Self-confessed point-and-shoot girl Megan Arkinstall spends a few days getting to know Nikon’s Coolpix L820. 

Firstly, let’s get this straight I’m no photographer. But, as someone who travels quite a bit, the quality and artistry of my travel memories is becoming more important to me.

In saying that, the sight of an SLR camera frightens me. I’m more of a point-and-shoot kind of gal. So when the Nikon Coolpix L820 arrived in our office, I was keen to test it out.

It’s a deep red colour, which is a nice change and says playful rather than professional. (It also comes in a blue, plum and black.)

But it’s is also quite big and heavy. For me – as a traveller and an amateur photographer – this is a bit of a downfall. I’d prefer something easy to grab in and out of a pocket or shoulder bag. Although it has a neck strap, I could see it getting in the way when on the go (and perhaps being left in the bag as a result).

The three-inch screen is a good size and the playback function is easy enough to use, working without the lens open. Be sure to take the lens off when you turn the camera on though, a ‘lens error’ appears if you don’t – I was caught out several times.

What’s inside, though, is the most important part and the 30x optical zoom lens is pretty impressive. But more on that later.

The settings are pretty simple and clear. To start out, either select the easy auto mode or choose from the pre-set scenes: portrait, landscape, beach, night-time and so on. These are easy and almost guarantee a good shot in any setting. Probably the best one is the ‘kids and pets’ mode, which gives you the option of taking quick consecutive photos to get several clear shots to choose from.

There’s also a smart portrait mode which detects smiling, has ‘blink-proof’ and a glamour retouch mode. All photos I take are clear and vibrant.

Other more ‘advanced’ but very easy-to-use settings include options to change exposure, a soft lens, nostalgic sepia and high-contrast monochrome, which is my favourite and (I think) a sure-fire way to get a good shot.

The macro setting is impressive; great for very clear up-close shots of flora or food, if that’s your thing. I also had fun with the colour selection mode – choose a colour and the camera shoots in black and white except for that colour, which comes out extremely vibrant. Easy art.

But probably the best part is the serious zoom on this camera. I am standing on a lookout and zoom at least 400 to 500 metres to a restaurant across the bay – unbeknownst to the diners, I get a great, clear shot of them. Although it did take me a few tries to steady myself, so a tripod would be handy for this.

It’s a fantastic feature that would be great for wildlife shots when you can’t get too close. I would recommend using the left-hand zoom tool rather than the one on top of the camera, as it doesn’t turn with ease and is a little slow.

Finally, when the camera needs charging, don’t go looking for a cord. The camera runs on four AA sized batteries, which was a little surprise to me. Rechargeable batteries would be the way to go. Although after the three days I used it (on and off), the battery was still near full, which is a good sign. Nothing worse than going in for a money shot and having your camera die on you.

Overall, it’s got some impressive – and fun – features and takes good quality photos. The zoom alone would be the main reason I’d purchase it. But the size (for a point and shoot) is the only reason I wouldn’t.

From $264. See