Awesome camera in the point and shoot category - see updates
18 May, 2011
I would consider myself a very experienced amateur photographer. I owned a D200 with an assortment of lens and I now own the D90 with various lens. I was looking for a high quality PnS camera for my wife and after reading the many many reviews I settled on this one. I am going to write this review now after testing it for a day and I will do like some others and continue to add updates periodically if anything noteworthy comes up. Now for the details. If you are looking for a PnS camera with P,S,A,M controls (aperture, shutter speed, etc) then this camera is NOT for you. This camera is for one group, the folks that want to turn it on, push the button and get a good photo (my wife is in this group!). There is absolutely nothing to learn about the camera. You put in the 4 batteries, the memory card, and turn the power on. Even the most photo ignorant person could figure out the functionality without ever consulting an instruction manual. The "scene selection" button will bring up a menu of 4 main categories. 1. Easy Auto Mode (for those who only want to know the power button and shutter button), 2. A large assortment of scenes (portrait, landscape, Sunset, closeup, and many more), 3. Continuous SPORT mode (I was VERY impressed with this mode), 4. Auto mode (with the ability to change the normal PnS stuff like white balance, ISO, flash, and a few others).
The setting I had to try first was the Sport Continuous mode. I was VERY impressed with this mode. Does it equal my D90 shooting with my 2.8 70-200? no, but the quality is VERY good for a PnS camera. We have the Canon SD700, SD750 and SD800 and none of these would even come close to capturing what the L120 did. To compare image quality I used the L120 and my D90 with a Sigma 18-200 OS. I shot the flowers on a tripod. I shot the little girl handheld. I tried to frame the same shot at the same distance with both cameras. This is not a lab test so it is not perfect. I simply wanted to compare the $900 SLR with a $400 lens to the $275 PnS. The quality of the L120 was pretty amazing. I am going to post the images of both cameras in the product images above so you can see them.
The initial cons I found are: I don't like the SD card and batteries being in the same compartment. The battery door is not very easy to open and close. I also found a few of the buttons a little easy to accidentally push until I get the camera situated in my hand. It is however, very comfortable to hold.
I have not even tried the video and all the various scene selections. I just began snapping pictures and then looked at them in photoshop compared to my D90 photos. I did not have to do alot of testing to see that I was very pleased. I will post more as we use it and I have informative info to add. I can say ditto to the many many positive ratings for this camera.
UPDATE 05/22/11 : I am finding the still the photos to still be outstanding. However, the sport photos have been somewhat of a challenge. In the scene selection you can only choose "Sport Continuous". The part I don't like is that while you hold the button down it will take multiple photos. Then when the shutter button is released, it will complete the "write to card" process (I have ordered a class 10 card to see if that speeds up the write process). In a normal DSLR camera, you would continue to track the person you are photographing and keep shooting if a shot is there. The L120 is used to capture a 3-5 second span and then it will write to the card. While it is writing to the card, you will NOT see anything on the LCD and therefore you would have lost the subject. When using my D90, I would continue to track the person I am photographing and continue to shoot. That is just not feasible with the L120 (i.e. track, or any sport where they are running in a somewhat straight line). You just simply capture a 3-5 second time frame and have multiple shots of that moment in time. The picture quality is not as good when trying to pan the camera and capture a moving target. When I am so used to being able to make all my changes manually, it is somewhat hard for me to use this camera and have no control other than selecting the appropriate scene from the menu. As I stated in my original review, this camera is designed for the aperture ignorant use who simply wants to turn on the camera and take a picture. At my kids' field day, I found out after importing the images that they were all shot in 640 pixels!!! I have no idea how she (my wife) changed that but she or someone did. That rendered the photos useless for print. I fixed it but it was too late. This was only for the "Sport Continuous" mode that I had the resolution problem. When she had "auto" or "portrait" mode selected, the image size was normal. There is a setting in the "Sport Continuous" mode that allows you to change the image resolution for just that mode and anything less than the largest size is going to be too small to print anything decent.
UPDATE 05/25/11: I am very sorry to say that I am growing increasingly unhappy with this camera. I mostly take outside pictures and in good light it has done really well, especially landscape pictures. However in low light I finding that it really stinks. A REALLY major problem is that the flash will NOT auto popup if needed (even if you have it set to "auto"). The flash must be raised manually and then it will fire if you have it set correctly. Most of my initial images were in my normal outdoor setting. But once we began to use the camera indoors at the recent end of the year school functions, it has been a big disappointment. I guess the real question is this. Is there any PnS camera out there that will perform well in relatively low to medium light situations. I am really considering calling Adorama and seeing if this can't be exchanged for something else. I have already mentioned that I don't like the door for the battery and SD card. I hate it even more. It is very hard to open and close. Finding out that it goes thru batteries fairly quickly too. Oh well....