Nikon Coolpix L810 Review

August 7, 2012 | Matt Grayson | Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


The Nikon Coolpix L810 is an easy to use mega-zoom digital compact camera with a 26x optical zoom, 16 megapixel CCD sensor, 720p HD video, EXPEED C2 image processor, Vibration Reduction, 3-inch LCD screen with 921,000 dots and AA batteries. Designed with the keen hobbyist in mind, in this test we see just how easy the L810 is to use and find out if the L810 has what it takes. The Nikon Coolpix L810 is available in black, blue, bronze and red, retailing at around £229.00.

Ease of Use

Photography is such a welcoming past time. Frankly, anyone can do it but not everyone wants to get bogged down with jargon and numbers. If everyone wanted to get involved with reciprocity failure or the circle of confusion, there would be no need for the L series of cameras from Nikon. L stands for Life and it's the company's range of easy to use point and shoot models for the happy crowd. The L810 is the daddy of the bunch being the biggest. It has a large 26x optical zoom on the front meaning that the lens barrel sticks out a considerable distance. Accompanying that is a chunky grip to aid steady shooting at telephoto and also give the look of a more sophisticated DSLR.

To operate the Nikon Coolpix L810's zoom, the shutter release which is perched on the tip of the grip has a zoom ring wrapped around it. However, Nikon have been thoughtful enough to place a secondary zoom rocker on the lens barrel. After all, to ensure steady shooting a hand has to be placed under the barrel and your thumb will sit right where that rocker is situated. Just above the rocker is a small button for activating the flash. If you don't press this button to pop the flash up, pressing the flash options button on the back won't make any difference, except a message will flag on the screen telling you to open the flash. Once up you get five options: auto, red eye, forced off, forced on and slow sync.

On top of the Nikon Coolpix L810, the stereo microphones sit in a glossy black dome behind the flash unit. A speaker and power button are located to the right. On the back, the direct video button is in the top right corner. This button will record video straight away regardless of the mode that you're in. Be aware that the settings you've got the camera in for still shooting will be used in video too. There are only three options in the video menu for resolution, auto focus and wind noise reduction. The quality of the video is good and the sound recording is superb. Very nice and clear.  To be picky, we prefer a counter that counts up so we know how much video we've taken at a glance. We can see the benefit of having a clock counting down - especially if you have limited space on the card. Maybe a future menu option would be the ability to change it?

Nikon Coolpix L810 Nikon Coolpix L810
Front Rear

Beneath the small leatherette thumb rest there are four buttons surrounding the navigation pad. The top buttons open up either the different modes (green camera) or playback images you've previously taken (blue arrow). At the bottom, the buttons are for the main menu and deleting pictures and video you wish to discard. Once in the menu, the centre pad allows you to navigate your way around by pressing left, right, up or down. These buttons also double up for access to macro mode, self timer, flash options and exposure compensation.

Because the L series of cameras are so easy to use, the Nikon Coolpix L810's menus have been simplified to within an inch of its life. There are only three tabs for shooting, video and set up. In playback, this narrows down to two tabs.

Because of the camera's standing in the full Nikon range of digital compact cameras, the L810 doesn't have any special features or digital effects such as you'd see on the more expensive models. It does offer five colour options: standard (default), vivid, black & white, sepia and cyanotype. But that's not what the L series is about. If Nikon start to put hordes of effects and features into the menu system, it will look just as crowded as all the others and put off the main target customer that the L series of cameras are aimed at.

All the good stuff is under the hood such as the ED lens elements and VR system to keep your shots steady when zooming out.  The EXPEED C2 processor ensures speedy data transfer of your pictures so you can take another picture as soon as possible.

Nikon Coolpix L810 Nikon Coolpix L810
Front Top

On the outside, the Nikon Coolpix L810 looks very nice in its glossy plastic coating. The shiny plastic appeals but we do wonder about scratching over time. The leatherette coating on the grip and thumb rest works well enough but can get a bit slimy when using the camera over a prolonged period or in warm weather. It's not the material; it's caused by clammy hands.

