Nikon L1 Review
Nikon Coolpix L1 Design
Slim, trim, and super-tiny, the Nikon Coolpix L1 is one of the smaller Coolpix models (it's not much taller than a credit card). The camera body has one major lens protrusion, which might snag coming out of a bag, or look conspicuous in a pocket, but most will find the benefit of a 5x lens is worth the tradeoff. Despite its small size, the Nikon L1 fit my rather large hands surprisingly well, with a good ridge on the front to serve as a grip, though I recommend making use of the included wrist strap. The Coolpix L1's black plastic body is understated and elegant. High quality Nikkor optics and a 6.2-megapixel CCD give the Coolpix L1 great image quality, and a broad selection of Scene Assist modes makes operation a breeze, even for novice users. The Nikon L1 measures 3.5 x 2.4 x 1.9 inches (89.5 x 60.5 x 47 millimeters), and weighs 8 ounces (227 grams) with a battery and memory card.
The Coolpix L1's front panel contains the 5x zoom lens, built-in flash, and the self-timer lamp. A shutter-like lens cover protects the lens when not in use, and automatically slides out of the way when the camera is powered on (eliminating the hassle of keeping track of a lens cap). When powered on, the lens telescopes out an additional 1/2-inch (or a whole inch from the body) into its operating position. A curved, sculpted ridge beneath the Shutter button acts as a finger grip, and comfortably aligns your fingers as they wrap around the L1.
At the top of the right side of the Coolpix L1 is an eyelet for attaching the wrist strap. Along the bottom edge is the power cord channel cover for the optional AC adapter and its dummy battery.
On the opposite side of the Coolpix L1 is the connector compartment, protected by a rubbery cover that remains attached to the camera; beneath is the Video Out / USB jack.
On the top panel are, from left to right: the Speaker, Microphone, small Power button and the Shutter button. The Mode selector switch bridges the top and back panels.
The remaining external controls are located on the Coolpix L1's rear panel, along with the 2.5-inch, TFT color LCD monitor. An LED above the LCD indicates the Flash status (charging or ready). To the right of the LCD are the camera's button controls. The Zoom rocker button on top controls optical and digital zoom, as well as some Playback viewing options, and the Help function. Below it is the Menu button for accessing options in Record, Scene or Playback mode. Below that is a configuration of five small buttons that functions as a Multi selector, accessing Flash, Exposure Compensation, Macro, and the Self-Timer options, in addition to navigating menu screens. A separate button in the middle of the Multi-selector confirms selections, a solution that is easier than trying to press in the entire disk as we've seen in other cameras. This button can also be pressed to initiate picture transfer when the camera is connected to a computer that has the Nikon software loaded onto it. Just below the Multi selector are Playback and Erase buttons.
The Coolpix L1 has a flat bottom panel. The battery compartment door and plastic tripod socket are on opposite ends, making quick battery changes while mounted to a tripod possible. The hinged, plastic door covers the battery compartment, releasing with a sliding switch, which then allows the entire door to slide to the right and swing open. The two AA-size batteries will fall free when this door is opened. Next to the battery is the Secure Digital (SD) memory card slot.
Nikon Coolpix L1 External Controls
Shutter Button: Just to the right of the power switch, the large Shutter button sits on the front edge of the top panel. This button sets the camera's exposure when halfway pressed, and releases the shutter when fully pressed.
Power Button: Nestled in a small recess to the left of the Shutter button, the power switch turns the camera on and off with a push.
Mode Switch: Behind the Power button, this ribbed switch selects the camera's main operating mode. Choices are Auto, Scene, and Movie.
Zoom (W and T) Buttons: Located in the top right corner of the Coolpix L1's back panel, these buttons control the optical and digital zoom (when enabled) in any record mode. In Playback mode, the "W" button activates the index image display mode, while the "T" button controls digital enlargement of the captured image.
Multi Selector: Just right of the LCD, this set of five buttons features four arrows, one pointing in each direction and an OK button in the center. In any Settings menu, the arrow keys navigate through menu selections, and the center button selects.
In Playback mode, the right and left arrows scroll through captured images. Pressing the center OK button enables the D-Lighting function.
In Record mode, the arrow keys control specific exposure features. The Up arrow controls the camera's Flash mode, producing a popup menu of options (Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Fill, Slow Sync and Off). The Left arrow activates the Nikon Coolpix L1's Self-Timer mode, and the Right arrow activates Exposure Compensation control, while the Down arrow activates the Macro focus mode. All of these settings are confirmed by pressing the central button once the selection has been made.
When connected to a computer with Nikon's software loaded, pressing the center button triggers a "one touch" upload of selected images to the computer.
Playback Button: Below and to the left of the Multi Selector button, this button accesses the Coolpix L1's Playback mode. Pressing and holding it with the CoolPix L1 off powers the camera on in Playback mode.
Menu Button: Above the Multi Selector button, this button displays the settings menu in any camera mode. It also dismisses the menu display.
Erase Button: Just above the LCD monitor, this button pulls up the Erase menu while in Playback or Record mode.
Battery door retention slider: On the battery compartment door is a small gray slider that locks the battery door until it is slid toward the Coolpix L1's back.
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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.