Nikon Coolpix L310 Review

4.0
January 21, 2013 | Matt Grayson |

Image Quality


All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 14 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 5Mb.

Noise

The lowest sensitivity rating on the Nikon Coolpix L310 is ISO 80. The results from this setting look great. There's no noise evident in any pictures with this rating, edge definition is sharp and the colours are faithfully reproduced. However, to use this setting, you have to have the camera in the brightest light possible and either not zoom in or use a tripod. This is one of the main drawbacks with having a long lens with a tiny sensor; the lack of light. This loss in available light means you more often than not have to ramp the ISO up. We shot on auto ISO in our sample shots to get a  variety of results as well as see if there was a minimum setting the camera wouldn't go below. While there's no discernible pattern, we found that the camera would generally stay around ISO 800 if no sky was in the shot – even when flash was used.

Being highly critical, there's a smidgen of noise starting to creep in to the darker areas of our test images but it can only be seen at full magnification. Normal viewing will have no bearing on it and we're perfectly happy with our shots at ISO 100. Start to step through the ranks and it becomes more noticeable even from ISO 200. Green spots appear in the darker sections which exacerbates at ISO 400 as well as a noticeable drop in sharpness. Edge definition begins to suffer as the noise reduction takes it's toll.

At ISO 800, noise reduction software tries to remove colour noise by desaturating the picture. This affects natural colour in the image and they start to look wishy washy. Edge definition is beginning to fail more dramatically at this setting. By ISO 1600, the noise reduction software has removed all detail from black areas in a bid to reduce noise. Edges are looking dicey and colours are even more pallid. The final two stages use a reduced resolution in order to remove some of the noise issues by allowing the pixels that are in use to try and remain cool. Heat generated from neighbouring pixels can create a type of digital noise. By spacing them out, it's less likely to affect the pixels that remain in use. Image detail returns to a degree but colours are still bland. By the final ISO 6400 setting, even the image detail has started to decay.

ISO 80 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

Focal Range

The focal range of the Nikon Coolpix L310 is 4.5 – 94.5mm or 25 – 525mm in 35mm terms. Surprisingly, that's pretty low by today's standards. It's a 21x and with cameras coming out now with up to 40x optical zoom, a 21x seems as though it's coming up a little short. Still, it got us closer to where we wanted to photograph but couldn't either through restrictions of the area we were in or general lethargy. At wide angle, there's a degree of barrel distortion.

25mm

525mm

Sharpening

We found that in images where there's a lot of fine detail, adding to the already sharpened images won't help in the slightest. However, with images that have clean lines or simple detail, it can help to run the pictures through the basic Sharpening tool in an editing suite such as Adobe Photoshop.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

   

File Quality

At full resolution, there are two JPEG quality settings available including Normal and Fine, with the latter being marked with a star in the menu. The L310 does not save images in a Raw format.

Fine (5.75Mb) (100% Crop)

Normal (3.03Mb) (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations

We did find instances of chromatic aberration, although it's fair to say that some of the evidence found on shots taken outside were lens flare. When it does occur, it's on high contrast lines towards the edges of the frame although we did see instances of it nearer the centre of the frame.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

   

Chromatic Aberrations 3 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 4 (100% Crop)

Macro

The macro focusing on the Nikon Coolpix L310 is 1cm according to the Nikon website but we couldn't get near that range. We were more like around the 5cm distance. Zoom can be used in macro and a small blue bar will appear on the zoom range on-screen to indicate when you leave the macro range.

Macro

Macro (100% Crop)

Flash

Whether you use flash or not, the Nikon Coolpix L310 suffers from vignetting very mildly at wide-angle. The flash doesn't remove this, but it doesn't matter that much because it's only a trace.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (25mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (25mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Flash Off - Telephoto (525mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (525mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. As you can see, both the On or the Auto/Red-eye Reduction settings cause a tiny amount of red-eye.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)
   

Red Eye Reduction

Red Eye Reduction (100% Crop)

Night

The Nikon Coolpix L310 has a night scene mode which is accessed via the Scene menu. It's represented by a building with a crescent moon over it. In this mode, you don't get to adjust the ISO and in our shot at dusk, it used a rating of ISO 400. Switching to Auto mode, we changed the sensitivity to ISO 80 and took a shot. The exposure was one second. Image quality is by no means perfect. The image is blurry from digital noise with some over sharpening from the processor in in the highlights. Noise is obvious in the Scene shot. It's difficult to make out any reasonable detail, although the exposure is more balanced thanks to more light being recorded.

Night Auto

Night Auto (100% Crop)

   

Night Auto

Night Auto (100% Crop)

Entry Tags

hd video, hd, 3 inch LCD, 720p, nikon, 14 megapixel, super-zoom, coolpix, super zoom, 21x zoom, 21x, Nikon Coolpix L310 Review, l310, Nikon L310 Review

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