Nikon Coolpix A Review

Review posted 12/18/2013

Quick Take
  • Coolpix A's image quality is outstanding, compares favorably to entry-level Nikon DSLRs
  • APS-C sized image sensor is rarely seen in a camera this size
  • Low light results are good with or without flash
  • Full manual control options
  • High-quality lens
  • Manual focus and autofocus options
  • Can magnify the scene easily in manual focus mode, allowing for very sharp focus
  • Hot shoe allows for connecting various accessories, including Nikon Speedlites
  • Both RAW and JPEG shooting options available
  • JPEG photos are smaller than average in storage space required because of excellent compression formula
  • Plenty of customization options in menus, as well as function buttons that can be personalized
  • Overall performance is a little disappointing in this price range
  • Shutter lag can be a little slow at times
  • Extreme close-ups aren't possible, even in macro mode, minimum focus distance is 4 in.
  • Autofocus results should be more consistent
  • No zoom option, focal length is fixed at 28mm equivalent
  • No Vibration Reduction
  • To shoot movies you have to work through several menu commands
  • Movie quality is below average versus others in this price range
  • No advanced add-on features, such as articulated LCD or built-in GPS or Wi-Fi
  • No viewfinder
  • Almost too many menu options, making Coolpix A confusing to navigate at first
  • Battery life should be better
Bottom Line
When it comes to the primary job of a digital camera -- creating great images -- the Nikon Coolpix A is a star performer. Few cameras of this physical size offer an image sensor as large as the APS-C sized image sensor of the Coolpix A. This camera uses a high quality fixed lens, and it offers enough manual features to satisfy even a photographer who normally uses a DSLR camera. However because the Coolpix A carries such a high price tag, it's competing directly against those DSLRs, and it comes up short in many other areas against those models, including slugging response times, the lack of a viewfinder, only one focal length, and poor battery life. At this price it's difficult to recommend the Coolpix A to anyone other than those who already own Nikon DSLR cameras and want a small camera with similar operational aspects. Read more in our Full Conclusion.
Nikon's Coolpix A is the first (and only, as of 12/2013) Coolpix series camera to include their DX-format (APS-C) sized CMOS image sensor usually found in their entry level DSLRs, which makes the "A" not only a member of Nikon's Advance Performance series like the P520 and P7700, but the Flagship on the entire Coolpix brand (for 2013).

Nikon mates the 16.2-megapixel CMOS image sensor to an 18.5mm prime NIKKOR lens with a sporty f/2.8 aperture. In 35mm terms, we're talking a 28mm lens without zoom capabilities. A 4 frames-per-second burst shooting mode will help capture fast action and advanced capabilities include Full Manual Control and RAW/NEF image capture. There are also a number of Nikon's artistic enhancement Scene Modes to stylize your shots.

In addition to its own feature set, the Nikon Coolpix A has been designed with a few optional accessories, including an Optical Viewfinder, an Adapter Ring and metal Lens Hood combination, and a Wireless Mobile Adapter adding WiFi capabilities.

Nikon Coolpix A Features
  • 16.2-megapixel DX-format (APS-C) image sens
  • 18.5mm (28mm, 35mm equivalent) prime NIKKOR lens
  • f/2.8 aperture
  • 4 frames-per-second burst shooting
  • 3.0-inch 921K dot LCD screen
  • Quick Auto Focus
  • Scene Modes
  • Full Manual Controls (P, S, A, M)
  • RAW/NEF Image Capture
  • Full Size Hot Shoe
  • Optional Accessories
    • DF-CP1 Optical Viewfinder
    • UR-E24 Adapter Ring
    • HN-CP18 metal Lens Hood
  • Optional Wi-Fi Connectivity via the WU-1a Wireless Mobile Adapter
  • SD card slot
  • Li-ion battery pack (good for up to ~250 shots)

Offered in either silver or black, the Nikon Coolpix has a MSRP of $1,099.95. The DF-CP1 Optical Viewfinder will run you about $449; the UR-E24 Adapter Ring and HN-CP18 metal Lens Hood are available together for about $129. To see the most current online pricing, click our Buy button.

What's in the box?:
  • Coolpix A body
  • Camera strap
  • Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL20
  • Battery Charger
  • Accessory Shoe Cover BS-1
  • USB Cable
  • ViewNX 2 CD-ROM
  • Reference Manual (CD-ROM)

Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.