Test Review: Nikon Coolpix A

June 2, 2013 at 8:30 am  •  Posted in Review by

Nikon Coolpix A

Nikon Coolpix A

The Nikon Coolpix A is a very compact camera with a quite large image sensor (DX-/APS-C-format) and 16-MP resolution. Like an SLR system, it offers manual image control with standard exposure programs (P, S, A and M), Raw image mode, additional scene modes, and video recording with 1920 x 1080 pixels.

Comments on Image Quality

The Nikon Coolpix A showed crisp and clear reproduction of our standard test box. Colours look natural, even though the white-balance system causes a slightly cooler touch in the grey background.

The Nikon Coolpix A showed crisp and clear reproduction of our standard test box. Colours look natural, even though the white-balance system causes a slightly cooler touch in the grey background.

Colour: Like nearly all Nikon cameras, the Coolpix A showed a very realistic reproduction of our colour test charts and the standard test shots. The automatic white-balance system did a good job under all lighting conditions. It showed only a tendency into a little cooler colour reproduction and placed the grey patterns of our test chart a little below the centre of the result chart. Only the brightest grey colour field is shifted into the green and yellow area. This is also noticeable in bright backgrounds and the brightest skin areas in our portrait shot.

Sharpness: The resolution results are very good. The Nikon Coolpix A reproduced the ISO 12233 chart with 3101 lines per picture height, and therefore only marginally lower than its nominal sensor resolution of 3264 lines per picture height. There are nearly no aliasing or Moiré effects visible in the portrait shot or the standard test box shot.

Noise: The Nikon Coolpix A showed excellent results in our noise tests. The luminance noise level is very low (even for a camera with an APS-C sized sensor) and stays below 1.0 percent (y-factor) even in images taken with ISO 3200. The colour noise is reduced by a very effective anti-noise filtering system, which causes only some noticeable colour clouds when shooting in ISO 3200 and ISO 6400 mode. The camera has two additional “high modes” which are an equivalent to ISO 12800 and 25600. The dynamic range results are good: the camera gained a maximum of 10.6 f-stops and keeps a level of more than 10 f-stops up to ISO 1600 setting.

Comments on Handling

The camera has a small pop-up flash that is seamlessly integrated into the body of the camera (left side of the body’s top panel). In addition, it has an accessory shoe, which allows the use of optional Nikon flash systems like the SB-900.

The camera has a small pop-up flash that is seamlessly integrated into the body of the camera (left side of the body’s top panel). In addition, it has an accessory shoe, which allows the use of optional Nikon flash systems like the SB-900.

The Nikon Coolpix A is a very unusual camera. It has a very robust retro design body based on a magnesium-alloy chassis. It is extremely compact and has a DX format sensor (Nikon’s version of the “APS-C”-format). Therefore, it has the same basic technology as SLR cameras. The Nikon sensor offers a resolution of 16.2 MP and is combined with Nikon’s EXPEED-2 image processor system which converts the sensor data into JPEGs or Full HD videos very quickly.

The camera offers a lens with fixed focal length of 28 mm (35-mm film equivalent) and f/2.8. It specializes in wide-angle photography. This is noticeable in our portrait shot, which shows the typical wide-angle distortion. Due to the wide-angle lens and the shortest focus distance of 50 cm, the portrait shot shows a little different image section than in our portrait shots done with other digital cameras.

The Nikon Coolpix A has a high-resolution LCD (921000 RGB dots) that can’t be swivelled and doesn’t offer touch control. The camera has two set-up dials: the first is located on the top and can be reached with the thumb of the right hand; the second encircles the OK button.

The Nikon Coolpix A has a high-resolution LCD (921000 RGB dots) that can’t be swivelled and doesn’t offer touch control. The camera has two set-up dials: the first is located on the top and can be reached with the thumb of the right hand; the second encircles the OK button.

