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Nikon ups the value on its entry-level Coolpix cams

A good bang-for-your-buck megazoom is joined by a new rugged model and a better-than-basic AA-battery compact.


If you're a fan of inexpensive cameras that run on AA-size batteries, you'll want to keep reading.

The Coolpix L810 is the refresh of the L120, getting a 16-megapixel CCD sensor (up from 14) and more zoom. Its lens starts at an ultrawide-angle 22.5mm and extends to 585mm, or 26x. Other things stay the same, like the 3-inch high-res LCD, and 720p HD movie capture.

I liked the L120 for its higher-end features at a reasonable price, and the L810 offers more (or at least higher numbers) for the same $279.95 price.

What I wasn't a fan of was the predecessor of the new L26. The 14-megapixel L24 was just a cheap camera in every sense and offered less than competing models for its $119.95 price. For the same price, Nikon gave the new 16-megapixel L26 a wide-angle 5x zoom lens and HD movie capture, which is much better. The build quality was pretty poor on the L24, so with any luck, Nikon improved that, too.

To go along with these is the entirely new $119.95 Coolpix S30. It's just a simple 10-megapixel point-and-shoot with a 3x 29-87mm zoom lens and a 2.7-inch LCD. The highlight is that it's rugged: shockproof up to 2.6 feet and waterproof to 9.8 feet. And it, like the L810 and L26, is powered by AA batteries.

Look for all three to show up in stores in February.