Expert Review of Nikon Coolpix L24 Point & Shoot Black
Another fine device in terms of performance and overall features from the Nikon Coolpix L series is Nikon COOLPIX L24, a simple in-budget camera which sports a 14 Megapixel sensor, a very average optical zoom measuring 3.6x and a good large 3 inch LCD screen. The bar of the budget cameras is raised here with a sensor which provides a resolution more than 10 or 12 megapixels normally seen in budget cameras, the screen is also pretty much bigger in size. Another negative although is the video mode, shooting can still be done in SD 480p, 640 X 480 pixels and lack optical image stabilisation, however it does provide Nikon's Motion Detection and Vibration Reduction systems, both designed to mitigate the effects of camera and subject movement in low light conditions. The COOLPIX L24 is very much a point-and-shoot model. It lacks any form of advanced control over exposure and focussing and you can't manually set the ISO in Auto mode.
Design and Build Quality
Nikon COOLPIX L24 to describe the design in one word is compact, not light weight exactly but compact. The device comes with the dimensions measuring 96.7mm x 60.5mm x 28.3mm and hence is easy to handle and really fits in the hand as well as it slides in the pocket. Although the weight of 182 g may hinder the handling but that is unlikely. A bulge appears on the camera to provide proper grip and space for the double AA batteries that are flaunted in the device. Nikon Coolpix L24 has an integrated sort of look. On the top panel the on/off button and shutter release with zoom collar keep the control layout simple and functional. On the rear there is a mode button which activates a mode menu on the screen. This is a slightly more involved way of doing things than the traditional mode dial, but it keeps the number of physical controls to a minimum. One can safely say that most of Nikon COOLPIX L24 customers won't be changing modes all that often, though in the absence of a dedicated movie shooting button it does mean switching between still and movie recording takes a bit of thinking about and time - during which your moment could easily slip by.
Focus and Face Detection
Let us now talk about the focussing of Nikon COOLPIX L24, the AutoFocus is locked when the shutter release is held half way down so you can focus on a central subject, then recompose and shoot. Auto mode AF focusing is quick and accurate even in low light, where the AF assist lamp aids in selecting and locking focus almost instantaneously. The Easy Auto mode of this device has face detection. As much as 12 detected faces can be surrounded by a yellow square in one frame. The face detection of Coolpix series in particular has been a disappointment and this device does little to change that opinion. The face detection only works in the most ideal circumstances like good light conditions. In poor conditions it sometimes doess not recognize faces, at all!!
Lens and Image Stabilization
Nikon Coolpix L22, predecessor to the reviewed camera had the same lens that is sported in this device and the same lens was used in the model before that, Nikon Coolpix L20. This is like a huge disappointment that the company does not want to improve on this section. The range of 3.6x optical zoom lens of Nikon Coolpix L24 is 6.7 -24mm giving a 35mm equivalent range of 37 - 134mm. The zoom range is highly average, but a well known observation on budget compacts like Nikon COOLPIX L24 is that you can't expect to get a massive zoom range and the zoom is there more to help you nicely frame up shots rather than to get you close in to very distant action. Nikon COOLPIX L24 manages that quite well, but the problem is the 37mm wide angle is not really a true wide angle at all. Many budget compacts now sport 28mm wide angle lenses. This wont be any problem while indoors, but if you decide just to have a weekend trip of some sort in the outdoors and you require a wide lens definitely for capturing a landscape, what option does this device leave you? The AF is a little clumsy and takes time to get into function. It's not terribly smooth though and we found the lack of an option to disable the digital zoom a bit irritating. The zoom bar pauses before entering the digital zone and changes from white to yellow when you do, so it's something that can happen by accident if you're not paying attention. But if you're unlikely to want to use the digital zoom under any circumstances, or only rarely, having it constantly active just gets in the way.
Screen and Menus
Finally a segment where Nikon Coolpix L24 performs well, the 3 inch, 230,000 dot pixel screen coming in this price bracket, trust me, is no less that luxury. Not only is this screen bigger than the Canon PowerShot cameras in the price range but the contrast also is superb alongside the great brightness of the screen and stays that way at quite remote horizontal angles. Vertically, the illumination drops off more rapidly, but you can still see the screen with the camera held at arms-length above your head. Nikon Coolpix L20 also had a 3 inch screen, so Nikon was ahead of canon back in 2009 an still is in this game, as far as the screen goes this is the biggest and best screen possible for a budget device.
Nikon Coolpix L24 is supplied with AA batteries that last for 230 shots under CIPA conditions, once they are dead just replace them with NiMH rechargeable cells and you will get a battey life of 450 shots, replace them with Li-Ion and you can get upto 660 shots.
Nikon Coolpix L24 flaunts two movie modes SD at 480p which are 640 X 480 VGA sized clips at 30 frames per second and a quarter VGA sized option called Small which produces 320 x 240 clips also at 30fps. Movies are saved in an AVI wrapper using a Motion JPEG codec. The maximum length of a single movie is 29 minutes or when the file reaches 2GB.
Nikon COOLPIX L24's 1/2.3in CCD sensor records images with a maximum resolution of 4320 x 3240 pixels. At this size, two compression options are available with quoted ratios of 1:4 and 1:8, in other words the better quality mode applies half the compression of the other one. The best quality mode produces files of around 6MB in size.
3 inch 230k screen.
Good build quality and design.
Simple point and shoot operation.
14 Megapixel sensor
Poor low light performance
Image quality affected by noise
37mm maximum wide angle
Face detection hesitant and inconsistent