Best Nikon COOLPIX L820 16 MP CMOS Digital Camera with 30x Zoom

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Nikon COOLPIX L820 16 MP Review ,I got this camera primarily because of the reach that a 30x zoom allows me, really that's it. I'm not a professional photographer. I'm just a guy who goes on photo kicks now and again to indulge my inner paparazzi. I think everything needs to be commemorated and documented for the purpose of later boring my friends and family. A flower, a bird, spilled ice cream... it's all gold! While I'd love a DSLR with a telephoto lens, I just can't justify the cost. Enter the L820. I had a Fujifilm FinePix S4200 Digital Camera which has a nice zoom, but I couldn't get it to focus on what I wanted it to focus on. I'm glad I didn't see a Yeti while using that camera, because the image would be blurry and no one would believe me. The Fuji has good reviews, but I wasn't satisfied so I returned it. I continued my hunt and found the L820 Good reviews, though relatively new so not as many as the Fuji, a good zoom, a good brand. I got a smokin' deal on it from an Amazon reseller (over $100 cheaper than Wal-Mart, and $30 cheaper than Amazon itself) so figured I'd give it a go. Pros and cons are a tried and true review method, so why mess with success?

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-Zoom is powerful, and with vibration reduction and a steady hand I captured some decent images without using a tripod. I never bother with digital zoom, but there's no real need given that the optical zoom is so powerful.
-Image quality is good. It's not great, but it's good. Remember, this is basically a point and shoot with a lens on steroids.
-Shooting modes. I've only just begun to play with these. There are color filter options, so you can have a black and white photo showing only red, or blue, or green, or whatever. It's artsy and interesting, although I don't find it that useful.
-Battery life is decent. The 4 double AAs they provide got me 647 shots, and still have a bit of life left in them. I only used flash a few times, probably under 10. As soon as these batteries die I'm going with Eneloops which are the greatest batteries on the face of the Earth if you ask me.
-Flash not needed as often as other point and shoots. I have yet to do any spelunking which will probably require a flash, but in low light situations I found the flash could stay down and not be used and pictures turned out pretty good. I'm not a camera genius, but I think this my have something to do with the CMOS sensor being used rather than a CCD, but don't quote me on that.
-Low shutter lag. Isn't this what always gets you? Look, that puppy is tap dancing while twirling a hula-hoop! Quick camera, take a picture. Then you hear the "vvvvffff", "vvvvffff" sound of the lens trying to focus. You see the image get blurry, blurrier, not as blurrier, clearer, clear... and snap. The dog is now sniffing another dog's butt, and no one believes what you saw. It's not instant, but it's pretty fast.
-Good grippy material for preventing slipping. Nothing is worse than taking photos from a boat with your new camera when a rogue wave causes a shudder and PLUNK, your new photo machine goes in the drink because its smooth sides provided no friction. Where the battery housing is there lives a nice, rubbery grip that allows a steady hold. Of course, you should have the neck strap on anyway, so even if it does slip, it's still attached to you.
-AA batteries. This is the must have item for me. I hate proprietary batteries that aren't readily available. Nothing is worse than traveling and having your battery die. Sure you can charge it, but that takes time. Being able to swap out some AA batteries which are easy to get at your local stop and rob is a huge convenience.

-No view finder. C'mon Nikon, this thing is already too big for my pocket, you might as well add a view finder.
-LCD hard to see in bright sun with sunglasses. I know this might be picky, but if it's bright out, and you're outside, you're probably wearing sunglasses to keep your rods and cones from melting. I found that if I wanted to get a good look at the LCD, I had to raise my glasses and allow the UV light of our sun to start burning my retina while reviewing photos or changing settings.
-Battery housing door is a pain. I'm not sure if there is any way around this, because the batteries have to have pressure pushing up so they touch the conductive material on the battery door to give your camera power, but it's a pain to close the door. Not a deal breaker, but just something to be aware of because that's also where the SD card resides.

Final word:
If you're a pro, you might look down your nose at this camera. If you're looking at this camera, and reading this review, you're probably just a regular person like me, or a pro who understands what this camera is for. I'm pleased overall so far. I've uploaded a few pics to the gallery. One of a macro shot, one of a panorama, and one of a deer. The deer photo was taken in "landscape" mode, as I forgot to change it and I had been shooting landscapes primarily to that point. The menu is neither a pro nor a con for me. It's not as convenient as a wheel selector would be, but you get used to it fairly quickly.

If you're looking for a camera with a bit more oomph than a typical point and shoot, this is a good bet. If image quality is more important to you than zoom, there might be better options out there. Remember, I found the images to be good, but not great. But for under $200, this is a solid deal if you ask me.

Things I have yet to mess around with:
-Video, supposedly HD, but I haven't tried it out. I think it's also got a decent frame rate which might allow some interesting "high speed" camera stuff.
-Burst mode for action shots. Haven't touched it yet.
-Messing with F-stops or aperature adjustments. Also haven't tried long shutter.

I've had the camera about 3 months now, and am still happy with it. I've played with the high speed filming a bit more. I've uploaded a video "review," expertly crafted using high end video editing software (Windows movie maker), to show what the different speeds look like.

There are four high speed options, ranging from 0.5x - 8x. Now, it's a well established fact that men don't like to read instructions, and I'm no exception. So while there may be more info available about what those numbers mean, I didn't look into it. I'll assume, using my very basic camera knowledge, that 8x basically slows footage to 1/8 speed, and 4x is 1/4 speed, etc etc. The video at 4x is actually still fairly decent, but you can really see how grainy it's getting at 8x.

If I'm outside or in a well lit room I've very impressed with the shutter speed. If I have to wait for a flash, that slows things down, but outside shots are the fastest I've personally ever had with a point and shoot. Battery life is also still impressive. If you haven't joined the Eneloop cult yet (Sanyo Eneloop Ni-MH Charger and 8 Rechargeable AA and 2 Rechargeable AAA Batteries.Plus C & D Adpater.) do yourself a favor and drink the Koolaid. These are the best batteries I've ever owned.

I have not discovered how to use any manual settings with this camera, and I'm afraid they may not exist. These cameras are made to be idiot proof, and they don't want the end user messing with things s/he shouldn't. However, I do like doing long exposure photos of flowing water or the night sky, and I guess I'll have to keep my old, worn out Canon point and shoot for that. I think you have to get a "P" line camera from Nikon to have much control over f-stops, aperatures, shutter speeds, etc. Personally, I think Nikon should have a little more faith in me, but that's the way it goes.

Best Nikon COOLPIX L820 16 MP CMOS Digital Camera with 30x Zoom 

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