Nikon Coolpix L620 Review

October 14, 2013 | Matt Grayson | Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


The Nikon Coolpix L620 is a curvy, powerful camera with an 18 megapixel back-illuminated sensor, 14x optical zoom, FullHD video along with creative digital effects, combination night shot system and Target-finding AF. It looks good on paper and has a sexy design, but will it stand up to our rigorous testing? The Nikon Coolpix L620 costs costs £199.99 / €249.00 / $249.95 and is available in red and black.

Ease of Use

Back in the days when digital photography was in its infancy, Compactflash cards were used as the main external storage format, Kodak released the DC200. It had an unusual curved top plate, which has been recreated on the Nikon Coolpix L620. Now, we're not saying that the Nikon is copying it at all, but we immediately thought of the 14 year old Kodak as soon as we saw it.

However, bringing the design bang up to date is a large 14x optical zoom taking up most of the real estate on the Nikon Coolpix L620's face. The lens sports two ED elements (Extra-low Dispersion) which reduce the amount of light scatter as it passes through onto the sensor. This increases the sharpness of the resultant picture.  The zoom lens is a 4.5mm – 63mm in real terms, but to make life easier, we generally look at the 35mm equivalent focal distance. On the L620 it's a 25 – 350mm zoom range. Next to the lens is a rubbery grip to hold the camera with when not in use. Alternatively for one handed shooting.

The top plate features the shutter release button, a zoom switch wrapped around it and a small power button is situated just to the left of that. It sits flush with the body so it's not pressed by accident, but has an indented circumference, so it's easily located without having to look. The curved top accommodates the built-in flash which is a mechanical pop-up type. The switch to operate it is located behind the flash unit.

Nikon Coolpix L620 Nikon Coolpix L620
Front Rear

The back of the Nikon Coolpix L620 is typical of any modern digital camera with a large screen towards the left and all the functioning buttons on the right. Interestingly, they're a little larger than we'd expect to see on a camera of this size, but then this is part of the L series of cameras. The L stands for Lifestyle and denotes a range of cameras that fit into your lifestyle. That means that they're easy to use with the camera taking over the majority of the controls. You don't have to think about anything except taking the picture so the camera doesn't impact on your life, more it becomes a convenient extension of it. At least, that's the impression we get. Simply put, if you're a keen photographer, you won't get along with this line of camera because the features are so basic.

An interesting feature of the L620 include a back-illuminated sensor. For those of you unfamiliar with back-illuminated sensors, they work by placing all the circuitry from around the sensors onto the back. That way, each pixel is more exposed to light making it more sensitive to light. That means lower ISOs and – in turn – smoother images.

Start-up time for the Nikon Coolpix L620 is better than the average for a typical digital compact camera. We managed to get the camera started up, focusing and taking a picture in around 2 seconds; the average being around 2.5 seconds. There are five continuous shooting options available to you. The Continuous Hi mode will take a burst of six pictures in just over half a second. Nikon state that it works out at around ten frames per second (fps) which seems pretty accurate. The Continuous Lo is a bit more plodding, by comparison. However, it managed to download the pictures to the memory card faster meaning that it could take more pictures. We tested it over a ten second period to get an average time and it managed ten pictures there as well.

Nikon Coolpix L620 Nikon Coolpix L620
Front Pop-up Flash

The difference with the two is that the Continuous Hi isn't ready for taking pictures again within that ten second period. Although, it takes a further ten seconds for the Continuous Lo to download. Of course, this is dependent on the memory card you use. Higher class cards will download faster and vice versa. On top of these standard burst modes, there's a 120fps and 60fps options which create a slow motion recording on playback. As with all Nikon digital compact cameras, there's a BSS mode, which stands for Best Shot Selector. It allows you to take a series of pictures, then the best picture can be chosen from them.

Playback can be operated regardless of whether the Nikon Coolpix L620 is switched on or off. If it's off, the playback button needs to be held down so that the camera doesn't think that you've knocked the button by accident. The screen is a 3 inch 460,000 dot LCD screen with an anti-reflection coating on it, so you should be able to use it in all but direct light. We certainly didn't run into any problems with it.

When you go into the Playback area, the picture you took last will pop up on the screen first. Basic shooting information will be on the screen for a few moments – such as the date the picture was taken, the resolution and battery power available. This will disappear to allow you to drink in the splendour of your photography.

