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The L4 doesn’t have a conventional continuous shooting mode; instead it has the Multi-shot 16 mode, which takes 16 shots over approximately 12 seconds, then converts them into one image showing all 16 frames. I have to admit I can’t really think of a use for this setting.
The monitor screen is also small by modern standards, being only 2in diagonally with a resolution of 115k pixels. However it is nice and bright, and the anti-reflective coating makes it more visible than some when shooting in bright sunlight.
Apart from these issues however the rest of the camera performs well. The AF system is quick and accurate, although the Face-priority system is a little slower, and the zoom lens is also nice and responsive. Like most powered zooms it is stepped, but there are at least eight steps from wide to telephoto, so accurate framing is possible.
Image quality is generally very good, with accurate colour reproduction, good contrast and a very high level of detail despite the limited resolution. The f2.8-f4.9 Nikkor lens is better than average, producing sharp images from edge to edge, although it does suffer from significant barrel distortion at the wide angle.
Unfortunately there is one major problem with image quality, and that’s the exposure. The L4’s CCD seems to have much more limited dynamic range than most other cameras, so in high contrast shots it tends to burn out highlights or lose shadow detail, and sometimes both.
Almost uniquely for a modern camera, the L4 has no manual control over ISO setting, however the automatic setting doesn’t go above 200 ISO so image noise is generally well controlled.
Despite a few problems, under normal circumstances the Coolpix L4 is capable of producing excellent shots that belie its budget price and limited resolution. When budget cameras can be this good, why spend more?
It’s hard to imagine a better camera at the price. For under £100 you can get a well made, easy to use 3x zoom ultra-compact with good picture quality, a useful range of modes and options, and the prestigious Nikon name. If you’re looking for a gift, a starter camera or something to take on holiday, you won’t find much better.
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