The L810 takes 4x AA batteries (four of which come provided) as is usually the case in cameras at this market level. The idea is that although the batteries will run down sooner, they're more readily available in most shops. They are placed in the bottom of the camera inside the grip area. The SD memory card also goes in there. The door is slid across to open and close and it has a locking switch. The tripod bush is plastic which we expected. A rubber cover shields the HDMI, USB and mains adapter ports. The zoom rockers are both easy to use in our opinion. Neither gave more shake than the other. However, the one on the lens barrel is certainly a lot looser making it easier to use. For close subjects at full zoom, it certainly helps more.

Pre focused, shutter lag times from the Nikon Coolpix L810 are roughly the same as any other digital compact camera. It can take a shot in around 0.08 seconds. There are three shooting modes. Continuous does what it says on the tin but is pretty slow. We managed 6 six shots in ten seconds. The camera was pretty fast at first; it managed just under three shots in the first second. This slowed with only three more over a ten second time span. BSS is the Best Shot Selector. It continuously takes photos and saves them to the buffer until you take your finger off the shutter release. It then saves the  picture that has the highest amount of detail. There's also a Multi Shot 16 mode that takes 24 low resolution pictures and merges them all onto one picture. It's handy for analysing fast moving moments such as a golf swing, horse running or fast, complex machinery.

Nikon Coolpix L810 Nikon Coolpix L810
Memory Card Slot Battery Compartment

As we mentioned earlier, there's two tabs in playback. The amount of options available is much more extensive though. There are a couple of editing tools such as D-Lighting (a dynamic range enhancer) and Skin softener. The rest are for printing or organisation such as print order, slide show, rotate and copy.

In the box, the Nikon Coolpix L810 comes with a strap, 4x AA batteries, USB lead, lens cap and HDMI lead to attach the camera to your television. Of course, the end that plugs in uses analogue leads (not every one has a digital television apparently) so the digital quality is lost immediately. You can buy a HDMI lead and because not everyone could use one, we can see the position that Nikon are placed in.

The Nikon Coolpix L810 comes with a large booklet that is only actually a quick start guide. It's multi-lingual so only a small portion is in English. There are two enclosed CDs with the full manual on and Nikon ViewNX 2 for editing if you don't already have an editing suite on your computer.

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 6Mb.

One of the biggest problems we could see throughout the test of the Nikon Coolpix L810 is the image quality. When we were taking the pictures, on the screen they looked lovely. They were sharp, well exposed and blur free. Of course it's not best practice to trust the screen but it's easy - and fair - to think that you get a reasonable idea of the final outcome so that you can reshoot if necessary. With the L810 that isn't the case. We went on our way perfectly happy with what we saw on the screen. Even zooming in gave a false idea of the picture quality.


Low ISO gives a good performance with smooth results and sharp edges. The lack of noise continues through ISO 100 and 200 although at the latter stage, edge definition appears to break slightly. Edges continue to deteriorate through the mid stages but colour noise is kept at bay for the time being.

Colour starts to close in at ISO 800 with definite noise in darker areas and creeping into the mid-range. Detail starts to diminish at this high setting. By the final highest setting of ISO 1600, image quality is expectedly poor. However up until this point the processor has done a good job of keeping it out of the pictures. At the top level colour noise seeps into the image all over and detail is sparse. This is a setting to use sparingly.

ISO 80 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)


ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)


ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)


Focal Range

The Nikon Coolpix L810 has a massive 26x optical zoom which is the equivalent of 22.5-585mm in 35mm terms.




When digital cameras record in JPEG the processor sharpens the image but even then they can sometimes need a little extra push in Photoshop. The Nikon Coolpix L810 has an immense sharpening system and we found that even using the standard sharpener the picture was over cooked and we had to take it back off.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)


File Quality

The Nikon Coolpix L810's 16 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 6Mb while knocking it down to the normal setting without the star will shave off roughly 2Mb of information.

