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Last week I reviewed the Fujifilm FinePix A700, a camera so simple I had a hard time finding enough to write about. This week I’ve got another that is, if anything, even simpler. I’d better review another DSLR again soon or I’m going to forget how to work a real camera.
The Nikon CoolPix L5 was launched in the UK is September last year, along with the slightly more sophisticated L6, as the top end of Nikon’s CoolPix lifestyle-oriented L series of simple pocket compacts. It has an external design that bears a superficial resemblance to the budget priced 4-megapixel CoolPix L4, but the similarity is no more than skin deep. The L5 offers the advantages of a 7.2-megapixel sensor, 5x optical zoom lens, Nikon’s VR optical image stabilisation, and the current must-have gimmick, face detection technology. It’s also a lot more expensive than the L4, since it is currently available for around £152. However compared to other similarly-specified large-zoom point-and-shoot compacts such as the Kodak EasyShare C875 (£140), Olympus FE-240 (£170), Ricoh Caplio R5 (£200) and Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX07 (£220), the L5 is quite reasonably priced.
Despite having a couple of technological tricks up its sleeve, the CoolPix L5 is a very simple camera to use, designed for those people who want no bells and whistles, where all they have to do to take a picture is point it and press a button. Measuring 97 x 61 x 45mm and weighing about 220g including standard alkaline batteries it is quite large and surprisingly heavy for a compact, thanks mainly to the rather bulky 6.3 – 31.4mm (38 – 190mm equiv.) lens and the fact that it is powered by two AA cells. The lens does not retract fully into the camera body, making the camera an awkward shape to fit comfortably in your pocket. The extra size does mean that it is quite an easy camera to hold, with well-spaced controls and plenty of room to grip it both front and rear, however the slippery gloss finish and lack of any real handgrip mean that you have to keep a tight hold on it.
The body itself, although made largely of plastic, is strong and well constructed, and that shiny finish does help it resist marks and scratches. The controls are solidly mounted, and the battery hatch has a locking latch so it won’t come open in your pocket. This is just as well, since the batteries have no independent latch and are apt to fall out when you open it up to change the memory card.