Nikon CoolPix L16
- Cheap, manual white balance
- Pictures are strongly over-sharpened, no way to adjust ISO
The Nikon CoolPix L16 is an extremely simple camera but at this price you can't expect too much, and if you're looking for a budget, entry-level unit it isn't a bad option.
Price$ 179.00 (AUD)
Sitting at the low end of Nikon's compact range, the CoolPix L16 does nothing out of the ordinary, but it provides an adequate point and shoot for novice users. Image quality aficionados will probably not be satisfied with the images captured and the extremely basic feature-set although if budget is your primary concern this unit isn't a bad choice.
The L16 sports a 7.1-megapixel sensor, which is basically as low as they come these days. That said, while it won't produce images comparable to the many 8- and 10-megapixel units available today, this resolution is still fine for standard 4x6in prints.
Images captured with the L16 were reasonably sharp with only slight softening visible. However, at times they were grossly over-sharpened. This was particularly noticeable in our outdoors shots in areas of dense foliage, and it gave a very pixelated, digital look. Nevertheless this wasn't really evident at small magnifications and thus may go unnoticed by some users.
Fortunately chromatic aberration was kept relatively under control. There was some slight haloing in our indoors chart shots but it was pretty minimal and the same can be said for purple fringing in our outdoors snaps. There was also some minor detail loss towards the corners of the frame but this is to be expected.
Colour balance was middle of the road with a fairly soft overall mix. Everything came out a little washed out at times, particularly blues and greens but reds were surprisingly accurate. Things can be tweaked a little using the on-board colour options, but if you're after a camera that captures extremely rich, vibrant colours, you may want to look elsewhere.
Image noise was a little more difficult to measure than normal. The L16 has no adjustable ISO setting which means the sensitivity adjusts automatically. Normally we test at every ISO available from 100 onwards but we couldn't do that here. As it was, the camera performed to expectation. Shots were slightly grainy in well lit conditions but if you find yourself shooting indoors it will increase the sensitivity, which results in a sharp increase in noise.
Speed wise this model is an average performer. It takes a while to focus, which slows things down noticeably. As such the 2.2-second shot-to-shot time and three-second power-up time are not surprising. The shutter speed is also sluggish at 0.12 seconds while the burst mode is a little quicker capturing 2.1 frames per second.
As you'd anticipate for a unit with a sub-$200 RRP, the L16 is a little light on features. The most noticeable exclusion is the aforementioned ISO sensitivity, however, you also have no control over things such as focus mode and exposure metering. Bizarrely, manual white balance has found its way into the mix, which is a feature usually reserved for more expensive units. The lack of features isn't an entirely bad thing as the motto for this model was clearly 'keep it simple' and novice users will appreciate the ease-of-use.
Aesthetically this model won't win any awards, sticking to Nikon's L series style with a plain silver plastic body and a boxy shape. It feels sturdy enough however, and the controls are nice and simple. It also packs in a 2.8in LCD which is a nice size for an entry-level camera.
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