Nikon Coolpix L620 Nikon Coolpix L620
Memory Card Slot Battery Compartment

Go into the Playback menu and there's only two tabs. One of which is the Set-up menu that we see in the Main menu. The Playback menu allows you to make simple edits to your pictures such as a Quick retouch, Red-eye correction or Skin softening. Useful if you're taking portraits, but not so much for other types of photography. However, if you've taken a landscape or maybe some architectural photography where deep shadows and pesky highlights may be an issue, you can always use the D-Lighting system which brings out detail in darker areas and caps burn out on highlights. Bear in mind, though, that if you've taken a shot that has the dark as pitch black or the lighter areas as burnt out with no detail recorded, the camera won't be able to produce something from nothing. Still, it's pretty clever as it is.

Interestingly, pressing the Playback button when in playback will bring up some filtering options such as Favourites (pictures have to be pre-set), Auto sort and List by date.

In the box, you'll get a Quick Start guide, that looks thick, but it's in multiple languages. There's also a CD in the top compartment of the box with the Quick Start guide. It has ViewNX 2 on it, which is Nikon's editing and tagging software program. To help you with the camera, you only get a pack of AA batteries, a USEB cable and wrist strap.

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 18 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 7Mb.


Viewing pictures at a normal size shows the pictures at low ISO as being very good quality. They're smooth and nicely detailed. The camera copes well with noise when viewing pictures like that by keeping colour casts at bay. If we zoom into full magnification, though we'll be able to see how the picture changes as noise becomes more of a threat as we climb through the ISO settings.

ISO 125 looks good enough, although to be hyper-critical there's minor amounts of colour noise showing in darker areas of the pictures. It's not easy to see, but it's there. A slight amount of salt & pepper noise invades at ISO 200 but colour noise remains at the same degree of annoyance thanks to the noise reduction software.

At this point, you may be wondering where the back-illuminated sensor is coming into play. Well despite the amount of noise that's coming in, the noise reduction software isn't having to smooth the picture out.

That is until around ISO 400 where there's a little smoothing out of the detail in the dark areas. Mid-tones and highlights are still left untouched until ISO 800 where noise starts affecting the whole image. Fine detailed areas look as though they've been painted out of oils. By ISO 1600, the salt & pepper noise becomes too much and overwhelms the noise reduction system. The final setting of ISO 3200 shows pockets of colour noise showing in mid-tones.

ISO 125 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

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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 L620's 14x optical zoom is a 35mm equivalent of 25-350mm. Edge to edge definition seems pretty good at wide-angle although the corners do seem to drop in quality.



focal_range1.jpg focal_range2.jpg


In some circumstances, adding sharpening certainly helps but in pictures that have noise in, the noise is exacerbated and simply breaks down the quality of the picture.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

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sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

Chromatic Aberrations

We found chromatic aberrations in multiple areas and the only thing we had to be careful about was that it wasn't simply lens flare from sunlight. We found many instances of chroma on images with no sky in them, though.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

chromatic1.jpg chromatic2.jpg

Chromatic Aberrations 3 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 4 (100% Crop)

chromatic3.jpg chromatic4.jpg


The Nikon Coolpix L620 can get as close as 1cm to it's subjects – which is great. Image quality does suffer vastly at this close range, though. Picture quality drops off fairly early with only the centre of the picture sharp.


Macro (100% Crop)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg


Without flash on, there's a degree of vignetting which still occurs even when the Nikon Coolpix L620's lens is at full zoom, Instead of eradicating it, using flash simply stabilises it along with the ambient light. The flash is an intelligent type, so will make the picture look as though flash hasn't been used.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (25mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (25mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Flash Off - Telephoto (350mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (350mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

At first we thought we'd got red-eye on the picture with red-eye reduction, but we suspect it's actually a form of chromatic aberration. It only circles the white of the catch-light and doesn't look like a reflection – which is what red-eye is.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)
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Red Eye Reduction

Red Eye Reduction (100% Crop)

flash_redeye.jpg flash_redeye1.jpg


In Night scene mode, you get the choice of using the Nikon Coolpix L620 hand-held or in tripod mode. We assumed the idea of the tripod mode was that the camera uses a lower ISO to give a smoother image. However, the L620 uses a high ISO 800 rating. We think that supported, the camera can afford to go down to ISO 125. It is possible that the extra long exposure at that setting could cause a different type of noise and there's also the problem of how slow a shutter speed the camera is capable of.

