Nikon Coolpix L20 Review


Beginning photographers typically look for two things in a point and shoot camera: Ease of use and a great value (meaning a good mix of price and features). Such cameras might not do everything perfectly, but they should outperform others in their price range.

My Nikon Coolpix L20 review shows that this point and shoot digital camera fits those two criteria almost perfectly. In addition, it features excellent response times. The Coolpix L20 has almost no shutter lag, meaning you rarely miss a spontaneous photo.

Nikon has created a very nice, basic, affordable camera for beginners with the L20.


  • Low price makes L20 a great value
  • Very easy to use
  • Camera's response times are very fast compared to others in this price range
  • Easy to hold and shoot with one hand
  • Handles odd lighting conditions very well


  • 3.6X optical zoom could be larger
  • LCD can be difficult to see in bright sunlight
  • Close-up focus could be better
  • Battery life could be better


  • Resolution: 10.0 megapixels
  • Optical zoom: 3.6X (38-136mm)
  • LCD: 3.0-inch, 230,000 pixels
  • Maximum image size: 3648 x 2736 pixels
  • Battery: two AA size
  • Dimensions: 2.4 x 3.8 x 1.2 inches
  • Weight: 4.8 ounces (no battery, no memory card)
  • Image sensor: CCD 1/2.33 in.

Image Quality

For a budget-priced camera, the Coolpix L20 produces very good image quality, much better than most sub-$150 cameras. The automatic focus, exposure, and shutter speeds are accurate the vast majority of the time, producing sharp, bright photos. The L20 shoots good photos indoors, too, which often is an Achilles' heel of bargain-priced digital cameras.

The only major drawback to the Coolpix L20's image quality is in extreme close-up photos, which rarely have sharp focus. The L20 could use a "document" scene mode. It also would be nice if the L20 had a little more than its 10.0 megapixels of resolution, but most beginning photographers will be OK with this model's resolution.


The L20's response times are very good, especially for a camera in this price range. It starts quickly, and it has a good shot-to-shot response time. The L20 is very easy to use as well.

One area where the Coolpix L20 suffers a little bit is in battery life. It runs from two disposable AA batteries, and it seems to run out of battery power more quickly than other AA-powered cameras, probably, in part, because of its large, 3.0-inch LCD. Its overall battery life is below average, especially compared to cameras that run from proprietary batteries.

Keep in mind that the Nikon L20 is an older point and shoot camera, so its performance levels are quite a bit below newer Nikon beginner cameras. For example, a model like the Nikon Coolpix S9100 can give you faster performance and a better optical zoom lens for a slightly higher price. Still, the L20 is available now at a bargain price. 


Nikon has created a good-looking camera in the L20, which is available only in deep red. It's a little wider on the right-hand side, which makes it easy to hold and operate one-handed.

Had Nikon included a larger optical zoom lens than the 3.6X in the L20, it would've been nice. This camera isn't great for shooting nature photos from a distance or sports across a large field. The zoom does work in movie mode, however. The L20 cannot take wide angle photos, unfortunately.

Despite a few minor drawbacks, the L20 delivers in the primary areas of importance for beginning photographers.