Nikon Coolpix L26 Review

February 1, 2013 | Matt Grayson | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star


The Nikon Coolpix L26 is a point and shoot digital compact camera with 16 megapixel resolution, 720p movie recording, a 5x optical zoom, 3-inch LCD screen and intelligent auto mode. Designed for ease of use over all else, it's aimed to appeal to the happy snapper that simply wants to take pictures and not have to worry about the settings. The Nikon Coolpix L26 is available in black, silver and red costing around £89.99 / $99.95.

Ease of Use

The Nikon Coolpix L26 follows in the tradition of the other models in Nikon's L series. It's an easy to use, small, lightweight digital compact camera designed to take all the hard work out of picture taking. The slim features of the camera are only broken by the grip that bulges at one end. It's handy for gripping the camera and also houses the two AA batteries that power it. On the front is a 5x optical zoom lens that starts at a 35mm equivalent of 26mm.

On the top is a small power button which is located next to the shutter release that has the zoom lever wrapped around it. The 3 inch screen takes up the majority of the back with all the buttons stuffed down the right side. 9 raised dots constitute as the thumb rest and the direct video button is there as well. Below is the tried and tested layout of four buttons around the circular navigation pad. The pad lets you move through menu systems in the camera but also doubles up as self timer, flash, macro and exposure compensation modes when the menu is not in use.

As an entry level camera, the Nikon Coolpix L26 is designed to keep the costs low so don't expect anything fancy. However it's a nice looking little camera. It's aimed at the complete amateur in the market for a camera that has a respectable brand name but doesn't boggle them down with science and manual over-riding features. What Nikon have done is secreted everything away so that the camera has some pretty cool tech under the hood but you can't get to it.

Nikon Coolpix L26 Nikon Coolpix L26
Front Rear

Looking at the hardware, the Nikon Coolpix L26 has an EXPEED C2 processor which is Nikon's dedicated image processing chip. It's the processor that converts the image into file data after boosting colours, sharpening edges taking away unnecessary information and reducing noise. It's not the fastest processor Nikon do but it's perfectly ample for this camera.

The Nikon Coolpix L26 is all about simplicity and Nikon are arguably the only company to remove ISO over-ride as standard. It's a big shout out to consumers that this is even easier to use than any other camera. But is that a good thing? The camera will need to have a highly intelligent computer to make sure it uses the right ISO to get the pictures as smooth as possible. But then will the type of person looking at this camera care about that? Well from a photography point of view, they should but that's not necessarily the case. That's not a bad thing though. No-one said you have to worry about these things and it's those worries that put people off buying a camera with lots of manual modes. Enter the L series. What the camera does have is a menu of different shooting modes for when you're in a certain scenario such as in a museum or watching fireworks. There's also a few colour options such as vivid, black & white, sepia and cyanotype.

The Nikon Coolpix L26 is built to a respectable standard for the price. It's a plastic casing and while we couldn't find much information about the internal structure, we assume it to be plastics based too. Although not as strong as a metal body, it makes the camera lighter which can be more important to some. It certainly feels solid enough and the AA batteries give it some weight. The tripod bush on the bottom of the camera is expectedly plastic. A small rubber door covers the USB port which is situated next to the battery compartment, the door of which feels sturdy with no play and a plate of metal to strengthen it.

Nikon Coolpix L26 Nikon Coolpix L26
Front Top

Despite the USB port, you shouldn't really need it with a little investment. You see, the L26 is Eye-fi compatible. This means that with an Eye-fi SD card (Eye-fi X2 or later) you can wirelessly transmit your pictures to your computer, phone or tablet. The card works by storing transfer information until it hits a free wifi spot then uploads automatically.

Navigating around the Nikon Coolpix L26 is a simple affair. Pressing the green camera opens up shooting options such as easy auto, scene modes, smart portrait and auto. The smart portrait mode is great for kids and family shots. As well as the traditional red-eye fix (uses software to locate and eradicate red-eye completely), the camera also has skin softening software, a blink detector and smile detector. With the latter mode, the camera will take a picture as soon as it detects the subject smiling. You don';t have to hover over the shutter release button.

