The Nikon Coolpix L110 is a 12.1-megapixel superzoom camera with a 15x optical zoom equivalent to 28-420mm on a 35mm camera. While a 15x zoom isn’t quite at the top of the superzoom food chain today, two or three years ago that was about the best you could buy. Nowadays, 15x zoom cameras are your entry-level superzooms, and the Nikon L110 is targeted squarely at the novice user in terms of its controls and usability.
To see how the Nikon L110 measures up, read on.
Nikon Coolpix L110 Key Features
- 15x Optical Zoom
- 720p HD Video Capture
- 3″ LCD
- Powered by AA Batteries
Nikon Coolpix L110 Handling, Ergonomics and Control
With a 15x zoom lens, the Nikon L110 is not necessarily a small camera. Additionally, the use of 4 AA batteries as a power source adds some bulk to the camera’s body. However, even with that bulk, the L110 handles well.
The rubberized grip is easy to hang onto, and it fits comfortably in the hand. An indentation on the rear of the camera offers a resting place for your thumb, allowing you to squeeze and grip the camera with one hand. Of course, for telephoto shots, you’ll want to steady the camera with two hands.
The Nikon L110 follows the simplistic control scheme found on other Nikon compacts for 2010. In fact, the L110’s button layout is almost identical to the previously reviewed (and much more compact) Nikon S3000.
On top of the L110, you get a power button and a shutter release, which has a zoom rocker switch wrapped around it. The zoom rocker is intuitive for operation with the index finger, and works the zoom function smoothly. You raise the flash by manually flipping it up, as opposed to pressing a button for it so spring into action.
The backside of the camera has a basic set of buttons for changing shooting modes, previewing images, along with menu access and navigation. The circular 4-way button on the rear does dual duty as menu navigator and quick access during shooting to flash, self-timer, exposure compensation and macro settings.
I was a bit disappointed when navigating the menu and shooting modes to discover than the most control afforded to me was “Auto” mode. There’s no way to manually adjust aperture or shutter speeds on the L110. However, you can add exposure compensation and adjust ISO settings from ISO 80-6400. That said, for the target market of novice users, this should be enough control to satisfy.
Users looking forward to the 720p video mode on the L110 will appreciate a dedicated video-record button on the rear of the camera, which is in easy reach of your thumb. This one touch operation for video capture keeps you out of the menu system when you are just trying to grab a quick clip of action. While this feature is becoming more and more popular on point and shoot cameras, you won’t find it on all of them. (Note to camera manufacturers: If video capture is available on your camera, this one-touch record function is essential.) Kudos to Nikon for including it here.
Another great thing about the video capture is that you can zoom while recording. While the L110 doesn’t always offer smooth focusing while zooming, the fact that you can zoom while recording is something that should be overlooked. A number of point and shoot cameras won’t let you zoom when recording video, which is frustrating when you have a superzoom camera in your hands. So, don’t overlook this feature when making your comparisons.
The final kudos to the L110’s video capture mode goes to the stereo mic for audio capture. Again, there are a lot of cameras out there without stereo audio capture – even though they offer HD video capture. And, while the L110 doesn’t necessarily compete with a decent camcorder in terms of audio or video, it deserves credit for putting the pieces in place, which are completely left out of other cameras – particularly when considering its rather affordable price point.
Here’s a quick sample that shows what video from the L110 looks like. Note the zoom range from wide to telephoto, as well as the stabilization for handheld filming at full telephoto zoom.
The Nikon L110 suffers from a frustrating feature common to cameras using AA batteries – the placement of the SD card slot. I’ve said it before, but whoever thought it would be a good idea to put an SD slot under the same cover as the 4 AA batteries needs to go back to camera design school.
This location for the SD slot would be fine if we were dealing with the typical lithium ion battery, which usually has a secondary lock to keep it in place. But with the L110, you get 4 AA batteries that are only secured by the door which you also have to open to insert or remove the SD card. As a result, you have to make sure to hold the camera upside down and not turn it beyond 90 degrees from that point while adding or removing the SD card – else you’ll loose a battery . . . or four.
Nikon Coolpix L110 Image Quality
As with a lot of other reasonably-priced point and shoot cameras, the Nikon L110 fails to deliver knockout image quality. Get beyond ISO 400 and the images start to break down when viewed in large sizes. However, for most snapshooters out there who just want a camera to capture casual images to be used as 4 x 6 prints or low-res web and email image files, the L110 will serve you just fine.
The 12MP files are a little overkill for most of the target market. The 3MP images at ISO 3200 and ISO 6400 will be acceptable for 4 x 6 prints when required, although that will be about the only use for those settings, and even there, don’t expect too much. Given the poor noise control at ISO 1600, I wonder whether the L110 would not have benefitted from a lower-resolution setting at ISO 1600 as well.
Below are a handful of images captured with the Nikon L110. 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 L110 Accessories
Rechargeable AA Batteries – The Nikon L110 uses 4 AA batteries, which are required to power the camera. If you don’t have any, it would be a good idea to pick up some rechargeable batteries to help out your wallet and the environment. Otherwise, you’ll be shelling out a lot of money on alkalines.
Memory cards – I’ve used the basic Kingston SD cards in the L110, which worked just fine. No need to go all out on fast memory cards with the L110. Cheap cards from reputable brands will work just fine. The L110 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 L110. They’re cheap and big time saver. Lexar makes a good card reader for about $15.
I enjoyed the Nikon L110 even if it did lack some of the more common shooting modes. The L110 is not the camera to knock your socks off with magnificent image quality. If you are looking for a top-tier superzoom, I recommend that you pony up and shell out the cash for a Nikon P100 or Fuji HS10. And, if those don’t meet your needs, you’ll be shopping for a DSLR.
The basic control scheme will be helpful to those who aren’t tech-savvy, but will frustrate more experienced shooters. The lack of a P, A, S or M shooting mode should tell you that Nikon is targeting novice users with the L110. And, for those users, the L110 is certainly an attractive camera.
The Nikon L110 is somewhat of a bargain price at around $260; however, those shopping for superzoom cameras should also consider the similarly-equipped Fuji S1800 and S2550HD, which are priced around $200 or less.
All in all, the Nikon L110 is a reasonably-priced and reasonably-performing superzoom camera. And, for the novice user, the basic control scheme may be enough to seal the deal.
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