Nikon Coolpix L610: A Compact That Turns AA Batteries Into a Feature

Remember the days when portable electronic devices were mostly all powered by AA and AAA batteries? Consumers had to regularly purchase new batteries to keep their gadgets juiced — a big sink for your hard earned money. When rechargeable batteries started becoming ubiquitous, they were touted as a feature for saving both time and money. All you had to do was plug your camera into the wall (or your battery into a charger) and a few hours later you were recharged.

Now things are moving back in the other direction. It’s more difficult to find a quality AA-powered camera on the market, and it can be difficult for travelers to find a suitable power outlet while overseas. That’s why Nikon’s new CoolPix L610, freshly announced today, boasts about the fact that it supports AA batteries.

Spec-wise, the camera stacks up well against other entry-level compact cameras out there: it packs a 16-megapixel backside illuminated CMOS sensor, a 14x lens that has a focal range of 25mm-350mm (35mm equiv.), 1080p HD video recording, a 3-inch LCD screen, and optical vibration reduction.

To be clear, it’s a stupidly easy-to-use camera that’s geared towards travelers. For those who want to use it domestically without constantly shelling out money for power, it’d probably be a good idea to pick up some rechargeable AA batteries — Nikon recommends its own.

It’ll be available in red, black, and silver starting in September 2012 at a cost of $250.

  • T

    AA batteries were one of the selling points on the Pentax K-x for me when I was looking for an SLR to take on a world trip. It’s very comforting to know you’ve got enough batteries in your bag that you could go without a powerpoint for a couple of weeks.

  • Slash_Cynic

    All I can picture is Ashton Kutcher.

  • Crabby Umbo

    I have a Canon P&S I bought specifically because it took AA’s. Still works and I can still go into any drug store around the world and power-up in a pinch, or use cheap to buy AA rechargeables. Most of the thin P&S’s have proprietary batteries made specific to their model, and when the battery starts loosing it’s ability to take a charge, a few years after you buy it, you may not even be able to buy another by that time, so you better buy a few when the camera is new!

  • DLL

    Unfortunately li-ion batteries degrade over time even when not used…unless you keep them in a fridge.

  • jdm8

    I prefer AA being the backup, with some sort of lithium battery being the primary means of supplying power. NiMH batteries just don’t cut it. Some cameras did just that, where you can stuff in a lithium battery in the battery bay, or in a pinch, two or three AAs fit in the bay.

  • Jake

    On behalf of Peace Corps Volunteers all over the world, having a AA-powered Olympus 565UZ was the best idea I had when packing for my service. No way would I have been able to keep taking pictures while living utilities-free in the bush for a month at a time with only rechargeable batteries and no regular electrical power to charge them. AAs are cheap and always available even at the local shops. Glad to see the industry is still accommodating for them.

  • Zak Henry

    Yep, pretty much the main reason I bought a battery grip for my DSLR is for the ability to use AA’s in a pinch.

  • eddie

    Pentax has kept AA available for DSLR since the beginning, the current K30 has an AA adapter that slots in where the lithium battery goes in the body
    Most grips for all dslr offer the same idea AFAIK as well (at least my 3 Pentax DSLR all offer the option via grip or body)


    Nikon made a big marketing mistake by including AA batteries, the standard Alkaline variety at least, in the box. Right out of the box, new owners are pissed off that they don’t last, not even compared to other AA-equipped digital cameras — and we’re talking less than 50 pics per set! This, alone, has marred an otherwise respectable camera with poor reviews. Nikon should have included high-capacity lithium batteries in the box, for the sake of that one-and-only “first impression”, indicating in the owner’s manual and marketing literature that Alkalines are compatible but lithium or high-capacity rechargeable batteries are recommended. Doing so would have gone a long way toward building a better product experience for first-time buyers, in particular.

    The other mistake Nikon made here was to factory-default the EyeFi connectivity to “on”, only to mention in the manual that it will drain batteries! (And how many experienced point-and-shoot camera owners read their manual cover to cover to find this out!?) Because most people don’t have proprietary EyeFi cards in their computers, the default should have been set to “off” — Hello Nikon!

    Finally, Nikon errs in that a number of their CoolPix cameras seem to default to low ISO values for the sake of low-noise images — but this tendency persists while shooting in auto mode even in mediocre lighting situations where the shutter speed slows too much to capture even mild movements without blur! This one error, which appears to be widespread in their line, is responsible for so many of the complaints of being unable to capture fast moving kids, pets and the like. Nikon could easily remedy this faulty ISO-selection issue via a firmware update for the L610 (and others), but I doubt they will bother since they’re off to making newer models the moment any given line debuts at the Consumer Electronics Show.

    For the casual consumer — the very product lines where the vast majority of non-professional photographers become acquainted with a brand — firmware updates are rarely offered by any manufacturer, that I know of. This is a big mistake. It essentially means that Nikon and others are selling the high-end goods to the converts, leaving the entry-level consumer to figure that they’d be better off with a Sony or Canon camera next time! (Which is to say the customers who should be getting the firmware updates for the sake of building bigger brand loyalty don’t, whereas the customers who are already devotees of the brand DO.) Put it this way: As a new Nikon customer, I’m not getting the best first impression based on my recent experience with the CoolPix S3300 and now the L610. Great glass paired with poor firmware negates the value of a great price or a great feature-set.

    Nikon, if you’re listening UPDATE THE L610 FIRMWARE — last-year’s model or not! (And while you’re at it Nikon, fix the fact that the camera strikes a somewhat lopsided balance between setting auto exposure for the dark areas of a scene vs. the light areas — too many highlights blow out on your point-and-shoot CoolPix cameras — a metering flaw a firmware fix could also remedy!)

  • sid farkus

    Really are you kidding me. Have you tried to use AA’s and take a movie? 15 sec is about all you’ll on the lowest VGA setting. HD forgetaboutit! You better have a pocket full of batteries or don’t even bother.

  • NotAPro

    Sure, being able to use the AA’s is nice, but mine is an absolute energy HOG! Rechargables don’t seem to last as long in this camera as they do in other devices and I get about 20 minutes (tops) of video before it drains them dry.

    If you just want to take photos, this one’s great. Although it doesn’t work with most table-top tripods as the screw hole is way off to one side and it won’t stand. Full sized tripods won’t have this problem of course.

  • Wendy

    Oh yeah, it uses AA alright and it sucks the life out of them in about 30 minutes. I have spent more money on energizer batteries with this camera than ANY OTHER camera. The Nikon coolpix L610 sucks, I DO NOT recommend this piece os crap to anyone. It has lens sticking issues, turning on issues and oh yeah…did I mention it eats thru batteries faster than my dog eating his chewy