Nikon L3 Review

 
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Nikon Coolpix L3 Optics


Lens

Zoom
A 3x optical zoom range with good performance.

38mm
116mm
4x Digital Zoom

The Nikon Coolpix L3 zooms over a fairly standard 3x optical zoom range, equivalent to a 38-116mm range on a 35mm camera. Details are sharp at wide angle, with only a small amount of coma distortion in the tree limbs against the sky. The camera's 4x digital zoom takes it out to 12x total, with the loss of quality that results from digital zoom.

Macro
An average-size macro area, though good detail and high resolution. Flash has trouble up close, with uneven coverage.

Standard Macro Macro with Flash

The Nikon Coolpix L3's macro setting performs well, capturing a minimum area of 3.22 x 2.42 inches (82 x 61 millimeters), a little larger than average. Detail and resolution are both very good, with very little softening in the corners from the lens. (Most cameras have some softening in the corners in macro mode.) The flash throttles down a little too much for the macro area, resulting in an uneven exposure with strong falloff in the corners and edges of the frame.

Distortion
High barrel distortion.

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 Nikon Coolpix L3's 0.95% barrel distortion at wide angle is quite high, and noticeable in its images. At the telephoto end, the L3's 0.04% barrel distortion is low, really only about one pixel's worth.

Barrel distortion at 38mm is 0.95%
Barrel distortion at 116mm is 0.04%

Chromatic aberration
Noticeable effect on images at edges.

Wide: bright and noticeable,
top left @ 200%
Wide: bright and noticeable,
top right @ 200%
Tele: low, top left @200% Tele: low, top right @200%

Chromatic aberration is noticeable at wide angle, showing about 4-5 pixels of very bright coloration on either side of the target lines, but decreases to very low levels at telephoto focal lengths. (This distortion is visible as a colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.)

Corner Sharpness
A small amount of blurring in the corners at wide angle, slightly more at telephoto.

Wide: slightly soft in the upper left corner. Wide: sharp at center.
Tele: soft in the upper left corner. Tele: slightly soft at center.

The Nikon Coolpix L3 produced soft corners in a few shots, most notably in the left corners at both wide angle and telephoto. Overall, though, not bad when compared to others in this price range.

Viewfinder

Coverage
Very good accuracy from the LCD monitor.

38mm eq., LCD monitor 116mm eq., LCD monitor

The Coolpix L3's LCD monitor showed about 101% accuracy at wide angle, and about 98% at telephoto. Very good results.

 

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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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