Nikon Coolpix A1000 Review
What We Love. Having a pocket-sized digital camera with a 35x optical zoom lens makes the Nikon Coolpix A1000 a handy camera for travel. The A1000 only weighs about 12 ounces, so carrying it won't interfere with anything you have planned. This model includes the ability to use full manual, aperture priority, and shutter priority modes, in addition to a fully automatic mode. These features are helpful for beginning photographers who want to control the scene on occasion. One of the most significant complaints photographers have regarding point-and-shoot cameras is the lack of a viewfinder. Nikon's designers fixed this problem by including an electronic viewfinder with this model. If you like shooting macro photos, the A1000 can focus on objects as close as 0.4 inches from the lens.
What We'd Change. The suggested retail price of $499 is a little higher than we'd like to see for a camera with a tiny 1/2.3-inch image sensor. You can pick up an entry-level DSLR kit with a much larger image sensor for that price. And although we love the digital viewfinder, we didn't like the sensor that automatically switched the view from the LCD screen to the viewfinder. It was too easy to block the sensor with a finger while holding the camera, which caused the LCD to go blank. It would've been nice to have a hot shoe on the top of a camera in this price range. We also like the tiltable LCD screen, but it would've been helpful if it flipped toward the top to simplify shooting selfies, rather than only flipping downward.
Pick This Up If... You need a small camera to carry for travel or hiking, where you want to shoot nature scenes from a distance. The A1000 fits easily into a large pocket or purse, allowing you to have a 35x optical zoom lens close at hand without interfering with the activities you have planned.
| Aperture Priority mode | f/3.5 | 1/120 sec. | ISO 400 | 840 mm |
The Nikon A1000 is not going to wow you with its image quality. It only has a 1/2.3-inch image sensor, which is more common to cheapo point-and-shoot cameras or smartphone cameras.
So those who select this camera are looking for a camera that will fit in a pocket while delivering an above average zoom lens function. This lens surpasses a typical point-and-shoot camera or a smartphone camera.
This camera is better suited for shooting landscape photos in good lighting, rather than trying to shoot low light photos where you need to bump up the ISO setting. Still, having such a large zoom lens in a camera that only measures 1.6 inches in thickness makes it a desirable choice for those who want a telephoto camera that's easy to use on the go.
- 16.0MP 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor
- 35x optical zoom NIKKOR ED glass lens, 24-840mm equivalent, F3.4-6.9
- +/- 3.0 EV, 1/3 EV step exposure compensation
- Contrast detect AF
- 0.2-inch electronic viewfinder, 1,166k-dot
- 3.0-inch (1,036k dots) tilting TFT LCD
- Built-in flash
- ISO Sensitivity: 100-1600 in Auto; 1-6400 in P/S/A/M modes
- Continuous Shooting 10fps for 10 frames
- Video Modes: 4K UHD 30p/25p, Full HD 60p/50p/30p/25p, HD 60p/50p/30p/25p
- Creative Styles: Dream, Morning, Pop, Sunday, Somber, Dramatic, Silence, Bleached, Melancholic, Pure, Denim, Toy, Sepia, Blue, Red, Pink, Charcoal, Graphite, Binary, Carbon
- Bluetooth 4.1
- Size: 4.5 x 2.9 x 1.6 inches; 11.7 ounces
WHAT'S IN THE BOX
- Rechargeable Battery EN-EL12
- AC Adapter
- USB Type-A to Type-B Micro Cable
- AN-CP19 Strap
BUILD QUALITY & DESIGN
The Nikon Coolpix A1000 is a little bigger and thicker than simple point-and-shoot cameras, which allows the camera body to accommodate the electronic viewfinder and the 35x optical zoom lens. Still, with dimensions of 4.5 by 2.9 by 1.6 inches, it's small enough to fit inside a large pocket comfortably.
At 11.7 ounces, the Coolpix A1000 isn't overly heavy, yet it has a nice, solid feel. It has an all-black design that is common in this style of camera.
You'll find buttons all over this model, which helps control the camera's operation. However, the buttons are a little small, meaning it can be frustrating to press the right one when you're in a hurry.
Nikon squeezed the aforementioned viewfinder in the upper left corner of the back of the camera. It's a small digital viewfinder that doesn't have a high resolution, so you won't want to be looking through it for long periods. But this is a nice feature rarely found in this style of camera.
Just to the left of the viewfinder is a light sensor. When you hold the camera to your eye to use the viewfinder, your skin blocks the light sensor, and the camera's software switches the view from the LCD to the electronic viewfinder automatically, which is extremely handy.
However, numerous times, we blocked the sensor with a finger while holding the camera and trying to frame scenes with the LCD screen, which frustratingly blanked the LCD screen and activated the viewfinder.
