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As far as I can recall, this is Nikon’s longest range maxi-zoom compact. Previously there was the L20, with a 21x zoom — but nothing at this 26x level.
There is a demand for such cameras. And, as I’ve said before, if you want long zooms, the last thing you want is to lug a heavy DSLR with a pricey and heavy lens … if you could find a DSLR zoom with a 20x plus range!
The price you pay of course, with such a compact digicam, is a small sensor, usually around 11mm in diagonal. But the benefit with such a small sensor is a comparatively small lens. For the photographer willing to accept the compromise, it’s a win, win situation.
Of course, you lose a few advantages: JPEG is the only still image capture (aside from 3D); while metering is accomplished in matrix, centre-weight and spot modes, there is only an auto exposure mode.
The L810 is a delight to hold, thanks to a substantial, textured speed grip and its light weight. Controls are grouped around the shutter button, so a thumb and forefinger can usually drive all the buttons. I have to say the camera has a marvelous ‘hold me’ appeal!
A surprisingly attractive and useful feature is a second zoom control, built into the zoom barrel’s left side, which allows firmer two-handed operation of the camera.
The camera’s CCD can hold 16.1 million pixels, with a maximum image size of 4068×3456 pixels, sufficient to make a 34x29cm print. Movies are recorded at a maximum res of only 1280×720 pixels, which seems pretty mean to me, when there are other digicams around the same price level that can shoot Full HD.
Many will find one rare feature with dramatic appeal, especially if you travel outside the usual spheres of commerce: the power supply is a quartet of AA batteries: you can either single use alkaline or lithium, as well as rechargeable NiCad cells. If you’re up the Limpopo river, with or without a paddle, you will doubtless have more chance of picking up a bundle of alkalines than an opportunity of plugging your charger into mains power!
While auto exposure is the main ‘go’, there is a large bundle of scene modes which can help the raw amateur make huge leaps in ability: among these are portrait, night landscape, fireworks, panorama and so on. There’s also a 3D shooting facility, with the result viewable on suitable 3D TV sets.
In two seconds from startup, the camera was ready to shoot; each subsequent shot took two seconds to capture.
A very slight indication of barrel distortion at the wide end of the zoom; no sign of any problems at the tele end.
Up to ISO 800 all seems to be ship-shape, but I figure ISO 1600 is not useable due to an increase in noise and a drop in resolution.
Quality: about average.
Why you would buy it: longish zoom range; good balance in the hand.
Why you wouldn’t: no Full HD video capture; limited exposure options; poor ISO performance; .
The battery compartment is notoriously hard to open; I never did manage to feel comfortable with it.
The camera is available in three colours: black, red and blue.
Image Sensor: 16.1 million effective pixels.
Sensor Size: 11mm CCD.
Lens: Nikkor f3.5-5.9/4.0-104mm (22.5-585mm as 35 SLR equivalent).
Metering: Matrix, centre-weighted, spot.
Shutter Speed: 4 to 1/1500 second.
Continuous Shooting: 4fps.
Memory: SD, SDHC, SDXC cards plus 50MB internal memory.
Image Sizes (pixels): 4068×3456 to 640×480. Movies: 1280x720p, 640×480 pixels.
Viewfinder: 7.5cm LCD (921,000 pixels).
File Formats: JPEG, MPEG4, MPO.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 80 to 1600.
Interface: USB 2.0, HDMI mini, AV, DC.
Power: Four AA alkaline or lithium batteries, DC input.
Weight: Approx. 430 g (inc batteries and card).
Price: Get a price on the Nikon Coolpix L810 at Amazon.