The L22’s overall performance is above average for its class. It starts up in a little under two seconds, which isn’t bad, and in single-shot mode it has a shot-to-shot time of approximately 2.3 seconds. In continuous shooting mode it can manage a shot-to-shot time of 1.3 seconds, which is pretty quick. The AF system also performs well, focusing quickly and accurately in most lighting conditions, and only slowing down a little in low light. It has a good AF assist lamp with a range of around three metres in total darkness. The only time it really struggles in in low light at longer zoom ranges, when the slow f/6.7 maximum aperture means that it doesn’t have enough light to focus reliably.
Image quality isn’t bad for an £80 camera, but it’s far from perfect. The lens has fairly good overall sharpness, but it does suffer from significant wide angle distortion which is corrected electronically. This straightens up the parallels but does cause some slight corner blurring. Colour rendition in standard mode looks a little pale and undersaturated, and dynamic range is also pretty poor. The post-processing D-Lighting feature does boost shadow detail, but it doesn’t help with the burned-out highlights.
The L22 has no manually adjustable ISO setting so it’s difficult to accurately judge noise control at higher values, but by tricking into shooting at 800 ISO quite a bit of noise is visible. At lower settings the image quality is better, but the main problem is surprisingly poor image processing, with very visible over-sharpening and very destructive image compression, which reduce the fine detail captured by the sensor, rather obviating the purpose of the 12 megapixel sensor. I’d be interested to see if the 8 megapixel L21 fares any better.
The Nikon CoolPix L22 is a very cheap camera, but still shows the style and build quality of Nikon’s more expensive models. While it lacks many useful features it performs and handles well, but is unfortunately let down by inferior image quality due to its overcrowded sensor and destructive image processing.