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Nikon Coolpix L23 Digital Camera Review

Daniel Bell takes a look at a budget Nikon Coolpix camera aimed at photography beginners.

|  Nikon Coolpix L23 in Compact Cameras
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Nikon Coolpix L23 front

The Coolpix L23 was added to Nikon's Life range of digital cameras in February 2011. It is aimed at  photography begiiners and has a 10.1 megapixel sensor, 5x optical zoom lens (35mm equivalent: 28-140mm), 2.7in LCD monitor and is powered using AA-size batteries.

The L23 is available in blue, pink, red, black and silver for £59. Another camera you may be considering at this price range is the Canon Powershot A800, which is also ideal for beginners but only has a 3.3x optical zoom lens.

Nikon Coolpix L23 front lens



Nikon Coolpix L23: Features
  • Easy operation with conveniently placed control buttons and automatic technology
  • 5x optical zoom lens (35mm equivalent: 28-140mm)
  • 10.1 megapixel sensor
  • 3x anti-blur methods including Electronic VR, Motion Detection and Best Shot Selector
  • 2.7in LCD monitor with brightness boost
  • Smart portrait system with smile timer and red-eye fix
  • Easy Auto mode
  • 17 scene modes
Nikon Coolpix L23 battery compartment

Nikon Coolpix L23: Handling
The Coolpix L23 is a well built camera, feeling quite sturdy although the battery cover does appear flimsy so care is required when changing batteries and the memory card. There are no issues when viewing the LCD screen in any light conditions and the buttons are easy to press and well placed on the camera. The camera's menu system is simple and easy to navigate.
Nikon Coolpix L23 top

The camera is powered by AA batteries so as long as you have a spare set the camera will keep going for as long as you want to shoot. The number of shots you can take on a set will depend on the quality of batteries used. The camera comes supplied with two LR5/L40 AA alkaline batteries (approx. 250 shots) but you can also use two FR5/L91 lithium batteries (approx. 660 shots) or two EN-MH2 Ni-MH rechargeable batteries (approx. 420 shots).
Nikon Coolpix L23 rear

Nikon Coolpix L23: Performance
Images produced by the Coolpix L23 are extremely respectable for a camera within this price range. Colours are reproduced well and detail is good. When viewing the wide-angle shot at full size more detail is lost around the edges but detail is good throughout when using the camera at its full optical zoom length. The Coolpix L23 produces well exposed images.

Nikon Coolpix L23 wide-angle   Nikon Coolpix L23 full optical zoom
Wide-angle shot - ISO80, 1/250, f/5.4, 4mm (35mm equivalent: 28mm)   Full optical zoom - ISO80, 1/250, f/6.8, 20mm (35mm equivalent: 140mm)

The Coolpix L23 has Easy Auto and Auto modes. When using Easy Auto the only option the user can change is the image size, whereas Auto allows the user to also change the white-balance, shooting mode (single, continuous, best shot selection and multi-shot 16) and colour options (standard colour, vivid colour, black and white, sepia, cyanotype). On top of this there is smart portrait mode, 17 scene modes and movie mode. The 17 scene modes available are portrait, landscape, sports, night portrait, party/indoor, beach, snow, sunset, dusk/dawn, night landscape, close-up, food, museum, fireworks show, black and white copy, backlighting and panorama assist.

The camera also boasts a Smart Portrait mode. In the two pictures below I have taken a portrait using Easy Auto and one using Smart Portrait. The Smart Portrait softens the skin giving a much smoother look. Using this mode the shutter will automatically focus and take a picture, reducing the effect of camera shake, although it struggled in poorly lit scenes.

Portrait in auto mode - ISO100, 1/25, f/2.7, 4mm (35mm equivalent: 28mm)   Portrait using Smart Portrait - ISO200, 1/60, f/2.7, 4mm (35mm equivalent: 28mm)

Below is a sample of pictures taken using some of the scene modes available. Landscape has given a boost to the blues and greens creating a good image of the countryside. Macro mode, with a focus distance of just 3cm, is impressive for a budget camera. Sport mode has given a quick enough shutter speed to capture a sharp image of water from the fountain. In backlighting mode the sun is shining through the trees into the lens but there is plenty of detail in the statue. To create panoramas, the Coolpix L23 will take the images needed but they need to be stitched together using the software that comes with the camera.

