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Nikon L830 Review -- First Impressions

Preview posted

If you're in the market for an affordable new long-zoom camera, the Nikon Coolpix L830 offers an interesting proposition. A followup to the Coolpix L820, the L830 shares the same 16-megapixel, backside-illuminated CMOS image sensor as its predecessor, but now offers just a little more telephoto reach.

Last year's camera already had oodles of range, starting from a very generous 22.5mm-equivalent wide angle, and reaching a whopping 675mm-equivalent telephoto, but now that range is even greater. The Nikon L830's lens starts at the same wide angle, but tops out at a 765mm-equivalent telephoto, and it does so while only fractionally affecting the maximum aperture. (This now varies from f/3.0 to f/5.9, rather than the f/3.0 to f/5.8 of the earlier camera.)

The lens also features built-in optical (lens-shift type) Vibration Reduction, which aims to reduce blur from camera shake at longer focal lengths and slower shutter speeds. In video mode, a Hybrid VR system is used instead. And speaking of videos, the Nikon L830 is capable of shooting Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixel; 1080i) videos at a rate of 60 interlaced fields per second. A zoom lever on the side of the lens can be used to adjust the zoom, helping you keep the camera steady and shake-free during movie capture.

As well as the optical zoom, Nikon is also promoting a feature it calls Dynamic Fine Zoom, said to improve image quality for the first 2x of the digital zoom. The company doesn't say how this is achieved, but it sounds conceptually similar to Sony's Clear Image Zoom, which works using pattern matching algorithms to boost the quality of the digital zoom's interpolation. In other words, it makes smarter guesses.

Images and movies are framed and reviewed on a three-inch tilting LCD monitor with VGA (921k dot) resolution. The Nikon L830's sensitivity tops out at ISO 3200 equivalent, and the camera features both face priority and target-finding autofocus modes. An Easy Auto mode is available to help get the photo without the need to understand shutter speeds, apertures, and more, and so is Nikon's Smart Portrait System (complete with skin softening function), as well as no less than 18 scene modes.

The Coolpix 830 draws power from standard AA batteries, and connectivity options include HDMI high-definition video, USB data, and composite standard-definition video.

Availability is set for February 2014, with a suggested retail price around US$300. Two body colors will be available: Black or Red.