Nikon Coolpix L840 Review

May 20, 2015 | Jack Baker | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star


The Nikon Coolpix L840 replaces last year’s Coolpix L830, but sticks to the same recipe of offering a chunky bridge camera design with a relatively large optical zoom range for modest money.

The L840 has been treated to a couple of updates over its predecessor. Optical zoom is boosted to 38x (up from 34x in the L830) and though there’s same 22.5mm-equivalent wide angle focal length, telephoto reach is now a 35mm-equivalent 855mm. The lens also features lens-shift Vibration Reduction that’s essential for giving you a fighting chance at capturing sharp shots when zoomed in.

Image capture is still taken care of by a 16.0-megapixel CMOS sensor, but Nikon has made some processing improvements. The sensitivity range is now up one stop to ISO6400 and the L840 will continuously shoot seven shots at 7.4 frames per second where the L830 could only capture five images at 6.7fps.

But the most notable new addition to the L840 is its Wi-Fi connectivity for remote camera control and wireless image sharing with a smartphone or tablet. NFC pairing is also present, making it a doddle to set up a wireless connection with an NFC-enabled smart device.

Other features include a tiltable high-resolution 3.0” monitor and nine filter effects, plus an advanced Smart Portrait mode and Glamour Retouch post processing effects to flatter shots of friends and family.

The Nikon Coolpix L840 retails for £169.99 / $249.95.

Ease of Use

Although Nikon markets the L840 as a bridge camera that’s designed to be a middle ground in performance and control between a compact camera and a DSLR, that’s somewhat stretching the genre. The L840 may bear a passing visual resemblance to a DSLR, but that’s where the similarities end. In terms of creative and manual control, the L840 is much the same as Nikon’s shirt pocket-sized Coolpix S3700. However, this does make it far easier to use than you might expect.

Not only is the control layout almost identical to a typical point and shoot compact camera; the Nikon Coolpix L840’s chunky form also adds to its ease of use. Although the gap between the hand grip and lens barrel may be slightly narrow for some, the grippy rubber coating makes the camera feel secure in the hand and there’s a decent-sized rear thumb rest, too.

You’ll have no trouble composing high or low angle shots either, as the 3.0” screen will tilt 90 degrees up or down. It can’t flip 180 degrees to face forward though, so you’ll still have to guess the perfect selfie angle. The screen itself boasts the same specs as the outgoing L830’s monitor, with a high 921,000-dot resolution and very good viewing angles that make it easy to judge exposure and colour accuracy. However the screen still isn’t touch sensitive, and to cut costs, there’s no electronic viewfinder either.

Nikon Coolpix L820
Front of the Nikon Coolpix L840

A conventional mode dial is also omitted from the Nikon Coolpix L840 so you’ll need to press the Scene button on the rear panel to change shooting modes. You can choose between the default, scene-detecting Scene Auto Selector mode, as well as eighteen individually-selectable scene modes, including a sweep panorama function. The Scene button also accesses the L840’s nine filter effects (see examples in the Image Quality section of the review), plus a Short Movie Show function that’ll automatically compile brief video clips into a thirty-second movie with customisable backing music and special effects.

You can also select Nikon’s Smart Portrait system via the Scene button when shooting a portrait. The camera will automatically smooth skin, apply virtual foundation make-up, soften the entire image and adjust colour saturation and brightness. You choose the intensity for each setting beforehand by pressing the arrow buttons on the rear directional dial. The system works surprisingly accurately, although it’s best to steer clear of some of the more extreme settings if you want flattering shots rather than cartoons.

Alternatively, if you’d prefer to apply these effects to a saved image, find the shot in playback mode and press the Menu button on the rear panel. Scroll down to Glamour Retouch and even more touch-up options are available, including chin size adjustment, skin glare reduction, adjustment of eye size, colour, whiteness and under-eye bags, plus options to redden cheeks, add mascara and apply lipstick. Providing your subject is directly facing the camera and fills most of the frame, these effects are targeted accurately at their relevant facial features and can be quite useful, but are great for a laugh as well.

Nikon Coolpix L820
Rear of the Nikon Coolpix L840

The final option available via the Scene button is the Auto mode. This is equivalent to the programmable auto setting on most cameras, and allows you to adjust options like white balance, ISO sensitivity and autofocus area using the Menu button. The camera’s continuous shooting mode is also found here, as are image size and quality options. Switch back the default Scene Auto Selector mode and only the latter can be adjusted when pressing the Menu button.

