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Review: Nikon COOLPIX L110

Expanding the Life series, the L110 has arrived, and we've reviewed it just for you.

The Nikon COOLPIX L110 comes in as the most powerful and well-equipped compact in Nikon’s ‘Life’ range.
Superseding the L100 with a higher-resolution 12.1 sensor, the L110 also improves on its movie resolution, now at 720p HD.
The Nikon L110, just like its predecessor, is a bridge camera with technology that looks good on paper. Desirable features include a three-inch LCD screen and five different blur technologies. When we reviewed the L100 (in issue 101) our criticism was of its poor image quality, so we had our fingers crossed for the upgrade, placing pressure on the L110 to reinstate our faith in Nikon’s compact superzooms.
The L110’s most impressive feature is its lens. A 15x optical zoom is equivalent to 28mm wide-angle, and a 420mm for telephoto. The lens sits solidly in the barrel of the camera, and is smooth and fast to use. The large front glass element gleams from the inside. Lenses of such long zoom are often supported by one or more stabilisers, but the L110 goes a step further, with five anti-blur technologies on board. Sensor-shift VR (vibration reduction), electronic VR, high ISO, Best Shot and motion detection all aid the decision process for making crisp images shot in unsteady situations. All of these combined makes for a flawless stabilisation system.

The L110 has no Manual option, if tweaking settings is your area of interest. Instead, the modes include Easy Auto, Scene, Smart Portrait, Sport Continuous and Auto. Smart Portrait switches on options such as Blink Proof, Face Priority AF and Smile Timer, to make sure faces look at their best. Sport Continuous mode shoots a maximum of 30 shots in a matter of seconds, however, reducing the image resolution to 3MP. To use what manual controls the L110 has to offer, switching to Auto mode allows you to adjust settings for ISO, white balance, or choose an alternative but slower Continuous Shooting mode for capturing subjects at full 12.1MP.

Scene mode contains 14 different options for shooting a number of scenarios, some of which include Panorama Assist, Night Landscape and Close-up. When shooting macro photography, it is important to use this mode instead of the dedicated Macro button for more detailed close-ups at a distance of one centimetre.
Unfortunately, the Nikon L110 fails to satisfy all of the check boxes under image quality. Playing back on a big screen from a distance, colours are bright and definition appears to be high. It’s not until you look closer that you realise noise, or what could be the camera’s attempt at reducing the problem, is an issue, even at low ISO ratings of 100 and 200.
The processing speed of the L110 performs slower when saving images in macro, and at longer zooms, too. In Auto mode, the camera works faster and doesn’t keep you waiting long before you can shoot the next frame. The camera’s processor is not the best we’ve come across, and for Nikon to raise the bar for bridge cameras and compete with the likes of Canon, Panasonic and Fujifilm, the processing power of its compacts needs improving.

The exterior scores higher in our eyes than the inner workings of the L110. We’re keen on its smart and practical profil

e, with great finishing touches such as a textured pad on the hand grip. There’s a space for your thumb to rest in on the back, and its buttons are recessed when they’re not needed. The flash is manually operated by lifting two tabs, and the camera’s overall build quality is to a high standard. The Nikon COOLPIX L110 is a practical compact that’s not without its flaws. The decision to invest will come down to just how critical your eye is for final image definition.