The Nikon Coolpix L120 is a true mixed bag with its features and performance, giving you the feeling of being a point and shoot in a prosumer's body. The camera lacks a viewfinder and runs on AA batteries but has a fantastic 21x optical zoom and is easy enough for the most amateur photographer to pick up and use. But do the pros outweigh the cons? Read on to find out.
Design and build
The Coolpix L120 is designed as a prosumer and is very compact and comfortable to hold. It isn't very heavy on it's own but four AA batteries really add some weight to it.
The camera has a black matte finish to it with the grip under the shutter button textured for a good hold.
There is only one major flaw with the device - the lack of a viewfinder. Apart from this, the complete design and build feels really good.
The top of the device has the shutter button along with a zoom toggle surrounding it. The on/off button rests just behind this and is very convenient to switch on and off with the thumb/for finger depending on how you hold the device.
The rear button layout is standard and similar to what you'd find on most cameras. Located to the top right of the LCD is a button that changes between the stills and video mode stained with a red dot in the middle.
Below the thumb rest are all the other functional buttons. There is a central ring with four buttons on it and a central "OK" button. The four buttons clockwise are- flash on/off, exposure, macro and self-timer. Four buttons surround the ring i.e. scene select, playback, menu and delete.
There is a zoom toggle on the left of the lens. Its location is very convenient during use and helps you use the zoom with ease and keep the camera steady. The button that raises the flash is above this zoom toggle.
The rear also houses the 3.0-inch 921k colour LCD, which is really good especially on full brightness settings. The LCD has five brightness settings, which is great especially if you wish to conserve battery or are shooting in a very bright situation.
The left of the device also houses an HDMI out, AV out and a DC in port. Out of the box however, the device only comes with an AV cable.
Features and Performance
The camera has a 14.1 Megapixel CCD (Charged Coupled Device) sensor with EXPEED C2 image processing. The key feature of the Nikon L120 is its 21x optical zoom lens. It works really well especially in well-lit conditions. If you want to capture birds in the wild and are looking for a point and shoot with great zoom, this should definitely be on your list. The images produced on maximum zoom look really good especially if you are using a tripod or any form of support to keep the camera steady.
The camera also gives you manual control over the ISO which ranges from 800 to 6400 as well as white balance with six options that includes present manual, daylight, incandescent, fluorescent, cloudy and flash. Although, we would recommend that you stay away from the 3200 and 6400 ISO settings as they produce really noisy images.
The camera also shows off 17 shooting modes for those of you who don't want to shoot in auto all the time. The modes are pretty standard of what you'd expect from a Rs. 15,000 camera and include portrait, landscape, night portrait, indoor, beach, snow, sunset, dawn, night landscape, close up, food, museum,fireworks show, black and white, backlighting, panorama assist and pet portrait.
All the modes work fairly well and the results obtained are pretty good. The device however lacks manual focus, which may be a hindrance to those who like to play with depth of field. Another disappointing fact is that even in auto mode, the flash needs to be manually raised.
The camera also lets you shoot video in a maximum resolution of 720p. The down side however is that the maximum length of a video can only be 29min even if the memory card has the capacity to record longer. The Coolpix L120 gives you the option to record in 540p or VGA as well. The video quality is crisp and is recorded in MPEG 4 format but there is little help in terms of stabilization especially when the zoom is used.
The video recording mode gives you a couple of options to choose from such as autofocus mode, Electronic VR, Wind noise reduction and enhanced resolution.
In terms of storage, the device supports SD (Secure Digital) cards and the faster SDHC and SDXC cards as well. The device has an internal memory of 102MB as well in case you need to store those few extra shots. You could easily expect around 300 shots from good quality alkaline batteries.
If you are looking for a point and shoot camera with an awesome zoom then the Nikon Coolpix L120 should definitely be on your list. The device has some issues such as manually raising the flash even in auto mode, no viewfinder and no manual focus, but the image quality and array of modes should keep you happy. The 720p video recording works well too. The build of the camera is great.
Whether the use of AA batteries instead of lithium ion is an advantage or a disadvantage depends strictly on your preferences.
Easy to pick up and use
Variety of shooting modes
Good quality AA batteries give you a good shooting life
No manual focus
Batteries really do add to the weight of the device
In the Box
LR6/LR40 (AA-size) alkaline batteries x 4
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