I see another large sensor on horizon… Nikon Coolpix A announced

We live in interesting times from as far as the gear is concerned. Compact camera market is being squeezed between smartphones and mirrorless models, so all the major companies are trying to develop high IQ models. Therefore, large-sensor compacts are popping out like mushrooms after the rain and I like it that way. Today, Nikon has announced the new Coolpix A – compact camera the size of Sony DSC-RX100 but with APS-C sensor and a fixed 18.5mm lens (28mm equivalent).

MAIN SPECIFICATIONS:

  • APS-C CMOS sensor (23 x 15mm), 16.2 megapixels without AA filter
  • 18.5mm F/2.8 lens (28mm in 35mm eqivalent)
  • ISO 100 – 6,400 (up to 25,600 expanded)
  • 14-bit Raw format
  • 3″ LCD, 920,000 dots
  • Shutter speed 30 – 1/200 sec.
  • Pop-up flash + hot shoe
  • 4fps continuous shooting
  • Full HD video mode
  • Twin control dials
  • Li-Ion battery (230 shots CIPA)
  • Optional OVF and GPS unit
  • 111 x 64 x 40mm
  • 300g with Li-Ion battery

At the first glance, the new Coolpix A ticks all the right boxes to make photo enthusiast’s heart beat fasten up. APS-C sensor used has no AA filter (sharp images!), and is probably a reworked unit used in D7000 and countless Sony and some Pentax models what would translate in outstanding high ISO performance. If this camera doesn’t produce ISO 6400 photos clean as the ones in NEX-6 I would be very disappointed.

The lens paired to the sensor is 18.5mm prime lens with F/2.8 aperture (it provides 28mm FOV in 35mm terms). This is a nice focal length for street shooters, and combined with small dimensions (only a few millimeters larger in each direction than Sony DSC-RX100) and all black exterior could be an excellent sleeper camera. Having no optical zoom will narrow the versatility and range of potential buyers, but I guess most will buy it as the second camera to complement main DSLR system or by 28mm shooting-angle enthusiasts in search of the most portable high IQ solution.

The AF performance is yet unknown, but with phase detectors on sensor and having personal experience with similar system on Nikon 1 V2, I can hope it is up to the task.

External controls also make it clear who this camera is for: twin control dials, shooting mode dial with PASM as well as two user modes and AF selector at the left side should appeal any photo enthusiast.

This is all nice, but the price is a cold shower: $1100 for the camera, another $ 450 for optional optical viewfinder (?!) and $ 130 for filter adapter (piece of plastic with 49mm filter thread). It better be really good.

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