The main menu has been simplified to within an inch of its life. There are only four options in the shooting menu when the camera is in auto mode (the most manual mode the L26 has). Here you can change the resolution, adjust the white-balance, change the drive to continuous shooting or play with the previously mentioned colour options. The video menu has only two options for resolution and focusing modes. If you decide to switch to full time focusing on this, the camera will continue to adjust the focusing which is good for moving objects but will drain more power.

Nikon Coolpix L26 Nikon Coolpix L26
Memory Card Slot Bettery Compartment

We managed to get two pictures in the first second of using the continuous shooting mode and a further five in a 10 second period because the Nikon Coolpix L26 slows to download from the buffer onto the memory card. Start up time is pretty fast at under two seconds from pressing the power button to be able to take a picture. We also looked at shutter lag which we recorded at 0.08 seconds which is standard for a digital compact camera.

In playback the menu has a couple of features that are useful for editing. The D-Lighting option is a dynamic range expansion program. It works by retrieving detail in dark shadow areas and by capping burn out on highlights. The skin softening feature is useful for portraits if you forgot to use the smart portrait mode. On top of that there's options for creating a slide show, protecting your more treasured pictures from being accidentally erased, rotating and copying among others.

In the box there's a quick start guide which looks daunting as it's so thick but is in fact multi-lingual and the English version is only a few pages long. For the full manual, there's a CD inside. A second CD supplies Nikon View NX2 editing software. The cameras also comes with a wrist strap, batteries and a USB cable.

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 16 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 8Mb.


The difficulty with the Nikon Coolpix L26 lies with its simple approach to picture taking. There's no ISO manual over-ride so we can't test the system precisely. We tried to adjust the lighting to raise the ISO but if the camera's using a fast shutter speed, it'll simply slow it down first. This was indeed the case and we only managed to get the ISO 80 and ISO 200 settings recorded. The results of those two settings are certainly disappointing though. ISO 80 shows sharp results in edge definition and overall good noise performance but there's still a degree of image breakdown on edges; similar to pixellation. The problem is with ISO 200. We'd expect to see a little salt & pepper noise and some loss of sharp edges but there's a lot more noise here than there should be.

ISO 80 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)


Although the pictures don't look overly sharp straight from the Nikon Coolpix L26, they don't actually benefit from any boost in Photoshop. Adding even the standard sharpening took edges over the top.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

File Quality

The Nikon Coolpix L26 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 9Mb while knocking it down to the normal setting without the star will shave off roughly 2Mb of information.

High (9.13Mb) (100% Crop)

Normal (7.15Mb) (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations

The Nikon Coolpix L26 does suffer from chromatic aberration. It tends to get worse towards the edges of the frame and can happen in low contrast areas more than high. Branches of trees against the sky seem to be the most susceptible because of the dark subject over the light background. However, we also found it on other subjects as long as it's a dark foreground over a lighter background.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)



The macro performance of the Nikon Coolpix L26 isn't the best at around 10cm. However the results are good enough. In the lab test the pictures are sharp and in the real world we got a good narrow band of focus that would look good as a diorama effect.


Macro (100% Crop)


There's no light fall off towards the edges of the frame without the flash on and when using the flash, exposures remain the same. It seems that Nikon have nailed the effect of using flash without it looking like flash is being used. Whether at wide angle or full zoom there's no vignetting in the corners.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (26mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (26mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Flash Off - Telephoto (130mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (130mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

The Nikon Coolpix L26 does have a red-eye reduction mode but there's little point in using it. Whenever we tried it, the flash with out red-eye never captured any.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)

Red Eye Reduction

Red Eye Reduction (100% Crop)


The Nikon Coolpix L26 has a preset mode for dealing with many situations. One of those is the night scene mode. It selects a wide aperture to let as much light in as possible while speeding up the ISO to make the sensor more sensitive to light. It also increases the noise reduction to cope with the higher ISO and keeps the shutter speed as fast as possible to avoid any camera shake.

White-balance can't be adjusted in this mode so we had to make do. Switching the camera over into auto mode will allow you to balance strong lighting and there's a preset manual option if you have something white to point the camera at. Picture quality is good though and the colours are precise.


Night (100% Crop)


Night Auto

Night Auto (100% Crop)

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Nikon Coolpix L26 camera, which were all taken using the 16 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 1280x720 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 22 second movie is 81.2Mb in size.

