Nikon Coolpix L25 review
Now that mobile phones are able to take respectable snaps, why would anyone bother with a low-cost dedicated camera? There are two reasons we can think of. One is to have an optical zoom, a feature that designers have yet to squeeze inside the tiny proportions of a mobile phone. The other is that not everyone owns a camera-phone. There are lots of people who are too young for, can't afford or simply don't want a snazzy smartphone, but who still want a camera.
The Nikon L25 caters for all of these groups. It's cheap, simple enough for the most ardent technophobe to use and comes with a 5x zoom lens. There's no optical stabilisation, though – a feature that's rare at this price but not unheard of. It doesn't have an orientation sensor, either, so portrait-shaped photos must be rotated manually on the PC. The bulbous plastic body and use of AA batteries make no secret of its low price, but Nikon has still managed to fit a 3in screen into its petite dimensions. It even comes with a two-year warranty.
The controls are basic even compared to other point-and-shoot cameras, with no control over the ISO speed, autofocus area or metering. Exposure compensation and white balance are included, though, so basic corrections for tricky lighting conditions are possible.
Performance puts many pricier cameras to shame. It switched on and captured a shot in a shade over two seconds, and subsequent shots were 1.4 seconds apart. Continuous mode ran at 1.4fps, slowing to 0.7fps after five shots. Autofocus was generally quick and reliable, but the lack of an autofocus-assist lamp meant it sometimes struggled in low light, taking up to two seconds when the zoom was fully extended. It also struggled for flash photography, where the use of AA batteries meant we had to wait for 12 seconds for the flash to charge up between shots. On the upside, AA batteries last a lot longer than the wafer-thin Li-ion batteries that come with other low-cost cameras – Nikon claims 370 shots from a pair of 2300mAh NiMH batteries.
It's great to find HD video recording here. On pricier cameras we'd complain about the 720p rather than 1080p resolution, the inefficient M-JPEG encoding and the inability to zoom and refocus while recording, but at this price these are fair compromises. Picture quality was a little noisy indoors but details were sharp. With a dedicated record button and clip lengths up to 15 minutes, it's not a bad effort for a £60 camera.
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