

With an entry-level price tag and features to match, Nikon's CoolPix L18 is a pretty basic compact camera. Its 8-megapixel sensor snaps reasonable pictures but its operation can be quite sluggish. However, if you're after a no-fuss, happy-snap unit then it may be up your alley.

We found the L18's pictures to be satisfactory for small and medium print sizes, but as expected more enthusiastic photographers will be disappointed with the output. Sharpness is fairly good, although edges do look a little soft at times. There was also some over-sharpening (this was corroborated by Imatest), although it wasn't too severe.

Chromatic aberration also had an impact: there was prominent purple fringing outdoors and haloing on our high-contrast chart shots. There was also some noticeable detail loss towards the corners of the frame.

Image noise was somewhat tough to measure, as the camera doesn't allow you to manually adjust ISO. We were forced to simply let it default to automatic ISO, which produced some fairly noisy images. It was a fine grain but it covered the pictures and resulted in a loss of clarity that was obvious at higher magnifications.

Colour balance was typical for a unit at this price point. With a focus on producing bright, enjoyable pictures rather than incredibly accurate ones, the overall tone is quite vivid. Reds and yellows in particular are noticeably oversaturated. Greens looked a little pale, but blues were almost spot-on. We also noticed the L18 had some minor exposure issues; most notably, whites often looked blown out and extremely bright.

The camera was a little on the slow side. Time between shots was quite quick at 1.9 seconds; however, the camera suffered 0.2 seconds of shutter lag and a 3.3 second start-up time, both of which are sluggish results. The burst mode is also less than speedy, capturing 1.8 frames per second.

The camera's features are fairly minimal, but that's no surprise considering its market position. As with all Nikon cameras it has Best Shot Selector, which is essentially a bracketing mode. Aside from that there is Face Detect and digital, but not optical, image stabilisation. ISO sensitivity apparently goes to 1600, but we couldn't verify this. White balance can be set via a list of presets or using the manual option.

The overall focus is clearly on simplicity, with an Easy Auto Mode specifically designed for novices. It takes all control away from the user and lets them focus on taking pictures, which should please amateurs.

Physically, the L18 is quite plain. It follows the same trend as past L series models. The camera is built from dull silver plastic and is quite sturdy, with a deceptive amount of weight behind it. The controls and interface will be familiar to anyone who has used other Nikon units. While they aren't perfect, they do the job.

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