The only common shooting variable not operated via the Menu button is exposure compensation. This is altered by pressing the right side of the circular directional ring on the rear panel and provides up to +/- 2.0EV of exposure compensation, which is reset to normal when you turn the camera off. Pressing this control ring down will select macro focussing when the L840 is in standard Auto mode, and the remaining control ring functions adjust the self-timer and flash options.

The flash itself is a pop-up design as you’d find on a typical DSLR and needs to be manually ejected using a release button next to your left hand. This is quite useful as when the flash is down there’s no chance it’ll fire when you’re not expecting it.

Nikon Coolpix L820
Top of the Nikon Coolpix L840

Also sited near your left hand on the lens barrel is rocker switch that acts as a secondary zoom control. Where the main zoom ring encircling the shutter release button can make the lens zoom at two speeds, the rocker switch only zooms slowly, making it useful for fine compositional adjustments. In front of this is the Snap-back button. If you’ve ever used a camera with a lens as long as the L840’s 38x optic, you’ll know how easy it is to lose track of a subject when zoomed in to the max. By pressing and holding the Snap-back button, the camera zooms out slightly, allowing you to see a larger field of view to help find your subject again. Release the button and the lens automatically zooms back in to its previous focal length.

Move to the top of the Nikon Coolpix L840 and you’ll find a control behind the power button which wasn’t present on the L830. This enables the camera’s new Wi-Fi feature and instantly activates a wireless hotspot for your smartphone or tablet to connect to. You’ll need to download the Nikon Wireless Mobile Utility app (available for Android and Apple) for your mobile device to make the system work. If your smartphone or tablet is NFC-enabled, you can complete the connection by simply tapping it against the L840, or otherwise you’ll need to connect manually be selecting the camera’s wireless hotspot in your device’s Wi-Fi settings. Now you’ll be able to remotely control the L840, use its optical zoom and snap images. There’s only a small time lag for controls to take effect, and the wireless range is long enough for most practical scenarios. You can also download images from the L840 to your mobile device for viewing or sharing, with a full-resolution photo taking around eight seconds to transfer.

Nikon Coolpix L820
The Nikon Coolpix L840 In-hand

That’s pretty rapid, and the Nikon Coolpix L840 is also no slouch when shooting. It’ll turn on and snap a shot in 1.4 seconds and is fast to focus in good light. The camera can hesitate a little when zoomed in, and low light focussing also takes a small speed hit, but generally the L840’s autofocus system performs well.

Under the camera lurks a plastic tripod mount and a single flap covering the memory card and battery compartment. This design can be problematic when you want to remove the SD card and instead end up with four AA batteries at your feet. Then there’s the issue of the power source itself. Granted, AA batteries are readily available and mean you don’t have to hunt down a charging point to power up a typical Li-ion battery, but the relatively low price tag of the L840 is slightly less appealing once you factor the extra £20/€25/$30 you’ll need to part with to get some cost-effective NiMH rechargeable cells. At least with a pack of these fuelling the camera they’ll power up to 740 shots per charge, which is a considerably better performance than most rival cameras, whilst regular alkaline cells are capable of a very healthy 590-shot lifespan.

Image Quality

Whilst the L840 may look a bit like a DSLR from the outside, inside is a tiny 1/2.3” image sensor just like you’d find in most compact cameras. As a result, image quality is no better than a camera a fraction of the size, but that’s not to say the L840 performs badly.

Photos snapped in daylight are vibrant, accurately exposed and look good when viewed at typical sizes. However, zoom in to 100% image size and the camera’s small-sensor limitations are evident. Detail isn’t quite as crisp as you might expect and is slightly smeared to a point that there can be a subtle watercolour effect.

This phenomenon becomes more apparent when shooting distant detail in landscapes, and also if you’re zoomed in, where the camera tends to ramp up the sensor sensitivity (and therefore increases its detail-smearing noise reduction processing) to help avoid camera shake.

Shooting in low light also causes a loss of detail due to overzealous noise reduction. Consequently grain is well subdued at ISO800, though colour speckling is apparent in areas of neutral tones. It’s slightly more of the same at ISO1600, but images taken at this sensitivity are still usable as detail loss isn’t too apparent when viewing at 50% image size or smaller. Even at ISO3200 noise levels aren’t distractingly high, and the L840 also improves on the outgoing L830 by adding an ISO6400 setting. This, however, is better for marketing than real-world use, such is huge image quality reduction caused by excessive grain, detail smoothing and low colour saturation.

