Nikon Coolpix L840 Digital Camera Review
Dead batteries are no problem for this AA-powered Nikon
By the Numbers
Chances are good you already know whether or not you're buying Nikon's L840, but here we hash out all the nerdy details anyways. In our labs, we found that this camera—while cheap—does well enough to hang with the bargain market. It's about as sharp as can be expected, colors are oversaturated, and noise is a bit of an issue.
Color and White Balance
Like most point and shoots, the L840 largely eschews color accuracy for pleasing aesthetics. Namely, it oversaturates colors to a wild degree.
With a ∆C 00 (saturation corrected) of 2.84 and an overall saturation of 119.6%, you can expect blues, reds, and greens to pop, while yellows tend to be a little muted.
White balance is decent if left in the automatic setting, but it's also surprisingly good with a manual setting. I recommend leaving it in auto, though, as errors didn't really exceed 500 kelvin in our labs—even with the notoriously difficult to correct tungsten lighting.
By using a heavy dose of software edge enhancement, the Nikon L840 provides over 2,000 line widths per picture height in the center of the frame, while the edges drop down to about 1700 lw/ph. That's really fine for most applications.
But there's a catch to all this. Those numbers I just quoted are only achievable with the lens zoomed all the way out. If you want to zoom in on something far away, the sharpness nosedives to about half when you zoom out to 38x. That's a bit of a letdown even before you consider the fact that the additional focal length is going to make your shots more likely to suffer from motion blur.
Noise is fairly well contained, but that seems to be mostly due to an overly-aggressive noise reduction algorithm. That's really fine, but shots at 100% are going to look a little like they've been painted if you shot in low light.
Noise never really tops 2% until you cross over ISO 3,200—which is very normal for a point and shoot. There's no option to increase or reduce noise reduction, so that's the level you're stuck with.
Video performance is decent, though the camera will offer varying degrees of quality based on how far you're zoomed out. Clips taken at full zoom will be considerably softer at full zoom than they will be at full wide.
If you are at full wide, your performance ceiling should be about 450 line pairs per picture height. That's pretty sub-par, and it gets worse in low light, where sharpness drops to 350 LP/PH.
Low light is a real pain for the L840, as the camera can only reproduce a 50 IRE image down to 7 lux. Not bad for a point and shoot, but not anywhere approaching good, either.
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