on October 21, 2012
As an experienced DSLR photographer, I needed a small and simple do-all vacation camera that would work for both my wife and me. The Nikon L610 is a superb camera for its size and price and meets our needs perfectly. I suspect it will probably meet the needs of most casual photographers.
The quality Nikkor glass lens provides crisp and accurate images. The 14x zoom range is appropriate for most hand-held shots. The manual pop-up flash has a bit more output than most point & shoots and offers nice illumination. AA alkaline batteries are relatively long lasting (for still photos without flash) and can be purchased easily anywhere in the world. Regarding camera setup, for the vast majority of our photos, I select the AUTO setting and adjust the ISO sensitivity to 125 and simply point and shoot. The photos are very sharp with vivid color and we are pleased with the results nearly every time.
For what it's worth, in reading some of the critical reviews on digital cameras, it seems the problems most people have occur in three areas: (1) battery life, (2) memory speed, and (3) user familiarity. Many seasoned photographers know that AA alkaline batteries offer the advantages of reasonably long life, affordability and availability -- especially when traveling overseas. No chargers, no voltage issues, no waiting, just plug & play. For improved performance, I use non-rechargeable Energizer Lithium AA batteries in my L610. These offer hundreds of trouble-free shots and battery life virtually becomes a non-issue (about $6 for a 4-pack on Amazon). As to memory, my choice is the SanDisk Extreme Class 10. The high-speed data transfer rate this memory card offers is particularly important when shooting videos. The current price for a 32GB card is about $30 on Amazon (a 16GB card is about half this price).
As to ISO sensitivity, nearly every technical analysis of digital cameras shows image quality noticably degrades at settings above ISO 200 (ironically, similar results occur with film speeds). Unless there is a specific need, such as extremely low light or fast-action photography, lower ISO settings will give most folks much better photos under a broad range of conditions. Lastly, there is a lot of technology packed in these little automatic cameras. Obviously, we are much better off reading the camera user manual and becoming comfortable with the features and functions of these gadgets. As the saying goes, it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.
on January 2, 2013
As an experienced SLR user who's had his own darkrooms back in the dark ages, the L610 is the camera of choice to take along everywhere. Dr. A's review is mandatory reading.
Having a an excellent camera which uses AA Lithium batteries is huge advantage for virtually all of us. Even the best rechargeable batteries on high end cameras- with twice the voltage, lose ~ 10 to 15% of their power a week. Having an excellent AA camera means never having to plug your camera into the wall and always having ~ 200 full power shots without fail.
There are several very compelling reasons to choose the Nikon L 610 over it's competitors that use AA Lithium batteries, such as the the Canon PowerShot SX 160 - both of which I own- and have used extensively.
The optics on both are superb. Razor sharp pictures at all focal lengths and apertures. The Canon does have many more, user adjustable "high end" features than the Nikon, but the Canon SX 160 is crippled by some serious flaws.
The Nikon's 3" display is a brilliant, crystal clear 460,000 pixels versus the Canon's 230,000 pixels- which appears truly muddy and dim in comparison to the display on the L 610.
The CMOS on the Nikon SX610 (which is the "film" on every shot) is much more sensitive in low light shots without a flash and produces noticeably brighter and sharper pics. (Think taking pics of the baby, or a portrait with window light from your back.)
The lag time between shots with the Nikon is also noticeably faster, because the Nikon has a "set up menu" option in it's circuitry for the type of AA you're using to select and use Lithium AAs.
Recommendations on setting up the L 610, even for the novice: choose "Auto", not "Easy Auto" in the scene mode and set up your menu options THERE and leave the scene mode in "Auto" for virtually all of your shots. The "Auto" menu also lets you turn OFF things you'll never want to use, such as the welcome screen, print date, AF assist beam, and, most of all, the killer of all clear pictures, digital zoom.
Finding the PDF manual for L 160 from Nikon's site isn't easy. This may help:
Recommended accessories for the L610:
1- Lithium 9x AA batteries from Energizer. These make the "battery issue" simply disappear. Two will last for well over 200 shots- yes, there is a one to two second lag time as the flash recharges. Shop for quality and expect to pay ~ $1.90 per. I've had good results from Brooklyn Battery Works and Photo Land NY.