There are few flaws with the L840’s 38 zoom lens though. Only a hint of barrel distortion is visible when shooting geometric subjects at maximum wide angle and there’s no noticeable pincushion effect when zoomed in. Corner sharpness is also respectable, however chromatic aberration (purple fringing) is easily visible around areas of high contrast.


The Nikon Coolpix L840 has seven sensitivity settings ranging from ISO125 to ISO6400 at full resolution.

ISO 125 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso125.jpg iso200.jpg

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

iso400.jpg iso800.jpg

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

iso1600.jpg iso3200.jpg

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)


Focal Range

The L840’s 38x zoom lens achieves a maximum wide-angle focal length equivalent to 22.5mm, and is capable of a telephoto reach of 855mm (in 35mm-camra terms).



focal_range1.jpg focal_range2.jpg

File Quality

Shooting the Nikon Coolpix L840 at its maximum 16.0MP resolution with Fine JPEG compression quality produces images around 7MB in size. You can choose to downgrade to Normal quality at this resolution, whereby the file size roughly halves.

Fine (100% Crop)

Normal (100% Crop)

quality_fine.jpg quality_normal.jpg


The L840’s lens will focus as close as 1cm from your subject when the lens is at maximum wide-angle, and it even manages to focus fairly closely when zoomed in.


Macro (100% Crop)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg


The pop-up flash on the L840 has four settings: Auto, Auto with red-eye reduction, Fill flash & Slow sync. Shooting a white surface from a distance of 1.5m shows the flash provides even illumination with the lens zoomed in, though some minor vignetting is visible in the wide-angle shot.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (22.5mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (22.5mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Flash Off - Telephoto (855mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (855mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Whether the flash is set to standard Auto mode or Auto with red-eye reduction, the camera successfully avoids any trace of red-eye.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)
flash_on.jpg flash_on1.jpg

Red Eye Reduction

Red Eye Reduction (100% Crop)

flash_redeye.jpg flash_redeye1.jpg

Vibration Reduction

Getting sharp shots at the kind of long focal lengths the L840’s lens is capable of would be almost impossible without Vibration Reduction. This scene was captured at 1/13-second with VR enabled and 1/10-second with the system off. With identical aperture and ISO sensitivity settings, Vibration Reduction has made all the difference between a blurred and crisp image.

Vibration Reduction On (100% Crop)

Vibration Reduction Off (100% Crop)

antishake1.jpg antishake1a.jpg


This mode includes two sub settings: Tripod and Handheld. In Tripod mode the L840 captured this scene at the base ISO125 sensitivity with a 1-second exposure to reduce image noise and maximise detail. In Handheld mode the results are similar to leaving the camera set to Auto, as it resorts to ISO1600 to achieve a faster shutter speed.

Night Handheld

Night Handheld (100% Crop)

night_handheld.jpg night_handheld1.jpg

Night Tripod

Night Tripod (100% Crop)

night_handheld.jpg night_handheld1.jpg


The L840 offers nine filter effects, all of which are previewed live and recorded at full resolution. Your options are: Soft, Nostalgic sepia, High-contrast monochrome, Selective colour, Pop, Cross Process, Toy camera effect 1, Toy camera effect 2, and Mirror.


Nostalgic Sepia

effects_01.jpg effects_02.jpg

High Contrast Monochrome

Selective Color

effects_03.jpg effects_04.jpg


Cross Process

effects_05.jpg effects_06.jpg

Toy Camera 1

Toy Camera 2

effects_07.jpg effects_08.jpg



Easy Panorama

The L840’s panorama mode (hidden away in the ‘Scene’ setting on the mode dial), enables you to take 180-degree or 360-degree pans. Results are generally free from any stitching anomalies and are fairly detailed. However, the final size is a relatively small 4800x920 resolution for standard 180-degree pans, and 9600x920 for wide 360-degree rotations. The system also occasionally throws a wobbly at the start of a pan and fails to record.



Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Nikon Coolpix L840 camera, which were all taken using the 16 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 22 second movie is 43.3Mb in size.

