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Nikon COOLPIX L22 Ken McMahon, April 2010
 
   
 

Nikon COOLPIX L22 verdict

The Nikon COOLPIX L22 is a 12 Megapixel budget compact with a 3.6x optical zoom and a 3in 230k pixel screen. For one of the cheapest budget compacts around it is very well equipped.

Launched in February 2010 to replace the best-selling COOLPIX L20, the new L22 is available in black, silver and red. The similarly specified L21, launched at the same time, has an 8 Megapixel sensor, a smaller screen, a slightly different zoom range and minor differences in the body shape and size.

The L22 is powered by a pair of AA batteries and uses SD card media. Unlike the two Canon Compacts we tested alongside itthe L22 does not support the new high-capacity fast data transfer rate SDXC card format.

The L22 is essentially a budget point-and-shoot camera with few opportunities for the user to take control. It features automatic exposure modes with scene recognition and auto-only setting of the ISO sensitivity. If you're on a tight budget and don't mind handing over pretty much all control to the camera, it's a good choice, but how does it measure-up against two affordable models from arch-rival Canon?

 
 



Compared to Canon PowerShot A490 / A495

 
 
     

Compared to the Canon PowerShot A490 / A495 the Nikon COOLPIX L22 looks like a bargain. It has 2 Megapixels of additional resolution, a larger, higher resolution LCD screen and a zoom lens with a slightly extended range at the telephoto end.

Two areas where it cannot match the PowerShot A490 / A495 though for are image quality and control. The first of these is likely to be more of an issue for you if you are trying to decide between these two budget compacts. After all, other things being equal, who wouldn't choose the camera that takes the best quality pictures?

On the question of control, it depends on what you want. While not providing full manual control, the PowerShot A490 / A495 does allow you to manually set the ISO sensitivity. It provides more control over other areas of operation and provides more and better information about those settings during shooting and playback, along with superior face detection.

Look out for our upcoming review of the Canon PowerShot A490 / A495 for more details.

 

 


Compared to Canon PowerShot A3000 IS / A3100 IS

 
 
     

The same argument, more or less, applies to the Canon PowerShot A3000 IS / A3100 IS. Both cameras have the same maximum image size, the COOLPIX L22 has a slightly larger LCD screen, and the PowerShot A3000 IS / A3100 IS has a slightly longer 4x zoom range.

The big difference, of course, is that the A3000 IS / A3100 IS has optical image stabilization, making it a much more capable camera for shooting in low light and indoors without flash.

That, plus better image quality, superior face detection and all of the control options we already talked about in respect of the A490 / A495. Don't forget, though, that there's an even bigger price difference between these two cameras than there is between the L22 and the A490 / A495. If you shoot a lot of still subjects in lower light though, you'll appreciate the presence of optical stabilisation on the Canon.

See our Canon PowerShot A3000 IS / A3100 IS review for more details.

 

Nikon COOLPIX L22 verdict

The Nikon COOLPIX L22 is, without doubt, fantastic value for money. It's one of the cheapest budget compacts on the market, yet boasts better features than cameras costing more than twice as much. You don't see too many 12 Megapixel compacts at this price point, let alone ones with 3in / 230k screens and an optical zoom approaching 4x.

Though not up to the quality standards of the more expensive Canon PowerShots, the COOLPIX L22's images are well exposed, vibrant and punchy and show reasonably good detail. Despite its Motion Detection and Electronic Vibration reduction features, it doesn't perform well in poor light and if you do a lot of low light photography and like to shoot indoors in natural light, the A3000 IS / A3100 IS would be a better choice. But if you want a camera you can literally point and shoot, without having to worry at all about exposure, ISO, metering, autofocus, or any of the other features of more demanding, more expensive compacts, the L22 is hard to beat.

 




Good points
Inexpensive and uncomplicated.
Excellent build quality for the money.
3in / 230k screen.
12 Megapixel sensor.

Bad points
No optical or sensor-shift stabilization.
Poor Face detection in low light.
Image quality lacking viewed at 100%.
No TV cable supplied.



Scores

(relative to 2010 compacts)

Build quality:
Image quality:
Handling:
Specification:
Value:

Overall:

17 / 20
14 / 20
16 / 20
17 / 20
18 / 20

82%


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