2- Memory Card- Get the best, a 16 gig San Disk Class 10 card with 45mb/Sec transfer rate. Greatly reduces lag time and this camera is set up for Class 10. 16gig capacity for ~ 2000 stills at full resolution or 32 gig if you're going to shoot movies.
3- GGS 3" Optical Glass LCD screen protector- it's the best- but this is now a real moving target on Amazon. Make sure you get the original from GGS in the red and black retail package.
4- Camera Strap- Inexplicably, Nikon gives you a camera with two strap connection points for a "neck strap", which you'll want, but ships only a one point "wrist strap". Solve this by ordering the slim two point neck strap that Nikon supplies for similar cameras: the Nikon AN-CP-23 strap. It's an extra $11 well spent.
Search it on Amazon.
5- Replacement USB cable- Confirmed by the tech staff at Mediabridge- the supplied Nikon UC-E6 cable is a Mini B with 8 pins- NOT the 5 pins found on every currently available aftermarket mini B. As of 9-03-13, the only replacement cable that works with the L 610- or any of it's Power Shot cameras- is the OEM Nikon UC-E6. Hold off buying any replacement cable for Nikon Power Shots until Mediabridge give us the right one-the mini B with 8 pins, not 5- they're working on it and they're the best.
5- Camera Case- Tamrac makes the best cases- period. The Tamrac model 5292 fits the L610 perfectly and gives you room for 4 extra lithium AAs, the USB cable and extra memory cards. It's also just tall enough for you to tuck in your aftermarket Nikon neck strap.
on November 2, 2012
I bought this camera based on the pre-release reviews the first day it was available. I have now used it for several months, having taken vacation pictures as well as random shots, both scenic and casual shots of people.
On the positive side, the camera is really well thought out, fits nicely in the hand, feels substantial and has relatively intuitive adjustments. On the negative side is it consumes batteries at a terrific rate.
Since I really bought the camera for vacation, I was pleased that it would take AA alkaline batteries, however when using it with alkaline batteries it didn't take long to learn that it goes through them at a very rapid pace. I was not getting anywhere near the number of images suggested by the reviewers. During a busy day with a lot of shots, I would go through a set of alkaline batteries. I just wound up buying a lot of batteries during the vacation.
Since returning home, I have gone to the rechargeable NiCads and it seems to give me more images with these. When you change battery types though, you must use the menu to reset the camera to the appropriate batteries, apparently to maximize the lifespan. Something I don't like though, is that every time that you take out the memory card to put some pictures into your laptop or PC, the batteries fall out. It is an annoyance. The card itself takes some getting used to in that you really have to push it way down to get it to click into place.
The zoom is very responsive............I mean very responsive. I have no complaint about the zoom itself, but adjusting it is so sensitive that you cannot tighten up the field with people shots. You either get them too small in the image or you cut them off. A slower zoom would be so much better so that you can have more control. Even though I am much more familiar with the camera now, the zoom is still way too touchy for small increments.
One real complaint I do have about the camera, is that it is slow on recovery of the flash, and with the other cameras I have had, if I were trying to take a flash picture, and waiting for the flash to recover, I could hold the shutter release down and as soon as the flash had recovered, the next image would be taken immediately. With this camera, you must release the shutter button and depress it again for the next flash picture. Of course, this means that you are guessing when the flash has recovered before taking the next picture.
The final thing is one on which I made my own mistake. I find that having a real compact camera I can put into my pocket is very important to me. This one is too large for that. While this camera is quite small, it isn't small enough to put into your pocket. It will fit into a purse, but not a pocket. Whereas I used to carry a small pocket camera much more, because I never knew when I would get a shot, this one must be taken along when I am anticipating using it.
Overall, I really like this camera and would recommend it to others. It is a nice design, and perhaps none of what I consider as drawbacks may be important to others. I will keep it as an adjunct camera, but I am still going to buy a different compact which will really fit into my pocket, but which has a longer zoom than my present Sony.
on April 16, 2013
The Nikon Coolpix L610 is what I would call a "best value" travel-zoom camera with a strong lens, a decent selection of scene modes and accurate color representation. I suspect it could use a firmware update to deal with metering/motion blur issues some users are reporting (in low light the shutter tends to slow down, resulting in camera shake or subject-motion blur). With a steady hand it takes good pictures under both bright and low light. The flash is very good in that it does not create that pinpoint glare that small camera flashes often do. The flash can also extend nearly 20', better than average. The caveat is that because the flash is a pop-up it is easy to miss the small blinking indicator suggesting that flash is necessary due to inadequate light.
