Nikon Coolpix A review

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Nikon Coolpix A is a first compact camera from Nikon with APS-C sized sensor. It is paired with a fixed focal length lens of 18.5mm (28mm in 35mm eq.). Coolpix A offers a full range of manual controls, RAW mode and is meant to compete with smartphones which flooded the market in the last few years and. Compact camera market is shrinkig each day and camera manafacturers are releasing more advanced cameras to boost the sales figures. A camera like this was unheard of only few years before, but it seems every camera manafacture has one. More choice for us. :)

GENERAL SPECIFICATIONS

  • Announced: 2013.
  • Type: Compact
  • Dimensions: 111 x 64 x 40 mm
  • Weight: 290 g
  • Sensor: APS-C CMOS 16MP (4928 x 3264)
  • Lens: 18.5 0mm (28 mm in 35mm), F/2.8
  • ISO range: 100 – 6,400 (25,600 boost)
  • Dust and moisture protection: No
  • Flash: Built in flash + hot-shoe
  • LCD screen: 3″, 921,000 dots
  • Memory card: SD/SDHC/SDXC
  • Battery: Li-Ion
  • Video: 1920×1080 (30p)
  • Connectors: USB 2.0, mini HDMI

CONSTRUCTION AND HANDLING

Build quality is excellent but not perfect. The camera is heavy and leaves an impression of serious and quality product, what is not a surprise since it made mostly from metal (front anf back plate are aluminium and top is magnesium). All of the dials and buttons feel great and have a positive feedback when pressed or rotated. Button layout is reminiscent of Nikon DSLR models. There are two control dials and a set of buttons on the left side of the LCD.

A small protruded grip combined with rubberized thumb-rest allows for good grip in hand. The camera doesn’t feel to small in my opinion but is still a true compact that can fit in average jacket pocket.

LCD

LCD has a 3″ diagonal and 921,000 dots. Image quality is excellent; on par with LCD units in D700 or D7100. Viewing angles are excellent and the images look really sharp with beautiful colors. LCD is not  articulated, but most compact cameras don’t have this option.

A detail I lacked probably at most on this camera is viewfinder; either electronic or optical. Actually, I wuld prefer optical in this case since Coolpix A has no zoom. It would be perfect if it was placed in placed instead of pop-up flash.

MENU AND DISPLAYS

Menu system is visually identical to the one found on DSLR models, and anyone used to Nikon DSLRS will be familiar with this one.

SENSOR  AND IMAGE QUALITY

As I mentioned earlier, sensor is the main selling point of this camera. It is APS-C sized and has 16 megapixels. The sensor is made by Sony and was used in something like 10 cameras from Nikon, Pentax and Sony. I still regard it as the best APS-C sensor made till this day.

Image quality is supreme; it as good as it gets on this sensor size. Only full-frame sensors can deliver more in terms of dynamic range or high ISO. I had no problem using this camera at ISO 3200, especially in RAW format. The only odd detail I notices is a gentle yellow or green tint on some photos; but many Nikon cameras have that kind of “warmer” look to them which is great for human skin. I do prefer Canon’s more “colder” look but that is subjective.

LENS

The lens used on Nikon Coolpix A has a fixed focal length of 18.5mm. In 35mm terms, it provides a viewing angle like 28mm lens on full-frame camera. This is perfect for casual everyday photography and street shooting. Some might prefer a bit narrower lens like 24mm (35mm in 35mm eq.) but it’s only a matter of personal taste; I used this one without a problem.

It is very sharp even wide open. Chromatic aberrations are well controlled, but the lens suffers from light falloff, even with closed aperture. There is an ACR profile for this lens, so it takes just a click to fix it.

Auto focus is generally slow. In this regard this is a true compact camera and cannot match DSLR or even better focusing mirrorless cameras. Depending on light levels and subject I was focusing onto, Coolpix A took up to 3 seconds to focus. If nothing else, it is very precise. Combined with somewhat slower overall response (on/off time, playback etc.) this is the main point against this camera.

BATTERY

Included Li-Ion battery is good enough for around 200 shots. This is an average for compact cameras, and Coolpix A basically is a compact.

MOVIE MODE

Videos can be recorded up to 1920×1080 at 30 fps. There are also several lover resolution/frame rates combinations. Stereo microphone is built in.

Sadly, video quality is a disaster. Apart from total lack of sharpness and bleak colors, video suffers from strong moire. What’s even more interesting, it looks like Nikon was aware of that so it buried video recording in a place no one would find it. Actually, I had to consult user manual just to figure out how to record movies. Video recording is activated in continuous shooting options menu – the last place I would look for it.

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3 thoughts on “Nikon Coolpix A review

  1. You’re the first reviewer of this camera to claim that the body is plastic rather than predominantly metal.

    • Tnx for pointing the error out… I was writing P330 review at the same time and probably got mixed what goes into which review. :)

  2. Pingback: New reviews of Nikon Coolpix A - Blog for mirrorless and premium compact cameras

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