Nikon Coolpix L340 Review

Nikon Digital Cameras are known as one of the top digital cameras on the market that have perfect picture quality. A case in point is the Nikon Coolpix L340, a low-cost super-zoom bridge-style camera that comes to fill in the gap for the photo enthusiasts who adore quality but don’t want to spend much. The camera features a 28x optical zoom, which is a departure from its predecessor the Nikon Coolpix L330 which came with a 26x optical zoom. The 28x zoom gives a 35mm-equivalent focal range of 22.5-630mm. The L340 flaunts a 20.2 MP CCD sensor with a sensitivity of up to 1600 ISO which offers sharp photos even when in low light.

It also features a 720p video recording with an optical range stabilization, a three-inch 460k-dot LCD screen, some automatic and scene shooting modes and a High-performance Vibration reduction. The camera allows you to take up to 370 shots when using the AA batteries and 960 shots if you go with the lithium batteries. Regarding storage, the camera uses a standard SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card. The photography experience offered by this camera is an absolute bargain for the price.

Design and Features

The camera sports a chunky design with rear thumb rest and a large rubberized handgrip for easy handling. The gap between the lens and the handgrip might, however, be a bit narrow for those with large fingers. The camera measures 3 x 3.28 x 4.37 inches and weighs in at 430grams which is reasonably portable because it uses four AA batteries. It is smaller than the Canon SX60 and Nikon P610 but bigger than the Canon PowerShot SX410 HS. You will find the essential control buttons in the camera for the flash mode, video recording, macro mode, scene modes and the self-timer. There is an exposure compensation button that is manually operated which enables up to +/-2 stops of exposure adjustment.

The Nikon L340 being a basic model, there are no many buttons or dials that you will need to get conversant to on this camera. The top part has the on/off power switch, the microphone for video recording and a shutter release button. The zoom switch button is near the shutter release button with the markings T (Zoom) and W (wide). The flash is also located at the top of the Nikon; there is a button at the side that you will have to push to release the pop-up flash. To switch off the flash, you shall have to push it back into place. On the rear of the camera, you shall find a video recording button located near the thumb rest. The button is strategically positioned to avoid erroneous recording of videos by switching it on accidentally. There is also a “scene” button for choosing between different shooting modes.

In the rear of the camera, you shall also find a Playback button for viewing your shot images, a delete button and a menu button. Additionally, there is a four-way navigational pad, with an OK button 9 in the center. The directional keys help you to navigate through menus and confirm with the OK button. Each direction key performs a particular function as well. The down key accesses macro focusing for auto mode only, the up button changes the flash modes, the right button enables you to change exposure compensation and the left button accesses self-timer. Amazingly, the main menu has a good arrangement allowing the options depending on your shooting mode you want to use. Auto mode gets to give you much when capturing images. It also has three different section for video, still pictures and general settings for setting the sounds, date and time among others.

There is a 3-inch LCD screen that offers an excellent color reproduction and brightness for viewing. The 460k-dot resolution that the camera comes with is not ideal enough regarding sharpness, but the limited viewing angles of the monitor are more disappointing since they make it difficult to judge the contrast and exposure accurately. The menu design is basic but easy to navigate and fully functional. The battery life on this camera is not that much impressive, but it is not a deal breaker considering its price. The camera does not come with a rechargeable pack, but then if you want to upgrade to using rechargeable batteries and charger, you shall have to purchase them separately. The 4AA alkaline batteries that the camera comes with still offer an incredible 370 shot run time which can be increased to 960 shots should you opt to use premium lithium cells.

Performance

The Nikon L340 produces images that are vibrant and accurately exposed which look relatively attractive. Images look good in detail when viewed at 50% image size or smaller, but further zooming distorts the image bringing about a painterly appearance. The images become worse when using long focal lengths which allow the camera to apply image smoothing in a bid to counter camera shake.

The 28x zoom in the L340 is a fantastic feature which is capable of producing moderate chromatic aberration levels. The JPEG image processing for the Nikon is capable of correcting various lens distortion, but you will find some slight waviness when shooting geometric subjects at maximum wide angle. The sharpness also gets to worsen noticeably around the corners, but then it is quite reasonable at the center of the frame. The camera has an almost instant autofocusing speed when done at a close range and in good light which can, however, get slow fractionally if you decide to focus on a more distant image. The focus becomes slower in low light regardless of the focal length of the lens. Nikon claims that the camera is capable of a 1cm macro focusing distance, but in real life the camera a 5cm gap before locking on properly.

The Nikon L340 produces images that are relatively clean at ISO 80 and 100 with little noise evident, but fringing is visible on high-contrast boundaries.  The edges start to lose definition while the grain creeps in at ISO 200 and more grain is visible at ISO 400. The grain becomes more distracting at ISO 800 which happens to be the highest sensitivity level acceptable and the detail becomes more softened. If you go further to ISO 1600, then expect bad looking shots as the high grain levels, color speckling, and blotchiness become more apparent.

The camera produces a neutral color balance consistently while the auto balance does well under fluorescent lighting and tungsten. You will, however, experience some color casts with manual setting for the fluorescent and tungsten lighting. You get six filter effects that you can get to preview live and record at full resolution. The different filter effects include Cyanotype, Photo Illustration, Pop, Selective color with 12 color options, high-contrast monochrome and nostalgic sepia. The camera does not feature automatic panorama mode but comes to a Panorama Assist Setting feature which comes in handy when aligning separate stills for stitching together. Capturing videos using the L340 is possible which offers a 720P HD resolution with mono sound. The good thing is that you can get to zoom while recording. At the age when people are looking at 4K, a better resolution like 1080p could have been more appealing.

Conclusion

The Nikon L340 slightly improves on the L330 by bumping the zoom range from 26x to 28x, but the other features remain the same. The L340 does not come with any particular feature as there are more compact cameras out there that come with a 30x zoom. The L340 maintains the high build quality and comfy ergonomic seen in the L330. The 20.2MP CCD sensor the L340 comes with produces acceptable image quality, if you keep your expectations in check, the dynamic range and image quality are acceptable. The most disappointing feature comes by way of the EXPEED C2, which is similar to what we saw in the Nikon L330 that is still sluggish and annoying. Overall, the Nikon L340 is an excellent choice for users on a budget that wants a camera capable of producing quality images. If you are out for holiday and need of a camera without breaking the Bank, then you may have to consider the Nikon Coolpix L340.

Check out the Nikon CoolPix L340 at Amazon