Coachella 2014 – The Case for the Point & Shoot

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Escape Velocity by Poetic Kinetics

After years of hoping, I finally got my ticket to North America’s biggest music fest – Coachella. When my ticket package came in the mail, there was a huge list of rules for the kinds of stuff attendees could bring – most notably, cameras. Any interchangeable-lens camera was to be considered pro gear, and as such disallowed. And while having a top-notch DSLR on hand would have been ideal, it just wasn’t in the cards that weekend.

When I did my research, I knew I wanted a camera with great optics and zoom. My search lead me to the Nikon Coolpix L830 – unveiled this year at CES. Right out of the box, I was impressed with its intuitive controls and incredible zoom. Being that the 60,000+ people in the audience might make it difficult to get a super close-up shot, I was also happy with just how close (and sharp) a shot I could get with the camera’s 35x optical zoom.

Broken Bells Live @ Coachella 2014

For daytime shots, I was shocked by the clarity and sharpness of just about every single picture this camera took. They were vivid, dramatic and beyond any P&S I’ve ever had. While I’m sure being in the pit with a high-end DSLR would have certainly been better, these pictures beautifully captured the performances I remember enjoying so much, not to mention the wild installation pieces strewn throughout the grounds.

MGMT Live @ Coachella 2014



2Squared by artist Charles Gadeken



Becoming Human by Artist Christian Ristow

For low-light and night-time shots, I was a bit more worried. Most P&S cameras tend to find their failure points there, as their optics simply can’t perform well with the absence of light. Simply not the case with the L830. I was once again astounded at the clarity, sharpness and feel of the pictures that came out – both during the performances, and for the installations.


The Pixies perform literally in a wall of smoke and mirrors at Coachella 2014

Queens of the Stone Age

Queens of the Stone Age’s explosive Saturday Night set at Coachella 2014


Superstar DJ Calvin Harris and his wild Sunday night set at Coachella 2014


Light Weaver, the psychedelic installation by Stereo-bot, looks incredible at night


The Arcade Fire close out the main stage late Sunday night at Coachella 2014

Coachella 2014 was a complete deluge of sights and sounds – one that my memories can only do true justice to. That said, I’m so glad I have shots that can bring them all flooding back. Crisp, sharp and evocative, I can almost remember what song was being played with each one. While we spend the majority of our time covering cutting edge, high-end photography equipment, there are some instances in life that make those things impractical to have around. This is my anecdote for one of those times. If you’re a pro, you’ve already got your horror stories of environments and conditions that made a casualty of your gear. I’m pleased to report that because of the Nikon Coolpix L830, Coachella 2014 was not one of them.