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Nikon CoolPix L14 - Nikon CoolPix L14
In order to sell the L14, Nikon has resorted to the same rather dubious claim that it made for the now discontinued CoolPix L6, which is that it can take 1,000 photos on one pair of AA batteries. This claim isn't exactly false, but it is rather misleading. The L14 is supplied with a pair of Energizer Lithium batteries, which are specifically designed to power modern digital devices such as cameras. They are amazing batteries, about half the weight of conventional alkaline batteries, but lasting up to seven times as long and with much better cold weather performance. They are more expensive than alkaline batteries, but they are totally worth it and I heartily recommend them. Yes, the L14 will take about 1,000 shots using Energizer Lithium batteries, but then so will pretty much any modern AA-powered camera. It's not a lie, but it's not an entirely honest way to sell a camera, is it?
It's a pity that this supposed feature is a bit of a non-starter, because the L14 doesn't have a lot else going for it. Like most of the other L-series cameras, the L14 has no manual ISO setting, because that would be far too complicated. It does have exposure compensation though, because of course everyone understands how that works. It has a 10-second self-timer, a small list of flash modes, and a basic macro mode, although with a close-focusing distance of 10cm it barely deserves the name. Its main menu has but one page, and that only has five options in the normal auto mode. There is a scene mode, with 15 fairly standard scene programs, and a one touch portrait mode with face detection, although I have to say that the FD system on the L14 is one of the most useless that I've found. Astonishingly the L14 also has an even simpler Easy Auto mode which limits the menu to just the picture quality setting. Seriously, if anyone finds the L14's normal auto mode too complicated, they probably shouldn't be allowed to have a digital camera in the first place. They'd only try to eat it or something.
They'd have a hard time though, because despite its many limitations the L14 is indisputably a well-made camera. Using the lithium batteries it is very light at only about 140g, but it feels solid and robust rather than fragile. The plastic body is strong and the finish resists marks quite well, and the slim and compact shape fits comfortably into the hand. The few controls are well spaced out and quite large and easy to operate, apart from the narrow and slightly fiddly mode and review buttons. The monitor screen is bright enough for daylight use and has a good anti-glare coating. It is also slightly recessed, which makes it less prone to damage. It is a bit low-res though, with only 115,000 dots.