Nikon Coolpix L4 review: Nikon Coolpix L4

Like most low-end, budget digital cameras, the Nikon Coolpix L4 is a bit light on the features. ISO sensitivity is set automatically, although white balance and exposure compensation give some degree of control. An ample assortment of 15 scene presets help make up for the meager manual controls by configuring the camera to shoot under special situations, such as inside a museum or against a backlight. While the camera has a 640x480 movie mode, it shoots at only 15fps and doesn't record sound. For a fully functional movie mode, try the L4's bigger brother, the Nikon Coolpix L3, which shoots VGA movies at 30fps with sound. The L4 doesn't have an image stabilization mode, though it does detect possibly blurry photos as you take them based on a number of camera settings, such as shutter speed, and prompts you to save or delete the questionable image.

Performance was a bit sluggish, but in good lighting, the L4 is still quite usable. After an irritating 4.5 seconds to start up and capture its first image, the L4 can snap off an image every 2.9 seconds. With the onboard flash enabled, the rate slows to 4.4 seconds. Shutter lag is a decent 0.9 second in adequate lighting but a disappointing 2 seconds under dim light.

Images from the Coolpix L4 reproduced colors faithfully but still suffered from some irksome issues. We noticed distinct purple fringing along high-contrast edges, and some finer details were softened in postprocessing. Despite these flaws, our images generally turned out clear and noise-free.

The Nikon Coolpix L4 isn't the quickest or most versatile camera out there, but its solid images and tiny price tag make it a good choice for budget-minded photographers who don't need too many options.

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