Excerpt: The new breed of enthusiast digital cameras is completely different from the usual bunch of point-and-shoot, travel zoom and superzoom cameras. What sets them apart are large sensor, superior optics, RAW support and fine-grained control—all packed in a compact form. So, you get DSLR-like performance and flexibility in a solidly built camera that can fit in your pocket.
Excerpt: 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.
Excerpt: My how the game has changed. A few months ago everyone was agog (and still are!) with maxi zoom cameras. Now it seems a few major makers seems to be intent on feeding the market with large aperture, fixed focal length cameras. Among them: Ricoh, Sony, Fujifilm, Sigma. I’ve used quite a few of these and have to admit their effective use demands quite a bit of restraint and understanding.
Summary: Conclusion Although the Nikon A does a great job at capturing sharp, high quality images, this is not a camera for the masses. So who is this camera designed for? Due to the inflexible 18.5mm fixed lens, many casual photographers will be quickly disillusioned by the lack of zoom. But for those photographers that want the shooting mode functionality of a DSLR, a large sensor, the image quality of a high performance of a f2.8 prime lens, and the portability of a point and...
Pros: Great image quality, Small footprint despite large APS-C sensor, Great build quality, Built-in flash
Cons: Hidden movie mode, AF is sluggish in low light, No viewfinder
Conclusion: The Nikon Coolpix A is another camera we have no problems recommending. It takes darn good pictures with accurate colors and sharp resolution. Besides lackluster video, our biggest hesitation is the price – especially since you can get the similar 28mm prime Ricoh GR with a 16.2-megapixel APS-C sensor that sells for $799.
Summary: I really like the Coolpix A. It's only a point and shoot, and I love point and shoots, especially when this is the world's fastest handing point and shoot, complete with fantastic technical, artistic and low-light image quality.
Summary: The Nikon Coolpix A is the smallest digital camera with an APS-C sensor and is similarly-sized to a compact camera. This incredible achievement puts the image quality of a DSLR in a camera that fits in a coat pocket. The compromise is that its lens offers a fixed 28mm-equivalent wide-angle field-of-view. This is obviously not for everyone but those who are happy with a bright F/2.8 prime lens will be very impressed by the Coolpix A.
Pros: Very low image-noise, Excellent sharpness in center of frame, Wide dynamic-range, Good metering, Very good Automatic White-Balance, Low optical distortion, Very responsive, Good LCD visibility, Wide 28mm F/2.8 prime lens, Simple direct controls, Extremely compact, Solid build quality
Cons: Slow autofocus system, Frequent autofocus misses in low-light, Corner softness, WB changes not Live, Display not, Strong vignetting, Weak color accuracy, Low rear control-dial, Easily turned on accidentally, Self-timer resets, Limited customization, Short battery-life
Conclusion: Other companies -- key among them being Sigma -- may have invented the large sensor, fixed prime lens camera category, but the Nikon Coolpix A represents its first really mainstream effort. Like its main rivals, it is clearly not the camera for everybody, but for prime lens lovers who are willing to trade away lens interchangeability for a smaller body, the Coolpix A is exciting indeed.
Pros: A camera that makes you grow as a photographer, think beyond the zoom, Solid, alloy body feels like a quality photographic device, True twin-dial design, Image quality like the Nikon D7000 from a much smaller package, Very good high ISO performance, Excellent dynamic range for its class, Fly-by-wire autofocus ring is intuitive, Low lens distortion (despite no in-camera correction), Automatic chromatic aberration suppression (and low CA to begin with), Active D-Lightin...
Cons: Almost non-existent handgrip, Ergonomics not great for single-handed shooting, Monitor washes out at max. brightness, Occasionally strange default settings, Some menus are deeply nested, Fixed focal-length lens, Significant corner shading even at f/8, Soft corners when lens is wide open, Larger than average macro area, JPEG images at default settings are not as sharp as expected from a camera without an OLPF, More susceptible to moiré and other aliasing artifacts, Top...
Conclusion: The Nikon Coolpix A is a dedicated wide-angle camera with a big image sensor. Image quality can suffer at the edges of the frame, and the autofocus is a bit slow, but if if you want to pack a lot into your shots, it's worth a look.
Pros: Compact design. APS-C image sensor. 28mm wide-angle field of view. Good high ISO performance. Quick to start and shoot. Raw support.
Cons: Soft edges at f/2.8 and f/4. Longer shutter lag. Macro mode slows focus. Cannot disable rear LCD. No EVF option. Movie setting is buried in menus.
Summary: The Nikon COOLPIX A is a camera designed to fulfil a very specific task, to provide DSLR levels of control and quality
in a small fixed-lens compact. In order to do that Nikon, along with others, reasons that you need to start with the same kind of sensor as a DSLR and build from there. The superb quality of the images produced by the COOLPIX A is all the proof you need that they got that one absolutely right.
The next most important element is the lens.
Pros: Superb image quality., Excellent high ISO noise performance., Manual focus lens ring., Retractable lens with integral cover., Auto ISO control.
Cons: 28mm f2.8 lens poor for all-round use., Lacks a built-in viewfinder or reasonably priced accessory., Fixed LCD screen., Lacks a dedicated movie record button.