Short battery life is the most oft-reported consumer complaint. Sure enough, the included AA alkaline batteries died within 40 pictures; supposedly I should have been able to obtain about 120. With rechargeable batteries (3000mAh) I obtained roughly 160 photos per charge (but it could be that the rechargeable batteries were too old). The camera went from far below average to excellent once I switched to Lithium AA batteries. I took the camera on a trip with a set of lithium batteries, took some 400 photos, and returned home with the battery icon still reading fully charged (I wouldn't be surprised if I manage to get 500-600 pictures using lithium AA batteries). Changing batteries takes an otherwise poor performer and pushes it into better-than-average territory. (TIP: There is a menu setting for battery type that you must select before you change from the default alkaline type.) On a final note about the battery, I did have one incidence early on while I was still using alkaline batteries where I noticed the battery icon had gone down by half. When the LCD preview image and the lens simultaneously stuck with the batteries fully exhausted a few minutes later, I realized that a half-battery icon essentially means that it is time to change out the batteries on the spot (the icon really ought to be more specific).
Image quality can range from okay (somewhat overexposed) to outstanding depending on the light, taking the time to pre-focus and the steadiness of one's hand. In general, the Nikon Coolpix L610 camera is best for still shots. Particularly impressive is the fact that the 14x zoom lens also functions at a mere 1cm for close-up macro photography. I would have no qualms recommending this camera for people who sell on Ebay as a result of its strong macro performance. The Nikon Coolpix L610 camera is also good for people (portrait shots and close-up images with flash). It serves well for landscapes, handling harsh lighting conditions very well (the 14x zoom is also travel-friendly). With a particularly steady hand or a tripod, this camera also excels in low light. (I have an Olympus SLR from some years back that does not perform nearly as well in low light as this camera in spite of a larger sensor. That being said, subject matter in low light must not be moving or there will be motion blur. If that's an issue, I recommend owners to make a regular habit of popping up the flash while indoors or outdoors at dusk/dawn.)
There are tradeoffs at this price point and being a tad slow is one of them. Consequently, this camera is not the best pick for hasty snapshots of sports, kids and pets. It's not so much shutter lag at issue. The main issue for fast-action photography is the delay in writing (processing) images to the SD card (a delay that only increases when the flash needs time to recycle). The good news? Image write-speed can be significantly improved using a newer class 10 SD card of at least 30mbs of transfer speed (a faster card will also improve movie-recording).
The Nikon Coolpix L610 powers up and is ready for photo taking in under 2 seconds. If, however, the camera goes into sleep mode it takes considerably longer to wake it up. Another gripe I have is that the screen will go off after a user-set amount of time but there is no way to control when the lens retracts. It will remain "at ready" for three minutes, even after the screen goes to sleep. I think that's a recipe for eventually knocking the lens off kilter (and perhaps why Nikon apparently gets complaints of lens errors on some of their cameras). My other digital cameras retracted the lens after about 30-45 seconds of inactivity, and the screen after about a minute. For best results, I recommend keeping this camera in a camera bag when not in use. (I also recommend replacing the hand strap because it is surprisingly thin and not up to the quality of a typical hand strap.) Similarly, like most camera LCD screens this one seems a bit more exposed without the rim around it that was common to older digital cameras. To avoid scratches and dings, it would probably be best to cover it with a screen protector. In bright light, the LCD has about average readability. (I have never found a digital camera view screen that fares well in bright sun.)
The L610's menu options are easy enough to figure out without a manual, even though this is my first time owning a Nikon-brand digital camera. The ergonomics of this camera, with its gracefully curved lines, are better than average. Although the camera is a bit larger than some, the rubberized hand-grip is comfortable and the weight of the AA batteries actually helps dampen handshake. (I would say this camera is purse-size but not pocket size.) The battery compartment, like many cameras these days, is located under the same door that the SD card uses. The battery door is a bit flimsy in feel and I have my doubts that it will hold up over many years but overall the camera has a solid feel. (Like most plastic cameras, I wouldn't expect the body to survive a drop to a hard floor, however.)
