Nikon Coolpix L27 £69.99
4th Apr 2013 | 19:03
Lightweight, 16MP novice friendly compact camera
Successor to the Nikon Coolpix L25, the Nikon Coolpix L27 is equipped with a CCD sensor with an effective pixel count of 16.1 million pixels, a 5x optical zoom Nikkor lens, a 2.7-inch TFT LCD monitor, and HD 720p movie recording.
The 5x optical zoom lens built into the camera covers the wide-angle 26mm to 130mm (equivalent in 35mm format) range of focal lengths.
Nikon makes the L27 available in five colors: black, silver, red, white or decorative purple and it comes equipped with four exposure mode options. These are Easy Auto mode - where the settings are determined based on the scene you're shooting - Smart Portrait, Auto mode and Scene Selection mode. The latter offers 18 modes including portrait, sunset, pets, food and close up.
Smart portrait mode offers skin softening, a smile timer and a blink-proof option. It's worth noting that the timer and flash options are only accessible when the smile timer and blink options are turned off.
In Auto mode there are seven different tools white balance options including setting option enabling you to measure the white balance for your surroundings.
There are four drive modes - single, continuous, BSS and multi-shot 16 - and five colour options including vivid colour and black and white.
It's also equipped to shoot videos, with movie settings offering the choice of recording at 720p HD (1280 x 720), VGA (640 x 480) or QVGA (320 x 240) and single or full-time autofocus mode.
There are some basic in-camera editing options available in review mode, enabling you to rotate, resize and adjust the d-lighting. Skin softening is also available for photos taken in smart portrait mode.
The Nikon Coolpix L27 is priced at £69.99 (around US$106/ AU$104), so it sits comfortably in the budget area of the market, alongside compact cameras such as the Olympus VG-180 and the Canon PowerShot A4000 IS.
Build quality and handling
The Nikon Coolpix L27 feels light, but once batteries are inserted it has a pleasant weight, totalling 161g (5.7oz).
Once in the hand the camera is easy to hold and operate, with a grip on the right-hand side that keeps hands well away from the lens or the flash on the left.
The physical controls are all situated on the back of the Nikon L27 and are easily accessible. Although the LCD screen takes up the majority of the space, the buttons aren't cramped together and are a decent size.
The on-screen menus are basic and sometimes a little confusing - the OK button selects the option but also returns you to the previous menu instead of to shooting mode.
One major bug bear is the lack of some common options such as the ability to return to shooting by depressing the shutter button, something that quickly becomes frustrating with extended use. The record button for video is conveniently located for ease of access, and you are able to zoom the lens during recording.
It's not possible to change the information displayed on the screen or to view a framing grid while in Easy Auto mode, and even in other modes these options are only accessible after trawling though three menu levels, which is not particularly intuitive and may be missed by the more inexperienced user this camera is aimed at.
The post-shot review length is unadjustable, but it varies from two to six seconds depending on the strength of the batteries. Some users may find this bothersome since there is no way to cancel it or take another shot while it's on the screen.
The preview can also sometimes appear a little blurry, especially in macro modes, which could again be a little confusing for less experienced users.
Colours on the LCD monitor appear darker than in real life, but they are brighter on a computer screen. Nevertheless, images taken using the auto settings without adjustments to the exposure compensation can appear washed out and faded.
Although the screen is advertised as having anti-reflection coating, the on-screen image is sometimes hard to see, especially in strong sunlight.
At times the L27 doesn't quite get the exposure right, but no more often than you might expect. Fortunately, all the exposure modes have access to exposure compensation so this is easily fixable, but not ideal.
Several of our test images have quite a bit of fringing in high contrast areas. This is not unexpected for a compact camera of this price-point, and shouldn't be too noticeable unless your images are printed at a large size.
The sensitivity settings aren't adjustable on the Nikon L27, so it's difficult to assess its capabilities, although the camera itself can choose from between ISO 80 and ISO 1600 depending on its mode.Although as you would expect images taken in low light, when the high sensitivity settings would be selected, have visible noise, it's nothing unexpected from a camera in this price range.
The white balance modes work well and the custom mode is simple to use and gives accurate results.
The images created by the L27 are of fairly good quality - certainly as good or better than most standard smartphone cameras. The colours are generally bright and vibrant, and the macro mode can pick up reasonably small details well.
With a full battery, the Nikon L27 has an acceptable shot length time, but when the batteries are low it can become very slow, so it's worthwhile carrying a spare set around. When using the flash the shot to shot time is noticeably longer, because the flash needs to recharge between fires.
During testing we experienced some issues with the battery indicator - several times the Nikon L27 showed a 'battery exhausted' message only to return to a battery full indicator after turning the unit off and on again.
The battery life does, however, seem fairly short with standard alkaline batteries, and the indicator did not seem to always be entirely accurate. It's possible this was due to the outside temperature during testing.
Overall the Nikon L27 is functional, quick and easy to use, but some of the menu placements and button functions may confuse at first.
The Nikon Coolpix L27 copes well on macro mode and with indoor lighting.
Outdoor shots are relatively crisp but do suffer from some lens flare when facing the sun.
Colours are bright and well represented.
Macro mode is able to pick up fine detail.
The Nikon L27 produces reasonable depth of field in shots.
Good representation of colours, capturing detail well.
The exposure had to be knocked down by 0.7EV to get this shot looking as it should.
What camera should I buy? your options explained
Compared to the specs of similar cameras such as the Olympus VG-180 and the Canon PowerShot A4000 IS, the Nikon L27 fairs well. Both the VG-180 and A4000 IS however have the option to adjust the ISO sensitivity, and the VG-180 offers 'art framing' so may appeal to a wider audience. The Canon also offers an 8x optical zoom, compared to the Nikon's 5x.
The Nikon Coolpix L27 is easy to pick up and use and would suit first time digital camera users.
Unfortunately the menu structures and button functions can be frustrating.
The Nikon L27 is a very basic camera, designed without frills or some of the functions we've come to expect from even entry-level cameras. With no full or part manual modes it is more likely to appeal to users who would prefer not to fiddle with options, making it a viable choice as a first camera.