Easy to use
Broad focal range
Two zoom levers
One touch video recording
Fixed LCD screen
Runs on AA batteries
Not Full HD video
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Priced higher than that 21x optical zoom Olympus, and sitting below the specification-busting 42x Coolpix P510 in Nikon's own range, is the Nikon Coolpix L810.
As with the Olympus SP-620UZ, Nikon's 26x optical zoom rival is powered by four alkaline AA batteries that slot into the base of its handgrip.
While some may bemoan the lack of a lithium ion rechargeable pack afforded to pricier cameras, here the 300-shot lifespan cells, when inserted into the base of the DSLR-styled handgrip, lend the Nikon's glossy plastic frame welcome solidity.
With dimensions of 111 x 76 x 83mm, it weighs 430g with batteries and SD card loaded, and costs £230 in the UK and $280 in the US.
The target audience here is more families than photo enthusiasts, even though the Nikon Coolpix L810 resembles a shrunken DSLR. Lacking pretty much any manual control, and featuring two auto modes instead, ease of use is as much its selling point as affordability.
There's no denying the usefulness of its broad focal range, however, which is here equivalent to an ultra-wide 22.5-585mm on a 35mm camera. The Nikon is capable of shifting from framing a landscape to a candid close-up in seconds.
Maximum lens aperture is f/3.1, with ISO 1600 the top light sensitivity setting.
Unsurprisingly, there's no option to shoot raw files. The best we're offered is 16 megapixel JPEGs from a 16.44 megapixel, 1/2.3-inch CCD sensor.
Video is included, although it's at 1280x720 pixels and 30fps, as opposed to Full HD 1920x1080.
Nikon Coolpix L810 at a glance
£229.99 (UK)/$279.95 (US)
16.44MP 1/2.3-inch CCD
22.5-585mm in 35mm terms (26x)
3-inch, 921k dots
111.1 x 76.3 x 83.1mm, 430g
A one-touch record button is provided to the top right of the 3-inch, 920k-dot resolution LCD screen on the back plate, while stereo microphones impressively flank the pop-up flash.
Happily the optical zoom can be accessed while filming, and the camera automatically adjusts focus, although we found the response of both a little sluggish.
There is HDMI output provided, plus separate AV/USB output and mains power input ports squirrelled away under a rubber side flap.
Build quality and handling
The Nikon Coolpix L810 omits the optical or electronic viewfinder found on many bridge cameras and DSLRs. Still images and videos are composed and reviewed purely via that impressively high resolution 4:3 aspect ratio screen.
Lacking any shooting mode wheel that would have added chunkiness, the rear plate control layout resembles what you'd find on almost any pocket point and shoot camera. There is a shooting mode button, indicated by a green camera icon, but slightly obtusely it's marked as 'Scene' rather than the more obvious 'Mode'.
We also get dedicated buttons for playback, shot deletion and menu, plus a central pad with flash, exposure, self-timer and macro mode settings ranged around it.
Press the 'Scene' button to be presented with the option of 'Easy' mode, which strips the onscreen menu clean of everything except the ability to alter the pixel count. The next option down enables you to select from 19 preset scene/subject modes, starting with portrait and ending with the now ubiquitous 3D.
The third shooting mode presented is Nikon's Smart Portrait, whereby the L810 automatically detects blinks and smiles, plus smoothes skin into the bargain if that box is ticked.
The final option is regular auto mode. Selecting this enables the altering of white balance, drive mode, ISO sensitivity and, to an extent, colour.
The colour options range from standard to vivid, and from black and white to sepia, although why Nikon has included the term 'cyanotype' on a beginner's camera is anyone's guess.
Also unusual is the fact that Nikon presents us with two zoom levers. One encircles the shutter release button atop the handgrip as normal, while a second is set into the housing of the lens barrel. We therefore have a choice of zooming with the forefinger of the right hand or the thumb of the left if using both hands - advisable if attempting shots near the telephoto end of the zoom, even with the promise of lens-shift image stabilisation.
The Nikon Coolpix L810's handgrip is also chunky enough to be able to curl three fingers around it for added support. Rubber padding at the front and a padded thumb rest at the back ensures that despite the high gloss finish to the body, users won't feel in danger of dropping it.
When not wrestling wild bears or leaping tall buildings in a single bound, Gavin Stoker can be found editing British Photographic Industry News, the UK's longest running and only photo trade title. He has over 25 years of camera testing and reviewing under his belt.