For those who like to shoot close-ups, the L24 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. You'll probably want to sharpen them a bit with software once they're on a computer, though.
The L24 does have basic movie capture, too, that records at 480p or 240p at 30 frames per second. Focus is locked once you start shooting, and there is no use of the optical zoom while recording; a 2x digital zoom is available.
Like almost all cameras in its class, the L24 has slow shooting performance. Its shutter lag--the amount of time from when the shutter release is pressed to when an image is captured--is long at 0.5 second in bright light and 0.9 second in dim lighting. Shot-to-shot times averaged 2.3 seconds without the flash and 4.9 seconds with it. It does have a continuous shooting option for capturing up to three shots at 0.7 frames per second. In the end, the L24's performance is too slow for moving subjects such as active kids and pets or sports. You will get a shot, but it likely won't be the one you wanted or it may be blurry because the camera used a slow shutter speed instead of raising the ISO.
On the upside, the camera does look good. Again, with the batteries in it, the L24 has a nice weight to it. The AA-size batteries are a main attraction here and it can be used with alkalines, long-life lithium ion cells, and rechargeable NiMHs. The battery compartment is difficult to open, but more so to close. It has a latch to secure it, but according to several user reviews it's fairly weak and breaks easily. I had no trouble with my review camera, but looking at the tiny latch, it's not surprising; with the batteries out, the L24 feels considerably less sturdy.
It is comfortable to use, though, with simple controls that are big and easy to read. The screen is larger than usual for an entry-level camera and gets reasonably bright; I still had trouble using it bright sun, but that can be said about a lot of LCDs. The lens, on the other hand, is a disappointment.
Not only is it narrower than those on competing entry-level compacts, but the lens quality is inconsistent. The lens is pretty sharp at the center; it gets softer at the edges and in the corners. The lower left side and corner of my review camera was noticeably softer than the rest of the lens. This isn't uncommon for lower-end compact cameras, but it doesn't make recommending the L24 any easier, either.
Also, while its 3.6x optical zoom is what I expect in this class, there's no way to shut off the camera's 4x digital zoom, which results in horrible photos if you use it. There is a marker where it changes over from optical to digital zoom on the zoom indicator and it changes color. However, it's very easy to overshoot the optical zoom range if you're not paying attention to the screen.
There is definitely a market for cameras like the Nikon Coolpix L24. It's cheap, it's easy to use, and it takes AA-size batteries. You really shouldn't expect much more than that for its sub-$120 price. However, you can get more than the L24 offers. For example, at less than $110 you can pick up Canon's PowerShot A1200 and get a wider lens and an optical viewfinder, more shooting features, and better photos and video, and it's just as easy to use.
(Shorter 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)|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Find out more about how we test digital cameras.