Nikon L4 Review

 
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Nikon Coolpix L4 Performance


Timing and Performance

Average to slightly slow speed for a consumer camera.

Startup/Shutdown
Power on
to first shot
2.7 seconds
Time it takes for LCD to turn on and lens to deploy
Shutdown
2.5 seconds
How long it takes to retract lens
Buffer clearing time
2 seconds
Worst case buffer clearing time. -- This is the delay after a set of shots before you can remove the card. Some cameras won't retract their lenses and shut down until the buffer is cleared.
Mode switching
Play to Record,
first shot
0.7 seconds
Time until first shot is captured
Record to play
3.4 seconds
Time to display a large/fine file immediately after capture
Display
recorded image
1.6 second
Time to display a large/fine file already on the memory card.
Shutter response (Lag Time):
Full Autofocus Wide
0.85 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, zoom lens at wide angle position.
Full Autofocus Tele
0.93 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, zoom lens at telephoto position.
Prefocused
0.219 second
Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button.
Cycle time (shot to shot)
Single Shot mode
Large Fine JPEG
2.91 seconds
Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots
Single Shot mode
640x480 JPEG
2.23 seconds
Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots
Early shutter
penalty?
YES
Some cameras refuse to snap another shot if you release and press the shutter too quickly in Single Shot mode, making "No" the preferred answer.
Flash recycling
7 seconds
Flash at maximum output
Download speed
Windows Computer, USB 2.0
955 KBytes/sec
Typical Values:
Less than 600=USB 1.1;
600-770=USB 2.0 Low;
771-4000=USB 2.0 High

The Nikon Coolpix L4's performance ranges from average to slightly slow, depending on what you're doing. Start-up time is a little sluggish at 2.7 seconds, and shutter lag at wide angle and telephoto is on the slow side of average. "Prefocus" times (half-pressing and holding down the shutter button before the final exposure) are fast, though not as fast as I've seen, with a shutter delay of 0.219 second. Shot-to-shot cycle times are also sluggish, at about 2.91 seconds for large/fine JPEGs, and the camera captures frames continuously at this rate. The flash recycle time is about average at 7 seconds after a full-power shot, however. Connected to a computer, download speeds are fast enough, though definitely not the zippiest on the market. Bottom line, while the L4 is clearly not intended for sports photography or really anything that moves too fast, it should handle travel and most standard photo opportunities well.

Battery and Storage Capacity

Battery
Moderate battery life with standard AA alkaline cells, but much better life with NiMH or lithium AA's.

Operating Mode Number of Shots
AA alkaline batteries
250
AA NiMH rechargeable cells
450
AA lithium cells
600

The NIkon Coolpix L4 uses two AA batteries for power, and a pair of ordinary alkaline batteries are included with the camera. I strongly recommend picking up a set of rechargeable batteries and a charger, and keeping them freshly charged with a spare set on-hand for extended outings. (Read my NiMH battery shootout page to see which batteries currently on the market are the best, and see my review of the Maha C-204W NiMH battery charger, my current favorite.)

The table above shows the number of shots the camera is capable of (on either a fresh set of disposable batteries or a fully-charged rechargeable battery as appropriate), based on CIPA battery-life and/or manufacturer standard test conditions.

(Interested readers can find an English translation of the CIPA DC-002 standards document here. (180K PDF document))

Storage
The Coolpix L4 accepts SD/MMC memory cards, though no card is included; 10MB RAM is built into the camera.

Image Capacity with
10MB Internal Memory
Fine Normal
2,272 x 1,704 Images 5 9
File Size 2.0 MB 1.1 MB
1,600 x 1,200 Images - 18
File Size - 584 KB
1,024 x 768 Images - 41
File Size - 258KB
640 x 480 Images - 77
File Size - 138KB

We strongly recommend buying at least a 128MB card, preferably a 256MB one, to give yourself extra space for extended outings.

 

Nikon L4

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