The controls are very simple, with large single-function buttons, so it might be a good choice for anyone with limited manual dexterity. The big 3.0-inch monitor screen (2.7 inches on the L19) has a sharp resolution of 230,000 dots, is nice and bright with a good anti-glare surface, although the angle of view is rather limited. It also has no automatic brightness control, so framing shots in low light conditions is difficult.
The zoom control is a small rocker switch on the back of the camera, but it is well positioned for easy use and quite sensitive. The zoom action is stepped with eight increments from minimum to maximum. There are a few other controls sharing the D-pad, but they are very basic; just exposure compensation, flash mode, macro mode and a 10-second self timer.
The L20 has what may be the simplest menu I’ve ever seen on a camera. In the basic Auto shooting mode the menu has only four options; image size, white balance, single/continuous shooting mode and five basic colour options. The other shooting modes include a smile-activated shutter mode, and a scene mode with 15 fairly obvious scene programs. Incredibly, if even this meagre selection proves to be just too complicated for you, it has even simpler Easy Auto mode, in which the only option is the image size, although to be honest if you need to use this mode then you shouldn’t be allowed to use a camera without supervision. You’d probably try to eat it.
Of course this means that the L20 lacks almost all of the features and options that we take for granted on other cameras. Exposure metering, AF mode, face detection, red-eye correction, even ISO setting (64-1600) are all handled automatically. Once you’ve set the date and time the limit of user input is to operate the zoom control and press the shutter button. The camera does everything else for you.
Naturally a low-priced camera like the L20 is going to have a number of limitations, and one of them is the anti-shake function. The L20 has Nikon’s motion detection system and Best Shot Selector, which rejects motion blurred shots, but it has no actual image stabilisation. If it detects the possibility of camera shake it simply boosts the ISO setting to produce a faster shutter speed. This is not an ideal solution, but it’s better than nothing.