Nikon Coolpix L23 Review

March 25, 2011 | Matt Grayson | Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


The Nikon Coolpix L23 is a point and shoot style digital compact camera with a modest 10 megapixel resolution, 5x optical zoom and intelligent easy auto mode. The L series of Nikon compacts fits into the Lifestyle range which is a basic camera with all the features stripped out, including things such as a lithium ion battery, the L23 instead taking two AA types. At a low price point, the Nikon Coolpix L23 is ideal for those looking to take a small, handy camera on holiday or on nights out. The lack of overriding features makes it ideal for a technophobe who just wants a point and shoot camera and the low price means it's attractive to those who have little interest in developing their photographic knowledge. The Nikon Coolpix L23 is available in pink, red, blue, silve or black and costs £69.99 / €81.00.

Ease of Use

Styled in the shape of Nikon Coolpix cameras from the past, the L23 has a thin body with a slightly bulky right side which houses the AA batteries but also provides a hand grip for taking pictures with one hand or holding it when it's not in use. Buttons and switches have been kept to a minimum on the design and on the top plate, the power button and shutter release with a zoom rocker wrapped around it is all that's available. The thin design means that it's easily pocketable so the Coolpix L23 is a great camera for simply slipping into a bag or pocket and taking out anywhere you want to go.

The lens has a 5x optical zoom, expanded from the previous L22 model which had a 3.6x optical. The 5x zoom gives the lens a focal range of 28-140mm in 35mm terms which will cover most scenarios that you may need a zoom for. It also boasts an ED lens element to reduce chromatic aberration in high contrast scenes.

On the back is a 2.7 inch LCD screen that covers the majority of the available area while the rest of the buttons sit to the right ready to be operated with a thumb. They're arranged in a convenient plan that's easy to get accustomed to so you're not having to constantly look down and Nikon boast simplicity in operation of the L23.

It certainly rings true with the features that are available, for example switching between taking pictures and looking at the ones you've taken is done by flicking between the green camera and blue arrow buttons. Pressing the green camera button while in the taking pictures setting will bring up a shooting menu.

Nikon Coolpix L23 Nikon Coolpix L23
Front Rear

You can choose from easy auto mode, 17 scene modes, smart portrait, video and normal portrait mode. The easy auto mode is perfect for the user who doesn't want to think about taking pictures. It closes off all systems in the menu except resolution and will even analyse the scene and select the correct setting for the camera.

The pad on the back of the Nikon Coolpix L23 that surrounds the OK button accesses four main settings that you should often use. Pressing up will access the flash options so you can choose to turn the flash off all the time or turn it on even in bright light. There's also a red-eye reduction option and slow synchro mode. To the right is the exposure compensation which will allow you to brighten or darken the image by up to two stops. It forces the aperture open or closed against the meter reading but this can also force a slower shutter speed so use it only if you know how it will affect the picture.

If you enjoy shooting close ups, press the down button to enable the macro mode. It's not true macro in the same way that a DSLR uses macro lenses, but it allows for a closer focusing making the subject bigger in the frame. In fact, it will allow you to focus at 3cm instead of the usual 30cm. On the left is the self timer which is great for getting in the picture yourself. This pad doubles up as a navigation pad when you access any menu systems or the scene selection mode.

Nikon Coolpix L23 Nikon Coolpix L23
Front Menu

There are a number of continuous shooting modes including the normal burst mode that will shoot a short burst of around three or four pictures before slowing and in a ten second period, it can fire off around 8 pictures. There's also the multi-shot 16 mode which will take 16 shots in under a second. However, the downside of this is that all those 16 pictures are placed onto one image. The resolution is also reduced to 5 megapixels to ensure a speedy burst.

The Nikon Coolpix L23 does boast a video mode, but it's only a 640x480 pixel (VGA) resolution mode which can only really be viewed on a computer screen. It's good for Youtube uploads but may not suffice for watching a holiday video on a large screen in the living room. It does run at 30fps which means the motion in camera is nice and smooth.

