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Nikon’s budget entry in the Long Zoom category is a decent snapshot camera, but doesn’t rise to the level of fineness we like to see with that legendary logo hovering above the lens. Image quality isn’t stellar, and videos are soft.

21x wide optical zoom; Fast shutter response; Sensor-shift Vibration Reduction; HD video with stereo audio; Smile timer; Very good battery life.

Poor autofocus at telephoto; Strong chromatic aberration; Soft video; Sport Continuous mode drops resolution to 3 megapixels; Detail is lost fast as ISO rises.

Image composition on the Nikon Coolpix L120 is relegated exclusively to the camera’s large 3-inch LCD screen. The screen contains 921,000 dots of resolution and features a wide viewing angle and anti-reflection coating. You can also physically alter the monitor brightness using a five-level adjustment located in the menu.

The LCD’s resolution was immediately evident when I zoomed to check focus on the first image I capture. It was clearly in focus, as the very sharp screen showed. Colors displayed on screen are relatively faithful to the captured file, and the contrast is good. The viewing area is wide, and maintains contrast and visibility almost directly overhead and off to each side. The screen’s only real downfall is its performance in extremely bright conditions; the LCD washes out easily and makes it difficult to compose your images. This is consistent with many competing cameras on the market, though it’s nonetheless disappointing, since there is no electronic viewfinder to switch to in bright sunlight.

The Nikon L120′s large screen is one of its stronger attributes.

The Nikon Coolpix L120 features a 21x zoom lens spanning a 35mm range equivalent to 25-525mm. Because the extremely long zoom, our indoor telephoto test shots were taken at 19x.

Price and Availability: The Nikon Coolpix L120 began shipping in February 2011, with an MSRP of US$279.95. It is offered in black, red, and bronze body colors.

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