Nikon Coolpix A review

DSLR quality from a compact camera

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Nikon has produced a very interesting premium compact camera with the Coolpix A. The APS-C sized sensor proves its worth, capturing lots of detail and keeping noise well within acceptable boundaries.

Having a larger than average sensor inside a compact camera brings the added bonus that the lens has a relatively long (18.5mm translates to 28mm in full-frame terms) focal length lens (for comparison, the Nikon Coolpix P7700's lens has a focal length of 6-42.5mm, giving the equivalent of 28-200mm in full-frame terms) and this means that depth of field can be restricted for creative effect.

The Nikon Coolpix A is very nicely built, and its quality is clear from the moment you pick it up. It's also small and neat, with sensibly laid out controls that fall with easy reach. With the exception of the automatic focusing system and the relatively long write times, its controls are responsive.

With an asking price of just shy of £1,000 / US$1,100 / AU$1,300, this is a serious investment, and not one to be taken lightly. Though it's not quite up there with the asking price of the Sony RX1, it's also worth pointing out that it has a smaller sensor, being an APS-C format rather than full-frame.

We liked

The Nikon Coolpix A is well built and the controls are sensibly arranged. Thanks to the APS-C format sensor and the high quality lens, it also produces superb images with lots of detail and well-controlled noise.

We disliked

Although the Nikon A doesn't have the slowest autofocusing system we have used, it's not the fastest either, and it's some way off what compact system cameras like the Panasonic G5 can manage.

Corner shading is also more noticeable than we would expect, suggesting that Nikon has pushed the boundaries of its technology in squeezing an APS-C sized sensor into such a small camera.

Final verdict

While it is considerably smaller than the Fuji X100S, the Nikon Coolpix A doesn't have a viewfinder built in - there's an optional optical finder available.

It also lacks the traditional aperture ring and shutter speed dial that give the Fuji X100S some of its appeal, but exposure adjustments can still be made quickly and easily.

Despite our minor gripes about its write times and AF speed, the Nikon Coolpix A is an enjoyable camera to use, and it delivers superb images on a par with those from a DSLR. It's a nice 'carry-everywhere' camera, but its current price seems rather steep in comparison with other more flexible options on the CSC market.