Nikon Coolpix L22 Review

July 15, 2010 | Zoltan Arva-Toth | Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


The 12-megapixel Nikon Coolpix L22 is one of the most affordable cameras in Nikon’s current line-up. Featuring a 3.6x zoom lens, a 3-inch, 230,000-dot rear screen, electronic vibration reduction, face and smile detection plus Nikon’s Best Shot Selector, Motion Detection and post-capture D-lighting technologies, the Coolpix L22 is powered by two AA-sized batteries and comes in a choice of black, red and champagne silver colours, priced at £79.99 / €95.00.

Ease of Use

The Nikon Coolpix L22 is an easily pocketable digital compact camera that nonetheless feels substantial owing to the extra weight of the two AA batteries it uses. Made almost entirely of plastic, the camera appears surprisingly well built, with no obvious flimsiness or cheap feel to it. Characterised by gentle curves, the design does not look boxy at all. The right-hand side - when viewed from above - is slightly thicker than the rest of the camera, as this is where you find the battery compartment. Therefore, while the L22 does not have a true hand-grip, your fingers still have something to hold onto, which is a good thing. Speaking of the battery compartment, it has to be noted that it also houses the memory card - and given that the batteries have nothing to keep them in place when the compartment door is open, you had better be careful when swapping cards.

The Coolpix L22 has a 3.6x zoom lens that spans a 35mm equivalent focal range of approximately 37-134mm. The maximum aperture is f/3.1 at the wide end and a rather slow f/6.7 at full telephoto. Upon start-up the lens extends in about a second, and the camera is ready to take pictures almost immediately after that - excellent performance at this price point. Thanks to the relatively restricted zoom range, the lens travels from its widest setting to full telephoto in under two seconds, which is again very good. Apart from the lens, the front panel is home to a self-timer/AF-assist lamp, a tiny built-in flash, a speaker and a microphone serving to record sound with your movie clips.

Nikon Coolpix L22 Nikon Coolpix L22
Front Rear

The top plate features a power button surrounded by a green LED, plus the shutter release, which is encircled by the zoom lever. The latter is a novelty compared to the L20 of yesteryear, which had rear-mounted rocker buttons instead.  On the right side of the camera, when viewed from the back, is a neck strap eyelet that appears to be metal.

The rear panel is dominated by the three-inch, 230,000-dot TFT monitor. As it has a matt surface, I expected it to be easily viewable in direct sunlight, but was a little disappointed to see that the (glossy) screen of the L110 - which I also had with me during the review period - has actually proven to be superior. Having said that, the display was still quite nice for this class of camera. To the right of the screen is a flash lamp, Record and Playback buttons, standard four-way navigation pad with centred OK button, plus the indispensable Menu and Erase buttons. A nice touch is that the Playback button can also be used as a secondary power switch - just make sure to hold it depressed long enough, and you can use it to turn on the camera to review what you've shot (the lens doesn't extend in this case). One disturbing design flaw is that you can't get out of Playback mode by tapping the shutter release the way you'd do on virtually all other cameras - the only way to switch from Playback to Record mode is by pressing the Record button, which is not a very intuitive solution.

Speaking of the Record button, it brings up a graphical list of the available shooting modes, which include Auto, Easy Auto, Movie, Smart Portrait and sixteen scene modes including a panorama assist mode. Somewhat confusingly, Auto is the mode that gives you the greatest control over the shooting process; allowing you to access the file quality and white balance settings, the drive modes (single frame, continuous shooting, Best Shot Selector and Multi-Shot 16) and five colour options including Standard, Vivid, Black and White, Sepia and Cyanotype. The macro mode, the self-timer, the flash modes and exposure compensation are accessible directly via the four-way pad. You cannot, however, set the aperture, shutter speed or ISO speed in any of the shooting modes. In light of that, it seems almost perverse for Nikon to have included a manual white balance option in the WB menu.

Nikon Coolpix L22 Nikon Coolpix L22
Front Rear

As far as the drive modes are concerned, the continuous mode allows you to take photos continuously at a rate of about 0.9 frames per second (the manual says the L22 can sustain this rate for up to 5 frames, but I got nearly 30 in a row). In Best Shot Selector mode the camera takes up to 10 photos and automatically chooses the sharpest one, discarding the rest. In Multi-shot 16 mode, the camera captures 16 pictures in less than a second, and combines them into a single five-megapixel image.

The other shooting modes give you even less control over the picture-taking process, so the term "point-and-shoot" applies quite literally to the Nikon L22. In Easy auto mode, you can access a restricted set of flash modes, exposure compensation, file quality settings plus the self-timer - and that's it. In the scene modes, the amount of accessible settings is broadly similar, although some of them give you more flash options or allow you to toggle the macro mode on and off, etc. The camera has a panorama assist feature too, which is found among the scene modes. It works like this: you take the first picture after applying flash mode, self-timer, macro and exposure compensation settings as required, and then the camera superimposes a third of this photo on the live image. This helps you compose the next shot with a decent amount of overlap for easy stitching on the computer. You can repeat this step until you have taken enough photos to cover the scene. The photos are not stitched together in-camera; you have to do that on a computer.

