Nikon Coolpix L830 Review

March 25, 2014 | Jack Baker | |

Image Quality

Although the Nikon Coolpix L830’s bulk may give it a slight resemblance to a DSLR, its image sensor is just a tiny fraction of the size. Anything larger and you’d also need to scale up the lens, meaning pretty soon the camera would end up being about two feet long.

However a small sensor can’t match the image quality of a larger device, and the L830 proves this point. In bright light these sensor limitations are most apparent in scenes of fine and distant detail, such as grassy landscapes. Here such images take on a slight watercolour effect when viewed full size as image processing attempts to blur away grain and noise. Venture indoors or shoot in low light at ISO400 sensitivity or beyond and noise levels increase, as does the amount of detail lost due to overzealous image smoothing. Colour speckling is visible but well controlled right up to the maximum ISO3200 sensitivity, but the amount of grain and image smoothing at this setting makes it very much a last resort.

These traits are common to many small-sensor cameras, but the Nikon Coolpix L830’s image quality isn’t helped by a tendency to underexpose in contrasty conditions. Compose a shot with bright highlights and dim shadows and the camera’s exposure metering will err on the side of caution, retaining highlight detail but leaving the overall exposure looking much darker with murkier colours than in reality. For the most part the L830 does produce vibrant yet realistic colours though, but its auto white balance can be fooled, occasionally producing undersaturated images.

Lens performance is much better, with good corner sharpness and almost no barrel distortion at wide angle. A negligible pincushion effect is visible when zoomed in, but unless shooting brick walls is your thing, it’s not a problem. Point the L830 at a high contrast scene and the lens will produce some chromatic aberration (purple fringing), but again the effect isn’t distracting and is no worse than similar cameras. Finally Nikon’s Vibration Reduction system works wonders and is essential for counteracting camera shake when zooming in.

Noise

The Nikon Coolpix L830 has six sensitivity settings ranging from ISO125 to ISO3200 at full resolution.

ISO 125 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso125.jpg iso200.jpg
   

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

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ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

iso1600.jpg iso3200.jpg

Focal Range

The Nikon Coolpix L830’s 34x zoom lens achieves a maximum wide-angle focal length equivalent to 22.5mm, and is capable of a telephoto reach of 765mm (in 35mm-camra terms).

22.5mm

585mm

focal_range1.jpg focal_range2.jpg

Sharpening

Nikon compacts haven't had any benefit from a boost in sharpening previously, but the L830 seems to accept it. We put it down to the better ISO results. The smoother images will look better when they're sharper.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

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sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

File Quality

Shooting the Nikon Coolpix L830 at its maximum 16.0MP resolution in Fine JPEG quality produces images 5-7MB in size. You can choose to downgrade to Normal quality at this resolution, whereby the file size roughly halves.

Fine (100% Crop)

Normal (100% Crop)

quality_fine.jpg quality_normal.jpg

Chromatic Aberrations

The Nikon Coolpix L830 suffered from som eobvious chromatic aberrations in areas of high contrast throughout the frame.

Chromatic Aberrations 1

Chromatic Aberrations 2

chromatic1.jpg chromatic2.jpg

Macro

The Nikon Coolpix L830’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)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg

Flash

The pop-up flash on the Nikon Coolpix L830 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.

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

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 On

Flash On (100% Crop)
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Red Eye Reduction

Red Eye Reduction (100% Crop)

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Vibration Reduction

Getting sharp shots at the kind of long focal lengths the Nikon Coolpix L830’s lens is capable of would be near-impossible without Vibration Reduction, as you can see from the shots below. Activating VR makes a huge difference and ensures shots like this stay crisp.

Vibration Reduction On (100% Crop)

Vibration Reduction Off (100% Crop)

antishake1.jpg antishake1a.jpg

Night

Night photography is easy with the Night Landscape mode, which works whether you’re shooting hand-held or on a tripod.

Night

Night (100% Crop)

night1.jpg night1a.jpg

Effects

The Nikon Coolpix L830 offers eleven colour effects, all of which are previewed live. Your options are: Soft, Nostalgic sepia, High-contrast monochrome, High key, Low key, Selective colour, Pop, Super vivid, Cross process, Toy camera effect 1 & Toy camera effect 2.

Soft

Sepia

effects_01.jpg effects_02.jpg
   

Monochrome

High Key

effects_03.jpg effects_04.jpg
   

Low Key

Selective Color

effects_05.jpg effects_06.jpg
   

Pop

Vivid

effects_07.jpg effects_08.jpg
   

Cross Process

Toy Camera 1

effects_09.jpg effects_10.jpg
   

Toy Camera 2

 
effects_11.jpg  

Backlighting

Backlighting automatically captures two exposures of a high-contrast scene to record shadow and highlight detail separately, then merges them into a single HDR image.

Backlighting Off

Backlighting On

backlighting1.jpg backlighting1a.jpg

Easy Panorama

Easy Panorama just requires you to pan the Nikon Coolpix L830 whilst it captures and stitches the images into either a 180 or 360-degree panorama.

panorama1.jpg