Operationally, AUTO mode produces inconsistent image quality compared to self-selecting the appropriate scene mode or leaving the camera in Easy mode (the default). In easy/simple mode the camera self-selects from among six of the 18 scene options. I also found that because the camera doesn't know what you intend to shoot it takes less time to focus if the multipoint AF is turned off in favor of the center-weight (single) auto focus brackets. Similarly, it is important to leave the "motion detection" function enabled (a green icon lights up when a subject moves). As for image quality, I note some mild corner softening of images, particularly branches in the upper left corner. Inexplicably, sometimes something in the picture at the same distance/depth appears more crisp whereas an adjacent aspect of the picture goes noticeably softer (in landscape scene mode of a still subject where motion blur is not an issue). I also note that for sunny outdoor scenes, particularly photos with white objects/animals, it is best to use the exposure compensation, reducing exposure by about 1/3. (The nice thing about exposure compensation on this camera is that it remains locked in until you change it.)
Video is recorded in HD although only digital zoom is available during filming. This does not pose a problem, in my opinion, because on cameras where optical zoom is permitted there tends to be mechanical lens noises in the audio. Movie quality is decent, although it rips through memory card space and batteries due to the 16MP/HD content. Owners should also be aware that unless one owns a newer computer with a current-generation video card, playback of HD video will be choppy if not impossible.
All in all, I would say this camera is a great value for the money. The bad rap this camera has received by some may stem from the ease of forgetting to pop up the manual flash to enable a faster shutter speed when shooting indoors under poor light. The second and even more common complaint surrounds alkaline battery life. Nikon could have remedied the poor first impression by packaging the camera with lithium AA batteries for a vastly improved experience. Still, it's nice to know there are a few AA battery cameras left. No matter where one travels, AA batteries can be found in a pinch.
on October 25, 2012
If you do most of your photography with DSLR & interchangeable lenses, point & shoot cameras do take some adjusting. For travel we've had different 'wafer sized' cameras...then upgraded last year to a mid-range point & shoot from another manufacturer. But programming/settings were not intuitive. In that same range, this Coolpix L610 competes well. Settings & programming are more intuitive to us and after 200 photos this camera feels right, though we're still taking it through its paces. Rechargeable batteries are a must as this is a high drain device. We purchased a kit/package that exceeded our expectations regarding quality (mini-tripod, case, rechargeable batteries/charger/European adapter, 16g SD card).
on January 11, 2013
As a former Canon user, I'm very impressed with the crisp pictures this camera is able to produce.
I received my camera from Amazon the same day my niece was having her 3rd birthday.
I didn't have time to test all features but I know to increase my ISO for indoors/low light conditions.
With that said, I prefer low ISO settings for sharp pictures and the camera's lowest ISO setting is 125.
My first pictures were taken under this setting and while they came out sharp, they were a bit dark.
I increased my ISO to 200 and WOW, pictures were perfect!.
With my old Canon (A540), I had to use ISO 400 for pictures to be barely viewable.
A day after, I had time to play around with different ISO settings and Scenes and found
ISO 400 also produces nice sharp pictures so I will use that setting on future indoor/low light conditions.
I recommend staying away from any pre-defined scene setting and use Auto with ISO setting 200-400 for indoors and ISO 125 for outdoors.
Additionally, get yourself a lithium battery and make sure to change the setting under the menu to reflect the battery in use.
I found using regular alkaline batteries, it would last around 40-50 shots and the flash takes some time to load.
With lithium battery, flash loads instantly between shots.
This camera is smaller than my previous Canon A540 and fits nicely on my jean front pockets.
Personally, I love the design and received many compliments. I'm not a fan of flat cameras.
Overall, I'm very happy with my purchase and Amazon's delivery was prompt - as always.
I'm not sure if the camera had dropped but I'm unable to fully close the battery compartment.
Now, I have to purchase a new camera just under one year of use. BTW, going back to Canon.
I understand I'm within the year warranty but I rather avoid the hassle.
