The Media Guru

Mar 15, 2010


It's not the D3S, not the D300S, not the D700, nor the D3000 & not even the D90! It's not a DSLR. In fact, it's not even a mid-range camera.
This is the Nikon Coolpix L20.


Yes, that's the cheapest Nikon camera anyone can buy... around $80. Actually, it has already been discontinued, so it’s only available on eBay.


The L20 is the base model in the entry-level point & shoot Nikon compact cameras (L standing for the Life series). This is the kind of camera you usually gift to someone who has no idea of how to take a picture...

After the USB Plasma Ball, the Nikon L20 is the second reward I have received from Rapidshare. Most of the points earned came from uploads of Top Gear. ;)
Last year, Rapidshare introduced a program where you could convert points to euros, paid via Paypal. For unknown reasons, they abruptly stopped the program this January (just at the time I had enough points to get a significant payout).
Fearing for the worst, I decided to redeem my points for rewards instead. On the 1st of Feb, I converted my points for a camera & a 8GB SD card. A week later, the points for the camera were deducted, but those for the SD card still haven't been deducted (despite my repeated email inquiries). & 2 weeks ago, Rapidshare stopped the Rewards program.
Luckily since the points had already been deducted, I received my camera, but as for the 8GB card, I will probably never get it...
So if you are an uploader, or you're looking to buy/extend a premium account, be warned that Rapidshare are showing signs of going out of business...


Coming back to the camera, it took approximately 3 weeks for it to be shipped from Switzerland. I was summoned to pick it up today at the central post office & had to pay custom charges of around Rs 400 for the camera which was valued at around € 85 (Rs 3500).


The L20 is 10.1MP camera with a 3-inch LCD screen, 3.6x optical zoom, 84-1600 ISO, motion detection, Smile mode and 20MB of internal memory.


Like most basic compacts, the Nikon L20 runs on AA batteries, which is really a big annoyance. Not the battery life, but the charging times of the NiMH rechargeable batteries – 18 hours!!! & it was today itself that I discovered that my 4 AA rechargeables were dead…


There’s an Easy Auto Mode (for the n00bs), a Scene Mode with over 16 different modes including Panorama, a Smile Mode to take a pic when someone smiles, a Video Mode & the Auto Mode, which is actually the semi-manual mode.


Manual controls – nil. Everything (White balance, Colour, EV, Macro) is buried here & there in the pixelised menu.  There is no ISO control – which totally sucks. 
If I had to rate the UI of the camera, 3/10 would have been enough.


Since I didn’t have any SD card, it was a nice surprise to find out that my old 128MB MMC card was actually detected by the camera. Although, 128MB is barely enough – at 10MP, I had space for only 19 shots.

Advantages? I see only one... portability. The L20 is definitely more discrete, more pocketable & very light compared to DLSRs and other medium-range compacts.


Picture Quality


This was my first photo. There’s a large amount of noise, which can be attributed to the low light level.


This was a tricky one. One thing I’ve noticed is that the LCD display never really conveys the actual photo. The difference between what is seen & when the shot is taken is huge!


Testing the macro mode. Impressive focus. :)


Mr Blurrycam? Nope, this is just the zoom. Using zoom is an utter disaster. All photos taken with the optical zoom were blurry. Motion detection didn’t work at all! :|

To be honest, my first experience with the Nikon L20 has been quite unpleasant. Colours were bland. The amount of noise was incredible. Maybe it was the dusk. If it’s the firmware, I must add that Nikon haven’t released any firmware updates for the L20 – it’s still on 1.0. I haven’t tried the video mode & other scene modes, but I’m positive that I had a much better first-time experience with my previous camera. Certainly the pictures taken in the same low light conditions would have been better than those I took with L20.
Or maybe I’m just expecting too much from an entry-level compact camera…


The Bottom Line

The geek in me tells me that the Nikon L20 will never be good enough for me. But these last 1.5 years without a camera have been immensely tough. My first camera, the 2MP HP 635, was so utterly crap that I broke it. & I do regret it, because it was still better than my 0.9MP blurry phone camera, which I've been using till now.
For someone who can't afford a proper camera, the L20 is a godsend... Certainly, it's not a D90, but still, it's my first Nikon. :)

Related links:
- Nikon Coolpix L20 – Digital Camera Tracker
- Nikon Coolpix L20 – Macworld
- Nikon Coolpix L20 digital camera specifications – DP Review
- Nikon Coolpix L20 Review –



I was totally wrong about the L20! Check out the follow-up post: Nikon L20 - Day 2


PS. Did you catch me on l'Express? -

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Comments 11 comments
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Yashvin said...

What did you expect by uploading/downloading stuffs on rapidshare? :P

For a gift, Rs3500 worth camera, it is not that bad. Who would gift you something like that?

Unfortunately, it does not has Aperture, Priority modes, but don't worry. You can still use it as a back up camera when you get your D90 :-)

The good thing is that.... euh, it is free :-)

Manju said...

i like the flower pic actually. the noise gives it character. and it's not just the camera which makes the photographer :)
but that's my amateurish little opinion.

Kurt Avish said...

I am not a pro in photography...but till now I am very satisfied with my N85 camera. O_O shot the cavadee video with it. You can see demo here.

The video is a bit of poor quality in this version as youtube compressed it but the original one (was at 300Mb lol and compressed to reach about 15 mb) was really cool.

Mo pu blog lor ban close shot ban zaraignie demin... ena un 2 photo mn tire. I think n86 camera also in really cool.

carrotmadman6 said...

@Yashvin @Manju
Yes, the camera does not make the photographer.
But now, I have to work hard to prove that! :)
Gonna try some daylight shots.

The N85 photos are very good. But I wouldn't expect anything less from the camera-centrix N8x. ;)

Chaya said...

So this is the gadget :)
Congrats on your first Nikon
I do not have a camera :( except the 2 MP one from my mobile phone :)

nav said...

Congrats on the free gift from Rapidshare(RS)! :D

RS has been on the decline recently. I'm amazed that you managed to get enough points for the camera, because i've heard that RS checks what files you uploaded to receive the points. Any files that are copyrighted (any music/movies) will result in them refusing to give you the reward that you have chosen. So if you've managed to do do it without that well done! (I gave up on rewards after i realised that they could refuse my reward request when i get to 50,000 or 100,000)

On the camera, it looks like a good one (considering the price :p)! You don't need a DSLR to take great photos. The L20 seems to have plenty of features for you to explore. Nice review.


carrotmadman6 said...

Nah, they don't check the files. At least, they didn't until they stopped rewards program. :)

Anonymous said...

unpacking stuff that was bought weeks ago is always exciting... For my part, still waiting to receive the post's notice asking me to come and fecth my package...

Mobileduster said...

I am needing to buy a digital camera and i guess you can help me!I need one that can record videos very well(dvd quality) and also able to take high resolution pictures(in absence of normal light conditions)-thanks

carrotmadman6 said...

Everything depends on your budget.
The best cameras for low-light conditions aren't made for recording videos. :)

That said, I find the Lumix ZS3(TZ7) & ZS5(TZ8) with their wide-angle lenses & HD video recording quite interesting. ;)

Killian Dougherty said...

Easy to use. Great photography and low price camera.

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