Nikon Coolpix L610 Review

September 18, 2013 | Mark Goldstein |


The Nikon Coolpix L610 is a travel-zoom digital compact camera. Sporting a back-illuminated 16 megapixel CMOS image sensor for better low light photography and a 14x, 25mm wide-angle lens with lens-shift vibration reduction, the Coolpix L610 also offers Full 1080p HD video, a 3-inch 460k-dot LCD screen, 1cm macro mode and AA-size batteries. The Nikon Coolpix L610 costs £199.99 / €249.00 / $249.95 and is available in red, black and silver.

Ease of Use

With a large bulky zoom lens on the front and a pop-up flash, the Nikon Coolpix L610 is reminiscent of old 35mm compact cameras. However, if this was a 35mm compact camera, the 14x zoom lens would stretch from a wide 25mm to an eyewatering 350mm. That size zoom lens was unheard of back in the day when 35mm compacts ruled the roost.

The image goes through the lens onto an 16 megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor. The main difference between CCD and CMOS is that CCD yields a sharper image but a CMOS is more fuel efficient meaning your battery will last longer. The back-illuminated system describes the design of the CMOS. On a standard sensor, the pixels are surrounded by micro-circuitry which takes the information to the processor. The circuitry partially blocks the pixels meaning less light is collected. A back-illuminated sensor has the circuitry on the reverse so if you were to look at it mounted in a camera, it looks like it's on backwards. The lack of circuitry on the front means that more light can be collected theoretically making the sensor perform better in low light.

Nikon Coolpix L610 Nikon Coolpix L610
Front Rear

On top of the Nikon Coolpix L610 the shutter release button is flush with the zoom rocker that wraps around it. A small power button sits between the shutter button and the stereo speakers/pop-up flash. A flash LED light completes the top of the L610. Instead of a more traditional command dial for switching through the various modes that the camera has to offer, there's a Scene button on the rear of the L610. There are five modes, Easy Auto, Scenes, Effects, Smart Portrait and Auto, with the last one providing the most user control.

On the back of the Coolpix L610, there's the usual medley of options on the navigation pad for flash options, macro, self timer and exposure compensation. A direct video button at the top right will start recording Full 1080p HD video whenever you press the button regardless of the shooting mode you're in at the time.

Being reasonably thick, the build quality of the Nikon Coolpix L610 looks to a higher standard that we suspect it really is. We're not implying that Nikon have cut corners but when it comes to stepped products such as the Nikon L, S and P ranges of digital compacts, you do tend to get what you pay for. This L series camera is towards the bottom of the ranges so has a good build but isn't as good as the S or particularly the P series cameras.

Nikon Coolpix L610 Nikon Coolpix L610
Front Top

However, it's worth noting that people buying the L610 aren't going to be as bothered about fantastic build quality as long as it takes good pictures. The people who buy this camera will be going on holidays with the family and want to document as much as possible, and the build quality is perfectly sufficient for that. The Nikon Coolpix L610 is a camera that will be carried around all day so the lighter materials used, the better for the casual photographer.

The Nikon Coolpix L610's main menu will vary dependent on the mode you have the camera set to. In Auto there's lots of features and the L610 sticks to the traditional Nikon colours of a black background with a grey menu and yellow highlight bar. Everything is pretty easy to work through. The menu is set into three sections for shooting, movie and set-up. Pressing right will go into the highlighted tab whereas pressing left will go back to the tabs for faster navigation.

We took numerous shots in the shutter lag test and the results were a little disappointing. An average delay from pressing the shutter button to the camera taking a picture once the camera is focused is around 0.08 seconds, but the Nikon Coolpix L610 took 0.12 seconds. On the rare occasion that this happens, we generally give the camera a chance by testing it for longer than usual in case of user error. After all, this test has human reflexes to take into consideration. But the L610 gave similar results right through.

Nikon Coolpix L610 Nikon Coolpix L610
Memory Card Slot Battery Compartment

Start-up time from pressing the power button to the Nikon Coolpix L610 focusing and taking a picture is just over 3 seconds. That's a little slower than we're used to seeing too, the average being around 2.5 seconds. The L610 has a pedestrain burst rate of 1.9fps for 4 frames, so this isn't a camera for capturing sports or action. Pictures taken in burst are displayed on the camera as a sort of slideshow. You have to press the OK button to play them then scroll through with left and right.

In playback, the Coolpix L610 shows basic information about the picture such as the file number, date/time and position in the line of pictures on the card. Pressing OK will change the display to a smaller thumbnail and more information such as shutter speed, aperture, ISO and even a histogram. Playback can be accessed from power off by holding the playback button down. In the menu area, there's a few different editing options such as D-Lighting, an auto quick retouch option and the filter effects. These can't be used on the burst images.

The lens barrel has minimal play in it and the battery door has a lock on it which is nice, as is the fact that the L610 uses easily sourced AA batteries. Nikon quote life of anywhere from 120 to 470 shots, depending on the battery type that you choose. The cover protecting the HDMI and USB ports is made of rubber and hangs off the camera. A plastic hinged version would've been nicer but is unlikely on a camera at this level. A plastic tripod rather inconveniently located right in the corner of the base of the camera completes the Nikon Coolpix L610's control layout.