Our results show a smudged outlook from abundant use of noise control. There's less detail than we'd like because of it, but the colours are still bang on with no cast. White balance has managed to cope with the new LED lights found in Sheffield these days.


Night (100% Crop)

night_scene.jpg night_scene1.jpg

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Nikon Coolpix L620 camera, which were all taken using the 18 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 1920x1080 pixels at 25 frames per second. Please note that this 36 second movie is 70.9Mb in size.

Product Images

Nikon Coolpix L620

Front of the Nikon Coolpix L620

Nikon Coolpix L620

Front of the Nikon Coolpix L620

Nikon Coolpix L620

Front of the Nikon Coolpix L620 / Pop-up Flash

Nikon Coolpix L620

Side of the Nikon Coolpix L620

Nikon Coolpix L620

Side of the Nikon Coolpix L620

Nikon Coolpix L620

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix L620

Nikon Coolpix L620

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix L620 / Image Displayed

Nikon Coolpix L620

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix L620 / Turned On

Nikon Coolpix L620

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix L620 / Shooting Menu


Nikon Coolpix L620

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix L620 / Movie Menu

Nikon Coolpix L620

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix L620 / Settings Menu

Nikon Coolpix L620

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix L620 / Shooting Mode Menu

Nikon Coolpix L620

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix L620 / Scene Mode Menu

Nikon Coolpix L620

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix L620 / Play Menu

Nikon Coolpix L620

Bottom of the Nikon Coolpix L620

Nikon Coolpix L620

Top of the Nikon Coolpix L620

Nikon Coolpix L620

Side of the Nikon Coolpix L620

Nikon Coolpix L620

Side of the Nikon Coolpix L620

Nikon Coolpix L620

Front of the Nikon Coolpix L620

Nikon Coolpix L620

Memory Card Slot

Nikon Coolpix L620

Battery Compartment


The Lifestyle range of digital compact cameras from Nikon generally tend to be low quality point and shooters, so the new Coolpix L620 is a big surprise. It feels well made and while it lacks the metal tripod bush of a higher quality model, it does have a locking battery door and thicker-than-usual rubber on the port covers. It's designed in a stylish way with the curved top plate and pop up flash. Old school digital users may remember the Kodak we previously mentioned. The grip will allow easier handling and one hand shooting while you have the other hand in your pocket.

The Nikon Coolpix L620 is very easy to take pictures with. The point and shoot simplicity will appeal to all members of the family; young to old and the additional filters will keep younger generations and Instagrammers happy. While we're on the subject of the digital effects, there doesn't seem to be a way of previewing the effect when in playback. It's shown as a thumbnail and then processed when you select it. If you then don't like it, it's a case of delete and start again. A tedious and exhaustive task what with all the selective colour and cross processed options.

As expected with low ISO, image quality is fine. Noise does creep in a little early and many people are disappointed in Nikon for allowing this to happen. We do think considering the brand name and the back-illuminated sensor technology being used that the low ISO would be better.

We do have to point out that the batteries we received in the box died on us before we managed to finish the test. We try to use cameras in a way that we think a person using it normally would. We take pictures, look at them, take video, watch it back, use the menus, etc. Batteries are normally ok, so it may have simply been the ones we got in the box that were not as highly charged. Still, it's worth keeping an additional pack nearby, just in case. It happened to us while taking video and the battery power display said quarter full. We had no flashing red battery warning us. Therefore, it could also be the video system because it is possible to zoom in while filming on the L620, but whenever we tried the zoom, the screen would freeze and we had to remove the batteries to get it to reset.

The asking price of £199 for the Nikon Coolpix L620 is a tricky one to decide whether it's value for money. There's some technology not normally seen on a camera at this price, such as the back-illuminated sensor, but it just doesn't seem to add that much of a benefit.

If you're a multi-generation family going on holiday and need a new camera, the important things are that it's easy to use, takes sharp images, has a great macro facility, a long zoom and can cope with almost everything you throw at it. If this sounds like a camera you could love, then take a look at the Nikon Coolpix L620.

3.5 stars

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

Main Rivals

Listed below are some of the rivals of the Nikon Coolpix L620.