Nikon Coolpix L22 Nikon Coolpix L22
Memory Card Slot Battery Compartment

Nikon's Smart Portrait mode utilises face and smile detection to take pictures of people when they are smiling. In this mode, the camera hunts for smiling faces and fires off a shot whenever it detects one, without user intervention.

The Nikon L22's movie mode is very basic - you can chose from two resolution settings including VGA (640x480 pixels) and QVGA (320x240 pixels). There is no HD option. Exposure compensation is not available for movies, and you cannot use the optical zoom, either. Sound is recorded, and the clips are saved in AVI format. We have found the quality to be fairly good for standard definition, but obviously no match for HD movies in the resolution department. Video exposure was spot on, and we had no complaints about dynamic range either.

In summary, the Nikon Coolpix L22 is a very basic camera that gets about as close to the true meaning of the term "point-and-shoot" as possible. Start-up and shut-down times as well as zooming are really fast for a camera that costs less than £100. Auto-focus speeds are perfectly acceptable too, at least in decent light. In low-light conditions, however, the camera often fails to lock focus despite having a focus assist lamp on its face plate. Continuous shooting speeds are nothing to write home about, but in this class, it is a good thing that the Coolpix L22 has a continuous shooting mode in the first place.

That rounds off our evaluation of the handling, features and performance of the Nikon Coolpix L22. Let us now move on to the image quality assessment.

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 5Mb.

During the review, the Nikon Coolpix L22 produced images of perfectly acceptable quality for a camera that will almost exclusively be used for snapshots. In the middle of the zoom range and at around the telephoto end the lens is really - even surprisingly - sharp from corner to corner. At the wide end though, the off-centre areas are a lot less sharp than the image centre. Colours on the whole are pleasing, and while auto white balance does not always work well, the camera has a custom WB option that gives nearly perfect results. Chromatic aberrations and geometric distortions are very well corrected in-camera, and while the flash has a propensity to produce red-eye in portraits, its red-eye reduction mode has turned out pretty effective. The only real issue with image quality is noise, or should we say, noise reduction. Given that the camera does not allow the photographer to set the ISO speed manually, it will inevitably use a high sensitivity setting in certain circumstances, which produces photos with smeared details. This is not going to be a major issue for the target customer though.


The Nikon Coolpix L22 does not provide photographer control over ISO speeds, so we were unable to complete this test.

Focal Range

The Nikon Coolpix's 3.6x zoom lens provides a focal length of 37-134mm in 35mm terms, as demonstrated below.




Here are two 100% crops - he right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are slightly soft at the default sharpening setting and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. You can't change the in-camera sharpening level to suit your tastes.

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 camera does not save images in a Raw format.

Fine (100% Crop)

Normal (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberrations are a non-issue with the Nikon Coolpix L22. This is probably a result of firmware-based CA removal.


The Nikon Coolpix L22 has a macro mode that allows you to get as close as 5cm to the subject. While this may not sound very competitive, it does allow you to zoom in a little, so the resultant magnification is not bad at all - and it’s nice to have a bit of working distance. The image quality is very good, with little distortion, no chromatic aberration and good sharpness across the frame. Of course the camera may pick a high sensitivity setting, which can result in some noise. The example below was taken at ISO 800 for instance.

Macro Shot

100% Crop


The available flash modes in Auto mode are Forced Off, Forced On, Red-eye Reduction, Auto, and Auto with Red-eye Reduction. In other shooting modes you may not have access to all of these settings. These shots of a white ceiling were taken from a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (37mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (37mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Flash Off - Telephoto (134mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (134mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are a couple of head shots. The flash caused a lot of red-eye, but the red-eye reduction setting managed to get rid of most of it.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)

Red Eye Reduction

Red Eye Reduction (100% Crop)


With no photographer control over shutter speed and sensitivity, the Nikon Coolpix L22 is hardly the ideal tool for night photography. Certain scene modes - such as Night landscape and Fireworks - are better than others, but your chances of getting a shot that is both properly exposed and clean are pretty slim. In the below example the camera chose a shutter speed of 4 seconds at ISO 80, which resulted in an underexposed image. Dialling in some exposure compensation would have caused the L22 to pick a higher sensitivity setting and a better exposed but noisier shot.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)


While the Nikon Coolpix L22 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.



Colour Options

The camera offers a range of colour options including Standard, Vivid, Black-and-White, Sepia and Cyanotype. The images presented here show the differences across these options.









Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Nikon Coolpix L22 camera, which were all taken using the 12 megapixel Fine JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample Movie & Video

This is a sample movie at the highest quality setting of 640x480 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 20 second movie is 25.8Mb in size.

