Rob Clymo
18/04/2012 18:10 | By Rob Clymo, contributor, MSN Tech & Gadgets

Nikon L810 review

A superzoom with bags of value that is perfect for those graduating from a point-and-shoot.

1 of 10

What is it?
Nikon L810. A budget Nikon superzoom with powerful features and a big zoom lens.

What's great
It comes with an appealing price tag, boasts a well-rounded feature set (including the ability to shoot impressive macros) and is wonderfully easy to use.

What's not
Performance could be quicker: image processing and the panorama mode can prove a little laboured.

The bottom line
A superzoom with bags of value that makes an ideal next step from the point-and-shoot end of the marketplace.

The L810 is a new addition to the Life range of Coolpix cameras from Nikon and comes with more than enough to satisfy anyone who feels they've exhausted the capabilities of their point-and-shoot.

It's excellent value for money too, with a 16-megapixel sensor, the capacity for 720p HD movie capture and a beefy 26x optical lens.

NIkon L810 is rated four stars out of five by MSN Tech & Gadgets (© Nikon)

Considering the heft of that lens, the camera itself is surprisingly compact and, although the range of model colours that include metallic red, blue, bronze and black aren't exactly understated, the design is very nice indeed.

When it's powered down the zoom is stored away neatly inside the barrel-shaped housing on the front of the camera, saving it from unwanted dust and damage.

A practical rubber-clad grip built into the design of the body means that the L810 is easy to hold on to, even when you're faced with a one-handed shooting situation.

The built-in twin microphones, large speaker and a built-in pop-up flash ensure the camera is ready for both still and HD video action when called upon.

Round the back is a three-inch LCD screen with an anti-reflective coating. Although it's fixed in place (rather than articulated as found on some rival models) the viewing angle is fine.

See also - Jon Bentley's compact camera group test (video)

Dedicated movie recording can be controlled via a button adjacent to the screen and a four-way d-pad offers access to the Nikon menu system, which has flash, exposure compensation, macro and self-timer options.

If you're after bright and breezy shooting, with little in the way of hands-on involvement, then the Easy Auto mode offers an alternative to zipping through menus and tweaking controls manually.

Camera settings are all taken care of on your behalf and that means the L810 can also double as something of a premium grade point-and-shoot if the mood so takes you.

That said, you'll also find the little Nikon bristles with plenty of scene modes that make it perfect for taking everything from portraits through to panoramas.

While the panorama feature itself might actually need you to have more involvement post-shoot and is therefore more labour-intensive, it does still work to pretty good effect.

Nikon L810 is rated four stars out of five by MSN Tech & Gadgets (© Nikon)

Elsewhere, the Smart Portrait exposure mode option is perfect for family photo moments, and the ability to soften skin or employ other subtle techniques for snapping relatives in the best light possible is always going to come in handy.

Considering the relatively frugal price tag, the Nikon L810 proves particularly adept at getting the job done, although it's not a lightning-fast performer compared to models further up the price spectrum.

Nevertheless, the resulting images are rich in colour, sport a wide dynamic range and are crisp too. Lens-shift vibration reduction helps quell some camera shake, which can be exacerbated by that 26x lens, and definitely comes in handy, while the feature set on offer here means that the L810 is well-equipped for most shooting forays. All in all then, it's a top-notch little superzoom.

Nikon L810 is rated four stars out of five by MSN Tech & Gadgets

Essential info
Megapixels: 16.1
Sensor: 1/2.3-in. type CCD
LCD: three-inch, 921,000 dots, TFT
ISO: Auto, 80-1600
Video: HD, 1280x720 (30fps)
Memory cards: SD, SDHC, SDXC
Weight: 430g (including battery and memory card)
Dimensions: 111.1 x 76.3 x 83.1mm
Price: £229