Canon PowerShot SX160 IS

The brand new Canon PowerShot SX160 IS is one of the more affordable travel-zoom cameras on the market. For less than £150 / $200, the Canon SX160 offers a 16x optical zoom lens, 16 megapixel sensor, 3 inch LCD screen and 720p movies. Read our in-depth Canon PowerShot SX160 IS review to find out if this is the right travel zoom camera for you.

Fujifilm Finepix F800EXR

The FinePix F800EXR is the latest travel-zoom camera from Fujifilm, sporting a 20x lens with a versatile focal range of 25-500mm. The 16 megapixel F800 EXR also features wireless image transfer, GPS support, full 1080p movies, a high-contrast 3 inch LCD screen and 8fps continuous shooting. Read our in-depth Fujifilm FinePix F800 EXR review to find out if it's the ultimate travel camera...

Olympus SZ-20

The new Olympus SZ-20 is a slim travel-zoom camera with a 12.5x, 24-300mm lens and a 16 BSI CMOS megapixel sensor. Other key features of the Olympus SZ-20 include a 3 inch screen, 1080p HD video and 9fps high-speed continuous shooting. Can the SZ-20 take on the travel zoom crowd? Read our in-depth Olympus SZ-20 review to find out...

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ9

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ9 is a brand new travel-zoom compact camera. The stylish Panasonic SZ9 offers 16 megapixels, a 10x zoom lens (25-250mm), 3 inch LCD screen, built-in wi-fi connectivity, 10fps burst shooting and 1080p HD movies. Read our expert Panasonic DMC-SZ9 review now...

Pentax Optio VS20

The Pentax VS20 is an innovative travel-zoom compact camera featuring a 20x image-stabilized zoom lens, 16 megapixel sensor, 3-inch LCD screen, 720p HD movies and not one but two shutter release buttons. Retailing for around £200 / $250, read our Pentax VS20 review to find out if it can take on its many travelzoom rivals...

Samsung WB250F

The Samsung WB250F is a new travel-zoom camera that won't break the bank. The WB250F offers a wide-angle 18x zoom lens, 14.2 megapixel sensor, 1080p video recording, 3 inch LCD touchscreen and built-in wi-fi connectivity. Read our Samsung WB250F review to find out if it's worth the modest price-tag...

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX10V

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX10V is an affordable travel-zoom compact camera, with a 16x 24-384mm lens, built-in GPS tracking, full 1080i high-definition video with stereo sound, an 18 megapixel CMOS sensor, high-resolution 3-inch screen, manual shooting mode, 10fps continuous shooting, 3D photos, ISO range of 100-12800 and fast auto-focusing. Read our Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX10V review to find out if it's the right compact camera for you...


