Expert Review of Nikon Coolpix L120
Nikon Coolpix L120 is one of the strongest devices in the superzoom camera arsenal flaunted from Nikon and sports a 14.1 megapixel sensor. The major attraction of this camera is the 21x optical zoom lens at 35mm equivalent range of 25mm to 525mm with a unique side control lever for smooth zooming throughout the range, sensor-shift Vibration Reduction, 720p HD movie recording with stereo sound and a 3-inch LCD screen with a resolution of 921,000 dots. There are other major attractions that make this device even more desirable which include over 20 scene modes, a 1cm macro mode, AA battery power, and a Sport Continuous mode that shoots up to 20 frames at 15fps, although at reduced resolution. The better and more wide angled zoom which measures 21x is heartily welcome, and the range is extended at both minimum and maximum ends of the range without making the device physically bigger in dimensions than the predecessor. Also, you can operate it with both hands, this utility proves really very useful and something that is wanted on more superzoom devices. The screen on the LCD is really great and feels a little too overspecced for a budget device!! NO! We are definitely not complaining!!
Design and Build Quality
When you look at the design and build quality of Nikon Coolpix L120, it is surprisingly similar to Nikon Coolpix L110. Nikon Coolpix L120 also inherits the big and comfortable hand-grip provided by its precursor which still gets power from the four AA batteries required to power up the camera, but this time it benefits more from a larger textured rubberised area which is used to aid in handling purposes. When it comes to Nikon Coolpix L110, a set of 4 R6/AA-size batteries share their home with the memory card, and given that there is nothing to keep them in place when the compartment door is open, you need to be careful when changing cards, otherwise the batteries spill out onto the floor, these batteries are really readily available.
Focus and Face Detection
The Autofocus system of Nikon Coolpix L120 performs expertly well for close up, portraits and generally just in most indoor and outdoor lighting environments with tracking, single and continuous AF modes, plus AF area modes adjustable for face priority, auto, manual and centre. The only area where Nikon Coolpix L120 does struggle a bit is in low contrast and low light conditions, and when the object to be captured is travelling in very high pace.
Lens and Image Stabilization
Most of the front of Nikon Coolpix L120 is dominated by its huge lens, even when it sits retracted inside, although very impressively, the lens is not really larger than Nikon Coolpix L110. When you power-up the device, the lens extends good provided only that you have not forgot to open the lens cap beforehand (duh!). If you have left the lens cap there, you will have to turn the camera off and on again. The lens on this device is noway near tremendous in terms of maximum aperture which for the record is f/3.1 at wide angle and f/5.8 at the telephoto end. The focal range on the other hand is really impressive which starts at 4.5mm (equivalent to 25mm) and goes all the way to 94.5mm (equivalent to 525mm).
Screen and Menus
Almost the entire rear of Nikon Coolpix L120 is covered by the big 3 inch LCD screen which is probably the best and the most unusually welcome feature of the device. The resolution of this screen has increased from a moderate 46100 to a tremendous 9,61,000 which is rarely seen in a budget superzoom. Nikon Coolpix L120 also retains an anti-reflective coating, which makes it perfectly usable for framing your shots even in direct sunlight, an important virtue given that the L120 has no eye-level viewfinder of any sort. As for image review, this is something you will still want to do in the shade of your body rather than out in the sun. The layout of the rear controls is almost the same as on Nikon Coolpix L110, with a few minor differences. The movie record button, marked by a red dot, has been made larger and moved to the top of the rear of the camera. This button means you don't need to select a dedicated movie shooting mode from the menu, but can start filming whenever you want. Unfortunately, it still takes the Nikon L120 a couple of seconds to actually begin recording a video clip after you've pushed the movie record button. There's now a more ergonomic rubberised area where your right thumb naturally rests to help aid your grip on the camera.
Like the precursor Nikon Coolpix L110, Nikon Coolpix L120 also draws out power from four AA batteries which can be alkaline, lithium or Ni-MH (rechargeable), this provokes the potential customes to weigh up the pros of this device much more than cons. Battery life is pleasing when used with Alkaline batteries, mainly thanks to the energy saving feature of Nikon Coolpix L120. The proposed 330 shots or 3 hours and 5 minutes of proposed video recording skins down to 300 frame mark. Also Nikon claims that camera can record upto a huge 890 images and 7 hours 45 minutes of HD recording when coupled with lithium batteries.
Although dissapointingly not able to shoot Full HD 1080p video, Nikon Coolpix L310 can shoot HD video at 1280 x 720p resolution at 30 frames per second. Images are encoded using the H.264 codec at an average bit rate of 11Mbps. There's also a VGA 640 x 480 standard definition mode that records at 3Mbps. Nikon recommends using a speed class 6 card or faster for recording video. The optical zoom can be used while recording and is restricted to the slower of its two speeds, which is relatively quiet, though not quiet enough to avoid its buzz being picked up by the built-in stereo microphones.
Nikon Coolpix L120 sports a 14.1MP 1/2.3 type CMOS sensor, sports a continuous mode powering out 20 frames at 15fps albeit as a reduced resolution of 3MP, a 1cm close up mode for unrivalled macro shots, and a HD video mode providing a resolution of 1280 x 720 at 30fps.
1. Impressive 21x zoom is great for most scenes
2. Colour and detail replication is outstanding
3. Image quality is strong overall
1. Not much manual control
2. AF system struggled in low light