These days, whether you like AA batteries or not is a bit of a Marmite complexity. You either love them or you hate them. The advantages are that if you're on holiday and the batteries run out on a day trip, AA batteries can be found in any shop. If your lithium ion battery runs out, you don't have an option. On the other hand, AA batteries are more likely to run out because they don't hold as much power. Lithium ion batteries will last for a few days of regular shooting while AA batteries won't last that long.

Nikon Coolpix L23 Nikon Coolpix L23
Rear Top

In the same compartment as the battery bay, you'll find the memory card slot. The Nikon Coolpix L23 has an internal memory, but it's only 22Mb. The camera will take SD (Secure Digital), SDHC (High Capacity: 4Gb - 32Gb) and even the new SDXC (Extreme Capacity: 64Gb - theoretical 2Tb, or 2048Gb). It's unlikely that you'll need a card so big in a camera so small, but should you need a card and that's all available, the camera can handle it.

The accessories in the box are added sparingly. In fact all you get is a wrist strap, a USB cable for linking the camera directly to your computer, View NX2 which is Nikon's image viewing platform if you don't have an editor on your computer. There's also a set of AA batteries (which means no charger) and the manual.

Memory cards in the box are pretty much a thing of the past these days with a small selection of exceptions. Because the Nikon Coolpix L23 has the afore mentioned internal memory, a memory card isn't supplied by Nikon. However, they're pretty cheap these days, so don't worry about it too much. You can add to these accessories if you wish and Nikon offer a small selection of optional accessories from chargers to video leads. There are others available from independent companies that will do the job just as good so have a good shop around first.

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 4Mb.

At low resolution, the Nikon Coolpix L23 gives extremely good picture quality. As the ISO rating starts to increase, the image quality starts to decrease so it's best to use the camera at ISO 80 or ISO 100. Obviously that's not always possible as the camera doesn't provide you with any control over the ISO speed, so just be prepared for not getting the optimum quality.

Still, at the price point that the Nikon Coolpix L23 is set at, it's not surprising that a lot of the features have been left out but the D-Lighting helps level out high contrast photographs by revealing detail in shadows and capping burn out in bright areas. It works well because we found that while there was a potential problem with over doing the processing and making the picture look more HDR to pander to trends, the Nikon Coolpix L23 uses only subtle boosts to the areas that need it.

Interestingly, Nikon have introduced a program in the playback menu called Quick Retouch that automatically sorts out the picture so it's nicer to look at. It's a testament to the positioning of the Coolpix L23 that it doesn't have this feature fitted.

We're impressed with how the camera deals with the primary colours. Reds come out exactly how they look in real life. Yellows are bright and blues are nicely saturated. Portraits are nicely balanced with skin tones looking realistic. We took some shots of purples and subtle hues to see how the camera coped with those and it did excellently. Some camera's can be problematic but Nikon have still fitted a good sensor and processor to the L23 to ensure good colour rendition.


This is the most difficult part of the Nikon Coolpix L23 test. Because it's part of the L series, it doesn't have an over ride on the ISO. Because of this, trying to raise the ISO is nigh on impossible because the light source has to remain the same. We turned the lights down to the minimum in the studio but could still only get a maximum of ISO 200, but here's the interesting thing; we were getting purple blotches in dark areas at ISO 200. ISO 80 is great, noise is controlled nicely although being really picky, we found a very slight break in fine lines. I don't think you'll be unhappy with using this camera on holiday though, as long as you use the flash in dark areas.

ISO 80 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

Focal Range

The Nikon Coolpix L23 has a 5x optical zoom which is the equivalent of 28-140mm in 35mm terms.