Product Images

Nikon Coolpix L840

Front of the Nikon Coolpix L840

Nikon Coolpix L840

Front of the Nikon Coolpix L840 / Pop-up Flash

Nikon Coolpix L840

Side of the Nikon Coolpix L840

Nikon Coolpix L840

Side of the Nikon Coolpix L840

Nikon Coolpix L840

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix L840

Nikon Coolpix L840

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix L840 / Image Displayed

Nikon Coolpix L840

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix L840 / Main Menu

Nikon Coolpix L840

Rear of the Nikon Coolpix L840 / Tilting LCD Screen

Nikon Coolpix L840

Top of the Nikon Coolpix L840

Nikon Coolpix L840

Bottom of the Nikon Coolpix L840

Nikon Coolpix L840

Side of the Nikon Coolpix L840

Nikon Coolpix L840

Side of the Nikon Coolpix L840

Nikon Coolpix L840

Front of the Nikon Coolpix L840

Nikon Coolpix L840

Front of the Nikon Coolpix L840

Nikon Coolpix L840
Memory Card Slot / Battery Compartment


The Nikon Coolpix L840 is a decent all-rounder that performs well and generates reasonable image quality, providing you don’t scrutinise too closely and spot the slightly disappointing detail levels. It’s fast to focus, exposes accurately and has a simple control layout that just as easy to learn and operate as a basic compact camera.

However, this is both a blessing and a curse, as you’re effectively carrying a camera with similar performance, features and control as a svelte Nikon Coolpix S3700, but with far more weight and bulk. The two rewards for this are a 38x zoom range and great battery life. But even these plus points aren’t enough to guarantee the L840 success. Firstly, that extra battery life comes at the expense of having to purchase AA batteries, where most of the L840’s rivals include a rechargeable Li-ion power pack.

And then there’s that 38x optical zoom. Sure, it’s plenty for most scenarios, but you can get more for your money. The L840 has an RRP of £210/$300, but can be had for around £170/$250 if you shop around. Canon’s PowerShot SX520 HS features a 42x optic and is pricier at around £200, but Fuji’s 50x FinePix S9200 can be had for just £170. The same money will also buy you a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H400 which boasts a whopping 63x optical zoom plus an electronic viewfinder.

The L840’s relatively modest zoom range also makes it vulnerable to the latest crop of superzoom compact cameras like the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60 and Sony Cyber-shot HX60 with their 30x optics, the latter of which is now available for around £200.

It’s therefore tough to recommend the Nikon Coolpix L840 over such compelling competition, but this is still a capable camera that doesn’t do anything badly. It’s a sound choice should you value chunky ergonomics over outright portability, providing the price drops over the coming months to undercut rivals with a greater zoom range.

4 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4
Features 4
Ease-of-use 4.5
Image quality 3.5
Value for money 3

Main Rivals

Listed below are some of the rivals of the Nikon Coolpix L840.

Canon PowerShot SX520 HS

The Canon PowerShot SX520 HS is a bridge super-zoom camera with a 42x zoom lens. The Canon SX520 also offers 16 megapixels, a 3-inch LCD screen, full manual controls and 1080p HD movies. Read our in-depth Canon PowerShot SX520 HS review now...

Fujifilm FinePix S9200

The Fujifilm FinePix S9200 is a new bridge camera with a massive 50x, 24-1200mm zoom lens. The Fujifilm S9200 also offers full 1080p movies at 60fps with stereo sound, a 3 inch LCD screen, electronic viewfinder, 10ps burst shooting and a 16 megapixel back-illuminated EXR sensor. Read our Fujifilm FinePix S9200 review now...

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ30

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ30 is an affordable super-zoom camera featuring a 35x zoom lens with a huge focal range of 25-875mm. Other highlights of the Panasonic LZ30 include a 3 inch LCD screen, 720p HD movies, Manual shooting mode and a 16.1 megapixel CCD sensor. Read our in-depth Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ30 review now...

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H400

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H400 is a new superzoom compact camera with a incredible 63x zoom lens. The Sony H400 also features a 20 megapixel CCD sensor, 720p HD video with stereo sound, 3-inch screen, electronic viewfinder and a range of manual shooting modes. Read our Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H400 review to find out if it's the right super-zoom camera for you...

