Nikon Coolpix L830 review: Perfect for autoshooting zoom fiends

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The Good The Nikon Coolpix L830 is easy enough for just about anyone to pick up and use; it has higher-end features for its price, such as a tilting high-res LCD; and has very good daylight photo and movie quality.

The Bad No electronic viewfinder or control over shutter speed and aperture might be disappointing for some. Autofocus performance is on the slow side when the lens is zoomed in as well as in low light or indoors.

The Bottom Line With easy-to-use controls, a nice tilting LCD, and pleasing photo quality, the affordable 34x zoom Nikon Coolpix L830 is a solid pick.

7.5 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Performance 8
  • Image quality 7

The Nikon Coolpix L830 is all about giving you an affordable long-zoom camera that's not bloated with features you might never use, but has just enough of them to keep you from feeling cheated or like you're missing out.

It's a modest update from last year's L820 , which was a good deal as well. In fact, the differences between the two pretty much come down to three features: a tilting LCD (the L820's was fixed), a little extra zoom (765mm compared to 675mm), and a Dynamic Fine Zoom that digitally extends the zoom range to 1,530mm.

There are a couple of other minor differences including improved battery life from its four, AA-size batteries, but generally speaking, it's those three things that separate the two. It's well priced for what you're getting: it starts at $299.95 (£229.99, $299 AU), but can be found for considerably less.

Photo quality

Image quality and shooting performance don't noticeably improve over the L820's either, which is fine since that camera was already very good for its class. In daylight conditions, you'll get some very nice photos and movie clips from the L830.

Small-sensor compacts such as the L830 have their limitations, so if you're pixel peeping, things probably won't look so hot; despite appearances, this is not a dSLR. Viewed onscreen at 100 percent, you'll see artifacts and noise, even at its base sensitivity of ISO 125. And you'll also see fringing in high-contrast areas. As long as you don't typically enlarge your photos to full size and heavily crop them, the results are quite good.

As the sensitivity increases, so do noise and smeary details from noise reduction. Also, colors appear slightly washed out and muddy from noise at ISO 800 and above. There's enough detail where you could use them at very small sizes, and some sharpening would probably help, too. Still, you'll probably want to avoid shooting in low light whenever possible.

Video quality is good enough for Web use and nondiscriminating TV viewing. If you plan to do a lot of panning from side to side or shooting fast-moving subjects, you'll likely see judder and ghosting, but not enough to make clips unwatchable. The zoom does work when recording, but you may hear it moving in very quiet scenes.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Shooting performance

AA-battery-powered cameras tend to be slower performers than cameras that use rechargeable lithium ion battery packs. The L830, however, is reasonably fast and improves slightly over the L820.

Elapsed time from off to first shot is 1.2 seconds. The time from pressing the shutter release to capture without prefocusing is just over 0.1-second in bright lighting and 0.3-second in low lighting. Shot-to-shot times averaged 0.7-second. The time between shots when using the flash is nearly as good at 1.5 seconds, which is remarkably fast.

The camera's full-resolution burst mode is capable of capturing up to five frames at 8.7 frames per second, which is better than the 6.7fps Nikon claims. That, however, is with focus and exposure set at the first shot, so fast-moving subjects might not be in focus for all of the photos, and it takes about 5 seconds for those images to be saved before you can shoot again.

Also, it takes a little longer to focus and shoot when zoomed all the way in, which can be frustrating when trying to lock on to a moving target. The same goes for indoors or low-light conditions.

Key specs Nikon Coolpix L830 Fujifilm FinePix S8200
Price (MSRP) $299.95 $299.95
Dimensions (WHD) 4.4x3x3.6 inches (111x75.8x91.2 mm) 4.8x3.4x4.5 inches (122.6x86.9x116.2 mm)
Weight (with battery and media) 18 ounces (508g) 20 ounces (577g)
Megapixels, image sensor size, type 16 megapixels, 1/2.3-inch BSI CMOS 16 megapixels, 1/2.3-inch BSI CMOS
LCD size, resolution/viewfinder 3-inch tilting LCD, 920K dots/None 3-inch LCD, 460K dots/electronic
Lens (zoom, aperture, focal length) 34x, f3.0-5.9, 22.5-765mm (35mm equivalent) 40x, f2.9-6.5 24-960mm (35mm equivalent)
File format (still/video) JPEG/MPEG-4 AVC H.264 (.MOV) JPEG/MPEG-4 AVC H.264 (.MOV)
Highest resolution size (still/video) 4,608x3,456 pixels/ 1,920x1,080 pixels at 30fps (progressive) 4,608x3,456 pixels/ 1,920x1,080 pixels at 60fps (progressive)
Image stabilization type Optical and digital Optical and digital
Battery type, CIPA rated life AA size (4, alkaline included), 390 shots AA size (4, alkaline included), 300 shots
Battery charged in camera No No
Storage media SD/SDHC/SDXC (not included) SD/SDHC/SDXC (not included)

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