Pictures taken with the Nikon Coolpix L23 will be sharp enough for the untrained eye that the camera is aimed at, but if you do like a bit of extra boost or your eye is trained and you have the camera anyway, using the standard sharpening in any editing suite will be sufficient. In our test images, we used Adobe Photoshop CS4 and the normal sharpening setting was enough for the pictures taken on the L23.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)


File Quality

The 10 megapixel sensor has two compression ratings at full resolution. The highest quality has a star designation next to the image size in the main menu. A typical image at this size is around 4Mb while knocking it down to the normal setting without the star will shave off roughly 1Mb of information.

High (100% Crop)

Normal (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations

Purple fringing is more popular in low quality lenses with a large dispersion that doesn't allow all the colours to focus on the same plane. This causes colour fringing (chromatic aberration) but Nikon have taken steps to prevent the occurrence of this phenomenon. Their ED (Extra-low Dispersion) lens reduces the amount of dispersion and preventing fringing. All Nikon compacts are fitted with an ED lens these days, even the low end models. We couldn't find any examples of fringing in the test which is great for a compact at this level.


The word macro has got a bit lost these days, especially with a close focusing performance like the Coolpix L23 has. Let's face it though, you're not going to be photographing the compound eye of a fly, but it's nice to get in close to interesting creatures when on holiday for example. The Nikon specification sheet says the L23 is capable of a 3cm close focusing but we found the camera struggled at anything under 5cm. We shot a slightly closer version that was out of focus despite the camera confirming it to be correct.

Macro Shot

100% Crop


As we expected, the modes that are more abundant on the Nikon Coolpix L23 are the more practical ones for enjoying nights out or holidays. For that reason, there are 5 flash modes including auto, auto with red-eye, forced on, forced off and slow synchro.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (128mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (128mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Flash Off - Telephoto (140mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (140mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are a couple of head shots. Neither the Flash On or Red Eye Reduction modes caused any red-eye.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)

Red Eye Reduction

Red Eye Reduction (100% Crop)


Because of the lack of any over riding features on the Nikon Coolpix L23, the long exposure test had to be left to the camera. Luckily, although it selected an unfortunately high ISO 1100, the exposure was still 1 second long. Noise is a big problem and we've highlighted it by  selecting a manual white balance which is the reason behind the discolouration.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)


While the Nikon Coolpix L23 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.



Anti Shake

Nikon have made the Coolpix L23 control the anti-shake system so it's difficult to test. We can't even adjust the ISO to see what stage has to be used in extremely low light. There is a small icon in the top left of the screen that looks a bit like a satellite which is the shake warning sign.

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Nikon Coolpix L23 camera, which were all taken using the 10 megapixel High 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 29 second movie is 44.4Mb in size.

Product Images

Nikon Coolpix L23

Front of the Camera

Nikon Coolpix L23

Isometric View

Nikon Coolpix L23

Isometric View

Nikon Coolpix L23

Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed

Nikon Coolpix L23

Rear of the Camera / Scene Modes

Nikon Coolpix L23

Rear of the Camera / Shooting Menu

Nikon Coolpix L23

Rear of the Camera / Playback Menu

Nikon Coolpix L23

Top of the Camera

Nikon Coolpix L23

Rear of the Camera


The Nikon Coolpix L23 is a digital compact camera that costs in the region of £60-70, so it's wrong to expect the camera to do absolutely everything. For the price, it's a decent build, it does everything for you and has a lot of over-riding functions to take the pain out of photography if all you need is a point and shooter.

The L series of Coolpix compacts have always been like this and while we think it's a well thought out idea by Nikon to have the camera do all the thinking, we still don't like the lack of ISO control. We could also bleat on about the batteries, but that's a completely personal choice on whether you like or dislike them. For the record, during this test, we only used the batteries that came with the camera and they were still showing full power at the end.

The Nikon Coolpix L23's menu is easy enough to use although we're surprised that there's no explanation of the modes that cameras at this level usually employ. Still, it cuts down on the software which in turn keeps the price down and this is a good price for a 10 megapixel camera. In fact, this could be considered a disposable digital compact. If it breaks on holiday, it's cheap enough to go buy another when you get back. Bargain.