Product Images

Nikon Coolpix L26

Front of the Camera

Nikon Coolpix L26

Front of the Camera / Lens Extended

Nikon Coolpix L26

Isometric View

Nikon Coolpix L26

Isometric View

Nikon Coolpix L26

Rear of the Camera

Nikon Coolpix L26

Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed

Nikon Coolpix L26

Rear of the Camera / Turned On

Nikon Coolpix L26

Rear of the Camera / Shooting Modes

Nikon Coolpix L26

Rear of the Camera / Shooting Menu

Nikon Coolpix L26

Rear of the Camera / Playback Menu

Nikon Coolpix L26

Top of the Camera

Nikon Coolpix L26

Side of the Camera

Nikon Coolpix L26

Side of the Camera

Nikon Coolpix L26

Front of the Camera

Nikon Coolpix L26

Memory Card Slot

Nikon Coolpix L26

Battery Compartment


It seems ironic that for a camera that takes the thought out of taking pictures, a great deal of thought has gone into the development of the Nikon Coolpix L26. Nikon have thought carefully about what should and shouldn't be in the camera as well as what should be in but hidden from view. This makes for an extremely simplistic camera.

As a photographer, it's a nightmare to use because the lack of over-riding functions blows our mind. But this isn't a camera aimed at photographers, it's aimed at amateurs who frankly couldn't care less about ISO and chromatic aberration. It's a good job because this is where the Nikon Coolpix L26 fails the most.

It's well built and looks nice and that could really be the be all and end all for the type of consumer the camera is aimed at. We like the inclusion of the EXPEED C2 processor and the features such as smart portrait will make getting a good photograph of a person much easier to do.

What we would have liked to see is some digital effects such as found on the more expensive cameras. Breaking new ground doesn't have to be in previously unseen technology. Just putting current tech in a lower specification camera also breaks ground by making it more readily available. As it is, there's little to do on the Nikon Coolpix L26; save for the colour options. The digital effects make using a simple camera more fun. With the rise of app sites such as Instagram and Streamzoo using digital effects, people can do this stuff on their phone. So why can't they do it on a camera?

That aside if you look at it for what it is, the Nikon Coolpix L26 isn't a bad little camera. At £89.99 / $99.95 it's about what we'd expect to pay for it and you also have the Nikon branding to add to that which can go pretty far at this level. If you're an out and out happy snapper with no concern for photography lessons then the Coolpix L26 from Nikon will suit you down to the ground.

4 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4
Features 3.5
Ease-of-use 4.5
Image quality 3.5
Value for money 4

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Nikon Coolpix L26 from around the web. »

The Nikon Coolpix L26 is an entry level compact camera with a 16.1 megapixel sensor, 3 inch screen, 5x optical zoom lens, electronic vibration reduction and is powered by AA batteries. It is available in black, red and silver for £60.
Read the full review » »

Point the compact Nikon Coolpix L26 at a well-lit scene and it'll reward you with bright, realistic colours and plenty of detail. We noticed a few imperfections and we'd like to see the price cut, but it's a good buy for the less experienced photographer.
Read the full review »


*Unless otherwise stated, all figures are for a camera with a fully-charged Rechargeable Battery operated at an ambient temperature of 25°C.

