Disappointing Image Quality
This is my 5th Nikon digital camera over the past 10 yrs, including two digital SLR bodies I use for better photography. Many times I can't or don't want to haul the SLR bodies and lenses, so I like having a small point-and-shoot camera, too. I got this L620 to replace a Coolpix L3 I bought in '08. I wanted a camera with better low light performance than the L3, image stabilization, and additional user control. A P7800 would've been ideal, but I didn't want to spend that much money, so this was an admitted compromise.
I have yet to fully test the camera, having only shot about 50 images, and only shot one short video, but so far I am unimpressed. The biggest problem is the color saturation and balance. Many of the images I've taken in open shade or under cloudy conditions using the auto features are "washed out," unlike with the L3. It doesn't appear to be an overexposure tendency, an issue I had with my D40. Rather, it may be the auto white balance or even the CMOS sensor itself, as some reds have a clear magenta cast, too. (See attached image, shot on overcast day, using auto features in closeup mode. The actual leaves were an intense crimson that really stood out against the background.) I certainly don't want to have to manually adjust lots of images on my computer to make them look right, but so far, about half of what I shot needs adjustment. The funny thing is that the images look good on the monitor, but once the exposure is recorded, the replay shows obvious differences. Indoor photos under artificial light don't seem to have the same problem.
For my purposes, the 4M pixels (2272x1704, 1 MB file size) option is what I will likely shoot at most often. So far, I've only tried 8M and 4M. All modes but one shoot at a 4:3 aspect ratio, and that other mode shoots at 16:9. I would prefer an option to shoot at the 3:2 ratio used by my SLRs, since that transfers directly to the most common 4x6 paper size without cropping.
Like the L3 before, the auto program tends to choose low ISO sensitivities and slow shutter speeds. I tried shooting my dogs playing outdoors in open shade and all the motion was blurred, as the camera chose ISO 125 and a shutter speed of 1/50 (f/3.9). I have not tried the Sports auto mode, yet, but I could manually up the ISO to 400 and sometimes get a 1/125 shutter speed. The L620 doesn't offer shutter or aperture priority.
The 14x zoom range is nice, but any zooming in still mode requires 2-3 sec. for the autofocus to readjust, so you can't really follow a subject by zooming when taking photos. However, zooming in video mode does not seem to immediately throw the camera out of focus.
The camera comes with two AA alkaline batteries that were exhausted in only 50 shots (10% of which used flash). I have yet to fully test the rechargable Ni-MH cells I bought. I like the fact that it takes AA cells, as it is easy to carry spares, but if you can only get 50-100 shots per pair of batteries, that would be annoying. I also bought the recommended 16GB SDHC card. At 4 megapixels, that will hold ~9,000 images, or up to ~30 min. of video.
The camera arrived with a small defect (surface nick) in the monitor screen, but it doesn't affect performance.
November 29, 2013
Software is junk, camera okay
The software that came with this camera is poor. When I tried to install it shut down my computer without any warning. I lost several files due to this unexpected shut down and when the computer restarted it was operating horribly, everything was slow and the CPU was at maximum usage. When I finally got the installer to work my computers antivirus system crashed (Norton mysteriously was missing critical files). Then I was stuck with a computer that was using all of its CPU and still attempting to install the viewer software. Finally after about 45 minutes the software installed and I got control of my computer back. As far as the camera is concerned it was very easy to use, has a decent zoom lens, and takes quality photos. That being said it would be even better if the colors didn't wash out and you actually got the colors and composition you see in the display. The auto focus stinks if shooting through glass or fencing (ie. the zoo#. Overall I have had $50 cameras work as good as this $300 camera, the only improvement being a little less grainy image #18.1 megapixels). This was my first Nikon purchase in many years but I don't think I will bother again.
September 23, 2013