Nikon COOLPIX L610: Not Much To Talk About

 
Nikon COOLPIX L610

Nikon COOLPIX L610

In a market where features are as important as performance, is the Nikon COOLPIX L610 the best option you can get? Chandni Gajria finds out.

What should one expect from a basic compact camera? Plenty of features? Quality in terms of stills and video? Or just plain value for money? After testing the Nikon COOLPIX L610, I sat down to see which boxes it ticks perfectly.

Features
The 16MP L610 is targeted at the beginner or the hobbyist who wants to start shooting a variety of subjects, but also wants to have some fun with the camera. With no manual control, this is obviously a camera that is for the person who is content with just point-andshoot photography.

The L610 comes with 19 different Scene modes. The Auto mode is incorrectly named. It is actually a Program mode where the camera allows you to override certain settings like ISO, exposure compensation and White Balance. It is the Easy Auto mode which is the completely automatic one.

Like most of Nikon’s L–series cameras, the emphasis is on a large zoom range. However, there are other cameras that offer much more zoom in just about thousand rupees more—they are just a little more bulky. The 14x zoom lens of the L610 offers an equivalent focal length of 25–350mm with Vibration Reduction.

The core technology of the L610 is very standard and the camera has a regular 1/2.3-inch back-illuminated CMOS sensor. Fun features include a 3D mode that asks the user to shoot two photos by changing the perspective slightly, and a panoramashooting mode that actually records a complete 360° view.

Handling
The L610 has a plastic body and though the build quality is not very inspiring, its design is rather intuitive. Its LCD has a resolution of 4,60,000 dots, which is decent, but not the best at this price point.

The camera is easy to use and thus, well suited for its target audience. However, casual users often shoot with just one hand, and the placement of the flash switch slider is not too convenient for one-handed operation. That said, it must be appreciated that the flash activation mechanism is quite smooth, unlike other cameras of this class.

The rest of the camera is simple and clean with the top panel featuring only a power switch and the zoom rocker. The four-way controller can be used to adjust exposure compensation, quick access to macro mode and self timer. Also, the camera allows you to choose from various flash settings like fill in flash or slow sync (only available in Auto mode).

What is missing is a wheel dial that could have eased the process of navigating into the menus. Currently, the interface is all buttons and the buttons of the four-way controller are not very smooth. So for instance, if you need to adjust the exposure compensation to -1, one needs to press a button as many as four times!

Performance
Unlike many basic compact cameras, the L610 is pretty quick in starting up and takes about less than two seconds to switch on. The AF of the camera too, is pretty good and faster than many superzoom cameras. It suffers a little in low light, but that is to be expected of any compact camera.

The image quality is where we were disappointed. The camera shows plenty of compression artefacts and the quality of the lens is passable. There is a bit of fringing and the corners are really soft. Due to this, even images shot at the lowest ISO are not tack sharp. The high ISO performance is not too bad, with ISO 800 not giving too much noise.

Conclusion
The Nikon COOLPIX L610 was meant to be a simple, fun camera. But in an age of cell phones, a camera ought to do more than just offer a few scene modes. With no touchscreen or WiFi (both of which are available at a lower price point), we find it difficult for someone to be tempted.

If it is zoom that one needs, you would rather look at the Panasonic LZ20 that has 21x zoom and extensive manual control, for just a slightly higher price tag. All this could have been salvaged had the image quality been excellent, but with a ‘just about all right’ tag, it is difficult for the L610 to shine through.

The 14x zoom of the camera comes handy while shooting from afar. Exposure: 1/100sec at f/4.9 Chandni Gajria (ISO 125). Photograph/Chandni Gajria

The 14x zoom of the camera comes handy while shooting from afar. Exposure: 1/100sec at f/4.9 Chandni Gajria (ISO 125). Photograph/Chandni Gajria

Final Ratings
Features
14x optical zoom, Full HD video, 3D mode, Easy Panorama
23/30

Performance
Fast AF, quick start up, soft images at low ISOs
26/35

Build Quality
Inconvenient four-way controller
12/15

Ergonomics
Annoying power button, touchscreen not as fluid, simple menu, high-resolution LCD
12/15

Warranty & Support
Two year warranty, limited outlets
2/5

OVERALL: 75%
Value For Money: 2.5/5

Who should buy it?
We will not recommend this compact camera to any kind of user.

Why?
Besides simplicity and zoom, the L610 falls short in several aspects. It does not have manual control, the image quality is average and there aren’t many standout features.

Tags: Chandni Gajria, february 2013, L610 review, Nikon COOLPIX L610, Nikon COOLPIX L610 review