Product Images

Nikon Coolpix L22

Front of the Camera

Nikon Coolpix L22

Isometric View

Nikon Coolpix L22

Isometric View

Nikon Coolpix L22

Rear of the Camera

Nikon Coolpix L22

Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed

Nikon Coolpix L22

Rear of the Camera

Nikon Coolpix L22

Rear of the Camera

Nikon Coolpix L22

Top of the Camera

Nikon Coolpix L22

Bottom of the Camera


Nikon Coolpix L22

Side of the Camera

Nikon Coolpix L22

Memory Card Slot

Nikon Coolpix L22

Battery Compartment


The Nikon Coolpix L22 is easily the most simple camera we have reviewed thus far. Providing no user control over aperture, ISO or shutter speed, it gets about as close to embodying the true meaning of "point-and-shoot" as possible. It is therefore not the ideal choice for an experienced photographer looking for a compact to complement their DSLR. However, it was likely never meant to be. There are a lot of people out there that are looking for an intelligent, fully automated little camera that takes "good enough" snapshots and represents a step up from the ubiquitous camera phone. The Nikon Coolpix L22 fits the bill perfectly. It’s small yet reasonably sturdy, takes easy-to-obtain AA batteries, has a zoom lens that’s actually pretty sharp, and does a lot of things - like start-up, shut-down or zooming - surprisingly quickly, all at a price point well below £100. If all is not rosy it’s mainly because low-light focussing is both slow and indecisive, meaning those shots of your buddies in your favourite restaurant may indeed come out blurry. If you can live with that - and the afore-mentioned lack of manual control - the Nikon Coolpix L22 is unlikely to disappoint. Of course if you are a stickler for image quality or want to make action shots or poster-sized prints, you should look elsewhere - but in that case, you probably know perfectly well that an entry-level compact like the L22 isn’t what you’re after.

3.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 3
Features 2.5
Ease-of-use 4.5
Image quality 4
Value for money 4.5

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Nikon Coolpix L22 from around the web. »

Can budget cameras really be any good? Yes, absolutely. The Nikon Coolpix L22 is solid, well made, easy to use and practical. It's limited in its zoom range, though, and the lack of manual ISO control is a definite drawback.
Read the full review » »

Last week I reviewed the PowerShot A490, the ground-floor model in Canon's compact camera range. Today I'm taking a look at the equivalent model from Nikon, the CoolPix L22. One of Nikon's new launches for Spring 2010, the L22 is a 12-megapixel budget compact featuring a 3.6x zoom lens and a sharp 230k 3-inch LCD monitor. It was announced at the same time as the almost identical 8-megapixel CoolPix L21, and together the two cameras are the bargain-basement entry level of Nikon's compact range. The L22 currently sells for around £80, and the L21 for around £70.
Read the full review » »

The Nikon COOLPIX L22 is a budget compact with a 12 Megapixel CCD sensor, 3in screen and 3.6x optical zoom lens. Replacing the hugely popular COOLPIX L20, it's one of five COOLPIX compacts released concurrently in February 2010 ranging from budget models to the new P100 HD-capable super-zoom.
Read the full review »


Effective pixels 12.0 million
Image sensor 1/2.3-in. CCD; total pixels: approx. 12.39 million
Lens 3.6x zoom NIKKOR; 6.7-24.0mm (35mm [135] format picture angle: 37-134mm); f/3.1-6.7; Digital zoom: up to 4x (35mm [135] format picture angle: 536mm)
Focus range (from lens) 30cm (1 ft.) to infinity (∞); Macro close-up mode: 5cm (2 in.) to infinity (∞)
Monitor 3-in., approx. 230k-dot, TFT LCD
Storage media Internal memory (approx. 19 MB), SD memory cards *1
Image size (pixels) 4000 x 3000? (12M), 4000 x 3000 (12M), 3264 x 2448 (8M), 2592 x 1944 (5M), 2048 x 1536 (3M), 1024 x 768 (PC), 640 x 480 (VGA), 3968 x 2232 (16:9)
Vibration Reduction Electronic VR
ISO sensitivity Auto (auto gain ISO 80-1600)
Interface Hi-Speed USB
Power sources Two LR6/L40 (AA-size) alkaline batteries (supplied), two FR6/L91 (AA-size) lithium batteries (optional), two EN-MH2 rechargeable Ni-MH batteries (optional), AC Adapter EH-65A (optional)
Battery life *2 Approx. 240 shots with alkaline, 660 shots with lithium, or 420 shots with EN-MH2 battery
(W x H x D)
Approx. 97.7 x 60.5 x 28.3 mm (3.9 x 2.4 x 1.2 in.) excluding projections *3
Weight Approx. 183 g (6.5 oz.) with battery and SD memory card
Supplied accessories *4 Two LR6/L40 (AA-size) alkaline batteries, USB Cable UC-E6, Strap AN-CP19, Software Suite CD-ROM
Optional accessories Two FR6/L91 (AA-size) lithium batteries, two EN-MH2 rechargeable Ni-MH batteries, Battery Charger MH-72, AC Adapter EH-65A
  • *1 Not compatible with Multi Media Cards (MMC).
  • *2 Based on CIPA industry standard for measuring life of camera batteries. Measured at 23°C (73°F); zoom adjusted with each shot, built-in flash fired with every other shot, image mode set to Normal.
  • *3 Method of noting dimensions and weight is in accordance with CIPA DCG-005-2009 guideline.
  • *4 Supplied accessories may differ by country or area.

Your Comments

Loading comments…