Steve's Conclusion

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Steve's SnapShot
Thumbnail image for L610_BK_1000.jpg
  • 16-Megapixel Imaging Sensor
  • 3.0-Inch, 460,000 dot LCD Screen
  • 14x NIKKOR Optical zoom lens: 25-350mm (35mm equivalent)
  • Optical VR Image Stabilization
  • Dedicated Video Record Button
  • Easy Auto mode
  • 1080p HD video recording
  • HDMI output
  • Burst Shooting Mode
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card compatible
Pros
  • Easy Auto shooting mode is accurate and easy in all situations
  • Dedicated Video Capture Button is always ready to record
  • 14x optical zoom lens is ready for any shooting scenario you come across
  • Good image quality 
  • 1cm Macro is amazing for extreme closeups
  • Optical VR helps keep your images sharp
  • Nice, Bright 3.0-inch LCD
  • AA-type batteries are available anywhere
  • Competitively priced
Cons
  • HD movies look blotchy and do not run smoothly on a computer
  • Some noise in all images - Normal with most 16-Megapixel image sensors
  • Flash is not very powerful and is slow to charge from AA-type batteries
  • No HDMI output for HD movies on an HDTV
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 4.0 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused  = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = approx. 2/10 to 7/10 of a second
  • Shot to shot delay wo/flash = 0.98 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash = 4.22 seconds
  • Sequential burst =  2.5fps for 4 images
  • All tests were taken using a SanDisk Extreme UHS-1 SDHC memory card, Auto Mode, ISO auto, Flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
The Nikon CoolPix L610 is an affordable and versatile compact digicam. This comfortable digicam performed okay and produced good images. It is a descent point-n-shoot for anyone that is not looking for anything fancy.
Pick This Up If...
You are looking for an affordable, easy to use and versatile digicam. It is always ready to go with AA-type batteries, so you are always able to shoot.
The Nikon CoolPix L610 is a compact, versatile and affordable digicam. Designed for an audience that is looking to just point-n-shoot, the L610's loaded with automatic shooting modes, including Nikon's Easy Auto mode and Smart Portrait mode; each designed to take care of ALL of the camera's settings for you, allowing you capture great images without worry. Sporting a 14x NIKKOR optical zoom lens, 16-Megapixel high sensitivity CMOS imaging sensor, optical VR image stabilization and full 1080p HD video capture, you will find all of the great features you would look for in a much more complicated camera. Nikon has also continued to stay away from a proprietary battery and stuck with AA-type batteries for ease and convenience. 

While it is not the most compact camera on the market, it is one of the most comfortable and easiest to handle and operate that we have used in a while. It has a great body shape and very easy control layout that lets you control and shoot with ease. Nikon has also included a very user-friendly menu system that is easy for everyone. Framing and composing images is a snap with the 3.0-inch, 460,000 dot LCD screen. It has an anti-reflective coating and 5 levels of adjustable brightness that allow you to easily see it any lighting condition. 

Our outdoor sample images show that the camera handles its exposure and color settings very well. Our subject in each image was exposed properly and color reproduction was very accurate. We did notice that there was some softness along the right side of some of the images and there is a little noise in the darker areas of the images; but overall, the camera did very well. Even chromatic aberrations were controlled very well.

The L610's 14x NIKKOR optical zoom lens provides a tremendous amount of versatility, allowing you capture vast landscapes at the wide end, while having a telephoto end that will get you much closer to your subject than you would imagine. You will have no problems singling out an individual from a group or getting up close to a distant object; when most other cameras will not. It also, amazingly, allows the camera to focus as close as 1cm when set to macro mode. This allows you to get up close and personal with small objects.

When we look at our indoor images, we see very similar results to the outdoor samples. Looking closely at the images show us the really fine details, such as the stitching in the flag, are not as sharp as we would like to see; but overall the image is very clear. We have no trouble reading any of the text found throughout the image and everything else is pretty clear. At ISO 400, all of the fine details in the image have disappeared, and ISO 800 shows a big increase in the amount of noise within the image. Anything over ISO 800 is unacceptable. Assisting with your low-light and indoor photography is the pop-up TTL flash. With a range of up to 19ft. (W) or 10ft. (T) at ISO auto, you will want to stay pretty close to your subjects in order to keep the ISO settings down. 

In Easy Auto mode, the camera did pretty well detecting the scene, but did struggle a little when it came to following a detected face. This can be seen in our sample, as the face was detected, but it is easy to see that the focus is on the shirt and not clearly on the face. It is not that far off, and would most likely not be noticeable in most prints, but it is something noticeable if you look closely. Both the exposure and color is good, giving a well exposed and realistic looking image. The red-eye reduction preflash removed most of the redness from the subjects eyes, just leaving a little around the reflection of the flash itself. 

Thanks to the dedicated video recording button on the back of the camera, capturing home movies has never been easier. Unfortunately, the video and audio quality from the L610 is not that great. In our samples we saw that the videos were blotchy and lacked a lot of detail, especially when there is a lot of movement and action. The stereo microphone is very sensitive and picks up everything around the camera, creating a lot of background noise. If your subject is too far away, it will not capture any sounds from what they are doing or saying. There is also a basic editing option built into the camera that allows you to trim your movies without the need for a computer, which can be a huge timesaver.

Nikon has left it up to two AA-type batteries to power the L610. With the different types of AA batteries you will get different results. Lithium batteries will give you the most shots from a single set with approx. 470, NiHM can reach up to 330 shots and Alkaline tops out around 120. The big benefit of the NiMH batteries is that they are rechargeable, so you can get hundreds of uses out of them instead of throwing them away every time. This is definitely a big money saver in the long run. During our tests, we were able to capture over 100 images and videos with two of our Powerex 2700mAh rechargeable NiMH batteries.

Bottom Line - The Nikon CoolPix L610 is a very versatile and affordable compact digicam. Sporting some great features like the 14x NIKKOR optical zoom lens, 16-Megapixel CMOS, Easy Auto mode and full 1080p HD video capture, there isn't much this camera can't do. With decent overall image quality and performance, this is an ok option for the $249.95 USD suggested price tag.




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