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Despite its small size the L10’s rounded shape, which is thicker on the right to accommodate the battery compartment, is easy to hold, while the control layout leaves room on the back for a small thumbgrip. The camera feels larger than it actually is. The controls themselves are sensibly laid out, with relatively large and easy-to-use buttons for menu and playback, and a simple three-position slider switch to select between standard shooting mode, scene mode and video mode. Flash mode, self timer, macro and exposure compensation are controlled by secondary operations of the D-pad. The plastic tripod bush is centrally located on the bottom plate, so the tripod plate will cover the battery hatch when in use, but there is a separate hatch on the side of the camera for the SD memory card.
One of the economies that allow the L10 to have such a low price is the relatively small (by recent standards) two-inch LCD monitor, but with 153k pixels it is nice and sharp, and has a good non-reflective coating so it’s usable even in bright sunlight.
Naturally the L10 isn’t overburdened with features. In standard shooting mode the menu has just six main options, and one of those is the set-up. The others are picture quality, white balance, continuous shooting, some limited colour options, and Nikon’s proprietary Best Shot Selector feature, a handy mode in which the camera takes several shots while the shutter button is held down, but only saves the best one (sharpest and best exposed) to the memory card. Like most of the L-series cameras the L10 has no manual ISO control.
In scene mode there is rather more on offer, with 16 programs covering all the usual scene situations, including portrait, landscape, sports, night portrait, indoor shooting, beach & snow, sunset, dusk & dawn, night landscape and several others. I was surprised to find that, despite its entry-level status, even the L10 is equipped with face detection technology. I guess my usual point about spending extra for features that aren’t that useful doesn’t apply in this case.
The L10 also has a competent video mode, shooting at 640 x 480 resolution and 30 frames a second, with mono sound provided by a small microphone just above the lens. The zoom lens cannot be used while filming, although it can be set before you start shooting. There is a limited digital zoom available.