We do like the way the Coolpix A1000 feels in hand. Unlike some thin point-and-shoot cameras, it's easy to grip the camera body comfortably to shoot all kinds of photos.
Nikon's designers placed a thin raised grip area on the front of the camera for your right hand. We were a little skeptical as to whether it was large enough to actually be beneficial, but it surprised us. Holding the Nikon A1000 steady is relatively easy with the handgrip. However, if you plan to shoot at the maximum zoom lens level, we would recommend using a tripod, as it can be tough to hold the camera perfectly still in these situations.
The flash pops out of the top of the camera at the touch of a button. It's well positioned in the center panel on the top of the camera, which yields balanced lighting.
35X OPTICAL ZOOM LENS
The Nikon Coolpix A1000's 35x optical zoom lens has an equivalent measurement of 24-840mm, giving it plenty of versatility. As you can see in our sample photos, you'll be able to dial in on far off subjects successfully. The small camera size paired with the big zoom lens works nicely for photographing skittish animals.
The A1000's lens has a maximum aperture of F3.4, which is a decent level of performance in this style of camera.
The lens achieves relatively sharp images throughout the zoom range of the zoom, but, occasionally, you will notice purple fringing in high contrast scenes, but this is a common problem for point-and-shoot cameras.
We did notice one issue while shooting test videos. The lens doesn't focus quickly when you use the zoom while recording video. You can press the left side of the four-way button after you've zoomed in to cause the camera's autofocus to dial in the scene properly.
You can extend the zoom lens through a ring around the shutter button, which is a typical feature in this type of camera, or with a switch on the left side of the lens housing. The lens moves through its entire 35x zoom range with the ring around the shutter button in 2.5 seconds and with the left side switch in 5.5 seconds. The slower switch on the left side allows photographers to achieve a precise zoom setting more easily.
MENUS & DISPLAYS
One area where Nikon gives the Coolpix A1000 some additional value over its predecessors is in an upgraded LCD screen. This model has a common-sized 3-inch LCD, but the resolution is higher than average at 1.036 million pixels.
It also has touchscreen capabilities, which allows you to make menu selections, to scroll through saved photos, and to record a picture through a touch (while also selecting the focal point).
Additionally, the screen rotates 180 degrees, which allows you to shoot selfies. However, the screen pivots downward, which means you can't use this feature when the camera is attached to a tripod. An upward rotating screen could be more useful, but wouldn't work with the A1000's viewfinder location. The LCD has no left or right rotation ala a Vari-angle display.
The menu structure is pretty easy to use, which is a good thing because you have to make the majority of changes to the settings in advanced shooting modes through the menus. Quite a few of the menu selections remain hidden when you're in an automatic shooting mode, which is nice, reducing the menu clutter for inexperienced photographers.
SPEED & AF PERFORMANCE
| Aperture Priority mode | f/8 | 1/320 sec. | ISO 100 | 55 mm |
The A1000 starts up quickly, allowing you to record your first photo in less than a second. You won't miss many spontaneous shots with this model. And, when shooting in normal lighting conditions, the Coolpix A1000's autofocus system works accurately and quickly.
However, as often is the case with a point-and-shoot-style camera, this model does struggle with finding accurate focus in low-light scenes. You may also notice some problems with AF performance with the zoom lens fully extended. Still, the A1000 outperforms most point-and-shoot cameras in this area.
When shooting in burst mode, you can shoot ten frames-per-second. However, the buffer fills quickly, and you only can shoot ten shots before the camera must pause.
| Aperture Priority mode | f/5.6 | 1/500 sec. | ISO 100 | 24 mm |
After testing the Nikon Coolpix A1000 in a variety of situations, we were pleased with its exposure metering results. The camera accurately exposed the majority of scenes. You won't have to worry about overexposure or underexposure in most shots.
But you also can adjust the exposure manually in 1/3 EV steps up to plus-3 or minus-3. Matrix, center-weighted, and spot metering modes are all available.
STILL IMAGE QUALITY
| Aperture Priority mode | f/8 | 1/100 sec. | ISO 100 | 66 mm |
At first glance, the small 1/2.3-inch image sensor in this Nikon model is a disappointment, especially considering the camera's nearly $500 price point. Cameras far less expensive -- and smartphone cameras -- often have this same size sensor.
However, by reducing this model's image resolution to 16MP (down from 20MP), the A1000 can capture images with less noise in lower lighting than past Nikon point-and-shoot cameras.
Despite this improvement, we were a little disappointed in the details captured in shadow areas, which is a common problem with small image sensors. High-contrast photos tend to look a little dull. When you have good lighting in the scene, the colors are accurate.
We were pleased with the ability of the camera to create a pleasing blue sky. Skin quality and color seemed natural most of the time, as long as the lighting in the scene is adequate.
