Nikon L1 Review

 
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Nikon Coolpix L1 Optics


Lens

Zoom
A 5x optical zoom range (rather than the typical 3x), with good performance.

Nikon Coolpix L1 digital camera image Nikon Coolpix L1 digital camera image
38mm
190mm
4x Digital Zoom

The Coolpix L1 zooms over the equivalent of a 38-190mm range, a good bit more telephoto than others in its class. The 4x digital zoom takes it out to 20x (a 760mm equivalent) albeit with the loss of quality that digital zoom creates.

Macro
A small macro area with the good detail and high resolution typical of Coolpix macro modes. Flash does not throttle down well at this range, so plan on using external flash for macro shots.

Nikon Coolpix L1 digital camera image
Standard Macro Macro with Flash

The Coolpix L1's macro setting performs well, capturing a very small minimum area of 1.46 x 1.09 inches (27 x 28 millimeters). Detail is strong and resolution high, with only a moderate amount of softening in the corners from the lens. (Most cameras have some softening in the corners in macro mode.) The flash doesn't throttle down well, and its lighting is very uneven at closest approach. (Plan on using external lighting for your closest macro shots with the L1.)

Distortion
Moderate barrel distortion at wide angle, no distortion at all at telephoto.

This is the tendency for the lens to bend straight lines outward (like a barrel--usually at wide angle) or inward (like a pincushion--usually at telephoto). The L1's 0.84% barrel distortion at about average among the cameras I've tested. At the telephoto end, the L1 showed no measurable distortion.

Barrel distortion at 38mm is 0.84%
Nikon Coolpix L1 digital camera image
Distortion at 190mm is 0.00%
Nikon Coolpix L1 digital camera image

Chromatic aberration
Noticeable at wide angle, absent at telephoto.

Nikon Coolpix L1 digital camera image
Wide: moderate, top left @ 200% Tele: quite low, top right @200%

Chromatic aberration is fairly noticeable at wide angle, showing several pixels of moderately bright coloration on either side of the target lines, but disappears at telephoto focal lengths. (This distortion is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.)

Corner Sharpness
Some softening in the lower corners of the frame.

Nikon Coolpix L1 digital camera image Nikon Coolpix L1 digital camera image
Soft in the lower left corner. Soft in lower right corner.

The Coolpix L1 produced soft corners in a few shots. This is not uncommon in entry-level and some subcompact digital cameras, but we like to see corner sharpness a bit better than that shown here.

Viewfinder

Coverage
Very good accuracy from the LCD monitor. The L1 does not have an optical viewfinder.

Nikon Coolpix L1 digital camera image Nikon Coolpix L1 digital camera image
38mm eq., LCD monitor 190mm eq., LCD monitor

The L1's LCD monitor showed very close to 100 percent frame accuracy.

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Nikon Coolpix L1 Photo Gallery.

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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.

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