Nikon Coolpix L22 Review

The Nikon Coolpix L22 is a 12-megapixels, budget-friendly compact camera that is powered by 2 AA batteries.  Nikon’s target for the L22 is clearly a casual snapshooter who isn’t really interested in thinking about photography.  It’s basic.  It’s simple.  It’s cheap.

To see whether this bargain-basement bare bones camera fits your bill, read on.

Nikon Coolpix L22 Key Features

  • 12MP
  • 3.6x Optical Zoom (37-134mm equivalent)
  • VR Image Stabilization
  • VGA 640 x 480 Video Capture
  • 3″ LCD
  • Powered by AA Batteries

Nikon Coolpix L22 Handling, Ergonomics and Control

The L22 is about as simple as they come in terms of ergonomics and control.  The body of the L22 is all plastic and offers a slightly wider right side than left thanks to the AA battery compartment.  I, for one, like the thicker grip area for the right hand.  The L22 is quite easy to hold with one hand.

It’s got an on/off button on top, along with a shutter release button.  A zoom rocker switch surrounds the shutter release and makes the L22 handle a little better than a lot of point and shoot cameras that put the zoom buttons on the rear (to be accessed by your thumb).

As part of the simple design, there’s no mode dial on the camera.  Instead, the shooting modes are accessed by pressing a button with a green camera symbol found on the rear.  This offers little control with only a few shooting modes: Easy Auto, Scene Selection, Smart Portrait, Movie and Auto.  The Scene Selection mode offers 16 common scenes that feature optimized presets for each scene type.

The typical 4-way navigation and OK button is also found on the rear of the camera, which aids in menu navigation and selections.  When ready to shoot, the 4-way controller doubles as quick access buttons for flash, self-timer, macro focus and exposure compensation.

Pressing the menu button takes you into a rather bare menu that offers only image size and general setup options, except for when shooting in Auto mode – the you get additional settings for white balance, drive mode (e.g., single image, continuous, etc.) and color options (e.g., standard, vivid, b&w, sepia, cyanotype).  That’s it.  No ISO, no additional focusing modes, nothing.

Shooting with the Nikon Coolpix L22

Capturing images and video with the Nikon L22 is a very straightforward and simple process.  The L22 is the epitome of “point and shoot” . . . because you can’t do much else with it.

That said, operation is quite smooth.  Focus is acquired fairly quickly, although focusing on objects in low light can take a bit longer.  Shot to shot time is not exactly speedy, but still acceptable for a camera of this price.

Video capture with the L22 follows the “basic” trend and is largely underwhelming.  It starts and stops using the shutter release and you get a digital zoom while filming.  Of course, the advantage of the digital zoom is the lack of a zoom motor noise in playback.  The limited VGA resolution and 4:3 format is rather boring these days; however, the L22 never promised to be exciting.

As with the Fuji S1800 that I just reviewed, the L22 shares its AA battery compartment with an SD card slot.  While this combo is still frustrating, it’s a little less so because you only have to worry about two loose AA batteries with the S1800 instead of four with the S1800.  Also, I expect less out of such a bare bones camera like the L22.

Nikon Coolpix L22 Image Quality

The good thing about the L22 is that image quality isn’t bad.  It’s not the best, but certainly not the worst.  Nikon appears to have gotten a little carried away with sharpening and noise control looks quite mushy at ISO 800; however, most users of the L22 probably won’t be looking too hard.  And, the sharpening will likely aid their 4 x 6 prints anyway.  For $120, the L22 can produce acceptable snapshots. Just don’t expect the world from it.

Below are a handful of images captured with the Nikon L22.  Feel free to download any of these sample images for your personal inspection (not for republication).  You can get the original files by right-clicking on any of the images and choosing “Save link as…”

Nikon Coolpix L22 Accessories

Rechargeable AA Batteries – The Nikon L22 comes with 2 AA alkaline batteries, which are required to power the camera.  If you don’t have any, it might be a good idea to pick up some rechargeable batteries to help out your wallet and the environment.

Memory cards – I’ve used fast cards and basic Kingston SD cards in the Nikon L22, and the slow, basic cards worked just fine. There’s no need to go all out on fast memory cards with the L22. Cheap cards from reputable brands will work just fine. The L22 is compatible with all SD and SDHC cards – but not SDXC cards.

Memory card reader – If you don’t own a memory card reader, they make transferring images to your computer a world faster. I highly recommend picking one up with the L22. They’re cheap and big time saver. Lexar makes a good card reader for about $15.

Conclusions

The Nikon L22 is a camera that will work for people who really don’t want to interact with their cameras.  It’s basic.  You point and shoot, and then let the camera decide what it wants to do.  Usually, you’ll get decent results; however, it doesn’t offer expanded shooting modes and fine tuning that you’ll find in more expensive cameras.

There’s really not much more to say about the Nikon L22.  If you’re reading this review, the L22 is probably not what you’re looking for; however, it might be the right gift for the non-photographer in your life that just needs a cheap point and shoot to capture those occasional snapshots.

The Nikon Coolpix L22 is available from Photography Bay’s trusted retail partner, B&H Photo, at the following link:

Nikon Coolpix L22 at B&H Photo

By making your photography purchases at B&H Photo through these links, you are helping Photography Bay to continue bring quality camera tests, news and reviews. Thanks for your continued support.

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