Number of effective pixels 18.1 million
Image sensor 1/2.3-in. type CMOS; approx. 18.91 million total pixels
Lens NIKKOR lens with 14x optical zoom
Focal length 4.5-63.0 mm (angle of view equivalent to that of 25-350 mm lens in 35mm [135] format)
f/-number f/3.3-5.9
Lens construction 11 elements in 10 groups (2 ED lens elements)
Digital zoom magnification Up to 2x (angle of view equivalent to that of approx. 700 mm lens in 35mm [135] format)
Vibration reduction Lens shift
Motion blur reduction Motion detection (still pictures)
Autofocus (AF) Contrast-detect AF
Focus range [W]: Approx. 50 cm (1 ft 8 in.) to infinity, [T]: Approx. 1.0 m (3 ft 4 in.) to infinity; Macro mode: Approx. 1 cm (0.4 in.) (wide-angle position relative to the triangle mark to infinity; (All distances measured from center of front surface of lens)
Focus-area selection Center, face detection, target finding AF
Monitor 7.5 cm (3-in.), approx. 460k-dot, TFT LCD with anti-reflection coating and 5-level brightness adjustment
Frame coverage (shooting mode) Approx. 96% horizontal and 96% vertical (compared to actual picture)
Frame coverage (playback mode) Approx. 96% horizontal and 96% vertical (compared to actual picture)
Media Internal memory (approx. 83 MB), SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card
File system DCF, Exif 2.3, and DPOF compliant
File formats Still pictures: JPEG; Sound files (voice memo): WAV; Movies: MOV (Video: H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, Audio: LPCM stereo)
Image size (pixels) 18M (High) [4896 x 3672(fine)]; 18M [4896 x 3672]; 8M [3264 x 2448]; 4M [2272 x 1704]; 2M [1600 x 1200]; VGA [640 x 480]; 16:9 [4896 x 2754]; 1:1 [3672 x 3672]
Shooting Modes Easy auto mode, Scene mode (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, Easy panorama, Pet portrait), Special effects, Smart portrait, Auto mode
Continuous Shooting Single (default setting), Continuous H (the frame rate for continuous shooting is about 10 fps and the maximum number of continuous shots is about 6), Continuous L (the frame rate for continuous shooting is about 2 fps and the maximum number of continuous shots is about 6), Continuous H:120 fps (the frame rate for continuous shooting is about 120 fps and the maximum number of continuous shots is 50), Continuous H:60 fps (the frame rate for continuous shooting is about 60 fps and the maximum number of continuous shots is 25), BSS (Best Shot Selector), Multi-shot 16
Movie 1080(fine)/30p (default setting): 1920 x 1080(High)/16:9, 1080(fine)/25p (default setting): 1920 x 1080(High)/16:9, 1080/30p: 1920 x 1080/16:9, 1080/25p: 1920 x 1080/16:9, 1080/60i: 1920 x 1080/16:9, 1080/50i: 1920 x 1080/16:9, 720/30p: 1280 x 720/16:9, 720/25p: 1280 x 720/16:9, iFrame 540/30p: 960 x 540/16:9, iFrame 540/25p: 960 x 540/16:9, 480/30p: 640 x 480/4:3, 480/25p: 640 x 480/4:3, HS 720/2x: 1280 x 720/16:9, HS 1080/0.5x: 1920 x 1080/16:9
ISO sensitivity (Standard output sensitivity) ISO 125-1600; ISO 3200 (available when using Auto mode)
Exposure metering mode Matrix, center-weighted (digital zoom less than 2x), spot (digital zoom 2x)
Exposure control Programmed auto exposure and exposure compensation (-2.0 - +2.0 EV in steps of 1/3 EV)
Shutter Mechanical and CMOS electronic shutter
Shutter speed 1/1600-1 s; 1/4000 s (maximum speed during high-speed continuous shooting); 4 s (Fireworks show scene mode)
Aperture Electronically-controlled ND filter (-2 AV) selection
Aperture range 2 steps (f/3.3 and f/6.6 [W])
Self-timer Approx. 10 s
Flash range (approx.) (ISO sensitivity: Auto) [W]: 0.5-5.0 m (1 ft 8 in. - 16 ft); [T]: 1.0-3.0 m (3 ft 4 in. - 9 ft 10 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
HDMI output Can be selected from Auto, 480p, 720p, and 1080i
I/O terminal Audio/video (A/V) output; digital I/O (USB); HDMI micro connector (Type D) (HDMI output)
Supported languages Arabic, Bengali, Bulgarian, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Marathi, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese (European and Brazilian), Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Swedish, Tamil, Telugu, 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 life¹ Still pictures: Approx. 150 shots when using alkaline batteries, Approx. 660 shots when using lithium batteries, Approx. 410 shots when using EN-MH2 batteries; Movie recording (actual battery life for recording)²: Approx. 10 min when using alkaline batteries, Approx. 1 h 25 min when using lithium batteries, Approx. 55 min when using EN-MH2 batteries
Tripod socket 1/4-in. (ISO 1222)
Dimensions (W x H x D) Approx. 108.3 x 68.7 x 34.1 mm (4.3 x 2.8 x 1.4 in.) (excluding projections)
Weight Approx. 237 g (8.4 oz) (including batteries and SD memory card)
Temperature 0°C - 40°C (32°F - 104°F)
Humidity 85% or less (no condensation)
Supplied accessories Camera Strap, LR6/L40 (AA-size) alkaline batteries (x2), USB Cable UC-E16, ViewNX 2 CD, Reference Manual CD
Optional accessories AC Adapter EH-65A, Audio Video Cable EG-CP16, Strap AN-CP23, Battery Charger MH-72 (includes two EN-MH2 rechargeable Ni-MH batteries), Battery Charger MH-73 (includes four EN-MH2 rechargeable Ni-MH batteries), Rechargeable Ni-MH batteries EN-MH2-B2 (set of two EN-MH2 batteries)

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