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Sample photos: Nikon Coolpix L22

Check out an examination of photo quality from the Nikon's budget compact, the Coolpix L22.

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Joshua Goldman
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1 of 9 Matthew Fitzgerald/CNET

ISO 80

The L22 has an ISO sensitivity range from 80 to 1,600, however you have no control over ISO settings--it's Auto only. This is our standard test shot under tungsten lights at ISO 80 with manual white balance. It is the best the camera gets and it is actually pretty good for its price, at least in the center of the frame. Keep in mind, though, that this is on a tripod under our bright studio lights. If you're considering the L22 to use indoors or for shooting moving subjects, don't. This camera is really only good for stills of stationary subjects under bright lighting, preferably outdoors.

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2 of 9 Joshua Goldman/CNET

ISO 800

The camera picked ISO 800 for this shot. For most of my indoor low-light test shots, the camera went with that setting, opting for slower shutter speeds (in this case 1/4 second) instead of using ISO 1,600. The results are predictably mediocre, soft and smeary with color shifting. Depending on your needs they may be usable, but keep in mind, this is a still subject and the camera was on a support. Should your subject move, you have shaky hands, or both, you'll likely end up with blurry shots unless you use the flash.

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3 of 9 Joshua Goldman/CNET

Macro

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. Though, you'll probably want to sharpen them a bit with software once they're on a computer.

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4 of 9 Joshua Goldman/CNET

Color

Colors are pleasing from the L22 and it's probably the best thing about this camera. But again, for the best results you'll need to have lots of light. Also, the auto white balance is fairly yellow-green under unnatural light. There is a manual white balance that works really well, though I doubt the target user would bother to use it.
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5 of 9 Joshua Goldman/CNET

Color filters

Nikon offers four color filters to shoot with: (from top left clockwise) vivid color, black-and-white, cyanotype, and sepia. (The center photo is the standard color setting.)
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6 of 9 Joshua Goldman/CNET

D-Lighting

Unfortunately, when you go this cheap, Nikon doesn't give you the option to shoot with its D-Lighting feature for improving shadow and highlight detail. The L22 at least has an option to apply it in playback. The left photo was shot in the camera's Easy Auto mode; the right is the same photo processed with D-Lighting.

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7 of 9 Joshua Goldman/CNET

Zoom range

The L22 has a 3.6x zoom, going from a fairly narrow 37mm (top) to 134mm (bottom) (35mm equivalent). It's basically for help with framing your shots, not necessarily getting closer to a subject. And the lens is at its best in the middle of its range.

What upsets me is that there is no way to shut off the camera's 4x digital zoom, which results in horrible photos if you use it. If you're not careful when zooming out, you'll overshoot the optical zoom range. The zoom indicator at least changes color as a warning.

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8 of 9 Joshua Goldman/CNET

Lens distortion

The lens actually has quite a bit of barrel distortion, but Nikon does an excellent job of correcting for it (top). The same goes for pincushioning (bottom). Nikon also keeps fringing in check so that it's only noticeable in extreme contrast areas and when viewed at 100 percent.
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9 of 9 Joshua Goldman/CNET

Sharpness

Center sharpness is good, especially compared to the sides, top, bottom, and corners. The lower left side of the lens was particularly bad on my review camera, causing severe softness that was visible even at small sizes. Keeping your subject in the center of the frame is your best bet for a decent photo.

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