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Nikon Coolpix L840 from around the web. »

The Nikon Coolpix L840 is a superzoom bridge camera with a focus on value. Its main selling point is its 38x optical zoom range, which improves on the 34x lens in the outgoing L830. The new camera also gets built-in Wi-Fi with NFC pairing and 1080p Full HD video recording.
Read the full review »


Effective pixels 16.0 million (Image processing may reduce the number of effective pixels.)
Image sensor 1/2.3-in. type CMOS, Total pixels: approx. 16.76 million
Lens NIKKOR lens with 38x optical zoom
Focal length 4.0 – 152 mm (angle of view equivalent to that of 22.5 – 855 mm lens in 35 mm [135] format)
F-number f/3 – 6.5
Lens construction 12 elements in 9 groups (3 ED lens elements)
Magnification Up to 4x (angle of view equivalent to that of approx. 3420 mm lens in 35 mm [135] format)
Vibration reduction Lens-shift VR (still images), Lens shift and electronic VR (movies)
Autofocus Contrast-detect AF
Focus range [W]: Approx. 30 cm (1 ft) to infinity, [T]: Approx. 3.5 m (11 ft) to infinity, Macro mode: Approx. 1 cm (0.4 in.) to infinity (wide-angle position) (All distances measured from center of front surface of lens)
AF-area mode Face priority, manual with 99 focus areas, center, subject tracking, target finding AF
Monitor 7.5 cm (3 in.) diagonal, Approx.921k-dot, wide viewing angle TFT LCD with anti-reflection coating and 5-level brightness adjustment, tiltable approx. 85° downward, approx. 90° upward
Frame coverage Approx. 99% horizontal and vertical (compared to actual picture)
Frame coverage (playback mode) Approx. 99% horizontal and vertical (compared to actual picture)
Storage media SD, SDHC, SDXC, Internal memory (approx. 20 MB)
File system DCF and Exif 2.3 compliant
Storage file formats Still images: JPEG, 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], 1:1 [3456 x 3456]
ISO sensitivity ISO 125 – 1600, ISO 3200, 6400 (available when using Auto mode)
Exposure metering Matrix, center-weighted (digital zoom less than 2x), spot (digital zoom 2x or more)
Exposure control Programmed auto exposure and exposure compensation (–2.0 – +2.0 EV in steps of 1/3 EV)
Shutter type Mechanical and CMOS electronic shutter
Shutter speed 1/1500 – 1s, 1/4000 s (maximum speed during high-speed continuous shooting), 4 s (Fireworks show scene mode)
Self-timer Can be selected from 10 s and 2 s
Aperture Electronically-controlled ND filter (–2 AV) selection
Aperture range 2 steps (f/3 and f/6 [W])
Built-in flash Yes
Flash range (approx.) [W]: 0.5 – 6.9 m (1 ft 8 in.– 22 ft), [T]: 3.5 m (11 ft)
Flash control TTL auto flash with monitor preflashes
USB Hi-Speed USB, Supports Direct Print (PictBridge) Audio/video output connector (NTSC or PAL can be selected)
HDMI output HDMI micro connector (Type D)
Wi-Fi (Wireless LAN) standards IEEE 802.11b/g/n (standard wireless LAN protocol)
Wi-Fi (Wireless LAN) operating frequency 2412 – 2462 MHz (1 - 11 channels)
Wi-Fi (Wireless LAN) range (line of sight) Approx. 10 m (10 yd)
Wi-Fi (Wireless LAN) data rates (actual measured values) IEEE 802.11b: 5 Mbps IEEE 802.11g: 20 Mbps IEEE 802.11n: 20 Mbps
Wi-Fi (Wireless LAN) security OPEN/WPA2
Wi-Fi (Wireless LAN) access protocols Infrastructure
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 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 Approx. 590 shots when using alkaline batteries, Approx. 1240 shots when using lithium batteries, Approx. 740 shots when using EN-MH2 batteries
Actual battery life for movie recording Approx. 1 h 35 min when using alkaline batteries, Approx. 4 h 30 min when using lithium batteries, Approx. 2 h 30 min when using EN-MH2 batteries
Tripod socket 1/4 (ISO 1222)
Dimensions (W x H x D) Approx. 113.5 x 78.3 x 96.0 mm (4.5 x 3.1 x 3.8 in.) (excluding projections)
Weight Approx. 538 g ( 1 lb 3.0 oz) (including batteries and memory card)
Operating environment - temperature 0°C – 40°C (32°F – 104°F)
Operating environment - humidity 85% or less (no condensation)
Supplied accessories LR6/L40 (AA-size) alkaline batteries (×4)3, Lens Cap LC-CP31 (with cord), USB Cable UC-E16, Camera Strap

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