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Nikon Coolpix L26 Digital Compact Camera Review

Daniel Bell reviews the Nikon Coolpix L26, a budget digital compact camera with 5x optical zoom and 16.1 megapixel sensor.

|  Nikon Coolpix L26 in Compact Cameras
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Nikon Coolpix L26 3

The Nikon Coolpix L26 is an entry level compact camera with a 16.1 megapixel sensor, 3 inch screen, 5x optical zoom lens, electronic vibration reduction and is powered by AA batteries. It is available in black, red and silver for £60.

Nikon Coolpix L26 2

Nikon Coolpix L26 Features

The L26 has a 16 megapixel CCD sensor and 5x optical zoom, which is a 35mm equivalent of 26-130mm. To help reduce blur, e-VR (vibration reduction) counteracts camera shake and motion detection compensates for camera and subject movement. To make image taking as easy as possible Easy Auto mode optimises the camera settings automatically for the scene, as well as 18 scene modes which can be selected.

The L26 also has a Smart Portrait System with Smile timer, Blink proof, Skin softening and Red-eye Fix. Videos are recorded at 720p HD. The camera is powered by two AA batteries, meaning replacements can be picked up just about anywhere in the world.

Nikon Coolpix L26 4

Key Features

  • 16 megapixel CCD sensor
  • 5x optical zoom (35mm equiv: 26-130mm)
  • e-VR (vibration reduction)
  • 3 inch LCD screen
  • Smart Portrait System
  • 720p HD video recording
  • ISO 80-1600
  • 10cm minimum focusing distance
  • 18 scene modes
  • Available in black, red and silver
Nikon Coolpix L26 5

Nikon Coolpix L26 Handling

The L26 has a plastic body, it's small with one end slightly thicker than the other to accommodate the two AA batteries which makes it easier to grip the camera. There is a decent sized 3 inch LCD screen, which is bright and easy to view in varying lighting conditions. The buttons are fairly typical for a compact camera, with a dedicated movie record button placed on the rear. The menu system on the L26 is easy to understand and navigate.

The batteries have a CIPA rating of 200 shots, performance will depend on the quality of battery purchased. We tested the cameras performance at focusing, shutter response, shot-to-shot time, continuous shooting etc. and have posted the results below. To test this we took 6 or more shots and calculated the average, so that consistent results were produced.

Shutter Response   0.1 seconds
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response   0.5 seconds
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response   0.8 seconds
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo   2.7 seconds
Shot to Shot (without flash)   2.3 seconds
Shot to Shot with Flash   6.5 seconds
Continuous   1.25 fps

Continuous shooting mode records images at full 16.1 megapixel resolution. The L26 is slow at starting up and also slow from shot-to-shot.

Nikon Coolpix L26 1

Nikon Coolpix L26 Performance

Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review and product ratings.

Nikon Coolpix L26 Sample Photos

Sample Photos - in portrait mode, skin tones are good, with just the slightest touch of red-eye. Landscape mode takes pictures with good blues and greens.

Nikon Coolpix L26 Lens test images

Lens Performance - The L26 takes images which are well exposed with good colour reproduction. Detail is OK if you shoot with a low ISO setting, the images produced are best for sharing on the web rather than getting large prints. There is also purple fringing evident in contrasting areas. The lens has a minimum focusing distance of 10cm, making it difficult to get really close to your subject, although a decent enough macro image can be taken.

Nikon Coolpix L26 ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - You cannot manually set the ISO speed on the L26. The lowest ISO speed available is ISO 80 where images are noise free. Noise appears at ISO 200 (examples at these lowers speeds can be seen in other test shots in the article). These images above show the effect of noise at ISO 500, 800 and 1600. Images are quite noisy at ISO 500, but retain some sharpness, with much softer images produced at ISO 800. Although the shot at ISO 1600 is under exposed, it is still clear to see that images are very noisy at this speed, which is probably why is was hard to get the L26 to use this setting, it is best avoided!