In summary, the Nikon Coolpix L23 is a well priced, well rounded camera that, while suffering from noise at early stages, takes nice pictures with good colours.

3.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 3.5
Features 3.5
Ease-of-use 4.5
Image quality 3.5
Value for money 4.5

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Nikon Coolpix L23 from around the web. »

Nikon describes its Coolpix L23 as 'the perfect camera for anyone just starting out in photography', and with a host of automated technologies and a fuss-free design we have the say the L23 certainly gets off to a good start.
Read the full review » »

The Coolpix L23 was added to Nikon's Life range of digital cameras in February 2011. It is aimed at photography begiiners and has a 10.1 megapixel sensor, 5x optical zoom lens (35mm equivalent: 28-140mm), 2.7in LCD monitor and is powered using AA-size batteries.
Read the full review »


*1 Based on CIPA industry standard for measuring life of camera batteries. Measured at 23°C; zoom adjusted with each shot,
built-in flash fired with every other shot, image mode set to Normal.
*2 Not compatible with Multi Media Cards (MMC).
*3 Setting is available only for image sizes of 3M (2048 x 1536) or smaller.
*4 Method of noting dimensions and weight is in accordance with CIPA DCG-005-2009 guideline.
*5 In case of using four AA Energizer(r) Ultimate Lithium batteries.
*6 In case of using two AA Energizer(r) Ultimate Lithium batteries.

Effective pixels 10.1 million pixels
Image sensor Type: 1/2.9-in. type interline-transfer CCD; Color filter array: RGB filter; Total pixels: Approx. 9.98 million pixels; Recording pixels: Approx. 9.98 million pixels
Lens NIKKOR lens with 5x optical zoom; Focal length: 4.0-20.0 mm (nominal value); f/-number: f/2.7-6.8; Lens construction: 6 elements in 5 groups; Aspherical lens element (ASP): 3 elements, 5 surfaces
Focus range (from lens) Normal shooting: approx. 30 cm (1 ft.) to infinity (at wide angle setting), approx. 60 cm (2 ft.) to infinity (at telephoto setting); Macro close-up mode: approx. 3 cm (1.2 in.) to infinity (at closest focus distance), approx. 60 cm (2 ft.) to infinity (at telephoto setting)
Monitor (LCD and OLED) Size: 6.7 cm (2.7-in.); Number of dots: Approx. 230k-dot; Type: TFT LCD monitor; (Acrylic) cover: Anti-glare coating
Storage media Internal memory (approx. 22 MB), SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card *2
Vibration Reduction (VR) Electronic type; Other blur-reduction functions: Motion Detection, BSS (Best Shot Selector)
ISO sensitivity Auto (ISO 80 to 1600)
Interface Hi-Speed USB/PictBridge
Power Sources R6/AA-size battery x 2 (alkaline/lithium: optional), Rechargeable Ni-MH Batteries EN-MH2-B2 (2 batteries: optional)
Battery life *1 Approx. 220 frames *6
Dimensions (WxHxD) Approx. 96.7 x 59.9 x 29.3 mm/3.9 x 2.4 x 1.2 in. (excluding projections) *4
Weight Approx. 170 g/6.0 in. (including battery and SD memory card) *4
Movie VGA: 640 x 480 (30 fps), QVGA: 320 x 240 (30 fps)
Supplied accessories Camera Strap AN-CP19 R6/AA-size alkaline batteries x 2 USB Cable UC-E6 ViewNX 2 CD-ROM
Optional accessories Battery Charger Set MH-72/Rechargeable Ni-MH Batteries EN-MH2-B2 Battery Charger Set MH-73/Rechargeable Ni-MH Batteries EN-MH2-B4 AC Adaptor EH-65A USB Cable UC-E6 Audio Video Cable EG-CP14

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