What better week than the April 25 escape to Portugal. So we went to Lisbon, and singing the "Grândola, Vila Morena", tried the new Nikon Coolpix A. The first Nikon compact armed with a APS-C sized sensor (with a fixed lens and 28 mm f2.8) looks out the windows boasting dimensions, performance and quality. With a price of about 1,000 euros and options consolidated in this segment, it is certain that the new Coolpix does not have it easy. What land is carried by lusas? Where’s the focus? Does the optical measure up? Let’s see if we can answer some of these questions.
After a first meeting within hours of being announced, Nikon has done their homework and is ready for the Coolpix A sneak in the windows. Taking this opportunity, we have been with the firm in the Portuguese capital for 48 hours, capturing their streets with this large sensor compact.
Although a camera around 1,000 euros deserves a much more detailed analysis, to whet your appetite we’ve brought from Lisbon a few samples and some answers to the most common questions that may arise from the first Coolpix provided with a DX sensor.
The Coolpix A is really small and light. This is one of its strengths: a model packable pocket camer with almost- high end performance and quality. Although weaker design features and details than other cameras-we are thinking of the Fujifilm X100S- the advantage of its demure size is undeniable.
Build quality and ergonomics also convinced us after these first hours of use. The mode dial has two configurable function buttons, the manual focus ring … in a few minutes we can master this compact, especially if you are a member of the SLR Nikonista.
The not so good
Despite this, there are details that have been neglected or better said, more hidden from the account. The video function, for example, is absurdly lost in the burst shooting options. Nor have we been able to find the live histogram, and electronic level is too large and intrusive on the screen and cannot be activated with the push of some buttons with configurable function.
The Coolpix A integrated viewer is not available, and when using the optional optical-we fear it will be quite expensive, there is no way to turn off the screen. Another complaint regarding the management: the front ring dedicated to manual focus cannot perform any other functions when working with auto focus. A waste.
From what we’ve been able to test so far, the camera autofocus is correct but not the most agile of its kind. Drawing on our experience, I would claim that that X100S from Fujiilm or the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 are faster in this area.
Although we have not had many problems with focus, macro mode (10 centimeters) is quite doubtful. To the camera’s credit it must be said that the behavior of the approach is very consistent, regardless of the amount of light in the scene.
Manual focus, meanwhile, is assisted electronically, with a distance scale and expansion on screen and help systems. It misses the projection system as seen in other models.
No complaints with respect to autonomy for the two days, we have lived with the Coolpix A in Lisbon. Without using the video or just flash, and with a fairly intensive use of the screen to review images and investigate functions, we managed to make just over 300 shots with one battery charge.
Another detail: discreteness given the size of the camera, we thought it would be much more comfortable on the wrist via strap, which is what comes with this Nikon Coolpix A.
Details and complaints aside, the best part comes when talking about the results. Or rather, to take a quick look at the galleries of samples that we collected during these days.
Photographs taken by the Nikon Coolpix A. Click the image to download the original Photos:
And, as expected, the 16-megapixel CMOS delivers excellent performance with respect to level of detail-there is a suppressed low-pass filter to strengthen this aspect- noise control and dynamic range. Actually the key is not so much in the sensor, but in its relation to the objective: a 18.5 mm fixed lens with f2.8 brightness offering a focal length equivalent of 28 mm.
Although at the maximum aperture, there can be detected some loss of sharpness in the corners and some vignetting- rectifiable during processing. To be sure, after analysis, its performance is obviously excellent.
Not long ago the Coolpix A would have been a milestone that would have aroused waves of excitement among all users who had spent years asking for such aproduct. But at this point, and despite good first impressions, transmitted-more in outcome than-handling details, we cannot forget that this is an increasingly crowded segment.
Furthermore, Nikon has joined a party that has long since started and where Fujifilm has played for years. Although the X100S is more expensive and is committed to a different philosophy, it certainly raises some tough competition.
Also the very recent Ricoh GR, with performance almost identical in optical sensor, is more compact than this Coolpix and offers management that has convinced us more, in these first hands-on impressions, and is priced more moderately.
A trio of options certainly are one of the most interesting windows over the next months.