High (100% Crop)

Normal (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations

Despite the ED lenses in the Nikon Coolpix L810's barrel, we still found traces of chromatic aberration - purple fringing - in high contrast areas.

Chromatic Aberrations 1

Chromatic Aberrations 2


Chromatic Aberrations 3



We'd like to see the Nikon Coolpix L810's macro function get in that bit closer but what we do see is lots of detail in the compact flash card we tested the macro feature on. In other sample shots with more detail to the edges of the frame we noticed that image quality does drop off to a degree.


Macro (100% Crop)


The Nikon Coolpix L810 has a pop up flash and when in use it works really well. As with any flash, the closer the subject, the brighter they'll be but from a reasonable distance the results are brilliant. Nice and even with great skin tones retained on portraits.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (22.5mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (22.5mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Flash Off - Telephoto (585mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (585mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

There's not an ounce of red-eye to the degree that they simply don't have to add a red-eye reduction feature either.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)

Red Eye Reduction

Red Eye Reduction (100% Crop)


There's no manual control on the Nikon Coolpix L810 so we relied on the landscape mode in the presets. The picture was a bit too noisy for our tastes so we put it in auto and manually selected a low ISO. The results of that are marginally better but the long exposure has done some damage.

Night Landscape

Night Landscape (100% Crop)


Night Auto

Night Auto (100% Crop)

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Nikon Coolpix L810 camera, which were all taken using the 16.1 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 40 second movie is 52.6Mb in size.

Product Images

Nikon Coolpix L810

Front of the Camera

Nikon Coolpix L810

Isometric View

Nikon Coolpix L810

Isometric View

Nikon Coolpix L810

Isometric View

Nikon Coolpix L810

Rear of the Camera

Nikon Coolpix L810

Rear of the Camera / Turned On

Nikon Coolpix L810

Rear of the Camera / Shooting Mode

Nikon Coolpix L810

Rear of the Camera / Shooting Menu

Nikon Coolpix L810

Rear of the Camera / Playback Menu

Nikon Coolpix L810

Top of the Camera

Nikon Coolpix L810

Side of the Camera

Nikon Coolpix L810

Side of the Camera

Nikon Coolpix L810

Front of the Camera

Nikon Coolpix L810

Memory Card Slot

Nikon Coolpix L810
Battery Compartment


Every manufacturer releases a megazoom model to entice certain photographers into buying their brand. The Nikon Coolpix L810 would suit the outdoor rambler who likes to take pictures of wildlife without disturbing them. Alternatively the large zoom is useful for the sloth in all of us that simply can't be bothered to walk there. Whatever your persuasion, the long zoom of the Nikon Coolpix L810 will deliver. The camera looks attractive. We had the bronze model which looks a bit more brown but it's a lovely colour nonetheless. Build quality isn't the best but it's to be expected at this price point.

Where the Nikon Coolpix L810 gets let down is in the image quality section. We mentioned earlier that we looked at our point of reference (the LCD screen) and the images looked lovely. Once back on the computer, the larger screen and higher resolution monitor told a different story. While we know that the LCD shouldn't be used to determine final image quality, what else are you supposed to use on a day out? Or on holiday? The screen is relied on heavily and even when we zoomed in they looked better on the camera. Edge definition breaks down pretty quickly on the L810 which looks like it's a by-product of the noise reduction system because noise isn't present until very late on. In fact even at ISO 800, we were happy enough with the overall results.

Of course it's easy to look at Nikon - one of the most respected and best selling camera companies in the world - and think that they should be churning out mini D4s. That's not the case though and it's important to keep the price in mind when looking at the Nikon Coolpix L810's specification. If you're a budding amateur that wants to use a long tele-zoom camera without the hassle to begin with then the L810 certainly will do the trick.

