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Nikon Coolpix L110 review: Nikon Coolpix L110

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If you like to shoot close-ups, the L110 has a few ways to enter Macro mode. It will automatically switch to it if you're in Easy Auto mode. You can also select a Close-up mode from the camera's Scene options. And if you're in Auto mode, you can switch to macro focus via the control pad. You can focus as close as 0.4 inch from your subject, but to do so the L110 requires you to zoom in a little; an arrow on the onscreen zoom indicator turns green when you're at the right length. You can use the 28mm-equivalent position, but you'll have to pull the camera back to about 1 foot from your subject in order to focus.

Shooting performance is generally good with shutter lag being the biggest issue. The camera starts up and shoots pretty quickly at 1.4 seconds. Its shot-to-shot times are decent, too, at 2.1 seconds without the flash and 2.2 seconds with. Other than the L110's Sport Continuous mode, it is able to continuously shoot at full resolution up to four photos at a rate of 1.2 frames per second, which is slow, but much improved from the L100. Again, shutter lag--how quickly a camera captures an image after the shutter-release button is pressed--is long at 0.7 second in bright lighting and 1.1 seconds in dim conditions. This makes it difficult to capture anything in motion such as an active child, a pet, or an athlete.

The 12-megapixel L110's photo quality is good to very good, but definitely a step up from its predecessor, the L100. This time around Nikon at least lets you select ISO sensitivities. As expected, photos are best at and below ISO 200. As the sensitivities increase so does the noise and smeary details from noise reduction. Also, colors appear dirty from ISO 400 and above. This, combined with the increased softness at higher sensitivities, means the indoor and low-light photo quality just isn't very good. The camera has two reduced-resolution high ISO settings of 3,200 and 6,400. Though the photos are smaller at 3 megapixels and have a painterly appearance, they are overall better-looking than the full-resolution photos at ISO 800 and 1,600 shots. So again, generally as long as you have plenty of light and aren't planning to make huge prints, the L110 presents good snapshot quality.

Typical of megazoom cameras, the L110's photos soften considerably when the lens is extended. They'll look fine as small prints with little or no cropping, but at 100 percent, there's no fine detail to speak of. Nikon does an excellent job of controlling lens distortion at the wide angle and when fully extended. Center sharpness is fairly good; however, off to the sides and particularly in the corners photos are softer. Chromatic aberration (fringing) in high-contrast areas of photos is usually an issue for megazoom cameras, especially less-expensive models like the L110. The amount is average to above average, but it is less than I'm used to seeing from a Coolpix camera.

Color performance is very good, though again it's dependent on using ISO 200 or below. At those sensitivities, colors appear bright and vibrant. Exposure is good, but as usual with compact cameras, highlights will occasionally blow out. White balance is decent if a little cool, though there is one exception. On my review sample, the auto white balance did not respond correctly under fluorescent lights and turned everything an unflattering yellow-green. However, it performed fine when switched to the fluorescent preset or with a manual reading, so it seems like an issue Nikon can fix with a firmware update.

Movie quality is on par with a pocket video camera; it's good but jittery when the shooter or subject is moving. On the upside, you do get use of the zoom; it moves slowly, but that keeps noise from its movement minimal. The mic works well, too, and there is a wind filter option, though it didn't seem to help much.

All things considered the Nikon Coolpix L110 is a nice package for the price and far better than its predecessor. If you're after a point-and-shoot with a long zoom lens, the L110 is just that. The photo quality and shooting performance are both that of a basic compact camera, however; it's best for capturing still subjects in lots of light, not things in motion or in low-light conditions.

Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Time to first shot  
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Shutter lag (dim)  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Canon PowerShot SX20 IS
Kodak EasyShare Z950
Fujifilm FinePix S1500
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35
Nikon Coolpix L110

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

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