Some of Nikon's more affordable cameras can be a bit hit and miss, but after playing with the long-zoom Nikon Coolpix L830 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas we were rather impressed.
Key to the L830's spec is its 34x optical zoom lens, which translates into a super-wide 22.5mm all the way through to a 765mm equivalent at the top-end of the zoom. That's not only wider-angle than you'll find in almost any compact camera for those wide vista shots, the maximum zoom will also make subjects far away from the lens appear close-up in the frame. It's the all-in-one for an affordable price.
We used the camera on the Nikon stand at the show and found its speedy autofocus to be the main highlight. Even in so-so lighting conditions subjects were flying into focus on the rear tilt-angle LCD screen and the optical image stabilisation did a good job of keeping the preview steady.
There's no viewfinder in this more budget model, as is to be expected at this price point, leaving other higher-price models such as the Coolpix P530 to cater for that market.
To zoom there's a toggle control to the side of the lens as well as around the shutter button, leaving the choice up to you. Both work well = as the lens is less significant than in some other superzoom models the size nestles comfortably to the hand.
Image quality is handled by a 16-megapixel CMOS sensor, avoiding the trend of packing too many pixels on to that small surface area as so many manufacturers are guilty of these days. It's also back-side illuminated for optimum quality and able to capture 1080p video at 30fps. We can't critically assess either of these at the moment, given our short time with the camera, but for point-and-shoot users we anticipate the results will be a good match.
There are not full manual controls as on some higher-spec superzoom models, but that's what keeps this camera simple and to the point. One-touch video capture, self-timer and such controls are quick to access via a dedicated button or as outlined on the four-way d-pad, but otherwise things are kept to a minimum. We like that: the L830 is a well-balanced point-and-shoot superzoom that surpassed our expectations on the performance front.