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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Nikon Coolpix L2


Nikon Coolpix L2 Review

Review Date: May 15, 2006

Category: Point-and-Shoot

Nikon Coolpix L2



Monday, April 24, 2006 - Here's what I receive in the box:

  • Coolpix L2
  • No Memory Card included, but 23MB of internal memory [Nikon sent me an optional 256MB SD memory card for the review]
  • Wrist Strap
  • 2 AA NiMH Rechargeable Batteries and Battery Charger MH-71 with Power Cable [for Canada, may differ for US and other countries]
  • Interface Cables: A/V; USB
  • English and French Instruction Manuals: Quick Start Guide; Nikon Guide to Digital Photography
  • Software CDs: PictureProject 1.6

The Nikon Coolpix L2 is the top model in Nikon's entry-level 'Life' line, which also includes the L3 (5.0MP) and L4 (4.0MP). The camera's naming convention can cause confusion, with users easily assuming that the L4 would be the higher model than the L3 or L2, but it's the other way round.

When I first saw the Nikon Coolpix L2 in a camera store window display, I was immediately drawn to the simple design and slim line. It looks bigger in pictures than it is actually.

I was not able to run my usual tests with the Nikon L2 simply because it is mostly automated -- you can only dial in an exposure compensation and select White Balance -- and lack slow enough shutter speeds. This is not surprising since it is targeted to entry-level point-and-shooters.

I was plesantly surprised to see included in the box two rechargeable AA NiMH batteries and a recharger. A word of caution to readers in the US and other countries: the rechargeable batteries may apply only to Canada since the US specifications list 2 AA Alkaline (non-rechargeable) batteries and no recharger. Whatever type of batteries you use, the battery life is excellent: approx. 180 shots with alkaline, 600 shots with lithium, or 320 shots with NiMH (CIPA standard).

The Nikon L2's image quality varies from good to very good. At low ISOs (i.e. in well lighted environments such as "sunny outdoors"), detail is good and image quality is very good.

The main weak point of the Nikon L2 has to be its shutter lag. At 1 sec., and frequently approaching 2 sec., it is just too high for candid shots. Landscape shots where nothing is moving is not a problem, but pictures of people will be challenging if you just point and press the shutter release button.

The trick (in fact, a good habit that all knowledgeable photographers use) is to pre-focus by half-press of the shutter release button to lock the autofocus first (since this is where most of the lag resides), then fully press when you want to take the picture. With pre-focusing, shutter lag is then reduced to practically negligible.

It is however highly doubtful that the targeted audience will use the pre-focusing technique often and may well end up disappointed with their purchase. But for landscape use, it should not pose a problem.

Nikon is usually known for excellent macro capability, but this is not the case with the Coolpix L2. 10 cm (3.9 in.) is not that close, plus the camera has problems locking focus. In fact, I have to step back and keep trying until I get focus lock confirmation. I find that it is easier to zoom max. and step back to at least 30cm (1 ft.) for better macro coverage and focus lock.

As usual, Nikon includes easy-to-use features to help the beginner get the picture in common situations and when the situation is less than ideal: 11 scene modes, plus 4 assist; D-Lighting to brighten areas that are too dark; In-Camera Red-Eye Fix; Blur Warning (analyses the picture you just took to determine if it's in focus); and Best Shot Selector.

The Nikon L2 is PictBridge-compatible so you can print directly to a PictBridge-enabled printer.

Nikon PictureProject 1.6

Nikon PictureProject 1.6

The Nikon PictureProject software is now version 1.6. PictureProject is quite good, allowing the usual basic image editing: you can remove red-eye and edit the photo as to brightness, color booster (for people or nature), sharpness, straighten, photo effects (B&W, Sepia) and D-Lighting.

D-Lighting increases brightness (Low, Normal or High level) to the dark areas of your image. D-Lighting can be applied in camera, but you cannot decide on which level to choose (the camera decides for you) and, like digital zoom, it is really a post-processing action so you don't have to commit yourself to a particular level in camera (though a copy of the image is made, which takes memory card space). Since you can apply D-Lighting at any time, what I recommend is to apply D-Lighting to an image in PictureProject (unless you are printing directly from camera to printer).

For Canada, Nikon has an exclusive 2-year warranty on the Coolpix L2 (as long as it is purchased from a Nikon Canada Authorized Dealer).

The Nikon Coolpix L2 is strictly entry-level and should make a great present for a first-time user. It is slim, light, easy-to-use -- and very affordable. Recommended for "sunny outdoors" use.

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