Nikon Coolpix L26 White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - Auto white-balance (AWB) copes really well, under the incandescent lights, very similar shots were produced whether using the AWB or incandescent presets. Under the fluorescent lights, the AWB setting performed well, with a magenta cast appearing when using the fluorescent preset.

Nikon Coolpix L26 Other sample images

Nikon Coolpix L26 Digital filters

Digital Filters - The L26 has a few colour options to add creativity to your pictures. You can also edit images in playback, with D-Lighting and Skin Softening options available.

Video - The video below is shot at full 720p HD, optical zoom isn't available during recording.

Value For Money

The Nikon Coolpix L26 is priced at £60, making it one of the cheapest digital cameras available. Other entry-level budget cameras to consider include the Canon PowerShot A3300 IS (£94, 5x zoom, 16 megapixels), Nikon Coolpix S6150 (£99, 7x zoom, 16 megapixels), Panasonic Lumix DMC-S5 (£99, 4x zoom, 16.1 megapixels), Nikon Coolpix S3300 (£100, 6x zoom, 16.1 megapixels), Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS18 (£100, 4x zoom, 16.1 megapixels), Olympus VR-340 (£109, 10x zoom, 16 megapixels), Fujifilm FinePix T400 (£119, 10x zoom, 16 megapixels) and Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS45 (£120, 5x zoom, 16.1 megapixels).

You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Nikon Coolpix L26 Verdict

If you are on a very strict budget, or are buying a child their first camera, the L26 is ideal. Images produced aren't ideal for large prints, but will look great when shared on Facebook or Flickr thanks to the cameras good colour reproduction. Overall, you can't expect much for £60 and you certainly get what you pay for.

Nikon Coolpix L26 Pros

One of the cheapest cameras around
Good colour reproduction
Replacement batteries easy to find
3 inch LCD screen
5x optical zoom

Nikon Coolpix L26 Cons

No ability to control ISO speed
10cm minimum focusing distance
Camera is generally slow to use


Nikon Coolpix L26 Specifications

Max Aperturef/3.2 - f/6.5
35mm equivalent26mm - 130mm
Optical Zoom5x
Image Sensor
Pixels16.1Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4608
Pixels (H)3456
Sensor TypeCCD
Sensor Size1/2.3 inch
Sensor Size (width)No Data
Sensor Size (height)No Data
Aspect Ratio
  • 4:3
  • 16:9
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution230k dot
Touch ScreenNo
Min Focus10cm
Focusing modes
  • Face Detection
  • Centre
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/2000sec
Shutter speeds longest4sec
Bulb modeNo
Exp modes
  • Scene modes
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Spot
ISO sensitivity80 - 1600
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Flash
Exposure CompNo Data
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting1.2fps
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1280x720 HD 720p
Video FPS30fps
Stereo SoundNo
Optical Zoom with VideoNo
Other Features
Image StabilisationNo
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • JPG
Power Source
Battery Type2xAA
Battery Life (CIPA rating)200shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsCamera Strap, LR6/L40 (AA-size) alkaline batteries (x2), USB Cable UC-E16, ViewNX 2 Installer CD, Reference Manual CD

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Photographs taken using the Nikon Coolpix L26

People At The ZooHappy FamilyWe Were HereIstiqlalpoonam20years Remembrance.Big Bug on flower.A Frozen TwigOn the wayTwo moodsSave me from the future

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15 Mar 2013 3:48PM
Hi, the Nikon L26 has proved itself to me to be a very good point & shoot camera, & moreover it is not as intimidating as my large DSLR, often, people get the impression you are up to no good when you are using such kit.
I will always carry it with me, no bigger than a 20 pack cigarettes & quick enough for what I need. Exposure compensation is simple & effective to use, by-passing the ISO control.
Invitations of others' experiences of this camera would be of great value to me as points to avoid.
21 Mar 2013 11:33AM
This camera is quite responsive, providing you have on the correct setting. don't expect a good shot using landscape for a portrait. changing to correct setting is easily done & battery life is good. I always carry a camera of some type & this one proves ideal.

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