Nikon Coolpix L810 Review
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The Nikon Coolpix L810 is an easy to use mega-zoom digital compact camera with a 26x optical zoom, 16 megapixel CCD sensor, 720p HD video, EXPEED C2 image processor, Vibration Reduction, 3-inch LCD screen with 921,000 dots and AA batteries. Designed with the keen hobbyist in mind, in this test we see just how easy the L810 is to use and find out if the L810 has what it takes. The Nikon Coolpix L810 is available in black, blue, bronze and red, retailing at around £229.00.
Ease of Use
Photography is such a welcoming past time. Frankly, anyone can do it but not everyone wants to get bogged down with jargon and numbers. If everyone wanted to get involved with reciprocity failure or the circle of confusion, there would be no need for the L series of cameras from Nikon. L stands for Life and it's the company's range of easy to use point and shoot models for the happy crowd. The L810 is the daddy of the bunch being the biggest. It has a large 26x optical zoom on the front meaning that the lens barrel sticks out a considerable distance. Accompanying that is a chunky grip to aid steady shooting at telephoto and also give the look of a more sophisticated DSLR.
To operate the Nikon Coolpix L810's zoom, the shutter release which is perched on the tip of the grip has a zoom ring wrapped around it. However, Nikon have been thoughtful enough to place a secondary zoom rocker on the lens barrel. After all, to ensure steady shooting a hand has to be placed under the barrel and your thumb will sit right where that rocker is situated. Just above the rocker is a small button for activating the flash. If you don't press this button to pop the flash up, pressing the flash options button on the back won't make any difference, except a message will flag on the screen telling you to open the flash. Once up you get five options: auto, red eye, forced off, forced on and slow sync.
On top of the Nikon Coolpix L810, the stereo microphones sit in a glossy black dome behind the flash unit. A speaker and power button are located to the right. On the back, the direct video button is in the top right corner. This button will record video straight away regardless of the mode that you're in. Be aware that the settings you've got the camera in for still shooting will be used in video too. There are only three options in the video menu for resolution, auto focus and wind noise reduction. The quality of the video is good and the sound recording is superb. Very nice and clear. To be picky, we prefer a counter that counts up so we know how much video we've taken at a glance. We can see the benefit of having a clock counting down - especially if you have limited space on the card. Maybe a future menu option would be the ability to change it?
Beneath the small leatherette thumb rest there are four buttons surrounding the navigation pad. The top buttons open up either the different modes (green camera) or playback images you've previously taken (blue arrow). At the bottom, the buttons are for the main menu and deleting pictures and video you wish to discard. Once in the menu, the centre pad allows you to navigate your way around by pressing left, right, up or down. These buttons also double up for access to macro mode, self timer, flash options and exposure compensation.
Because the L series of cameras are so easy to use, the Nikon Coolpix L810's menus have been simplified to within an inch of its life. There are only three tabs for shooting, video and set up. In playback, this narrows down to two tabs.
Because of the camera's standing in the full Nikon range of digital compact cameras, the L810 doesn't have any special features or digital effects such as you'd see on the more expensive models. It does offer five colour options: standard (default), vivid, black & white, sepia and cyanotype. But that's not what the L series is about. If Nikon start to put hordes of effects and features into the menu system, it will look just as crowded as all the others and put off the main target customer that the L series of cameras are aimed at.
All the good stuff is under the hood such as the ED lens elements and VR system to keep your shots steady when zooming out. The EXPEED C2 processor ensures speedy data transfer of your pictures so you can take another picture as soon as possible.
On the outside, the Nikon Coolpix L810 looks very nice in its glossy plastic coating. The shiny plastic appeals but we do wonder about scratching over time. The leatherette coating on the grip and thumb rest works well enough but can get a bit slimy when using the camera over a prolonged period or in warm weather. It's not the material; it's caused by clammy hands.
The L810 takes 4x AA batteries (four of which come provided) as is usually the case in cameras at this market level. The idea is that although the batteries will run down sooner, they're more readily available in most shops. They are placed in the bottom of the camera inside the grip area. The SD memory card also goes in there. The door is slid across to open and close and it has a locking switch. The tripod bush is plastic which we expected. A rubber cover shields the HDMI, USB and mains adapter ports. The zoom rockers are both easy to use in our opinion. Neither gave more shake than the other. However, the one on the lens barrel is certainly a lot looser making it easier to use. For close subjects at full zoom, it certainly helps more.
Pre focused, shutter lag times from the Nikon Coolpix L810 are roughly the same as any other digital compact camera. It can take a shot in around 0.08 seconds. There are three shooting modes. Continuous does what it says on the tin but is pretty slow. We managed 6 six shots in ten seconds. The camera was pretty fast at first; it managed just under three shots in the first second. This slowed with only three more over a ten second time span. BSS is the Best Shot Selector. It continuously takes photos and saves them to the buffer until you take your finger off the shutter release. It then saves the picture that has the highest amount of detail. There's also a Multi Shot 16 mode that takes 24 low resolution pictures and merges them all onto one picture. It's handy for analysing fast moving moments such as a golf swing, horse running or fast, complex machinery.
|Memory Card Slot||Battery Compartment|
As we mentioned earlier, there's two tabs in playback. The amount of options available is much more extensive though. There are a couple of editing tools such as D-Lighting (a dynamic range enhancer) and Skin softener. The rest are for printing or organisation such as print order, slide show, rotate and copy.
In the box, the Nikon Coolpix L810 comes with a strap, 4x AA batteries, USB lead, lens cap and HDMI lead to attach the camera to your television. Of course, the end that plugs in uses analogue leads (not every one has a digital television apparently) so the digital quality is lost immediately. You can buy a HDMI lead and because not everyone could use one, we can see the position that Nikon are placed in.
The Nikon Coolpix L810 comes with a large booklet that is only actually a quick start guide. It's multi-lingual so only a small portion is in English. There are two enclosed CDs with the full manual on and Nikon ViewNX 2 for editing if you don't already have an editing suite on your computer.