Nikon Coolpix L23 landscape mode   Nikon Coolpix L23 macro mode
Landscape - ISO80, 1/320, f/5.4, 4mm (35mm equivalent: 28mm)   Macro - ISO160, 1/30, f/3.1, 5mm (35mm equivalent: 35mm)
Nikon Coolpix L23 sports mode   Nikon Coolpix L23 backlit mode
Sports - ISO110, 1/500, f/5.3, 14mm (35mm equivalent: 98mm)   Backlighting - ISO80, 1/200, f/3.6, 7mm (35mm equivalent: 49mm)

ISO and noise performance
It is not possible to set the ISO speed on the Coolpix L23 as it is done automatically. In testing, noise was handled well up to ISO800 where noise becomes evident although images are still good. At ISO1600 noise becomes very noticeable and the images produced are only really suited for web use.

White-balance performance is very consistent when using the Coolpix L23 which is clearly seen in the test shots taken in our studio. The fluorescent preset under the fluorescent lights has given a slight magenta cast but overall the auto white-balance is adequate in all light conditions.

Nikon Coolpix L23 White-balance test: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
Nikon Coolpix L23 auto white balance incandescent   Nikon Coolpix L23 Incandescent preset in incandescent lighting
Auto white-balance in incandescent lighting - ISO200, 1/30, f/3.6, 7mm (35mm equivalent: 49mm)   Incandescent preset in incandescent lighting - ISO200, 1/30, f/3.6, 7mm (35mm equivalent: 49mm)
Nikon Coolpix L23 Auto white-balance in fluorescent lighting   Nikon Coolpix L23 Fluorescent preset in fluorescent lighting
Auto white-balance in fluorescent lighting - ISO200, 1/10, f/3.6, 7mm (35mm equivalent: 49mm)   Fluorescent preset in fluorescent lighting - ISO200, 1/10, f/3.6, 7mm (35mm equivalent: 49mm)

Video Mode
The video mode shoots VGA, 640 x 480, at 30fps, but doesn't allow the use of the optical zoom during recording. The maximum length of a video is 29 minutes.

Nikon Coolpix L23: Verdict
If you are a photography beginner or are looking to buy a present for a child then the Nikon Coolpix L23 is good value for money. Many competitors in this price range only offer a 3x optical zoom rather than the 5x offered by the Coolpix L23. The auto modes make taking images simple and the settings available are not going to complicate matters. For that extra bit of flexibility many of the scene modes won't disappoint although it would be good if the camera created panoramas automatically.

Nikon Coolpix L23: Pros
Nikon Coolpix L23 Cheap
Nikon Coolpix L23 Easy to use
Nikon Coolpix L23 5x optical zoom
Nikon Coolpix L23 Good macro mode
Nikon Coolpix L23 Smart Portrait mode

Nikon Coolpix L23: Cons
Nikon Coolpix L23 Noise performance above ISO800
Nikon Coolpix L23 Panoramas not created in camera

FEATURES Nikon Coolpix L23
HANDLING Nikon Coolpix L23
PERFORMANCE Nikon Coolpix L23
VALUE FOR MONEY Nikon Coolpix L23
OVERALL Nikon Coolpix L23

Nikon Coolpix L23: Specification

Price £59
What comes in the box Camera Strap AN-CP19 R6/AA-size alkaline batteries x 2 USB Cable UC-E6 ViewNX 2 CD-ROM
Contact www.nikon.co.uk
Lens 5x optical zoom, 4-20mm (35mm equivalent: 28-140mm), f/2.7-6.8
Resolution 10.1Mp
Sensor size 1/2.9in
Sensor type CCD
Max. Image size 3648 x 2736
Monitor 2.7in TFT LCD monitor, 230000 pixels
Shutter speed 1/2000 - 1sec, (4sec in fireworks show scene mode)
Focusing system Contrast-detect AF
Focusing modes Centre, face-detection
File types JPEG
ISO sensitivity ISO80 - 1600
Metering system Program AE
Metering modes Centre-weighted and spot
Exposure compensation -2EV to +2EV (in 1/3EV steps)
Image stabilisation Electronic vibration reduction
Movie mode VGA: 640 x 480
Media type SD/SDHC/SDXC
Interface USB/PictBridge
Power AA-size battery x 2
Size 96.7 x 59.9 x 29.3 mm
Weight 170g (including batteries and SD memory card)

The Nikon Coolpix L23 costs £59 and is available from Warehouse Express here:

Nikon Coolpix L23


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Photographs taken using the Nikon Nikon Coolpix L23

Covid ParkGoing nuts in the parkTri-Colored ButterflyCactus flowerShip wreckGlass ceilingGuira Cuckoo familySun,clouds,leavesCuriosityGreyray of lifeHigh up in the skyGorgeousDrift holePoint- APOLLO

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