The A1000 does have nearly two dozen fun special effect modes, but there's nothing in-camera that you couldn't do with average image editing software. You cannot shoot in an HDR mode, either.
For scenes with high levels of contrast, you will notice purple fringing at the edges of objects.
Sharpness could be a bit better too. You'll notice when blowing up some of our sample images to full size that they just seem a little fuzzy. This is a common problem with small image sensor cameras. The lack of pinpoint sharpness is not an issue you'd notice when sharing these photos on social media or when making smaller prints, though.
As long as the lighting in the scene is good, you'll like the look of the images. The camera's image sensor doesn't perform quite as well in odd lighting conditions in terms of image quality.
| Aperture Priority mode | f/4 | 2.5 sec. | ISO 1600 | 24 mm |
While its predecessors couldn't exceed a maximum ISO 1600 setting, the Nikon A1000 boasts a maximum ISO 6400, which should give you two more stops of exposure compensation in darker conditions.
However, the higher ISO setting doesn't necessarily yield significantly better image quality in low light. You'll notice a bit of noise in the photos starting at ISO 800. At ISO 1600 and above, you'll be limited to making small prints to avoid seeing excessive noise.
These issues with ISO performance are especially noticeable when trying to use the full zoom in low light.
The Nikon A1000 has plenty of video resolution options to match whatever you need. You can shoot at 4K UHD resolution for up to 30 fps and full HD resolution at up to 60 fps. Nikon's designers included a few high-speed video recording modes as well.
Audio recording is of average quality. The camera has both an HDMI port and a USB port.
| Auto mode | f/4 | 1/1250 sec. | ISO 100 | 45 mm |
The Coolpix A1000 has both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity options, which will simplify sharing photos with others. This model does not have NFC connectivity.
The wireless transfer speed is not as high as we'd like to see, especially if using Bluetooth. You may want to send photos at a reduced size, rather than full size, to save transfer time.
If you want to geo-tag your photos, download the Nikon SnapBridge app on your smartphone, connect the two devices, and tag the images. Additionally, you can control the camera remotely through the app.
NIKON COOLPIX A1000 VS SMARTPHONE CAMERAS
A good smartphone camera will be able to outdo the A1000 in some low lighting conditions. The lack of shadow detail with the A1000 is frustrating, and it's not a great camera for snapshots for a birthday party or for a night out with friends, for example, where the light is less than ideal. This is disappointing in a $400-$500 camera.
However, no smartphone camera can come close to the 35x optical zoom lens the Coolpix camera offers. Flash photos are better with this model than a smartphone camera. And the A1000 delivers more manual control options than a typical smartphone camera, which helps dial in just the right look for each shot.
PROS & CONS
| Aperture Priority mode | f/5 | 1/15 sec. | ISO 560 | 83 mm |
- Easy to use
- Fits in a large pocket comfortably
- Delivers a 35x optical zoom lens
- Autofocus works quickly and accurately in typical lighting conditions
- Touchscreen LCD is bright and sharp
- Includes a small viewfinder
- Has more buttons than you'd think with such a tiny size
- Most photos are exposed accurately
- LCD screen rotates 180 degrees for selfies
- Performs better than other 1/2.3-inch image sensor cameras
- Includes manual control modes
- Noise is significant after ISO 1600
- Price is a little high for only a 1/2.3-inch image sensor
- Viewfinder/LCD toggle sensor is too sensitive
- Tough to hand hold camera steady at maximum zoom
- Photos with shadows don't reveal a lot of detail
- Images with high contrast lighting are dull
| Auto mode | f/3.4 | 1/320 sec. | ISO 100 | 24 mm |
If you're frustrated with the lack of an optical zoom lens in your smartphone camera, the Nikon Coolpix A1000 could be for you. This camera has a 35x optical zoom lens, which makes it perfect for nature and travel photography, where you need to magnify far-off subjects. The A1000 also fits comfortably in a large pocket, so it's handy to carry with you anywhere.
We'd like the A1000 a lot more if it didn't carry a nearly $500 suggested retail price. It only has a 1/2.3-inch image sensor, so it can't deliver the image quality you'd expect to find in this price range. Non-standard lighting conditions will result in below-average image quality.
Still, this camera has a touchscreen LCD, a 180-degree tilting LCD, an electric viewfinder, full manual control options, and solid ergonomics, all of which are not typical in a point-and-shoot-style camera. For those who have the budget and who need the A1000's zoom lens, this is a handy little camera for travel.
Our recommendation: As a travel camera, where it's handy to have a big zoom camera that fits in a pocket, the Nikon Coolpix A1000 is a nice choice. Its 35x optical zoom lens delivers. As long as you can live with some dull photos in low light conditions, the A1000 will give you decent levels of performance.
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