The Coolpix A offers all standard exposure modes (P, S, A and M) like an SLR system. In addition, it has 19 scene and effect modes and two user-defined modes (U1 and U2 on the mode dial). A large set-up dial on the top, which can be reached by the thumb of the right hand, is used to change image parameters. The camera offers a second set-up wheel on the back (which encircles the “OK” button). The combination of both dials allows a very fast and intuitive set-up of the camera parameters. Many function elements right and left of the LCD screen help change image parameters quickly. The LC display has a high resolution (921.000 RGB dot) and shows a brilliant and sharp reproduction of the images and the set-up menus. The monitor is fixed and doesn’t offer touch-screen functionality. For manual focusing, the camera offers a large lens ring that can be activated even when shooting in AF mode.

The Nikon is able to record Full HD videos. It does not have an image stabilizer, which is acceptable for taking photos with a wide-angle lens system but missed when recording videos. Nevertheless, the video quality is very good (nice colours and high real video resolution).

Pros:
+ Compact camera with a large image sensor (DX/APS-C format)
+ Very good/realistic colour reproduction, very good results in our noise tests
+ Robust body and high-end finish
+ Full HD video capabilities with frame rates for European and US TV standards (25 and 30 frames per second)

Cons:
– Not an interchangeable lens system
– Fixed focal length system
– Missing optical or electronic viewfinder (only LCD screen as view finder)

This review is based on precise lab tests conducted by BetterNet GmbH and provided by the Technical Imaging Press Association (TIPA). TIPA is the largest family of independent photo and imaging magazines worldwide. Photo Life is an active member of TIPA.

SPEC SHEET: Nikon Coolpix A
BASIC TECHNICAL DATA:
Resolution 4928 x 3264
Resolution sensor 16.2
Size of sensor (in inches) 0/0.00
Size of sensor (in mm) 23.6 x 15.6
LENSES:
Focal length (wide angle, 35-mm equivalent; in mm) 28
Focal length (tele, 35 mm equivalent; KB in mm) 28
Focal length (wide angle, real; in mm) 18.5
Focal length (tele, real; KB in mm) 18.5
Speed 2.8 – 2.8
Macro 10 – 50
Manual focus, controlled by function elements no
Manual focus, controlled with lens ring yes
TAKING PICTURES:
Startup time (in sec) 1.30
Shutter delay (in sec) without pre-focusing 0.70
Shutter delay (in sec) with pre-focusing 0.02
Continuous shooting speed (frames per second) 4.0
Max. burst during continuous shooting speed 26.0
Fastest shutter speed in sec 1/2000
Long time exposure/shutter speed in sec 30
Self timer yes
Exposure Settings:
Aperture pre-setting, shutter speed pre-setting, manual exposure settings
Automatic bracketing, time-lapse photography
Exposure programs 19
White balance:
Auto yes
White balance settings 6
Individual white balance yes
ISO:
ISO min 100
ISO max 6400
ISO steps 19
Manual ISO control yes
FLASH:
Integrated flash yes
Flash Mode:
On, off, automatic-flash, slow-sync, anti-red-eye, rear curtain sync
External Flash:
X-Sync no
Accessory shoe yes
FILE FORMATS:
Standard file formats JPEG, RAW, DCF
JPEG-Compression grades 3
LCD AND PREVIEW:
Size (in inches) 3.0
Resolution of LCD (in pixels) 921000
Zoom mode during preview yes
Index during preview yes
Slideshow during preview yes
VIDEO:
Video available yes
Max. width 1920
Max. height 1080
Picture frequency 30
POWER SOURCE:
Rechargeable battery yes
Battery type Li-Ion
Battery charger included yes
Power connector no
Power supply unit no
STORAGE SYSTEM:
Supported memory cards SD-Card, SDHC-Card, SDXC-Card
PC-CONNECTION:
PC connection USB, HDMI
TV-Out HDMI
DIMENSIONS:
Dimensions (width x height x depth in mm) 111 x 64 x 40
Weight (body without battery and memory card in g) 299
ACCESSORIES:
Docking station no
Printed manual yes
Manual on CD yes
Bag no
Remote control no