Nikon Coolpix L22 - digital camera review: Nikon Coolpix L22 - digital camera

No camera manufacturer makes a sub-$120 camera with manual or semimanual shooting modes; it's just basic point-and-shoots at this price point. Of the cameras I've tested at this price, the L22 has the least control. The Auto mode is as good as it gets--it's basically the same as the program auto mode on other cameras, but it just lets you turn on continuous shooting, change the white balance, and select one of the four color filters. You can change the resolution, too, but that's available in all modes.

The L22 has an ISO sensitivity range from 80 to 1,600. However, you have no control over ISO settings--it's auto only. If your subject is in the center of the frame and you have plenty of light so that the sensitivity stays below ISO 400, you can get good photos from the camera. For most of my indoor low-light test shots, though, the camera went with ISO 800 and very slow shutter speeds. The results are predictably mediocre, soft and smeary with color shifting. The camera also struggles with focusing in dim lighting, doing a lot of hunting, and there's a noticeable shutter lag. If you're considering the L22 to use indoors at all, don't. Should your subject move, you have shaky hands, or both, you'll likely end up with blurry shots unless you use the flash. This camera is really only good for stills of stationary subjects under bright lighting, preferably outdoors.

I say preferably outdoors because while colors are pleasing from the L22 (and probably the best thing about this camera), the auto white balance is fairly yellow-green under fluorescent light and warm under incandescent. Oddly enough there is a manual white balance that works really well, but it's only available in Auto mode.

For those who like to shoot close-ups, the L22 can focus on a subject as close as 2 inches. As long as your subject is in the middle of the lens, you'll end up with decent shots considering the camera's price. Although you'll probably want to sharpen them a bit with software once they're on a computer.

Video quality is good enough for Web use, but not much else. The zoom lens does not function while recording, but you do have a digital zoom; I suggest not using it, as the results are unpleasant.

Shooting performance is somewhat slow, but on par with other cameras in its class. However, if you're shooting with the electronic image stabilization, the camera becomes sluggish between shots.

It's cameras like the Nikon Coolpix L22 that have people reaching for their smartphones and camera phones instead of an actual camera. It's true, you really shouldn't expect much at this price, but I do expect something. For the same money you can pick up Canon's PowerShot A495 and get more features and better photos.

Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Smaller bars indicate better performance)
Time to first shot  
Typical shot-to-shot time (flash)  
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Shutter lag (dim)  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Nikon Coolpix L22
2.6 
4 
2.3 
1 
0.4 
Canon PowerShot A495
2 
6.7 
2.9 
1 
0.6 
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-S2100
2.3 
3.9 
2.1 
1 
0.6 

Typical continuous-shooting speed (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Digital camera type Compact
  • Optical Zoom 3.6 x
  • Optical Sensor Type CCD
  • Sensor Resolution 12.0 Megapixel
  • Image Stabilizer electronic
  • Optical Sensor Size 1/2.3"