Knocking down 2 stars (from 5 to 3) for lack of durability.
on January 20, 2013
Doc A. thanks for the good review. Very helpful. I looked for a point and shoot camera for my wife for quite some time, and truthfully, even with camera's costing nearly 300 dollars there was the same type of basic problems with battery life, quality, features etc. The L610 for 140 dollars had much of the upper end featured point and shoot camera's features and I believe is an excellent buy. I read one review where a lady complained about motion with blurry photo's trying to take pictures of her active children. I read Doc A comments on setting the ISO to 125, but i played with this and ultimately set it to the highest settings which nearly eliminated the blurr's and the picture still looks good to my old eyes. Normally though i set the ISO to 'Auto' and just use the 'Auto' setting like Doc A. Just point and shoot. You get a good pic everytime. IF I want to minimize the blurr's i just crank up the ISO to max and get great pic's.
This brings me to my review. Battery life. I almost took this camera back as i had the same experience that many did. Put in a pair of alkaline's and i get about 20-30 pic's. Put in a pair of rechargeables and i get not a bunch more. Try to take a video of 2 minutes and the batteries are toast in an instant. It was almost unbearable. AGAIN i read Doc A's review and tried lithium batteries. The only one's they had in the store the day i went to buy were the 9x ultimate Energizers for 8.99 for 4. My report is this. I have taken 600+ hundred pictures and several short video's up to 5 minutes, several of those in addition to the 600 pic's and my batteries are still reading FULL. Every upper end point and shoot camera i looked at, being fare, i should say 90 percent of everyone i tried, required the power of a lithium type battery or equivalent. Whether it was a Canon, Sony etc people complained about the short battery life of their cameras. As the camera has less features the longer the battery lasts. No way around it. Even buying the batteries from the store shelf at 8.99 (you could get them cheaper on Amazon)is not much more than a latte if you split that in half 4.50 for two. Two batteries i have been taking these 600+ pictures for a month now with still a full reading on the battery charge using flash where needed and some short videos. My son has the smaller L26 Nikon and it will run fairly long on just a pair of alkalines, but not this camera. Buy lithium. They will last a month easily and if you don't take too many pictures they will last a few months if you take only a couple of hundred pictures per month. There are 6x lithium's cheaper even. Like between 5.99 and 6.99 for 4. I have not tried those so i cannot comment, but those will be my next try..
on December 17, 2012
I bought this camera on a whim right before taking a family vacation--boy am I glad I did! We took 890 pictures (on one set of lithium AAs)and only a very few of them are out of focus or blurry--a miracle with my overactive kids! The flash has to be raised manually, but the camera can take excellent pictures in auto mode with very little light--very nice low light pictures compared to previous cameras I have had--so that gives you a choice. Ocassionally the focus would set to something other than what I wanted to focus on, so it takes a little learning to use it to best effect. I did not like the easy auto mode and didn't feel the pictures using it were great, but the regular auto mode worked well, and we took lots of great macro photos (you can't use the macro in easy auto either). I used the beach scene setting for the beach and was very happy with it. Great color on the shots. I also liked that the focus was good even at full zoom, so no more blurry shots at full zoom. There are a couple of oddities on the camera ... it would have been nice if the card was accessible without opening the battery compartment, as not only do the batteries scatter when you open it, but the battery door is bigger and harder to open and close than the little card doors. I tried using a cord, but the cord door was also somewhat difficult and I decided I'd rather just take the card out. You will need to buy a card separate. There is a little recovery time when you zoom, and after using the flash, but I didn't find either to be a problem. The screen is clear enough to tell if you have a good shot when you take it. I like the way it feels to hold as well, no slip, easy controls. I'm very very happy with the camera and with the snapshots we got! Easy, great shots.
on October 23, 2012
I took this camera on my vacation to China & I shot 2700 photos with it(over a three week period). The photos were all sharp, clear with excellent, accurate color. I did not use the video functions, so I will reserve comment on that function until I try it.
on December 13, 2012
No complaints about battery life. Compared off-brand Alkaline AA batteries (which lasted about 50 exposures) with Sanyo Eneloop 2,000mAh Rechargeable Ni-MH batteries (500+ exposures over three days before recharging again). Battery life great! Pics great for this type of camera (4 stars). Nightime (handheld) Scene mode fantastic. Got great shots at 1100 ISO and 1/8th of a second. No blurring and minimal noise. Very impressed. Great wideangle and enough zoom. Love it!