For those wanting a budget-friendly digital camera with a healthy dose of optical zoom capabilities, the newly announced Nikon L840 is a promising option. An updated model to last year’s Nikon L830, the new L840 may look largely unchanged at first glance, but it offers more telephoto reach and includes wireless connectivity for the first time as well.
The previous model offered a healthy 34x optical zoom — itself an upgrade over the 30x zoom of the L820 — however, the new L840 adds even more telephoto reach, with a 38x optical zoom lens. On the wide-angle end, the L840 remains the same as its predecessor with an approximately equivalent 23mm field of view. At the telephoto end, the L840 zooms all the way out to an 855mm-equivalent focal length. The variable max aperture adjusts from a reasonably fast f/3.0 on the wide end to a decidedly dim f/6.5 at full telephoto.
For those that need even more telephoto reach, the L840 includes Nikon’s Dynamic Fine Zoom — essentially an enhanced version of digital zoom — for an additional 2x zoom multiplier. Standard digital zoom is also available, offering a 4x magnification for a total angle of view approximately equivalent to that of a 3420mm lens in 35mm terms. Of course, as with most implementations of digital zoom, image quality will be degraded somewhat, no mater how advanced.
The lens also includes Nikon’s optical (lens-shift type) Vibration Reduction, which helps reduce blur from camera shake at longer focal lengths and slower shutter speeds. In video mode, a hybrid system comprising of optical and electronic VR is used instead. And speaking of videos, the Nikon L840 is capable of shooting Full HD videos at 30p frames per second, as well as 60i, which is the same as the previous model. 720p HD and VGA video resolutions are also available, as are PAL framerates of 25p and 50i. The L840 also offers High Speed movie modes ranging from VGA at 100 and 120 fps, to Full HD at 12.5 or 15 fps. A second zoom lever on the side of the lens can be used to adjust the zoom, helping you keep the camera steady and shake-free during movie capture.
Like its predecessor, the L840 makes use of a tilting, 3.0-inch, non-touchscreen LCD with 921k-dot resolution. Other hardware amenities include the introduction of both Wi-Fi and NFC wireless connectivity — both of which were absent on the previous model — making it quick and easy to transfer and share images with your paired smart device.
Image capture is offered in JPEG format only, and videos are recorded using the H.264 encoding in a MPEG-4 container. The L840 also adds some new Scene modes, like their other recently-announced superzoom camera, the P610. On board is a new Bird Watching mode, a Moon mode as well as the simpler Easy Panorama mode for quick, sweep panorama shooting.
The Nikon L840, like its predecessor, uses standard AA batteries for power — four to be precise — and wired connectivity options include Micro HDMI (Type-D) high-def video and High-Speed USB 2.0 data.
Availability is scheduled for March 2015, with a suggested retail price around US$300. In the US market, the Nikon L840 will come in either a black or red color.