Top critical review
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Not bad for a super budget entry compact
on 3 June 2014
This is Nikon's newest entry level compact, at a wallet friendly price and with a simple operation that anyone can pick up and use.
Don't get too over excited about this, as most models in this range are merely passable for smaller print quality and very basic.
But they do at least offer a very cheap way to pick up a camera, and they also make reasonable first cameras for kids without the worry of damaging a more expensive camera.
My quick summary of the L29 is as follows
+ Simple and easy to use pure point and shoot
+ 5x zoom lens giving an equivalent of 26-130mm on 35mm full frame, not a bad wide angle view
+ 720p HD video recording, mono sound but not too bad quality wise
+ Image quality is acceptable for a budget compact and making smaller prints, don't pixel peep at 100% or try making wall posters, for normal users prints are quite decent up to A4 in good light and 8x6", 5x7" etc. Images can be a bit mushy at 16mp resolution 1:1 as most compacts are in this price range.
+ Pretty consistent metering and ok flash exposures, colours are quite punchy overall
+ 2.7" 230k LCD is par for the course on these models it's not bad really usable in most lighting, contrast drops off a bit in harsh sunlight
- Battery life is poor with the supplied AA alkaline cells, Nikon say you get 200 shots I got just over 150. Don't waste your time with Alkaline batteries just pick up a pack of decent Ni-MH batteries. (you'll get about double the number of shots over 300)
- Min focus of 10cm isn't that close in line with others in this price range but if you want a budget macro camera look for a model with at least 5cm min focus
- Lens is slow at the telephoto end (f/6.5) so avoid zooming in too much in darker environments
- No optical zoom during video recording, just digital which degrades the quality significantly
This doesn't have lens or sensor based image stabilisation (no shocks at this price) just the Electronic VR (vibration reduction) which can help but it's not as effective
You have a min shutter speed of 4 seconds, not bad but look for longer if you want to do night exposures
There are no manual modes just scene and auto modes, but you do have control over white balance and exposure compensation (use this to lighten/darken any pictures)
Operation is very simple with a video record button, the usual 4 way selector that does duty for macro/flash/timer and exposure compensation. Easy to use main menu and you have a button to pick scene modes from.
Build is basic plastic but it should survive a bit of normal use day to day no problems.
Colours out of the camera are fairly saturated, some might like that look. Sky colours can be a bit "cyan" looking at times so make sure to adjust the exposure to darken them down as required.
Do yourself a favour and ignore the 16mp spec set the camera image size to 8mp this won't have any impact at all on the print output as the lens nor the sensor are capable of anywhere near the quoted resolution. This is common on many compacts so I won't mark it down for that.
It's not a bad little compact bar a few niggles mostly down to the video modes lack of zoom and rather unimpressive battery life. Still all that aside if you want a cheap no frills simple compact that anyone can use, and you don't make huge prints, it's worth a look. Also a decent choice for a kids camera, the images will be quite a bit better than most kids toy cameras are capable of.