At around £85 the Nikon Coolpix L10 is excellent value for a simple snapshot camera. Yet there's nothing cheap-looking about the Nikon Coolpix L10. It has a stylish, thin-profile body that slides nicely into a pocket.

This 5Mp Nikon Coolpix L10 has a 3x optical zoom that's suitable for basic point-and-shoot photography. It has 15 scene modes for various lighting conditions, and a face-priority mode that optimises the automatic focus for shots of human faces.

As you'd expect in a low-cost camera, the Nikon Coolpix L10 lacks many advanced features, such as exposure bracketing, spot metering and manual focus, although it does offer white-balance calibration.

We liked using the Nikon Coolpix L10, for the most part. Despite its smallish size, it felt comfortable, even when shooting one-handed. Startup is a quick 2 seconds. Everything is kept simple - there's no mode dial, for example, just a slide switch for selecting full auto mode, the scene mode selected in the menus, or movie mode.

Key controls consist of three clearly labeled buttons: photo review, photo delete, and menu display. The Nikon Coolpix L10's menu is short and easy to navigate, and when you're using the menu, pressing the zoom button pops up an all-too-brief description of each menu function. The descriptions for the scene modes are more valuable. Unfortunately, we found that the zoom control races from wide to telephoto (or vice versa) so quickly that it's hard to set a precise, intermediate focal length.

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The photos we took looked nearly as sharp as those produced by a 5.1Mp Olympus 5060 (which, a few years ago, was state-of-the-art and five times more expensive). In lab tests conducted by the PC Advisor Test Centre, the Nikon Coolpix L10 earned an overall image quality score of Good on indoor shots.

The Nikon Coolpix L10 earned high marks for exposure and colour accuracy, but low ones for sharpness and distortion. In our informal shots, colours tended to look a little weak. In auto mode, an outdoor scene with lots of sky and water had a bluish tint. Switching to Daylight colour balance made the whites a little brighter. An indoor flash photo had better colours when we switched to the Nikon Coolpix L10's Party/Indoor scene mode.

Mostly because of the Nikon Coolpix L10's small size, you do not get an eye-level viewfinder. Fortunately, the LCD screen can be used to frame your photos even in bright sunlight, though it has a smallish size, at 2in. The camera's 7MB of internal memory will hold only about seven shots at the highest resolution setting, but it's handy for capturing must-have photos when your SD Card (not included) is full or when you forget to put the card back in the camera.

The Nikon Coolpix L10 runs on two AA battery cells, and it performed well in our battery tests, lasting 343 shots (recently tested digital cameras averaged 260 frames).

Included on the Nikon Coolpix L10's CD-ROM is PictureProject, a mediocre application for organising and editing your photos. The software could benefit greatly from a better tool for managing colour balance.

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Nikon Coolpix L10: Specs

  • 5Mp
  • 3x optical zoom
  • zoom range: 37.5mm - 112.5mm
  • 0.2kg
  • 89x25x61mm
  • SD Card slot (card not supplied)
  • 5Mp
  • 3x optical zoom
  • zoom range: 37.5mm - 112.5mm
  • 0.2kg
  • 89x25x61mm
  • SD Card slot (card not supplied)

OUR VERDICT

Overall, the Nikon Coolpix L10 is an attractive package if you're looking for a simple camera that has a low price and that will fit in your pocket.

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