Nikon Coolpix A : large sensor (APS-C), yet very compact

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The least one can say is that this camera was highly anticipated. After the successful Fujifilm X100 and other large sensor digital compact cameras like the Leica X1 / X2, or the Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX1, I was expecting anxiously that Nikon would unveil its vision of a premium marge sensor compact camera. And it is done today with the official launch of the Nikon Coolpix A. The Coolpix A is ​​an APS-C compact camera with a non-removable prime lens equivalent to a 28 mm f/2.8. The sensor os the one I loved on the D7000 but Nikon engineers have removed its low-pass filter… The Coolpix A fights on the compactness and lightness fields. It weighs only 299 grams !

Nikon Coolpix A : 28mm f/2.8 – 16MP no-low-pass filter sensor

As I said above, the Nikon Coolpix  A has the sensor of the D7000 (replaced this spring by the Nikon D7100). I have always enjoyed the APS-C CMOS sensor of 16 megapixels for its excellent behavior in high sensitivities (the Coolpix A ranges from ISO 100 to 6,400 and is expandable till ISO 25,600) and record-high dynamic range. But the Nikon Coolpix sensor A shows a big improvement: it is “exfiltrated”. Nikon has removed its low-pass filter, while the risk of rising moiré is limited, it will certainly offer extra resolution and sharpness. Also, RAW format and 14-bit color sampling with EXPEED 2 processor.

 

Nikon coolpix A
The Nikon Coolpix A bacside has a decent screen of 3″ / 921,000 dots. Could have done better like an OLED screen or a smoother resolution like the Sony RX100…

In order to remain as compact as possible and to offer an optimized image quality, Nikon has moved towards a fixed focal lens you won’t be able to change… This lens is an equivalent to a 28mm, with a rather mild aperture of f/2.8 (could have expected a faster lens…) It gets an optical built divided into 5 groups  and includes one aspherical lens. The diaphragm is circular thanks to 7 aperture blades. It offers the comfort of a real manual focus ring which the product manager I met yesterday told me it was extremely smooth while offer an excellent feedback, very pleasant to use.

 

Made in Japan, the only Coolpix camera made here

The Nikon Coolpix A is made in the Japanese factories where Nikon produce the D800 or the D4. It will be the only Coolpix camera to benefit from this preferential treatment. It is partially made of magnesium alloy mixed with aluminum. For a target of amateurs and certainly mainly composed of photographers equipped with Nikon DSLRs, the Coolpix A menus are the same as those you are used to operate on your DSLR. Well thought. Always convenient to remain on familiar ground. Its user interface is customizable as are the two Fn buttons on the front of the camera and two user modes that you can programm your way. The Coolpix A should come in very ​​easy to be operated in PSAM modes.

 

coolpix A camera
PASM modes, Speedlight flashes support, customizable interface…

Nikon Coolpix A : accessories and viewfinder

The Nikon Coolpix A will support an ecosystem of accessories, some of which will be launched soon, others already exist for Nikon digital SLRs. So it can be used with the external GPS sensor, WiFi receiver WU-1a, a Nikon speedlite flash, an optional lens hood, an adapter ring for filters, used with Nikon wireless remote controls or protected in specifically designed cases. You will have noticed that the Nikon Coolpix A has no optical viewfinder. It was sacrificed on the altar of the compactness and experience proves, as with the Sony RX1 for example, we can very well do without … An optical viewfinder is however launched as well, yet optional.

Nikon Coolpix A compact camera
The Nikon Coolpix A records movies in Full HD 1080p 30 fps with stereo and HDMI output.

 

Nikon Coolpix A : 299 grs only !

This is on the compactness of the Coolpix A that Nikon rest all their hopes of conquering the market of premium large sensor digital cameras. I must say that it is really light for a camera with an APS-C sensor weighting only 299 grams including battery and memory card !  It measures 111 mm wide, 64.3 mm high and 40.3 mm thick. It is only 5 mm thicker than the Sony RX100 with a much smaller sensor and already extraordinarily compact.

Price and availability of the Nikon Coolpix A

As the Coolpix P330 announced today as well, the Coolpix A will be available in the next few days, by March 21st, at the premium price  of $1,100 in the US and €999 in Europe.