RSS Twitter YouTube

Nikon Coolpix A Review

16 Megapixels16 MegapixelsContinuous DriveContinuous DriveFull 1080p HD Video: 1920 x 1080 resolution or more but less than 4K.Full 1080p HD Video: 1920 x 1080 resolution or more but less than 4K.Manual Controls: Both fully-manual (M) and semi-automatic modes (T and V).Manual Controls: Both fully-manual (M) and semi-automatic modes (T and V).Action Photography: Shutter speeds of 1/1500 or more.Action Photography: Shutter speeds of 1/1500 or more.Night Photography: Reaches shutter-speeds longer than 4 seconds.Night Photography: Reaches shutter-speeds longer than 4 seconds.Hotshoe: Allows external flash units to be attached.Hotshoe: Allows external flash units to be attached.Spot MeteringSpot MeteringAccepts Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), SDHC and SD memory.Accepts Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), SDHC and SD memory.Neocamera detailed reviewNeocamera detailed reviewDiscontinued: No longer produced by the manufacturer. May still be in stock or found used.Discontinued: No longer produced by the manufacturer. May still be in stock or found used.

Usability - How easy is it to use?

The Nikon Coolpix A is rather boxy. Its rectangular shape hides a large APS-C sensor which is quite remarkable for a compact camera. It does not have much of a grip, only a vertical protrusion at the front. Its design however requires two-handed operation which means that it is held securely most of the time. Still, using some kind of strap is recommended. Nikon provides a standard neck-strap but a wrist-strap is equally usable.

Nikon Coolpix A Top

The camera is powered on by a spring-loaded switch around the shutter-release. Using it is extremely easy and so is turning the camera on accidentally since the switch gives almost no resistance. The shutter-release is a little soft with a distinct halfway point, thus minimizing accidental shots.

After powering on the camera, while the lens extends, the mode-dial which is located on the top-plate should be set to the desired exposure-mode. This mode-dial has the traditional PASM modes, two custom User modes, a position to access all Scene modes and an Auto mode.

Note that there is NO movie-mode, nor is there a Video-Record button. Instead, Nikon decided to make video a release-mode which makes plenty of sense and lets it work independently of the mode-dial. Just like a regular Video mode, this lets the camera know when it should be ready to film.

Nikon Coolpix A Back

The back of the camera has buttons on either side of the LCD and a small thumb-rest. On the left is a column of four vertical buttons. The top two, to select EC and ISO respectively, are used in conjunction with the upper dial. This is the primary reason that two hands are needed to operate the Coolpix A. With your hand optimally placed, your thumb should be over the EC and ISO buttons and your index finger touching focus-ring. MF becomes easy this way.

All exposure parameters are selectable in 1/3 EV increments. In Auto mode, there is a manually selectable Auto ISO option which automatically selects an ISO sensitivity. In other modes, ISO is manual except when an option lets the camera override ISO up to a maximum sensitivity to preserve a minimum shutter-speed. EC can be set ±5 EV in PASM modes but changes are unfortunately not shown on the LCD.

The two lower buttons on the left are for magnifying the image. This helps tremendously with focusing manually. Otherwise, it is difficult to judge precise focus on the LCD. Note that this function also works when autofocus is enabled to confirm that focus was correctly achieved.

To the right of the LCD are four buttons plus a rotating 4-way controller with central OK button. Play and Menu work exactly as expected. Delete does the obvious in Playback mode and nothing in Capture mode. The Info button brings up an interactive status display. Since this camera has no other status display, we recommend checking it each time the camera is powered on.

The 4-way controller by default moves the focus-area. Pressing OK brings the area back to the center. If the area is not movable, such as when Face-Detect is active, these controls are not used. The circular ring of the 4-way controller serves as the second control-dial. It controls aperture in Manual exposure-mode. Most times, it stays unused.

Nikon Coolpix A Left Top

A small slider switch on the side of the camera selects between normal AF, Macro AF and MF. Only when MF is selected then the fly-by-wire ring around the lens becomes active. When turning the focusing-ring, the distance advances smoothly and precisely. Results are immediately visible on the LCD with virtually no lag.

For a camera with plenty of buttons, a surprising amount of important features remain hidden. One Fn1 function button on the front can be customized and so can the ISO button but the latter is too useful to be re-assigned to anything else. This makes assigning the Fn1 a tough choice: Flash, Drive, Self-Timer, Flash Value Lock, AE/AF Lock, AE Lock, AE Lock Hold, AF Lock, AF-ON, EC or RAW. Not all of these make sense, however most are not available unless assigned here:

  • Self-Timer: Toggles between Single-Shot and the configured Self-Timer.
  • Flash Value Lock: Fires a test flash to compute how much illumination is needed and locks that value in.
  • AE/AF, AE, AE Hold and AF Lock all do the obvious. Those who need any of these features must assign it.
  • AF-On: Triggers autofocus and dissociates AF from the shutter-release.

The ISO button, also labelled Fn2, has a different set of possible assignments: ISO, WB, Qual, Metering, Active D-Lighting, Bracketing or LCD Brightness. The dilemma is choosing between ISO or WB or possibly Metering. The real issue is that assigning WB here is the only way to change white-balance live. Only a subset of options are available here though and fine-tuning is not possible without entering the menu system. There more ways to change WB exist:

Nikon Coolpix A - WB Settings
  • Interactive Status Screen: After pressing the [I] button, one can use the lower control-dial to choose WB. Pressing OK from there, lets one choose between the last chosen AWB, 6 presets or the last measured Custom WB. These are exactly the same choices offered by customizing Fn2 except that selection is done blindly.
  • Camera Menu: An option in the camera menu is WB. Selecting it offers a linear menu with the same choices as above except that pressing the right direction of the 4-way controller brings up sub-options. For AWB, the options are Normal or Warm. For each Preset, it's WB Fine-Tuning. When selecting Fluorescent, there is an intermediate menu to select between 7 sub-types of lighting.

