Most helpful critical review
336 of 378 people found the following review helpful
Good for specific uses only.
on September 8, 2013
I am not a professional photographer. I bought this camera to use in the field (desert & rainforest) and laboratory, imaging rocks, flora, animals, and landscapes (replacing a Nikon Coolpix S550 lost/stolen, and supplementing a bulkier D90 and an inadequate iPhone 4G). The zoom lens and macro features are great - enabling decent, illustrative shots of, say, monkeys in high tree canopies, tiny insects on the forest floor, and in-focus images in variable light settings. This camera is better than most basic point-and shoots, and it's nice that it uses AA batteries. If you have time to set up a shot and try a few different presets, you can get some fantastic images. But in the following other aspects - it is not so good.
(1) Customizable settings are non-existent - there is nothing customizable about this camera at all. You're stuck choosing from Nikon's prepackaged 'modes', which, frankly, used to be more versatile and faster to navigate. Note that this seems to be the same on all of Nikon's current point and shoots - my old camera (the S550) was more user friendly.
(2) (Edited; withdrawn complaint!) I stated intially: "You cannot turn the L820 on to review your photos without first removing the lens cap and letting the lens extend. This is a waste of time and battery life, and it's annoying when you just want to show someone a picture." Other users have pointed out that you *can* actually review photos by pressing and holding the play button with the camera off. I learn something new every day - my mistake, and apologies to Nikon for being a doofus.
(3) You cannot access the memory card without opening the battery compartment. Why do this? Well, if you're concerned about theft while you're out and about in strange places, keeping your SD card(s) stored separately from your camera isn't a bad precaution. I feel like I'm going to break the spring-loaded, sliding battery/SD card lid every single time I open the thing. It feels flimsy and badly made.
(4) The manual flash is aggravating. The camera will ask you to open the flash under many instances (unless you select 'no-flash'), costing you time.
(5) The pre-set image modes prevent you from taking shots the camera thinks will be fuzzy - if you're too far, too close, or too zoomed in/out, it simply won't shoot. Did that rare animal just get away? Too bad! You may think a fuzzy picture would have been better than none at all, but that's Nikon's choice to make, not yours. Can't get that weird red or green hue that is so vibrant in your subject as seen with your naked eye? Tough - Nikon knows best how to balance colors (or render them murky).
(6) The camera *looks* big and fancy, which is not ideal when you're obviously a tourist or out of place in a foreign city. While too small to misplace or drop, the L820 is too big to cram into a pocket or carry discretely.
Again, the zoom is the reason to buy this camera, and with a little set up, you can get first-rate images. So for casual still-life photographers, museum-goers, and landscape lovers, this is fine. I keep this camera around for impromptu documenting of events, quick field trips, and for taking to areas where I wouldn't want to risk damage to or theft of my DSLR (i.e., the beach, known pick-pocket areas, etc.).