The new Nikon Coolpix A, just announced, is a small 16-MP point-and-shoot with a fixed 28mm-equivalent (moderate wide-angle) retractable lens and a large APS-C sensor. Signaling its aspirations of high quality is a high price: a cool $1,100 in black or silver.
It's Nikon's first Coolpix compact with a DX (APS-C) sensor, the same sensor size as in many Nikon DSLRs.
All the lit calls the lens "fast," but you should change that to "slow"—only ƒ/2.8. Although it can be argued that ƒ/2.8 is the new ƒ/2, given the continuously improving quality of higher ISO settings. No doubt the speed of the lens was chosen to keep the lens compact—and thus the whole camera pocketable—despite the generously large sensor size.
The price-point seems problematic on the face of it, given what $1,100 will buy in Micro 4/3. But the no-corners-cut quality it indicates will be welcome. And, if typical trends hold, the price will drift lower as the product ages.
(Know what I notice? Real strap lugs. I'm sick of those metal slots that don't allow the camera strap to move out of the way of your hands easily. I know, petty, but then we all have our "petty peeves.")
Hard to know exactly what inspired this. Is it a cheaper competitor to the Leica X2? Same sensor size and number of pixels. Somewhat wider lens, though 28mm-e is popular in Japan. An answer to the elegant, retro Fuji X100S? Similar price, but the Coolpix A isn't a retro styling exercise. Or is it intended to trump the image quality of the popular Sony RX100? It's only a little bigger than that wee bairn, despite having a considerably bigger sensor. None of the above seem to quite fit, although the X2 comparison seems the closest. Maybe a bit of all three.
Maybe it's meant as the perfect pocket camera to complement the new D7100. The Coolpix A supposedly sports the same sensor as the outgoing D7000.
A vulnerability of some of this camera's competitors is focus speed, and Nikon allegedly did a good job with that on its 1-series cameras (I haven't tried them). Focus speed on the Coolpix A will be one thing to watch closely...did Nikon get this right?
And with a fixed lens custom-matched to a big ol' sensor, a lot of people will probably be looking forward to learning more about the image quality.
By the way, that's not a control ring around the lens.
Other notable features:
- Built-in wi-fi [see Thom's featured comment —Ed.]
- No low-pass (anti-aliasing) filter. (Is that the fad o' the moment, or what?)
- Full HD 1920x1080p video with stereo sound
- 4 fps
- 14-bit Raw
- Weight only 299g (10 1/2 oz.)
Full specs are here.
And for a nice extra touch, there's this:
(Sample images courtesy Nikon Inc.)
ADDENDUM: Our friend Kevin Purcell says "it's most likely the same Sony sensor as in the D7000, D5100, Pentax K01, K5 and the Fuji X-Pro1 (different CFA [color filter array] but the same sensor)." See the rest of Kevin's comment in the Comments section.
Original contents copyright 2013 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Thom Hogan: "WiFi isn't built in, it's a WU-1a add-on, which means it also is basically 'talk to iOS or Android apps.' It also doesn't have the Nikon 1's phase detect autofocus sensors, so no way it will approach those cameras in focus performance."
[Thom is the Web's leading Nikon expert. His site—which includes his initial reflections on the Coolpix A—is here. —Ed.]
Maggie Osterberg: "Oddly enough, as good as this camera potentially is, what it most does it make me all the more excited about the Fujifilm X100s."
Sid Lissner: "Nikon has made an APS-C version of a Ricoh GR-D IV."
Kenneth Tanaka: "Good for Nikon. But the Sony RX100 has put this category of high Q pocket camera to rest for me indefinitely."
Manuel: "As a commenter [Alan Fairley —Ed.] pointed out previously, this camera is aimed at the Sigma DP1 Merrill [which is on sale right now for $200 off, by the way. —Ed.]. Same focal length, same aperture, same sensor area, same compact body. Why Nikon felt the need to compete against the Sigma model is something that escapes me, but the latter must be doing something well to deserve Nikon's attention."
Mike replies: In fairness, that combination is $200–$500 more expensive. Also in fairness, I might wickedly point out that when I saw the A, I thought, "hey, a camera with even fewer lenses than the NEX system." Heh heh.
Rick D (partial Comment): "Seems about as daring as the EOS M, which is to say not so much."
Mike replies: Except you can get an EOS M—which also has an APS-C CMOS sensor—with the 22mm lens for only $699 ($100 off at the moment), $400 less than the intro price of the Nikon Coolpix A. Just sayin'.
Barry Reid: "Unless the lens is utterly fabulous I can't see any reason to buy this over a Sony NEX-6 and Sigma 19mm which is cheaper, only slightly larger, has an EVF, hybrid AF and at least one other lens to choose from...."