Nikon Coolpix L29 is one of the cheapest digital cameras currently available. At around $130 it offers 5x optical zoom, 16 megapixels and HD video recording. When people ask me about cameras this cheap, I usually recommend buying several years used higher specked camera, but after a short stroll through the city I think this Nikon L29 actually might be a good choice. Keep reading to find out how it performs.
- Announced: 2014.
- Type: compact
- Dimensions: 96.4 x 59.4 x 28.9 mm (3.8 x 2.4 x 1.2 in.)
- Weight: 160g (with battery)
- Sensor: 1/2.3″ (6.17 x 4.55 mm)16 MP (4608 x 3456 pixels)
- Lens: 26-130mm (35mm eq.), F/3.2-6.5
- Image stabilization: no
- Dust and moisture protection: No
- Flash: Built-in
- LCD screen: 2.7″, 230,000 dots
- Memory card: SD, SDHC, SDXC
- Battery: 2x AA (only alkaline included)
- Video: 1280 x 720 @ 30p, 640 x 480 @ 30p
- Connectors: USB 2.0
CONSTRUCTION, HANDLING AND MENU SYSTEM
Build quality is on the cheap side, but actually acceptable. You can get this camera in several colors: black, silver, purple and deep shiny red just like this one I have for review. It actually looks quite attractive and might be a great present for a child as a first camera. It is certainly better than various Hello Kitty or Buzz Lightyear child cameras. All of the buttons are quite big and have distinctive “click” when pressed.
Nikon L29 is very easy to use. You get only AUTO mode and various scene modes, there are no classic PASM shooting modes. I noticed a weird software glitch… you cannot exit playback pressing shutter button what is standard on most cameras ever produced.
As far as manual setting go, you can take controls over white balance, color options and exposure compensation. That’s it. ISO value is selected automatically at all times. This is probably more than enough since I think a typical buyer of this camera will never move it out of AUTO mode.
NIKON COOLPIX L29 LENS
The lens has 5x optical zoom what translates to 26-130mm in 35 mm equivalent. There is no image stabilization so you’ll have to keep this camera steady in your hands. Macro shooting is nothing special; you can get only 10cm close to your subject. At the age when many cameras come as close as 1cm this looks terribly outdated. Lens quality is quite good for this price point. It has blurry corners on wide angle as well as chromatic aberrations, but I’ve seen worse in more expensive cameras. Center of the frame is perfectly sharp at all zoom setting.
NIKON COOLPIX L29 SENSOR AND IMAGE QUALITY
Image quality from a tiny 16 megapixel sensor is actually quite good. In daylight images have nice colors, accurate yet well saturated; I wasn’t expecting that from a camera this cheap. Auto white balance does a splendid job. When you zoom into images at 100% view the details are mostly there, you can see some blur due to noise reduction, but it’s not bad at all, I’ve seen far worse from cameras way more expensive than this one. When the light is low, images are bad; noise is very strong as is the noise reduction, so with this camera you will want to avoid shooting in the dark. Even bigger problem is the lack of image stabilization so getting a sharp night time shot will require using a tripod.
NIKON COOLPIX L29 LCD AND EVF
LCD has 2.7″ diagonal and 230,000 dots. That’s quite low for modern standards, but you get what you pay for. Viewing quality is actually good and the LCD is acceptably bright in daylight. Viewing angles are bad though.
NIKON COOLPIX L29 MEMORY AND BATTERY
Nikon L29 supports standard SD/SDHC memory cards and runs on two AA batteries. In retail package you get only alkaline batteries which will last 100-150 shots. My recommendation is to get rechargeable ones and a charger as they will last more than double. L29 has an USB port but it is not of the standard kind, you need to use special Nikon cable (it is included in retail package).
NIKON COOLPIX L29 VIDEO RECORDING
Video can be recorded in three resolutions highest of which is 1280 x 720. Auto focus is active during video recording but it is really slow. What bothered me most is the lack of optical zoom in video recording. You must preset zoom before shooting video and after you start recording only digital zoom will be available. Digital zoom degraded image quality to the level it is unusable so please avoid using it.
NIKON COOLPIX L29 REVIEW CONCLUSION
Altogether, Nikon L29 showed to be a pleasant surprise. I expected image quality to be crap, but L29 produced really nice shots with good colors and excellent detail retention. With good light L29 can produce some really nice photos, better than some cameras at more than double the price. L29 is pure point and shoot so it will be easy to get good shots for anyone. If your budget is really tight or you need an advice for a cheap new camera as a gift, this is the one to get. Take a look at image samples and you will see why.
NIKON COOLPIX L29 PROS:
- Good image quality
- Auto white balance does a good job
- Light and easy to use
- Surprisingly good for the price
NIKON COOLPIX L29 CONS:
- Non-standard USB connector
- No optical zoom in video recording
- Half shutter press does not exit playback mode
- No image stabilization
NIKON COOLPIX L29 PHOTO EXAMPLES
All straight out of camera:
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