Nikon Coolpix L610 Overview
by Mike Tomkins
Posted: August 09, 2012
If you're looking for an approachable travel zoom camera from Nikon, the Coolpix L610 offers an interesting alternative to the existing Coolpix S8200 model. Sure, it's a little bigger, but it's also noticeably more affordable. Its gently-curved body looks friendlier, and offers a chunkier handgrip that should make it more comfortable in the hand. (Like the S8200, the lens still retracts inside the body when switched off, though.) Best of all, it draws power from standard AA batteries, which you can find just about anywhere you go, so you needn't worry about expensive, proprietary battery packs or finding somewhere to plug in a charger.
At the heart of the Nikon Coolpix L610 is a backside-illuminated CMOS image sensor with an effective resolution of 16.0 megapixels. Backside-illuminated sensors place their circuitry on the rear (non-illuminated) side of the chip, leaving more space on the active side available for light-gathering, and thereby increasing sensitivity. The Nikon L610 offers sensitivities ranging from ISO 125 to 1,600 equivalents, and this can be extended to ISO 3,200 equivalent when using the Auto mode. Total resolution of the L610's 1/2.3-inch type imager is 16.79 megapixels.
Alongside the Nikon L610's chunky handgrip is a powerful, Nikkor ED-branded 14x optical zoom lens. It looks to be the exact same unit from the S8200, offering everything from a generous 25mm-equivalent wide angle to a powerful 350mm telephoto. The optical formula consists of eleven elements in ten groups, two of them crafted from extra-low dispersion glass. As you'd expect given the telephoto reach, the L610 includes true optical VR image stabilization. Maximum aperture varies from f/3.3 to f/5.9 across the zoom range. By default, the Nikon L610's lens can focus to just 20 inches (50 cm) at wide angle, and 40 inches (1 m) at telephoto, but a macro mode enables focusing as close as just 0.4 inches (1 cm) in the wide angle position.
The rear panel of the Nikon L610 offers up a 3.0-inch TFT LCD panel with a resolution of around 153,000 pixels (460,000 dots, with each pixel comprised of adjacent red, green, and blue dots.) The L610's screen is said to have an anti-reflective coating, and a five-level brightness adjustment.
On the top deck, a built-in popup flash helps out when shooting nearby subjects in low light. There's no hot shoe or other external flash connectivity, and information on flash range wasn't available at press time.
Catering to photographers who'd rather not learn the intricacies of shutter speeds, apertures, and the like, the Nikon Coolpix L610 includes an Easy Auto shooting mode. This automatically selects one of six Scene modes appropriate to your shooting conditions: either Portrait, Landscape, Night Portrait, Night Landscape, Close-up, or Backlighting.
The L610 also includes high definition 1080p (aka Full HD; 1,920 x 1,080 pixel) video capture, with stereo sound. (The stereo microphone consists of separate ports on either side of the popup flash.) Movies can be recorded at a rate of 30 frames per second, and a dedicated Movie-Record button on the rear panel is used to start or stop capture. Movies are limited to a maximum of 4GB in size, or 29 minutes in length, whichever is reached first.
Images and movies are stored in a rather limited 28MB of built-in memory, or on Secure Digital cards, including the higher-capacity SDHC and SDXC types. Catering to transferring of images and movies to a computer, the Coolpix L610 offers a USB 2.0 High Speed data connection. The same port also doubles as a standard-definition video output, and there's also an HDMI high-definition video output.
Power comes from AA batteries, but you'll want to pay attention to the type you're using. Lithium disposables are rated for approximately 470 shots on a charge to CIPA testing standards, or 80 minutes of video capture. Switching to Nikon EN-MH2 NiMH rechargeable batteries will likely save money (and quite a bit of waste), but reduces battery life to 330 shots or 50 minutes of video. Alkalines can be used in a pinch, but battery life plunges to just 120 shots, and you can drain a new set of alkalines in just 11 minutes of video. (!) An optional EH-65A AC adapter is available for longer shooting sessions, if a power point is convenient.
The Nikon Coolpix L610 has dimensions of approximately 4.3 x 2.7 x 1.4 inches (108 x 68.4 x 34.1 mm) excluding projections, and weighs 8.5 oz. (240 g) including batteries (type unspecified) and SD memory card. The product bundle includes two disposable AA alkaline batteries, both USB and video cables, a camera strap, and Nikon ViewNX 2 software CD-ROM.
The COOLPIX L610 will be available in the US market from September 2012 in black, silver, and red versions. Pricing is set at approximately US$250.