Pogue recently proved yet again during a man-on-the-street
print quality test using identical images shot with three
different cameras at three different resolutions between
5 and 12 megapixels, it's not the megapixels that count
as much as the quality of lens, sensor, lighting and photographer
combined. In fact, unless you're going to crop small areas
from a 7 megapixel print and blow them up to 8"x10" or
larger, you will probably never need anything more than 6
or 7 good quality megapixels. As professional photographer
Ken Rockwell has also repeatedly pointed out, in the right
lighting conditions outdoors, it's really hard to tell the
difference between a lovely composition photographed with
an inexpensive point & shoot and the same thing shot
with a $2,000 digital SLR. All things being up to some reasonable
standard of quality, an inexpensive point & shoot can
provide you with years of delightful photos and great memories.
I took the little
Nikon Coolpix L12 on a short trip to Erie, Pennsylvania and Niagara
Falls, Ontario. In order to keep it all honest, I also left my fancier
camera gear at home. I was determined to make extensive use of the
L12 and set myself up with a small Lowepro Rezo 60 camera belt pouch
which has sufficient storage for extra batteries, a battery charger,
spare SD cards, lens cloth, cell phone and also provides quick access
to the camera. I have never shot an entire weekend of pictures with
a point & shoot camera. To say that the experience was educational
is putting it mildly. More accurately, I finally had a chance to experience
just how good a small camera can be in a situation where I had no choice
but to be patient, learn the camera's features, and adjust to the techniques
which are most effective with a point & shoot. The result was satisfying.
While the Nikon Coolpix L12 remains a budget model, it's also important
to note that Nikon really doesn't make a bad camera. I'm pleased with
my point & shoot photo weekend and I may just do it again.
For the first time
ever, I actually used the built-in red-eye fix and Nikon's patented
D-Lighting feature. During my low light shooting at sunset near at
stretch of the Erie Canal, I managed to grab a number of underexposed
pictures. But I was able to select some of the worst ones and rescue
them by applying D-Lighting to lighten shadows and darken highlights.
It's all more or less automatic, and it turned several shots into
keepers that had been slated for deletion. The D-Lighting feature
can be found in all Nikon point & shoot digital cameras.
Cons: At this price it's really hard to ask for more, but we
could wish for a higher resolution LCD. While the LCD is
certainly big enough, reviewing photos using the camera
is less than satisfying. The zoom range is somewhat limited—to
be expected in this price range—so we'd prefer to have
a wider angle at the short end even if it means giving up
a few millimeters at the long end. A bit of focus hunting
in low light, especially indoors. The clean exterior finish
can be a bit too slick in coolweather, so by all means attach
and (more important) use the wrist strap.
Pros: A fast lens (f2.8 at the wide end of the zoom) coupled
with a sensor that produces a good color balance works well
in some indoor and other low light conditions that sometimes
stump competing models. Built-in flash works surprisingly
well for such a diminutive thing, producing good exposures
in mixed lighting conditions. The L12 is easy to handle and
the gently curved right side provides a reasonably secure
grip whether shooting horizontal or vertical. The user interface
displayed on the LCD screen is easy to understand and navigate.
Best Shot Selection and the scene modes work extremely well,
once again showing off Nikon's many generations of knowledge
applied simply and elegantly in an inexpensive but competent
and useful compact camera design. Need something around the
office? This is it. Need a camera but still want to travel
light? Consider the L12. Need a camera which is equally at
home in a belt pouch, attache case, handbag or backpack?
Consider the L12. At this price, you can't go wrong. Recommended.