Free time at the office, a coworker’s new Nikon COOLPIX L105, and a demanding Haruhi Suzumiya can only mean one thing: be prepared to be a little saddened that you didn’t decide to pick this camera up for only $100 during this year’s Black Friday specials.
What better way to hop back into this blog than to tie in everything from happenings at the daily grind of the job to some nerdy photos of anime-related figures with elements of my photography. After all, photography and anime (and soon, international travel!) are what have driven this blog since its inception earlier this year, and I continue to thank those who stumble upon, visit, and subscribe! It’s as if I was suddenly able to free up some time from my hectic schedule by making a questionable contract with a furry little white magical cat with red eyes and a misleading smile. Just can’t seem to get rid of the little bugger; he keeps appearing on whiteboards, tablets, displays, and computers on our office. Madness!
So, does this mean I hopped onto the Nikon train in hopes of diversifying my photographer’s tool set? Yes, and no. One of my coworkers hopped on a rather good deal on Nikon’s COOLPIX L105 during this year’s Black Friday specials and decided to let me test drive the camera for a few minutes in between appointments and solutions research/correspondance. The results? In a nutshell, fantastic. Some of the highlights include the following:
– 21x NIKKOR Wide-Angle Optical Zoom – the zoom on this is ridiculously good. Going from wide to full zoom takes roughly 3-4 seconds from what I remember, which is key to what Nikon totes this camera is optimally used for: action, low-light, and and everything in-between.
– 12.1 megapixel image sensor – very good when I compare to something like my own Canon EOS 40D that shoots at up to 10.1 megapixels. At 12.1mp (and for this type of entry-level camera), consumers will easily be able to get prints as large as 11×17 without image distortion. I believe my 40D from 2009 can comfortably do letter-sized prints without adjustments for larger print sizes.
– Large, 3-inch LCD screen – perhaps the most important factor in taking and reviewing photos for any compact digital camera that does not rely on a viewfinder for framing subjects. Screen has to be sharp. The L105 does a great job.
– Five-way VR Image Stabilization – For 15x zoom, image stabilization should be a no-brainer. I tested this feature by zooming in on my business card from about five feet away while keeping Haruhi’s pointing action to the left of the frame. The results: crisp font lines and decent depth-of-field blur. You can definitely hear the IS mechanisms going and will notice the smoothness of the stabilization once viewed on the screen.
Features I didn’t necessarily vibe with or didn’t test were:
– Intuitive user-interface – intuitiveness crossed very thin lines with productivity here. I like my technical functions (i.e. ISO, shutter speed, aperture, white balance) to be easily accessible and to be able to adjust these on the fly. Nikon’s L105 helps me do neither. After all, the functions are hidden away about two or three menu levels deep to account for entry-level users only needing basic functions such as flash and macro capabilities.
– Lens cap and photo review – in order to review photos you have taken, you must release the lens cap from the lens, and then turn the camera on to go into photo review mode. I won’t put this feature down too much since I lack experience with large-zoom compact cameras; after all, other manufacturers’ cameras may behave the same. For a camera designed to feel more like a pro/semi-pro single-lens reflex in one’s hands, you would think Nikon (or the rest of the industry for that matter) would implement the ability to review your photos without having to take the lens cap off of the camera.
– On the topic of photo review, I noticed that this mode would always go to the first photo I took in the series I started out with that day. After six photos, I found it cumbersome to have to cycle through to the latest photo just to review what I shot seconds ago.
– HD Video capability – I’ve read up to 720p video is capable on this camera. I’d love to test this function out when given the opportunity and see how vertical sync and variable lighting conditions work with zoom and focusing features.
Taking everything from the good and the bad into consideration, the Nikon COOLPIX L105 is a great value-driven, entry-level and easy-to-operate camera that, if used correctly, can produce photos that can keep up with some of the latest and greatest compact and digital SLR cameras in today’s market. Especially for $100, you get some excellent camera-essential features such as image stabilization, huge zoom capabilities, 12mp of pixel real estate, and considerably responsive auto-focus times; even face-detect made its way into this camera with good functionality. On the other hand, if you’re someone like me who has a good amount of technical background in photography, you will definitely be better off with Nikon’s higher-end lineup within the compact digital camera realm such as the Coolpix P500 which gives even higher zoom capability (36x) and full 1080p HD video, but at the cost of an extra $200 and 2-less megapixels.
All in all, consider the L105 for the great price with enough features to get you by on your outings, trips, and adventures without having to break the bank or risk damaging or losing your equipment.
Haruhi approves (but only if the deal still exists!).
[All photos taken with the Nikon COOLPIX L105 primarily in macro mode, available lighting, ISO 800]