The Nikon Coolpix L16 is a compact aimed at the happy snapper that wants easy pictures without the messing around.
Nikon Coolpix L16: Specification
- Resolution: 7.1Mp
- Sensor size: 1/2.5-in
- Sensor type: CCD
- Zoom: 3x optical
- Focus range: 50cm
- Macro: 15cm
- Monitor: 2.8in 230,000 TFT LCD
- Storage: SD/Internal (21Mb)
- Image size: 3072 x 2304
- ISO sensitivity: ISO 64-1600
- Output: USB 2
- Power: 2x AA alkaline (supplied)
- Size: 95x61x29.5mm
- Weight: 125g
Prices for the L16 are showing between £70 and £80 which will give you 7Mp, 3x optical zoom and a 2.8in screen. The Samsung S760 at £73 offers the same resolution and zoom but a smaller 2.4in LCD screen.
Alternatively, the Fujifilm FinePix Z10fd has the same resolution, zoom and a 2.5in screen. Out of the three cameras listed here, the Fuji is the smallest.
Nikon Coolpix L16: Modes and features
Looking at the front of the camera gives it more sway than it deserves. By today's standards it's a relatively large camera with the lens near the centre of the body. Interestingly, the glass is covered by two metal leaves which is what I commented that the Coolpix S600 needs. The L16 takes 2x AA batteries, so the right side has a slight curve to house the extra bulk of the batteries but doubles up as a grip.
The top plate has the power and shutter release buttons with the camera mode and playback buttons on the edge of the top and back. The camera mode button flicks between camera, video and scene modes and the playback button shows all the pictures you've already taken.
The back of the camera retains the simplicity that we've seen on the front and top plate with just the zoom rocker, menu, navigation pad and delete button as anything to press.
The Nikon Coolpix L16 has two recording modes called Auto and Easy Auto. The easy mode gives you a ridiculously small amount of leeway and input into the cameras functions. In this mode you can change some core settings such as AF Assist and Anti-Shake AE, but you can't change some of the more necessary functions such as resolution. If you want that kind of freedom, you need to be in auto which can be chosen by pressing the mode button on the top of the camera.
The easy auto mode could be a benefit if you have kids that want to try using a camera but you don't want them to mess about with the menu systems or if you've never held a camera before and want to get used to taking pictures before finding out what resolution means.
Nikon Coolpix L16: Build and handling
A plastic shell covers the internal workings making it plain to see that the camera is in the entry level classification. The buttons are easy to use and responsive enough although I would've liked to see more flexibility on the zoom rocker as it sits quite low to the body.
Taking AA batteries isn't such a big deal these days, but if you change them, you have to access the menu system and program the camera. The memory card shares the slot with the batteries and the door is solid with a locking mechanism to ensure the spring loaded batteries don't force it open.
Nikon Coolpix L16: Flash options
The flash on the front of the camera is only small, but I've underestimated the power of the flash from a compact in previous reviews, so I'm not going to assume that a small flash means lack of range.
The options in the flash menu are auto, flash with red-eye, flash off, flash on, nightshot which will require support for the longer shutter speed the mode uses to brighten up dark backgrounds.
Nikon Coolpix L16: Performance
For some reason, Nikon have lowered the performance of their cameras recently. I reported that the Coolpix S600 gave a slow shutter lag result and the L16 is the same. I tried the same test with a different manufacturer to ensure it wasn't my reactions that were shot and the result was under 0.10 seconds, yet the Nikon still gave results of 0.20 - 0.30 seconds.
The continuous shooting burst test gave a result of 21 images in ten seconds. A good result and better than some cameras in a higher class as this works out at roughly 2fps (frames per second).
The colour chart image.
The landscape image.
Colour chart results aren't usually any different from one another, so it's a surprise to see the blue come out with a faint purple cast.
The green isn't as saturated as I'd like and the skin tone is pale. The mono tones are nicely balanced and they're really the only constant in this image.
Closing in on the landscape image shows mild fringing on the white bars and can be seen at full size but only if you're looking for it.
Either the EXIF data isn't recording correctly or the camera actually took this shot at f/2.8 which would mean a thin strip of focus and everything else out.
The weird thing is that the whole image is in focus which would need an aperture value of nearer f/22.
Despite this, there's decent detail in the grass and trees and even on the lock in the distance which is what's confusing me with regards to the aperture used.
The portrait image has retained some good detail in the shadow area which is always nice to see and natural catchlights are also visible. The camera has kept some detail in the hair and the skin tone is well balanced even after my reservations with the colour chart.
Adding flash to the shot has blown the highlight on the nose but filled in the shadow areas nicely otherwise. The left side of the face is on the verge of uncomfortable over exposure. Better catchlights have been added and more detail is obvious in the hair. One thing I'm happy about is the colour and lack of a shadow on the background.
The portrait image.
The portrait with flash.
The Nikon Coolpix L16 has different picture styles that change the colour, saturation or contrast of the image to create a different effect on the picture. Different models have different styles and examples of the L16 are natural, vivid and sepia.
The natural setting is the default that the camera will always be set to when you're in auto mode. This gives reasonable colour in all situations but if you go to a flower show for example, you may want to boost the colours of the flowers. The vivid mode will do just that and the example picture shows the green of the grass and trees being deepened and the sky turning more blue.
The processor of the camera boosts these colours (and in some cases adds them) to give the effect of a richer, more lush colour in front of you. Interestingly in the vivid colour shot, the camera has got some of the information wrong as it has turned the clouds blue on the right of the frame.
The Nikon Coolpix L16 also has a sepia setting which gives a brownish cast over the whole area and is designed to look like old photographs. Sometimes this effect can be quite sickly, so only use it in the right scenario.
Nikon Coolpix L16: Noise test
The 'L' series of cameras have no ISO over-ride feature available so to force the camera to adjust the rating, I used studio lights and lowered the power in steps then moved the lights away from the flower. This results in erratic and duplicated ISO settings.
The lowest ISO rating I managed to get was ISO227 which has retained good detail in the petals and it looks to be a good start until ISO400 where noise is showing in the grey card area. Also a slight lack of detail in the petals is noticeable.
ISO455 shows only a slight increase in the noise on the image which is unsurprising while the ISO800 shot has significantly softened the image in a bid to erradicate noise. It has worked and from a distance the shot looks great.
They were the lowest and highest speeds I managed to attain despite the camera having a range of ISO64-1600.
The ISO227 test.
The ISO400 test.
The ISO455 test.
The ISO800 test.
Nikon Coolpix L16: Verdict
The 'L' in L16 stands for Lifestyle which is a word thrown around these days by loads of companies trying to jump on the IKEA band wagon and is designed to try and entice people into this new way of living which involves certain ideals.
For the happy snapper looking to use a camera generally with no qualms of it not having special functions or amazing prowess, then take a look at this cheerful unit.
Nikon Coolpix L16: Plus points
Good portrait result
Easy to use
Nikon Coolpix L16: Minus points
Colour rendition isn't great
No ISO control
The Nikon Coolpix L16 costs around £70-£80 and will be available from the ePHOTOzine shop soon. In the meantime, take a look at other cool Nikon gear here.