Nikon Coolpix A Hands On Review – Cameralabs

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In creating Coolpix A, Nikon have put together a very small compact camera with some impressive specs.  The Coolpix A may have a small body, but Nikon have loaded it up with the same 16mp APS-C sensor that can be found in the Nikon D7000 DSLR.  It has a fixed 18.5mm lens (28mm equivalent).  It also has Full HD video recording capability, Wi-Fi, a native sensitivity range of ISO 100-6400 which can be expanded to 25600, no AA Filter, raw and JPEG shooting at 14bit, and full manual control.  Coming in at just under $1,100 USD, the Coolpix A enters a relatively small field of premium compact cameras, but despite it’s impressive specs it still faces some impressive competition, most notably from the new Fuji X100s.  Does the Nikon Coolpix A have what it takes to lure prospective buyers away from the highly regarded (and now, very popular) Fuji X100s?

CameraLabs just posted their full review of the Coolpix A and have some good things to say about this new fixed lens premium compact.

Here’s CameraLabs’ Nikon Coolpix A Final Verdict:

The COOLPIX A pretty much achieves what Nikon no doubt had in mind for it. It is the World’s smallest camera with an APS-C format sensor. The image quality and low light high ISO noise performance are nothing short of outstanding for a camera this size. Job done.

But though Nikon hasn’t compromised on its vision, users of the COOLPIX A may have to. The 28mm lens is great for landscapes and interiors, but will be less than ideal in many other situations. It’s hard to fathom Nikon’s thinking here, when it could have opted for a more useable 35mm equivalent without compromising on size or weight and when much of the competition is offering lenses at least a stop brighter. The decision to omit a built-in viewfinder is easier to understand, less so the exorbitantly priced optical accessory. It’s these two factors, the lens focal length and the lack of a built-in or affordable viewfinder that potential buyers can most easily solve by looking to other models.

In most other respects – LCD screen, continuous shooting, movie modes and general handling – the COOLPIX A performs on a par with the competition. It lacks some of the frills on offer elsewhere, like art filters and panoramic modes, but that may not bother the target enthusiast buyer so much. The question potential buyers will have to answer is this: is the COOLPIX A’s outstanding image quality enough on its own to justfify choosing it over competing models which, on the face of it, appear to offer more in terms of handling and features?

It may be that the COOLPIX A is one of those cameras that looks good on paper, but in the flesh requires too many compromises. But there are two things you can’t argue with: it’s compact and its image quality is unsurpassed. If that matters to you more than anything else and the fixed 28mm equivalent coverage works for your style of photography, it’s a simple choice. It’s certainly enough to earn the COOLPIX A our Recommended award.  (Read full review on CameraLabs)

Good points

  • Superb image quality.
  • Excellent high ISO noise performance.
  • Manual focus lens ring.
  • Retractable lens with integral cover.
  • Auto ISO control.

Bad points

  • 28mm f2.8 lens poor for all-round use.
  • Lacks a built-in viewfinder or reasonably priced accessory.
  • Fixed LCD screen.
  • Lacks a dedicated movie record button.
Scores
(relative to 2013 high-end compacts)
The Nikon Coolpix A was awarded CameraLabs’ Recommended Status
Build quality:
Image quality:
Handling:
Specification:
Value:
Overall:  83%
17 / 20
18 / 20
17 / 20
16 / 20
15 / 20

 

So just how DOES the Nikon Coolpix A stack up against the competition?

A few weeks ago, we posted a side by side comparison of the Nikon Coolpix A and the Fuji X100s.

Our comparison table is shown below:

Categories where there is a clear advantage are highlighted in red.

Nikon Coolpix A

Fuji X-100s

16.2 mp  APS-C Sensor 16.3 X-Trans II Sensor
ISO Range 100-3,200 (25,600 w boost) ISO Range 100-6,400 (25,600 w boost)
28mm f/2.8 lens 35mm f/2.0 lens
4 fps burst mode 6fps burst mode
No Viewfinder (Optional VF = $450 USD) Built In Hybrid Viewfinder
1/2000 second maximum shutter speed 1/4000 second maximum shutter speed
921,000 dot Touch Screen 460,000 dot Touch Screen
Full HD Video Recording Full HD Video Recording
—————- External mic support
—————- Longer Battery Life
Wi-Fi —————-
Price = $1,100 USD ($1,550 w Optional Viewfinder) Price = $1,300 USD

 

A cursory examination of the table above shows a distinct advantage in favor of the Fuji X-100s, at least on paper.  This is in no way a scientific analysis and in the end, these are both terrific cameras that will deliver outstanding image quality and the choice may come down to personal preference.

As for my opinion, Nikon have a great entry here, but I would personally go with the Fuji, hands down.

Which Premium Compact Camera do YOU prefer?

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Buy the Nikon Coolpix A or the Fuji X-100s on Amazon Here

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