PROS / A built-in flash helps compensate for poor low light performance.
CONS / This camera features a relatively short 5x zoom.
VERDICT / The Nikon Coolpix L32 is a good choice for those for whom a low price is the primary concern. While it does well for its price, most people will likely be happier with a more capable camera.
As cost declines, it’s only natural that a camera’s image quality, performance and features dwindle. Although Nikon’s Coolpix L32 is no exception to this reality, those looking to spend less than $120 on a point and shoot camera aren’t likely to do much better. It’s not the first camera we’d recommend, but if you absolutely need an inexpensive camera, the L32 isn’t a bad choice.
Its low light performance and dynamic range are weaker than most of the cameras we tested. This means that you’ll want to make sure you’re shooting in well-lit areas to get the most out of this camera. When shooting indoors, the built-in flash will be your best friend. If you can get the lighting right, however, the L32’s images actually look quite appealing with sharp enough edges and natural colors.
This device has above-average battery life, besting our category average of 289 shots per charge by 41 shots. In fact, only a couple cameras on our lineup do any better. Unlike almost everything else we tested, the L32 uses AA batteries rather than rechargeable. This could be useful when travelling in areas without access to power outlets.
Its zoom range, however, is pretty small – the smallest, in fact, in our review. With just a 5x zoom lens, you’ll be able to capture most of the photos you want, but you won’t be able to get close to the action during a soccer match, school play or other similar events. If you’re looking for a do-it-all camera, spending just a little bit more can quadruple your zoom range.
There are very few physical controls to mention with this camera. Zooming, shooting and reviewing images is all pretty easy, but there is no way to control exposure settings on the fly. For this reason, it’s obvious that this camera is aimed at casual users, not photography enthusiasts.
The L32 is very inexpensive and as a result, its image quality, performance and features all suffer. It’s good for the bare minimum or for use in a pinch, but those looking to capture images in diverse situations will likely be disappointed with its limitations. Get this camera if you’re not concerned with image quality or zoom range and you like the idea of using AA batteries.