Nikon L4 Review

 
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Nikon Coolpix L4 Optics


Lens

Zoom
Good performance from the Coolpix L4's 3x optical zoom.

38mm 114mm 4x Digital Zoom

The Nikon Coolpix L4 offers a fairly typical 3x optical zoom, covering the equivalent of a 38-114mm range. Results at wide angle were good, with sharp detail overall, though some corner softness and coma distortion were visible. The L4's 4x digital zoom effectively increases the zoom range to 12x, though with some loss of quality as you might expect from the digital enlargement.

Macro
A tiny macro area with excellent detail and high resolution. Flash exposure was very uneven up close.

Standard Macro Macro with Flash

The Nikon Coolpix L4's macro setting performed well, capturing a very small minimum area of 1.43 x 1.07 inches (36 x 27 millimeters). Detail and resolution were both very good in the dollar bill, though there's a fair amount of softening in the corners from the lens. (Most cameras have some softening in the corners in macro mode.) The flash produced a very uneven exposure here, partially blocked by the lens with a strong overexposure in the top of the frame. (Plan on using external lighting for your closest macro shots with the L4.)

Distortion
Very high barrel distortion, though low pincushion.

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 L4's 1.15% barrel distortion at wide angle is actually quite high among the cameras we've tested, and quite noticeable. At the telephoto end, the L4's pincushion distortion was low, at only 0.09%.

Barrel distortion at 38mm is 1.15%
Pincushion at 114mm is 0.09%

Chromatic aberration
High at wide angle, very noticeable effect on images at edges, though lower at telephoto.

Wide: high and bright,
top left @ 200%
Wide: quite bright,
top right @ 200%
Tele: much lower,
top left @200%
Tele: low,
top right @200%

Chromatic aberration is rather high at wide angle, showing about 7-8 pixels of very bright coloration on either side of the target lines, though some blurring in the corners is likely intensifying the effect here. At telephoto, the distortion is much lower, with less bright pixels. (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 corners of the frame.

Wide: Quite soft in the
corners (upper left)
Wide: Sharper at center
Tele: Also soft in the
corners (upper right)
Tele: Sharper at center

The Nikon Coolpix L4 produced fairly soft corners in a few shots. At wide angle, corners were quite soft, compared to the center of the frame. At telephoto, corners showed less blurring, but were still a bit soft (particularly on the right side of the frame). Performance here is dramatically different from what we saw on the L3, which was quite a bit better.

Viewfinder

Coverage
Good accuracy with the Coolpix L4's LCD monitor.

38mm eq., LCD Monitor 114mm eq., LCD Monitor

The Nikon Coolpix L4's LCD monitor produced good results here, showing about 104% accuracy at wide angle (actually a little loose), and about 100% accuracy at telephoto.

 

Nikon L4

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