It's certainly cheap, but will it make you cheerful?
Sixty-eight pounds isn't much to pay for a camera from a household name such as Nikon. The L25 is a modest little point-and-shoot model, but while the tight budget can't stretch to a rechargeable battery (it takes a pair of AA batteries) there is room in the budget for a 10-megapixel sensor, 720p video recording, 5x optical zoom and a 3in screen. Considering the low price, it's a surprisingly healthy specification.
The controls couldn't be much simpler. There are buttons for flash, self-timer, exposure compensation and macro mode. The menu is home to resolution, white balance, continuous mode (for taking a quick succession of shots) and colour options such as Sepia. Meanwhile, there's a comprehensive set of scene presets such as Sports, Portrait and Snow, ready to step in when the Auto mode comes unstuck.
The 5x zoom lens is a key feature that differentiates this camera from the ones built into mobile phones. Its 28-140mm effective focal length range means it's useful for both wide-angle and telephoto shooting. It's a shame that it can't be adjusted while recording videos, though. This isn't the sharpest lens, either. Focus was respectable in the centre, but wasn't so good towards the edges of photos. It improved as we zoomed in, though, so it's useful for shooting distant subjects that camera phones struggle with.
However, even when the lens delivered sharp focus, details still looked a little scruffy when viewed up close. This camera's sensor is closer in size to those found in camera phones than in pricier compact cameras, and this scruffiness is the inevitable result. It also means image quality suffers in low light. The camera often used slow shutter speeds to maximise the amount of light captured and therefore avoid excessive graininess, but with no stabilisation to counteract camera shake, many indoor shots were blurred when we disabled the flash. Switching the flash back on improved matters, but it took a long time to charge up between shots.
We don't expect stunning results from such a low-cost camera, but the benefits over camera phones are pretty modest. It's a reasonable choice if your budget's tight, but it might be worth instead tracking down an end-of-line bargain model with optical stabilisation and a zooming video mode.
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A no-frills camera that's easy to use, but image quality is mediocre
Big screen; simple operation; HD video capture
Soft focus towards the edges; often blurry in low light
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