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Friday, April 15, 2011

A Love Letter to my Nikon Coolpix L120 (or) The Complete Amateur's Review

*Disclaimer: I am NOT an expert. By any stretch of the imagination. If you're looking for a professional review, this isn't your place. I'm a normal, everyday person who likes to take pretty pictures and wants them to be the best they can be. That said, let's continue.

  Last week, I was talking with a friend of mine about anything, everything, and all the things in between. To cut a long story short, she had a camera that wasn't getting used, and I have BADLY wanted a new camera for a long time now. My previous camera was about 5 years old, and still took decent pictures. I kept waiting and waiting for that ONE camera to come out, the perfect combination of "point and shoot" and "I actually want to take great photos". Maybe I was just fooling myself and waiting until the day I could afford a DSLR. I'm nothing more than an amateur photographer with a thirst for creative freedom. I didn't want anything that was too fussy, but still had some manual controls to tweak with. What I wanted was a camera that would take crisp, clear photos of EXACTLY what I see, EXACTLY how I see it. Don't change the color for me, don't alter the lighting, just exactly what I'm looking at. My biggest photo passion is natural lighting.

     I'd tried, tested, investigated, poked and prodded all of the more sophisticated point and shoots (mind if I just call them P&S from now now? Thanks.) I've spent more hours than I care to admit researching online, reading reviews, all in the quest for "the one true camera (that I can afford)". Nothing grabbed me, gave me that twist of desire in the stomach that wasn't an SLR that I'd have to mortgage my soul for. Not that I had the extra money for even a cheapo P&S either, but I'm one of those types that enjoys torturing themselves researching things they can't have. Yet. I wanted to be prepared for the day when I'd finally find "the one". So I waited, and I researched, and I used my iPhone and my older reliable camera that has sentimental value.


Until I was given the Nikon Coolpix L120. Nice BIG lens (cause size does matter), 21x optical zoom (an additional 4x digital zoom, but you're sacrificing a lot of quality there, so who cares...) and lots of easy, nifty features that aren't hard to navigate at all. And I gotta say, I like the zoom toggle on the left side of the lens barrel. You can also zoom with the little switch around the shutter button, which is the most familiar to P&S users. Am ALL about the options. I'm totally in love. I've never been able to take such crisp, detailed photos that are as true to life as you can get without an SLR. If you want to do EXTREEEME close-ups or macros of flowers or the blemishes on your sibling's sleeping face for blackmail (hey, I don't judge), the lens is able to focus PERFECTLY as close as 1cm. Wow.
Let me just state here that I'm not being paid to endorse Nikon, in fact I doubt many people will read this at all. But love letters aren't always meant for wide circulation (this ain't TMZ), and this is a love letter. I love you, Nikon Coolpix L120. I will have your cute little big-lensed lovechild.
Okay! Enough gushing about my new big-lensed baby-daddy, let me demonstrate some of the features that impressed me most.

The ZOOMA ZOOM ZOOM (I know, I know...I couldn't help it) (Click on pic for full size)

 I forgot to add a crucial bit of information. Vibration stabilization. We haz it. There's the standard stabilization, and then the assisted stabilization which takes two rapid succession images, then fuses them together for a nicer result. I've only used the standard so far.  Groovy, huh? I feel like I can go celebrity spy-watching in Laguna now, TMZ style!

Next is one that is near and dear to my heart. MACROS! Close-ups! You can get clear focus from 1cm away.

I do go a bit crazy with flower macros. They amuse me so much, and I have NO pride when it comes to contorting myself on the ground or into any position it takes to get the shot I want. Feel free to point and laugh if you see me, it must be a pretty hilarious sight.

It also has this nifty/weird thing that detects smiles when they happen, and automatically snaps a pic without your help. I'm almost tempted to name my camera HAL, if I could guarantee it won't get too smart and take over the world. "I can't do that Bonnie....." If you don't get this joke, go watch more sci-fi. Seeriouslah.
It detected my creepy "Imma EATCHOO" closed smile

                and this one too (look Ma, no redeye!)
They even have a special "pet portrait" setting. Boy, do they know me or what?! This one is kind of like the continuous sports shot setting, where it will take multiple shots in very fast succession (flip book, anyone?) in case your pets won't stand still *coughcoughROWANcoughcough* or blink or something. The quality is much lower, but sometimes that's the price you pay for non-SLR rapid succession shooting. This pleases me.
Most definitely NOT moving or blinking. For once.