Using either of these interfaces, WB is chosen and adjusted without seeing its effect on the LCD screen. Once the selection is done, WB is approximated. Unfortunately, this is the only thing previewed as the display is not Exposure-Priority. Dialing EC for example does nothing and neither does changing exposure parameters.

The LCD screen is quite nice. It is sharp and shows fine details well. Its anti-reflective coating is excellent and generally remains visible in bright light. The refresh rate keeps up with motion well, except during continuous drive mode when it severely lags action, making it unsuitable for action photography.

Nikon Coolpix A Playback Screens

Playback mode offers five image views. The ones which get cycled by the up and down directions of the 4-way controller have to be selected in the Playback menu. Since the default views shows very little shooting data, the Overview view needs to be enabled to see shutter-speed, aperture and ISO, plus a luminance histogram.

At the bottom of the camera, there is a metal tripod mount in the middle of the body. This gives good balance but is not ideal for making panorama photos because the point of rotation is not inline with the center of the lens. A plastic door next to the tripod mount gives access to the combined memory and battery compartment. Given it is so close, opening the door is impossible with the camera mounted on a tripod.

Nikon Coolpix A Bottom
Nikon Coolpix A
Buy from these sellers:Buy From Amazon.com
By on 2013/04/18
3

Nikon A Facts

Compact digital camera
16 Megapixels Fixed LensISO 100-6400
Fixed 28mm lensShutter 1/2000-30s
4 FPS Drive, 32 ImagesFull manual controls
1920x1080 @ 30 FPS Video RecordingSpot-Metering
3" LCD 920K PixelsHot-Shoe
Lithium-Ion Battery
Secure Digital Extended Capacity
Buy from these sellers:Buy From Amazon.com

Camera Bag

Clear

Your camera bag is empty. To add a camera or lens click on the star next to its name.

Your camera bag is empty.

Add cameras or lenses by clicking on the star next to their name.

Updates

    2018.02.09

  • 2018.02.09

    The Best DSLR & Mirrorless Camera For Every Price

    The Best DSLR & Mirrorless Camera For Every Price

    Neocamera shows which interchangeable lens cameras offer the very best image quality for their price. From $396 to $6500, find out which DSLR and Mirrorless cameras deliver the top image-quality.

  • 2018.02.06

  • 2018.02.06

    The Best Compact Camera For Every Price

    The Best Compact Camera For Every Price

    Neocamera shows which compact digital cameras offer the very best image quality for their price. From $0 to $3300, find out which compact camera has the top image quality in its class.

  • 2018.01.15

  • 2018.01.15

    Nikon D850 Review

    Nikon D850 Review

    Nikon Full-Frame flagship DSLR. 46 Megapixels, ISO 32-102400, 7+ FPS 153-Point AF system and 4K Ultra-HD Video. Professional weatherproof DSLR with dual control-dials and a extra-large 0.75X magnification OVF with 100% coverage and a built-in shutter. Illuminated controls, 3.2" LCD, WiFi and Bluetooth.

  • 2018.01.11

  • 2018.01.11

    Lens Features for B&W Street Photography

    Lens Features for B&W Street Photography

    Important lens features for B&W street photographers.

  • 2017.12.19

  • 2017.12.19

    Key Tips On How To Take Amazing Model Shots For Publication

    Key Tips On How To Take Amazing Model Shots For Publication

    Essential tips for starting portrait photographers to make professional model shots.

  • 2017.12.18

  • 2017.12.18

    Nikon D7500 Review

    Nikon D7500 Review

    In-depth review of the Nikon D7500 professional-grade APS-C DSLR with ISO 50-1638400 range, 8 FPS and 4K Ultra-HD video. Dual control-dials in a weatherproof body. Large 0.94X magnification OVF with Eye-Start Sensor. WiFi and Bluetooth.

  • 2017.12.07

  • 2017.12.07

    Think Tank Photo Spectral 10 Review

    Think Tank Photo Spectral 10 Review

    Review of the Think Thank Photo Spectral 10 photography shoulder bag.

  • 2017.11.29

  • 2017.11.29

    Fujifilm X-T20 Review

    Fujifilm X-T20 Review

    Highly compact mirrorless built around a 24 MP X-Trans CMOS III APS-C sensor and X-Processor Pro capable of 14 FPS drive and 4K Ultlra-HD video. Features dual control-dials and a 2.4 MP 0.39" EVF with 0.62X magnification and an Eye-Start Sensor.

  • 2017.11.23

  • 2017.11.23

    Digital Camera Viewfinder Comparison

    Digital Camera Viewfinder Comparison

    Global comparison of viewfinders from all digital cameras. Optical viewfinders (OVF) and electronic viewfinders (EVF) all in one easy to compare table.

  • 2017.11.10

  • 2017.11.10

    Best Digital Cameras of 2017

    Best Digital Cameras of 2017

    The Best Cameras of 2017 awarded by Neocamera: Best Travel-Zoom, Best Premium Compact, Best Ultra-Zoom, Best Mirrorless (Beginner, Advanced and Professional) and Best DSLR (Entry, Enthusiast and Professional), now including budget choices.