Nikon Coolpix L330 Review

3.0
May 30, 2014 | Jack Baker |

Image Quality


All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 20 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 6Mb.

Remember that theory that more megapixels doesn’t necessarily equal better image quality? Well unfortunately the L330 is a prime example of this. Shoot any landscape where there’s grass or fine foliage in the frame and the effect of image smoothing is profound, smearing away fine detail so the picture resembles more of a watercolour painting than an accurate photograph.

Even at the lowest sensor sensitivity of ISO80 this is a problem, and one which only worsens at higher sensitivities. ISO400 is really the cut-off for acceptable image quality, with ISO800 exhibiting noticeable grain and colour speckling when viewing at 50% image size or larger. The maximum ISO1600 sensitivity is very much a last resort thanks to high levels of image noise.

Of course low-light scenarios expose these shortcomings most clearly, but you’ll also encounter them when shooting at longer focal lengths in any light, as the L330 ramps up the sensor sensitivity to help avoid camera shake. In these situations the camera’s Vibration Reduction system is an essential feature and works wonders.

The sensor’s dynamic range is adequate, if not outstanding. Thanks to the cautious exposure metering you’re unlikely to see any blown highlight detail in your shots, but shadows are often murky as a result of slight underexposure. Of course you can give these a lift in post-production, though expect this to reveal even more image noise.

Thankfully the lens doesn’t detrimentally effect image quality to the extent of the sensor. Chromatic aberration (purple fringing) is present in some high-contrast shots, but is rarely distracting. Lens distortion is also minimised well, with barely a hint of barrel distortion at maximum wide angle and no apparent pincushion distortion at the extreme telephoto end. Corner sharpness is also a close match for centre-frame clarity.

Noise

The Nikon Coolpix L330 has 6 sensitivity settings ranging from ISO 80 to ISO 1600 at full resolution.

ISO 80 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

Focal Range

The L330’s 26x zoom lens achieves a maximum wide-angle focal length equivalent to 22.5mm, and is capable of a telephoto reach of 585mm (in 35mm-camera terms).

22.5mm

585mm

Sharpening

Here are two 100% crops - the right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images from the Nikon Coolpix L330 are slightly soft at the default sharpening setting and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. You can alternatively change the in-camera sharpening level to suit your tastes.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

   

File Quality

The L330 records all images at normal quality, with only the maximum image resolution accompanied by a fine quality option, which roughly doubles the file size of each saved image.

Fine (9.45Mb) (100% Crop)

Normal (6.45Mb) (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations

Given the range of the zoom lens, the Nikon Coolpix L330 shows some purple fringing, with limited effects in areas of high contrast as shown in the examples below.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

Macro

The L330’s lens will focus as close as 1cm from a subject, however depth of field becomes very shallow at this extremely close distance.

Macro

Macro (100% Crop)

Flash

The pop-up flash on the L330 has four settings: Auto, Auto with red-eye reduction, Fill flash & Slow sync. Shooting a white surface from a distance of 1.5m, the flash provides even coverage with the lens zoomed in, though some vignetting is visible in the wide-angle shot.

Whether the flash is set to standard Auto mode – or Auto with red-eye reduction – the camera successfully avoids any trace of red-eye.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (22.5mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (22.5mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Flash Off - Telephoto (585mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (585mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are a couple of portrait shots. As you can see, neither the Fill Flash or the Auto with Red-eye reduction options caused any amount of red-eye.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)
   

Red Eye Reduction

Red Eye Reduction (100% Crop)

Smart Portraits

This gets its own dedicated shooting mode, and deservedly so. Nikon’s automatic face and smile detection features work well, and skin is smoothed after the shot is captured. However, such is the smeared detail of most shots captured in normal Smart Auto mode, you’ll struggle to spot the difference in skin texture.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)

Vibration Reduction

Getting sharp shots at the kind of long focal lengths the L330’s lens is capable of would be near-impossible without Vibration Reduction, as you can see from the shots below. The image taken with VR disabled was shot with elbows well-supported on a table, yet the 585mm-equivalent focal length exaggerates any minute movements so much that blurring is still inevitable. Activating VR makes a huge difference and ensures shots like this stay crisp.

Shutter Speed / Focal Length

Anti Shake Off (100% Crop)

Anti Shake On (100% Crop)
1/5th sec / 585mm

Night

One of the L330’s shooting modes is called Night landscape, which produces results such as this. You can expect almost identical results by simply leaving the camera in Smart Auto mode though.

Night Night (100% Crop)

Special Effects

The L330 offers just four colour effects apart from the ‘normal’ setting, all of which are previewed live. It’s perhaps a little disappointing that the Vivid colour mode isn’t more eye-catching.

Normal

Vivid
   

Monochrome

Sepia

   

Cyanotype

 
 

Entry Tags

hd video, hd, 3 inch LCD, 720p, nikon, super-zoom, coolpix, super zoom, 20 megapixel, 26x zoom, 26x, l330, Nikon L330 Review, Nikon Coolpix L330 Review