Designed for the user who wants a simple life, the Nikon Coolpix L14 offers 7Mp and 3x optical zoom in a neat, plastic body. It's the larger version of the Coolpix L11
with a million more pixels and larger internal memory, but retains the AA battery compatibility and screen size.
Nikon Coolpix L14 Specification
- Sensor: CCD - 7.1Mp
- Image Size: 3072 × 2304 Pixels
- Lens: 38-114mm f/3.1-5.9 (3x zoom)
- Focus: Auto
- Exposure: Auto/15 Scene
- Metering: Matrix metering
- Monitor: 2.4in TFT LCD
- Other Features: Advanced Red-eye Reduction, D-Lighting, Face-Priority AF
- Movie Mode: Yes
- Storage: 23Mb of internal storage memory, plus SD Cards
- Batteries: 2xAA Batteries
- AC Adaptor: Optional
- Video Output: Yes
- Size/Weight: 91x62x27mm - 115g
- Transfer: USB
£10 less will get you the Canon Powershot A560. A larger compact with the same resolution, zoom, slightly faster lens and an oh-so-slightly larger screen. On the other hand, £10 more will give you access to the Sony DSC-W55 which is a slightly smaller model with the same features as the Canon.
Nikon Coolpix L14 Modes and features
Designed like a wave, the Nikon Coolpix L14 has a slim left side where the lens is situated before curving outwards to a thicker hand grip area. The flash overlaps the curve and instead of having a bendy piece of plastic to fit the contour, it's straight and creates an indentation that I don't find appealing.
A thin, silver plate on the top of the camera has the Power button and shutter release, whilst the mode buttons are two blink-and-you'll-miss-them buttons fitted snugly next to the plate. I can't help but think that Nikon are aware of the location problems of these buttons as the camera actually gives a visual instruction on what to do with them before you start the camera up.
The back of the camera has the zoom rocker directly above a small thumb plate. The Menu button is separate to the navigation pad which isn't seen every day, but isn't unwelcome.
The left button allows you to choose between Easy Auto, Video, Scene selection, One touch portrait and Auto. The Scene options are adjustable by pressing Menu in the Scene mode. The right button is for access to the Playback function.
The Menu will give two selections in Easy Auto, the first being dedicated to the Resolution and the second one as the actual Menu but is called Set up. In regular Auto, those options are expanded to five options. the additional three are White balance, Drive and Colour options which are Standard, Vivid, Black & white, Sepia and Cyanotype.
The Set up goes into a four page list of options and the first page includes Easy Auto mode, Menus to change from text to icons, Welcome screen, Date and Monitor settings to add photo info or change the brightness of the screen.
The second page changes tack slightly with Date imprint options, Digital zoom on or off, Sound settings and Power save feature. The option to Format the card is also on the second page.
The third page goes more into the core of the camera and this is where the Language is changed as well as the Video output mode, Reset, Battery type and a Power saving option.
The final page handles the card options and won't allow you to access them if a card isn't inserted. I have noticed that there is a distinct lack of ISO settings, which is going to be fun doing the noise test.
Looking at the remaining buttons, they seem well laid out. The centre button to the navigation control is the Set button to confirm any action taken in the Menu. The navigation pad also doubles up for access to the Flash options, Self timer, Macro and Exposure compensation. A small Delete button for Playback use is located at the bottom of the camera.
Nikon Coolpix L14 Build quality
What has to be kept in mind is that despite the Nikon branding, this is a budget model, so isn't designed for longevity or serious abuse. These types of cameras get replaced by the user every few years, so they don't need to have metal bodies and top quality glass.
This is a good job as the camera feels quite plasticky.
The battery door is solid enough, but feels like it could be prone to breakage with misuse and the memory card is separate to the batteries, preferring to sit in the side of the camera.
Nikon Coolpix L14 Flash options
Available modes are Auto, Red eye, Off, On and Night portrait with flash and are the usual suspects.
Nikon Coolpix L14 Performance
The shutter lag test gave results of around 0.08 seconds, which isn't brilliant, but it's not a high performance camera.
The burst mode produced 7 images in the ten seconds, which is just shy of 0.5fps. Notably, the only way I could get the continuous shooting was to set the camera to the Auto mode. The Easy Auto gets rid of this feature.
The colour chart test was a difficult one. Because of the light limitations during the dull day, the camera chose ISO400, so noise is on the image. I balanced the image in Auto levels, so they are not set to a personal setting.
The Landscape image is a very good result for Nikon. There is no chromatic aberration on the white bars although I notice a hint of a magenta cast. The grass has also lost some detail, but the overall image is very good for a budget camera.
For the Portraits, I took three shots, one in Portrait mode with flash, one without and one in Program mode. The Portrait mode has given a nice result in natural daylight and the image is warmer than real life as it was a dull day.
The Cyanotype mode in the Colours menu gives a dull Cyan cast to the image which is similar to a type of photograph used in the mid-nineteenth century. A lot of editing suites have distressing effects these days and can give your pictures an older feel.
Finally, I decided to try the Panoramic stitch mode. I wasn't expecting much from this as it's a budget camera, but using the Arcsoft software, I produced a brilliant panoramic shot. Images can be taken for upto 360 degrees.
Looking at the Portrait image using flash, the warmth found on the image with no flash has dissipated, but the skin tone is still well balanced and the background looks nicer compared to the Program mode image with flash.
The skin tone on the Program mode image is paler and the background has a slight green cast.
Because of the cameras lack of ISO settings, the camera has chosen ISO400 giving the image some noise. Blues are well saturated, but the skin tone is way out. Black is also not very black. The original colourchart has been ringed.
Macro is an uninspriring 10cm. Hardly worthy of an award and only just worth a mention.
The Vivid colour mode saturates the colours in the frame.
The Cyanotype mode gives a Cyan image which can then be distressed and aged.
The panoramic image is made up of three separate images. The first join is where the ivy comes down the left wall and the other is roughly down the edge of the path. I challenge you to find them.
The Portrait setting gives a slight warm tone all over which helps for healthy skin.
The same setting with flash and the skin looks slightly more Red in comparison.
Program mode with flash and the image is cooler with a slight Yellow cast.
A lovely image from the L14 with good colour from the sky and no fringing on the white bars.
Nikon Coolpix L14 Noise test
The Nikon Coolpix L14 has no provision for adjusting the ISO settings, so I had to improvise. I set the lights up at full power and lowered the power by one stop for each image. That way, the camera handled the ISO itself.
ISO64 understandably gives a lovel, smooth result. This was shot with the lights at the highest capacity, so if their is a lower speed, I wouldn't be able to get it. The Nikon website doesn't list the ISO settings for the L14.
Unfortunately, sharpening has started to happen at ISO200, but this is only visible when the image is viewed at full size.
The highest ISO rating I could get was ISO384. Purple artefacts and harder sharpening are in evidence in all areas. A softness has appeared on the petals, too.
Nikon Coolpix L14 Verdict
The Nikon Coolpix L14 has some terrible features such as no noise control and a terrible macro mode, but ends up taking some sterling images and has fun applications such as Colours and the Panoramic feature.
It seems that answers the questions then. Who is this camera aimed at? It isn't the type of person who likes to control pictures, that's for sure. It's aimed at the type of person who wants to snap away and maybe have a bit of in-camera fun.
Nikon Coolpix L14 Plus points
Good quality images
Nikon Coolpix L14 Minus points
No ISO overrides
Feels a bit cheap
The Nikon Coolpix L14 costs around £119 and is available from the ePHOTOzine shop here.