Nikon Coolpix L23 Review

3.5
March 25, 2011 | Matt Grayson |

Image Quality


All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 12 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 4Mb.

At low resolution, the Nikon Coolpix L23 gives extremely good picture quality. As the ISO rating starts to increase, the image quality starts to decrease so it's best to use the camera at ISO 80 or ISO 100. Obviously that's not always possible as the camera doesn't provide you with any control over the ISO speed, so just be prepared for not getting the optimum quality.

Still, at the price point that the Nikon Coolpix L23 is set at, it's not surprising that a lot of the features have been left out but the D-Lighting helps level out high contrast photographs by revealing detail in shadows and capping burn out in bright areas. It works well because we found that while there was a potential problem with over doing the processing and making the picture look more HDR to pander to trends, the Nikon Coolpix L23 uses only subtle boosts to the areas that need it.

Interestingly, Nikon have introduced a program in the playback menu called Quick Retouch that automatically sorts out the picture so it's nicer to look at. It's a testament to the positioning of the Coolpix L23 that it doesn't have this feature fitted.

We're impressed with how the camera deals with the primary colours. Reds come out exactly how they look in real life. Yellows are bright and blues are nicely saturated. Portraits are nicely balanced with skin tones looking realistic. We took some shots of purples and subtle hues to see how the camera coped with those and it did excellently. Some camera's can be problematic but Nikon have still fitted a good sensor and processor to the L23 to ensure good colour rendition.

Noise

This is the most difficult part of the Nikon Coolpix L23 test. Because it's part of the L series, it doesn't have an over ride on the ISO. Because of this, trying to raise the ISO is nigh on impossible because the light source has to remain the same. We turned the lights down to the minimum in the studio but could still only get a maximum of ISO 200, but here's the interesting thing; we were getting purple blotches in dark areas at ISO 200. ISO 80 is great, noise is controlled nicely although being really picky, we found a very slight break in fine lines. I don't think you'll be unhappy with using this camera on holiday though, as long as you use the flash in dark areas.

ISO 80 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

Focal Range

The Nikon Coolpix L23 has a 5x optical zoom which is the equivalent of 28-140mm in 35mm terms.

28mm

140mm

Sharpening

Pictures taken with the Nikon Coolpix L23 will be sharp enough for the untrained eye that the camera is aimed at, but if you do like a bit of extra boost or your eye is trained and you have the camera anyway, using the standard sharpening in any editing suite will be sufficient. In our test images, we used Adobe Photoshop CS4 and the normal sharpening setting was enough for the pictures taken on the L23.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

   

File Quality

The 10 megapixel sensor has two compression ratings at full resolution. The highest quality has a star designation next to the image size in the main menu. A typical image at this size is around 4Mb while knocking it down to the normal setting without the star will shave off roughly 1Mb of information.

High (100% Crop)

Normal (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations

Purple fringing is more popular in low quality lenses with a large dispersion that doesn't allow all the colours to focus on the same plane. This causes colour fringing (chromatic aberration) but Nikon have taken steps to prevent the occurrence of this phenomenon. Their ED (Extra-low Dispersion) lens reduces the amount of dispersion and preventing fringing. All Nikon compacts are fitted with an ED lens these days, even the low end models. We couldn't find any examples of fringing in the test which is great for a compact at this level.

Macro

The word macro has got a bit lost these days, especially with a close focusing performance like the Coolpix L23 has. Let's face it though, you're not going to be photographing the compound eye of a fly, but it's nice to get in close to interesting creatures when on holiday for example. The Nikon specification sheet says the L23 is capable of a 3cm close focusing but we found the camera struggled at anything under 5cm. We shot a slightly closer version that was out of focus despite the camera confirming it to be correct.

Macro Shot

100% Crop

Flash

As we expected, the modes that are more abundant on the Nikon Coolpix L23 are the more practical ones for enjoying nights out or holidays. For that reason, there are 5 flash modes including auto, auto with red-eye, forced on, forced off and slow synchro.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (128mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (128mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Flash Off - Telephoto (140mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (140mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are a couple of head shots. Neither the Flash On or Red Eye Reduction modes caused any red-eye.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)
   

Red Eye Reduction

Red Eye Reduction (100% Crop)

Night

Because of the lack of any over riding features on the Nikon Coolpix L23, the long exposure test had to be left to the camera. Luckily, although it selected an unfortunately high ISO 1100, the exposure was still 1 second long. Noise is a big problem and we've highlighted it by  selecting a manual white balance which is the reason behind the discolouration.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)

D-lighting

While the Nikon Coolpix L23 doesn’t offer the Active D-lighting functionality of the manufacturer’s DSLRs, it does offer D-lighting as a post-capture option. The examples below demonstrate what a difference it can make when shooting a high-contrast scene.

Off

On

Anti Shake

Nikon have made the Coolpix L23 control the anti-shake system so it's difficult to test. We can't even adjust the ISO to see what stage has to be used in extremely low light. There is a small icon in the top left of the screen that looks a bit like a satellite which is the shake warning sign.

Entry Tags

compact, wide-angle, nikon, beginner, 5x zoom, 2.7 inch LCD, coolpix, 10 megapixel, 28mm, wideangle, AA battery, nikon l23 review, Nikon Coolpix L23 Review, l23

Tracker Pixel for Entry