Nikon COOLPIX L105 Review: The Underrated Compact Zoom That Could

Nikon L105 Test-0011

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.

Nikon L105 Test-0017

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!

Nikon L105 Test-0008

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:

Nikon L105 Test-0015

– 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.

Nikon L105 Test-0013

– 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.

Nikon L105 Test-0016

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]

28 thoughts on “Nikon COOLPIX L105 Review: The Underrated Compact Zoom That Could

  1. Hi, I just looked up the reviews for this camera and your site was the first I pulled up. Thanks for the great review. BTW, I just noticed that Target is selling this camera again at Black Friday prices ($99) until the end of December (or something like that).

    • Thanks for stopping by! It seems as though various BF deals are springing back up again to spark holiday sales through December. I haven’t checked, but perhaps this Nikon and others like it are still on sale at their BF prices nearly 3 weeks later.

    • I also was really happy to find this review. I grabbed this camera on Black Friday for my 15 year old who is taking a Media Arts class. Sounds like a made a great choice for her first SLR camera. Thanks for posting!

  2. Just got this camera today at Target for $99. Super excited to take pics
    And it’s my 1st Nikon. Thanks for the review and pics. I will find you on flickr.

  3. Thanks for the review…got it on BF for my son – I have always had Canon P&S’s and I’m constantly checking the last picture shot to see if I should save or dump it! I often have up to 80 plus pics on the camera….if there is really no other way to check the last picture without going from the beginning, that’s a deal breaker for me. Your use of the word cumbersome was a kind understatement. Will have to check it out. Target has a similar Canon on sale this week for 99 – will go back for that if no good answer to the above…Thanks again!

    • My coworker popped in a fresh memory card for a birthday party two weekends ago and the camera seemed to operate as normal – pulling up the last-taken photo like cameras are supposed to. It seems the symptom I mentioned in my review only happens on cards that have been used and somewhat filled up in other cameras (of another mfg’er).

      Which camera did you ultimately decide to go with?

    • I am thinking the same thing, Bob. I have a tremor (had it since childhood) and I really need to look at my photos before the opportunity to re-take them is gone. I wanted to order on-line, but I’ll have to wait until I am in the store so I can try it.

  4. Hit or miss on the black friday deal repeat. Last night one target had it on display but didn’t have it. They called another store which had 23 left (22 now). That store didn’t have it on display. Store was 30 miles away.
    I shoot canon SLR & DSLR but this seems to be the perfect little camera for my father inlaw who doesn’t want to change lenses and has no interest in understanding how ISO/time/aperature work together.

  5. Jrafanan…… Some other reviews mentioned getting blurry pictures on any thing that moves. Did you observe that? The L105 has features to take care of that, so I read? Thx, for the review… I bought one for myself on BF and can’t wait to use it. (Can’t open ’til Christmas) Ken

    • Hi Ken. Any updates on this (it’s been quite a while since I’ve been on here)? Since it’s been a while since I’ve had my hands on this model camera, I can only guess that by experimenting with image stabilization, you can achieve decent panning stabilization for moving objects.

  6. I am not camera savvy as I’ve always had an automatic point and shoot.(Canon) Used this camera on Christmas day and had many blurry pictures. Have never had a camera that required me to do any set ups. Any suggestions to make it easier on someone that knows nothing about cameras? Appreciate the info you provided and thanks. Cathy

    • Hi Cathy. Apologies for quite the late response from me. As far as picture blur, there is a setting called Hybrid Vibration Reduction that could be turned on where the camera automatically compares two pictures and selects which picture came out better (both pictures should have had VR on). If you hadn’t already, try checking that feature out!

  7. I’m glad I read this haha, and as a surprise my dad got me this exact camera for Christmas after reading this! Thanks for the review!

  8. Pingback: In The Works «

    • Hi Brian. I work on my photos in Photoshop Lightroom. Others may use Photoshop or other editing programs. For the small figure and objects, I used macro mode to help with proper focusing. Hope this helps!

  9. I got this camera back in November and have been disappointed with it.. After reading these reviews I’m wondering if I’m missing a setting or if there might be something wrong with mine. All of my pictures come out blurry, both posed and action shots. It’s very unreliable and makes taking good pictures extremely difficult of course! Any help would be appreciated🙂

  10. So Am I. I can seem to get a picture that isn’t blurry, especially from a distance, or if there’s movement. What could I do about that?

  11. Pingback: Nikon Coolpix L105 Review

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