There are so many features to this camera, and I've been having an absolute blast learning all about them. Every time I figure something out, or look up the manual online, I find myself saying "REALLY!? COOL!!" an awful lot. Is this camera perfect? No. It's not a multi-thousand dollar DSLR. Is it perfect for me? Yes. Better than I ever hoped for.

I'm not a professional photographer or techno-reviewer, so I'm basically just gushing as an average Joe. Jane. Whatever. There's so much more I could write about, but I'm sure it'll get covered in future posts, since I've turned into a snap-happy mad scientist. I've been writing, playing with photos, and having way too much fun for over two and a half hours now, and my excedrin PM is kicking in. Sleeeeeepy. So I'll sign off for now, but before I do I'll leave you with another AWESOME photo, and a teaser for tomorrow morning's story: 

Yes, that is my hand, and yes, that's a baby hummingbird. If you follow me on facebook, you already know this story. But the saga continued after I got home from work tonight, so tune in tomorrow for the exciting tale of "Little J". 
By the way, what do you think of the new turquoise polka dot background? Love it? Hate it? Leave a comment and let me know! I thought it was rather spring-timey, myself...


  1. Those pictures look great! I must admit, I am also a hopeless fan of macro flowers.

    I got a Nikon Coolpix a few years back (because it was on clearance), and I too fell in love; just the right amount of point-and-shoot balanced with control. The manual mode really sold me, but then there's the zoom, and the macro mode . . . :D Mine doesn't have the smile detection though; that looks very nifty! And I could definitely use that pet portrait for my wiggly cats!

    And I think amateur reviews are very useful for an amateur like me--I can never understand all the numbers in the professional reviews, having never taken a photography class--and this definitely sounds like a camera I'll look into when I'm in the market for a new one. So thanks for the great and very useful review! :)

  2. I have that camera and am as in love with mine as you are with yours! It's helped me a ton when photographing my products, kids, dogs and flowers in my garden! ;-)

  3. Thanks guys! I'm so glad to hear you love yours as much as I do. I read one "professional" review where they picked it to pieces, and another that raved about it. I guess everyone's got an opinion, right? I appreciate the pro reviews, but all those numbers and such leave me going "yeah yeah....". I love reading reviews on regular ol' blogs because it applies more to MY everyday use.

    Melissa- I'm totally excited to get sewing and get more stuff in my shop so I can try it out for product shots. do you use a lightbox or anything? Special lighting?

  4. nice and cool Review!
    Happy with this review.


  5. i just bought online the same camera as you and now am anxiously waiting for the delivery. for fun, i googled "i can't wait for my nikon l120" and this blog popped out true story! hilarious. anyway, i really enjoyed reading your love letter and it made me even more impatient. xx

  6. Hi anonymous! I hope you love your camera as much as I do. I saw that it also comes in a really pretty red and though "awww, man!" but I love it anyway. Your google search cracked me up! I hope you'll come back and let me know how it goes with your new camera, and thank you so much for reading!

  7. i am getting blurred images and the colour is also not natural. i tried the settings but could not resolve. any professional tip

  8. I'm the same,.my pictures are all grainy and horrible. Help! Lol

  9. i just got this camera too and am wondering how you're getting such great focused with a blurred background pics (like in your hummingbird pic)? are you just in macro mode and then zoomed in like crazy? please help! i need all the tips/tricks you've got (the websites you're checking out, etc.) :) email me please!!

  10. "....Hey, hey, hey....many many greetings from India....I ordered the NIKON L120 online waiting for the delivery... will let you know once I put my hands on this small creature :) .....connect me through facebook pls :

    Tks for this review


  11. i just bought this camera just before going to Panama city beach and truly enjoyed taking pictures. Awsome natural shots of sun sets over the ocean catching all the great colors. Very happy with the macro as well. I've read many reviews on it and just had to let you know my 2 cents.

  12. Camera is alright not the best I have quite a few cameras and personally the nikon l120 needs improvements I also have the GE P500 that take way better photos.


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