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

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Nikon Coolpix L810 from around the web. »

The Nikon Coolpix L810 is a 26x super-zoom digital camera, aimed at those who want a lot of zoom but are on a budget. The L810 is available in bronze, red, blue and black for £229.00.
Read the full review » »

Some people buy digital cameras based purely on brand, specs and price, and Nikon has them in its sights with the L810. The Nikon brand carries some gravitas, and with a 26x zoom, 16-megapixel sensor, 3in 921,000-dot screen, HDMI out, a choice of four colours and a price just shy of £200 including VAT, it's bound to stand out on the shop shelves.
Read the full review » »

In recent months, the world of camera manufacturing has gone superzoom crazy. From the top end likes of the Fuji X-S1 to the budget-priced Olympus SP-620UZ, most brands have something new to sell.
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 L810
Type Compact digital camera
Effective pixels 16.1 million
Image sensor 1/2.3-in. type CCD; approx. 16.44 million total pixels
Lens 26x optical zoom, NIKKOR lens
Focal length 4.0-104.0mm (angle of view equivalent to that of 22.5-585 mm lens in 35mm [135] format)
f/-number f/3.1-5.9
Construction 12 elements in 9 groups (1 ED lens element)
Digital zoom Up to 4x (angle of view equivalent to that of approx. 2340 mm lens in 35mm [135] format)
Vibration reduction Lens shift
Autofocus (AF) Contrast-detect AF
Focus range (from lens) [W]: Approx. 50 cm (1 ft 8 in.) to infinity, [T]: Approx. 1.5 m (5 ft) to infinity Macro mode: Approx. 1 cm (0.4 in.) (when zoom is set to middle position) to infinity
Focus-area selection Center, face detection
Monitor 7.5-cm (3-in.), approx. 921k-dot, wide viewing angle TFT LCD with anti-reflection coating and 5-level brightness adjustment
Frame coverage (shooting mode) Approx. 95% horizontal and 95% vertical (compared to actual picture)
Frame coverage (playback mode) Approx. 100% horizontal and 100% vertical (compared to actual picture)
Media Internal memory (approx. 50 MB), SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card
File system DCF, Exif 2.3, DPOF, and MPF compliant
File formats Still pictures: JPEG 3D images: MPO Movies: MOV (Video: H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, Audio: LPCM stereo)
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, 3D photography), Smart Portrait, Auto
Continuous Shooting Single (default setting), Continuous (Up to about 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
ISO sensitivity (Standard output sensitivity) ISO 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600 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 1/1500 to 1 s 4 s (Fireworks show scene mode)
Aperture Electronically-controlled ND filter (-3.3 AV) selection
Range 2 steps (f/3.1 and f/9.9 [W])
Self-timer Approx. 10 s
Range (approx.) (ISO sensitivity: Auto) [W]: 0.5 to 5.0 m (1 ft 8 in. to 16 ft) [T]: 1.5 to 2.5 m (5 ft to 8 ft 2 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 mini connector (Type C) (HDMI output), DC input connector
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 Four LR6/L40 (AA-size) alkaline batteries Four FR6/L91 (AA-size) lithium batteries Four EN-MH2 rechargeable Ni-MH batteries (available separately) AC Adapter EH-67 (available separately)
Battery life Still pictures*: Approx. 300 shots when using alkaline batteries Approx. 740 shots when using lithium batteries Approx. 450 shots when using EN-MH2 batteries Movies: Approx. 1 h 50 min when using alkaline batteries (HD 720p) Approx. 5 h 15 min when using lithium batteries (HD 720p) Approx. 3 h 10 min when using EN-MH2 batteries (HD 720p)
Tripod socket 1/4 (ISO 1222)
Dimensions (W x H x D) Approx. 111.1 x 76.3 x 83.1 mm (4.4 x 3.1 x 3.3 in.) (excluding projections)
Weight Approx. 430 g (15.2 oz) (including batteries and a 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 (x4), Lens Cap LC-CP25 (with cord), USB Cable UC-E16, Audio Video Cable EG-CP16, ViewNX 2 Installer CD, Reference Manual CD
Optional accessories AC Adapter EH-67, Hand Strap AH-CP1, Rechargeable Ni-MH batteries EN-MH2-B4 (set of four EN-MH2 batteries), Battery Charger MH-73 (includes four rechargeable Ni-MH batteries EN-MH2)

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