Product name COOLPIX L26
Type Compact digital camera
Effective pixels 16.1 million
Image sensor 1/2.3-in. type CCD; approx. 16.44 million total pixels
Lens 5x optical zoom, NIKKOR lens
Focal length 4.6-23.0mm (angle of view equivalent to that of 26-130 mm lens in 35mm [135] format)
f/-number f/3.2-6.5
Construction 6 elements in 5 groups
Digital zoom Up to 4x (angle of view equivalent to that of approx. 520 mm lens in 35mm [135] format)
Vibration reduction Electronic VR (still pictures)
Autofocus (AF) Contrast-detect AF
Focus range (from lens) [W]: Approx. 50 cm (1 ft 8 in.) to infinity, [T]: Approx. 80 cm (2 ft 8 in.) to infinity Macro mode: Approx. 10 cm (4 in.) (wide-angle position relative to the triangle mark) to infinity
Focus-area selection Center, face detection
Monitor 7.5-cm (3-in.), approx. 230k-dot, TFT LCD with antireflection coating and 5-level brightness adjustment
Frame coverage (shooting mode) Approx. 98% horizontal and 98% vertical
Frame coverage (playback mode) Approx. 100% horizontal and 100% vertical
Media Internal memory (approx. 20 MB), SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card
File system DCF, Exif 2.3, and DPOF compliant
File formats Still pictures: JPEG Movies: AVI (Motion-JPEG compliant)
Image size (pixels) 16M (High) [4608 x 3456(fine)] 16M [4608 x 3456] 8M [3264 x 2448] 4M [2272 x 1704] 2M [1600 x 1200] VGA [640 x 480] 16:9 [4608 x 2592]
Shooting Modes Easy Auto, Scene (Portrait, Landscape, Sports, Night portrait, Party/indoor, Beach, Snow, Sunset, Dusk/dawn, Night landscape, Close-up, Food, Museum, Fireworks show, Black and white copy, Backlighting, Panorama assist, Pet portrait), Smart Portrait, Auto
Continuous Shooting Single (default setting), Continuous (Up to 4 images at about 1.2 fps), BSS (Best Shot Selector), Multi-shot 16
Movie HD 720p (default setting): 1280 x 720/approx. 30 fps, VGA: 640 x 480/approx. 30 fps, QVGA: 320 x 240/approx. 30 fps
ISO sensitivity (Standard output sensitivity) Auto (auto gain from ISO 80 to 1600)
Metering 256-segment matrix, center-weighted (digital zoom less than 2x), spot (digital zoom 2x or more)
Exposure control Programmed auto exposure with motion detection and exposure compensation (-2.0 to +2.0 EV in steps of 1/3 EV)
Shutter Mechanical and charge-coupled electronic shutter
Speed 1/2000-1 s 4 s (Fireworks show scene mode)
Aperture Electronically-controlled ND filter (-2.7 EV) selection
Range 2 steps (f/3.2 and f/8 [W])
Self-timer Approx. 10 s
Range (approx.) (ISO sensitivity: Auto) [W]: 0.5 to 3.6 m (1 ft 8 in. to 11 ft) [T]: 0.8 to 1.7 m (2 ft 8 in. to 5 ft 6 in.)
Flash control TTL auto flash with monitor preflashes
Interface Hi-Speed USB
Data Transfer Protocol MTP, PTP
Video output Can be selected from NTSC and PAL
I/O terminal Audio/video (A/V) output; digital I/O (USB)
Supported languages Arabic, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (European and Brazilian), Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese
Power sources Two LR6/L40 (AA-size) alkaline batteries Two FR6/L91 (AA-size) lithium batteries Two EN-MH2 rechargeable Ni-MH batteries (available separately) AC Adapter EH-65A (available separately)
Battery life Still pictures*: Approx. 200 shots when using alkaline batteries Approx. 680 shots when using lithium batteries Approx. 350 shots when using EN-MH2 batteries Movies: Approx. 50 min when using alkaline batteries (HD 720p) Approx. 3 h 20 min when using lithium batteries (HD 720p) Approx. 1 h 55 min when using EN-MH2 batteries (HD 720p)
Tripod socket 1/4 (ISO 1222)
Dimensions (W x H x D) Approx. 96.0 x 59.7 x 28.8 mm (3.8 x 2.4 x 1.2 in.) (excluding projections)
Weight Approx. 164 g (5.8 oz) (including battery and SD memory card)
Temperature 0°C to 40°C (32°F to 104°F)
Humidity Less than 85% (no condensation)
Supplied accessories Camera Strap, LR6/L40 (AA-size) alkaline batteries (x2), USB Cable UC-E16, ViewNX 2 Installer CD, Reference Manual CD
Optional accessories Rechargeable Ni-MH batteries EN-MH2-B2 (set of two EN-MH2 batteries), Rechargeable Ni-MH batteries EN-MH2-B4 (set of four EN-MH2 batteries), Battery Charger MH-72 (includes two rechargeable Ni-MH batteries EN-MH2), Battery Charger MH-73 (includes four rechargeable Ni-MH batteries EN-MH2), AC Adapter EH-65A, Audio Video Cable EG-CP14

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