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Lifewire / Gannon Burgett
Subpar image quality
Only 720p video
Minimal manual options
No touchscreen display
Powered by AA batteries
The Nikon Coolpix L340 IS might look decent on a spec sheet, but its lens is flawed and its 20.2-megapixel CCD sensor leaves much to be desired for both stills and video. Sure, it’s relatively affordable, but it’s still not worth spending your hard-earned money on.
Sometimes you need a little more zoom range than your smartphone or compact camera can provide. Bridge-style cameras fill out the range between compact and DSLR cameras, offering longer zoom ranges in a form factor that resembles a DSLR camera but that's half the size.
One of the more budget-minded bridge-style cameras is the Nikon Coolpix L340. We spent three weeks with it putting it to the test to see how well it did (or didn’t) perform.
The Nikon Coolpix L340 features a fairly standard design as far as bridge-style cameras are concerned. The grip is prominent for a smaller camera, and the lens is pronounced. The back of the camera provides a solid 3-inch screen on the back for composing and reviewing images.
The buttons on the back of the camera are arranged well, and the menus are intuitive. However, the buttons feel cheap and even in our relatively short amount of time testing the camera we noticed some wobble after repeated use.
The camera body itself also feels cheaply made. The rubberized grip is nice, but the remainder of the body is entirely plastic. Although that helps reduce weight, this doesn’t appear to be a camera that could take much of a beating before falling apart. The pop-up flash module, in particular, feels incredibly weak.
Setting up the Nikon Coolpix L340 was both simple and straightforward. Inside the box comes everything you’ll need to get started, including four AA batteries. So long as you have a memory card on hand, all you’ll need to do is install the batteries using the door on the bottom of the camera, place your SD card in the dedicated slot, and turn the camera on. The very first time you use it it’ll ask you to put in the time and date information for metadata, but after setting that up, it’s as simple as powering it on and off to take photos.
While you can certainly use traditional batteries, we found out in our testing that it was much easier (and more affordable) to use rechargeable batteries. We specifically used Panasonic Eneloops and considering they can be recharged up to 2100 times, that equates to roughly 714,000 photos that can be captured across the lifespan of the batteries.
The Nikon Coolpix L340 features a 20.2-megapixel CCD sensor behind a 22.5-630mm (full-frame equivalent) f/3.1-5.9 optical zoom lens with image stabilization. On their own, those specs look adequate given the L340's $100 MSRP. However, the limited ISO range (ISO 80-1600) combined with the rather slow lens makes for a disappointing combination in many situations.
If you’re shooting this camera in the middle of the day with adequate sunlight, the resulting images are good enough to share on social media and maybe even for prints. However, the second you’re indoors with artificial lighting or outside when the sun starts to set, the image quality quickly fades as the ISO is forced higher due to the lack of light. It doesn’t help that the lens has a variable aperture that closes down as you zoom in, further minimizing the light that hits the sensor. Images quickly get soft due to the increased noise reduction that’s applied to the JPEGs, and any detail in the highlights and shadows are subsequently crushed.
The onboard flash is there in the event you’re indoors, but in our extensive testing, there were few situations where the built-in flash provided an aesthetically-pleasing light, and the short guide number means it isn’t going to be useful for subject matter more than 10 feet from the camera.
The Nikon Coolpix L340 features 720p video recording at 30 frames per second. Much like the stills, the video was usable if shot in very bright conditions around the default ISO. But the second the sun went down or the lights went out, the video immediately became noisy without any details in the shadows and blown-out highlights. The onboard microphone is also mono, which makes for less-than-appealing audio.
That said, the onboard image stabilization punched above its weight. When shooting wider shots, the stabilization kept the video extremely still when handheld, and while it did tremble some when fully zoomed in it was much less shake than expected.
Overall, the video was about what we expected considering our experience taking still images—the quality is seriously lacking.
The Nikon Coolpix L340 retails for $100. This is on the cheaper side for compact cameras (and especially bridge-style cameras) and as we’ve mentioned above, it shows. The camera looks decent and can be fun to use, but the resulting images, both still and video, left us unimpressed.
The closest competition Canon’s similarly-named Powershot SX430 IS. Both cameras feature a 1/2.3-inch CCD sensors, with the Powershot SX430 IS having an ever-so-slightly smaller sensor of 20-megapixels compared to the 20.2-megapixels of the Coolpix L340 (both cameras shoot 720p video at 30 frames per second). However, what the Powershot SX430 IS is missing in megapixels it more than makes up for in the optics department with a whopping 45x optical zoom compared to the 28x optical zoom of the Coolpix L340.
The Powershot SX430 also has built-in wireless connectivity (802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi) and a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, which is less versatile than using AA batteries as the L340 requires, but also means you shouldn’t have to re-purchase new batteries every time you’ve burned through them.
The Canon Powershot SX430 IS retails for $100 as well, so when comparing side-to-side, it’s clear the additional zoom and built-in Wi-Fi of the Canon beats out the functionality of the L340.
Struggles to justify its price tag.
The Nikon Coolpix L340 is an incremental upgrade over its predecessor that leaves much to be desired across the board. On paper, the camera looks like it should perform admirably, relative to its price, but we found the combination of the slower lens and CCD sensor to be detrimental to the image quality. In bright daylight, the camera was able to capture decent images that would be good enough for social media, but even in the best lighting situations, you wouldn’t want to make any prints larger than 4x6 with this camera.