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Nikon Coolpix L1
Although dated now, this camera has served me well. I'm not particularly technologically minded, but after moving to Japan in 2004 I figured it was about time I upgraded to a digital camera. It still took me around a year to do it, and I finally bought this camera in 2005. I've been using it ever since.
The camera cost me approximately 29000 yen new, which at the time was about 150 quid. Even then it was only a lower range camera, although the 6.2 megapixels and the 5 times zoom have been totally sufficient for my needs.
This camera uses an SD card and regular AA batteries. I use Pansonic rechargables which, while expensive, last very well - last year when I visited Singapore and Malaysia, a single freshly charged pair lasted the entire six days of the trip, during which I took some 150 photos and a handful of short video clips. In general, though, no cheap batteries are strong enough to even start it, and even something like Duracell only last a day or so, being a handful of photos and perhaps a couple of short video clips.
I'm a pretty unspectacular camera user - I like to take pictures but I'm not one for playing around with colours or anything like that. This camera does have certain functions such as sepia, cyanotype and straight black and white if you like that kind of stuff. It also has certain picture settings like extreme close-up, portrait and landscape, though I find they all work more or less the same so I don't play around with the options much.
I've always been pretty happy with this camera. The pictures on my computer screen are a good quality and while I'm thinking of upgrading to a newer one it's more because I feel the need to change with the times rather than because its stopped working or anything. It still works just as well as the day I bought it, even though the casing is getting a little scratched now.
My major criticisms of it are that the video quality is poor - during playback on my computer there is a background buzzing sound and the picture isn't very clear. It's passable, but in comparison my wife's iPhone 3 video is about five times better than this. It's also very chunky - one of my hobbies is snowboarding and it's quite a lump to have in your pocket, particularly when most cameras these days are so streamlined. The batteries also die a lot quicker in cold conditions.
One last thing that annoys me is that it takes ages to delete stuff. You can select all the photos you want deleted at the same time, then it still does each one individually while a little timer icon revolves on the screen. It shouldn't take long just to erase a file, surely?
The camera came with a connector wire so you can attach it to the computer and download the pictures. It came inclusive with a CD-Rom for a program called "Picture Project", which you have to install on your computer, although I'm sure if you have an SD card reader (I don't) it would work just as well. The CD-Rom also has lots of other cool programs (most of which I've never used) such as a Panorama Maker, which is fun if you want to create landscapes from several different photographs joined together.
Overall, a decent camera. Out of date now, for sure, but still one that's perhaps a good first camera for a child if you find one on the cheap somewhere.
Gets four out of five for service, probably only a two or three by today's standards, though.