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Most cameras that would fit in the best digital camera under $200 list don’t contain many high end features. In fact, you’re fortunate if they contain just one feature that helps them stand out from the pack. My Nikon Coolpix L840 review reveals a best point and shoot digital camera because of its well above average 38X optical zoom lens measurement versus other models in its price range … as well as a few other handy features.

When you’re considering the Nikon Coolpix L840, manual control features aren’t a strength, which is primarily designed as an easy to use, fully automatic camera. And its image quality doesn’t stack up to the best DSLR cameras for newbies. But having such a large zoom lens in an inexpensive model makes the L840 an appealing option as a starter digital camera.


Summary: Easy to use camera that provides a large optical zoom lens at a low price point, but its image quality can’t stack up against more expensive models

WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Low price and a massive zoom lens make a great pairing.

Price: $199.95 from Amazon
Available: March 2015

What We Liked

  • Large 38X optical zoom lens
  • Camera is very easy to use
  • L840 is available in a desirable sub-$200 price point
  • LCD tilts, allowing for odd angle photos and easy viewing while attached to a tripod
  • Above average battery life versus other ultra zoom cameras

What We Didn’t

  • Image quality can’t stack up against beginner DSLR models
  • Heavy and bulky camera body
  • Some of the best compact digital camera options can nearly match the L840’s 38X optical zoom lens in a much thinner body
  • No viewfinder

Nikon Coolpix L840 Specs

Image Sensor Type1/2.3-inch
Optical Zoom Lens38X
Tiltable LCD Screengreen-check-mark
Full HD Videogreen-check-mark
Avg Battery Life740 photos
Weight19 oz
Size4.5 x 3.1 x 3.8 inches
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Design and Build

Nikon Coolpix L840review
The tiltable LCD screen on the Nikon Coolpix L840 allows you to easily frame the scene, even when shooting odd angle photos.

If you’re looking for a camera that can fit in a pocket for easy transport, you’ll want to skip past the Nikon Coolpix L840. This camera is chunky — and that’s being kind. It weighs 19 ounces, and it measures nearly 4 inches in thickness before you extend the zoom lens. The right hand grip is large enough to allow you to hold the camera comfortably though.

The Coolpix L840’s large size yields its 38X optical zoom lens, which provides a maximum 855 mm telephoto setting. Certainly, larger zoom lenses are available in the market, but 38X should meet your needs much of the time. The digital zoom range overall, from the optical zoom to the dynamic fine zoom is impressive and useful to capturing good photos from a distance. The kit lens also has a focal length of 4.0-152mm.

One of the newest features of the Nikon Coolpix L840 that didn’t appear in its predecessors is WiFi connectivity. This feature is pretty easy to use, and because the L840 has a long battery life, you can use the built-in Wi-Fi without having to worry about draining the battery too quickly.

The Nikon L840’s 3.0-inch LCD screen is tiltable, which is great when you have the camera attached to a tripod. You can tilt the screen 90 degrees, so you can see it clearly by just looking down, rather than having to crouch. The screen does not swivel horizontally though. It’s a bit disappointing that the L840 didn’t include a viewfinder, which makes it easier to hand hold ultra zoom cameras steady against your face and avoid camera shake.

The set of features listed above is pretty impressive for a camera that has seen its price point drop below $200.

Power comes by way of AA batteries, which was a common feature for digital cameras several years ago but is rare in today’s market. AA batteries can be easier to replace when you run out of battery power away from home versus trying to find somewhere to power up a rechargeable battery. However,  it can also become expensive over the long haul to constantly purchase AA batteries, though rechargeable AAs aren’t more than an Amazon purchase away.

If you’re interested in a Nikon Coolpix L840 versus the Canon SX530, the SX530 offers a larger zoom lens than its Nikon counterpart (50X versus 38X). But the Canon SX530 cannot match the L840’s tiltable LCD screen, long battery life, and fast burst mode.

Image Quality

Nikon Coolpix L840 camera
The 38X optical zoom lens in the Nikon L840 gives you the ability to record types of photos that other cameras can’t match.

Overall image quality is not a significant strength of the Coolpix L840, because its small 1/2.3-inch image sensor limits its ability to create high quality photographs. My tests showed the L840 doesn’t create poor photos, but its small image sensor just doesn’t allow for high quality large prints on a constant basis. With the sensor size 1/2.3 inches, the shutter speed is 1/4000s max during high-speed continuous shooting.

With such a large zoom lens, it’s important that Nikon gave the L840 a Vibration Reduction system to help prevent camera shake when hand holding the camera. With large zoom lens cameras, it’s difficult to hold the camera steady when you’re using a large telephoto setting for the lens, but the Vibration Reduction feature works well on this model to prevent camera shake.

I was impressed with this model’s burst mode options. Typically, a large zoom camera performs slowly with slow autofocus and burst modes. But the Nikon L840 can record full resolution JPEG images at speeds of about 7 frames per second, which outperforms some of the best DSLR camera 2018 options. You are limited to seven frames at a time though.

As with many large zoom cameras with a small image sensor, the low light image quality you can achieve with the Coolpix L840 is below average. Nikon did provide a popup flash unit, and having a flash that lifts well above the camera body is important with large zoom cameras to avoid shadows and dark corners in the images from the extended lens blocking the light from the flash.

The Nikon Coolpix L840 vs L830 comparison shows some slight improvements for the L840. The newer model offers a 38X zoom versus the 34X zoom of the L830. The L840 has a faster burst mode than its predecessor, and it includes WiFi connectivity where the Coolpix L830 did not. But both cameras offer 16 megapixels of resolution.

Wrap Up

The Nikon Coolpix L840 has the look and feel of DSLR cameras, but it’s actually a point and shoot camera that cannot match the image quality of those advanced models. Its bulky design and weight of more than 1 pound may cause some photographers to skip this model in favor of a thinner camera that also offers a large zoom lens. But the L840’s sub-$200 price point and easy to use operational interface makes this a very strong beginner level digital camera for those who don’t mind the large camera size.

As an added bonus, this Coolpix model’s 38X optical zoom lens allows you to shoot photos you simply cannot reach with most other cameras and their smaller zoom lens options.

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Kyle Schurman

Kyle has been a freelance writer for 20 years, focusing mainly on technology related topics. He's written product reviews, product overviews, how-to articles, product best of lists, and other types of articles.

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