While photography enthusiasts - myself included - will usually prefer an expensive complicated camera with lots of manually-controllable features, such as exposure, focusing and colour profile, it's important to remember that the majority of people who are buying a new camera are looking for the exact opposite. They want something that is reasonably cheap, quick and easy to use, and which can produce good pictures with virtually no effort at all. It's this demographic that Nikon is targeting with its two latest L (for Lifestyle) series models, the CoolPix L19 and L20.
The CoolPix L20 is a 10-megapixel point-and shoot compact powered by two AA batteries, featuring a 3.6x zoom lens and a 3.0-inch LCD monitor, and is currently selling for around £120. The L19 shares the same body and virtually the same specification, but has an 8MP sensor, a 2.7-inch screen, and is currently selling for around £95. The L20 is available in black or red, while the L19 is available in silver or pink.
The L20 is quite a large camera by compact standards, measuring 96.5 x 61 x 29 mm, although at 185g including batteries and memory card it's lighter than it looks. The L19 is 5g lighter, probably on account of the smaller monitor. The camera has a plastic body, but is built to Nikon's usual high standard and is beautifully finished. I particularly like the deep slightly metallic red of my review sample, although the plain silver of the L19 doesn't look anywhere near as classy. The body shape is nice and easy to hold, with a sculpted front panel that provides a good finger grip, and a shaped and textured thumbgrip on the back, although the smooth gloss finish is a bit slippery.