Coolpix A

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by chip_chipowski, Jun 9, 2015.

  1. I picked up a refurb Coolpix A on fire sale, and I have been using it for about a month. I thought I would share some feedback. I really like it overall. When the camera was released, I did not pay a lot of attention because I think retail was something like $1k+.
    Impression #1: This camera is small.
    I was expecting small, but I am still surprised how tiny this thing is. It easily slides into the back pocket on my jeans, even with a small neck strap attached. I like to carry the camera using the neck strap, but it is nice to be able to get it into a pocket if need be. With such a compact form factor, you would expect some ergonomic compromises. However, the layout works well for me. Fellow member Ralph Oshiro mentioned the nice "on/off" switch and I completely agree. It is a little thing, but the nice on/off actuation really adds to the user experience. You can quickly and easily power the camera on and off, which I find myself doing often in casual photo situations. Also, the little nub grip on the front works fine for me. Despite the small size, one handed operation works fine. Otherwise, the buttons and menu operation are very similar to Nikon DSLR.
  2. The top deck is nice and clean. You can see the spring loaded on/off switch.
  3. I like using the "i button" to quickly check and adjust major settings. I have never really used this button on my DSLRs but it is useful on the Coolpix A, which lacks a lot of dedicated controls. The rear scroll wheel works nicely.
  4. Compared to the D200.
  5. Another small detail: the battery charger is compact. A nice touch, making it easier to travel light with the Coolpix A.
  6. Coolpix A with 35mm cousin, L35AF.
  7. Impression #2: AF is a weak point.
    AF performance has been mixed. I take photos of my 3 year old, which can be challenging on autofocus. Coolpix A has face recognition, which seems to work pretty well for people photos. Otherwise, the AF just seems inconsistent so far. Mostly it works well, but the camera has become confused in at least a few situations. Manual focus is pretty straightforward. When you switch to manual, you can see a distance scale on the screen. You can also zoom in to check critical focus.
  8. Impression #3: Coolpix A makes a good second camera.
    In some settings, I like to use a double camera set-up - usually with telephoto on one and wide angle on the other. The Coolpix A works nicely in this fashion. Very easy to switch from one camera to the next and Coolpix A stays out of the way when not in use.
  9. I haven't used mine much yet but I agree with the point several people have made: this camera is really Nikon's response to pleas for a high quality DX prime wide angle lens. Sometimes I envision myself putting this little thing on a great big tripod and throwing on a black hood for a miniature view camera experience.
    The image quality is really excellent.
  10. I'm still tempted by the Coolpix A. It and the Ricoh GR (APS sensor version) are very close to my ideal candid people snaps camera. Both lacked a few things that would have made it perfect:
    • I'd prefer a 23mm or so f/2.8 lens. I usually see and compose for that view (approx. 35mm, on 35mm film), and end up cropping with the 28mm equivalent view.
    • User reports of slower AF put me off. I really wanted the Coolpix A to have the speedy, certain AF of the Nikon V1.
    • No iTTL compatibility with Nikon's existing flash. A commander mode to trigger my SB-800 off camera would have been sweet.
    I really like the V1-like top plate controls on the Coolpix A. Those large, sensitive but well modulated shutter releases are terrific. Best shutter release feel of any compact camera I've owned.
    Not so crazy about the soapbar design with finger nub, but that's easily fixed with a $10 stick-on finger grip adapter from Flipbac.
    Overall I'd prefer the Ricoh ergonomics and control layout.
    Instead, I got the Fuji X-A1, which offers more versatile in-camera raw processing and great looking JPEGs. But there's still no ideal (for me) pancake lens. The 27/2.8 Fuji isn't quite as wide as I'd like, and the faster 23/1.4 is too large and heavy. AF is okay, and face recognition works fairly well. But continuous AF is useless and the mechanical shutter is louder than I'd like. But the price was right and the photos look great.
    I'm still hoping Nikon will roll the speed of the Nikon 1 System into a CX sensor Coolpix model very similar to the Coolpix A. Much as I like some aspects of the Nikon 1 System, it would fare better as a P&S with a fast prime in one version and a fast midrange zoom in another. And it should have a standard hot shoe and full iTTL flash compatibility.
  11. I have another Coolpix A arriving on Thursday. -Missed the one I sold, way too much. Its images, body design and menus all work very well for me. $349 seems so low, now.
  12. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Recall that Nikon introduced the Coolpix A a little more than two years ago, in March 2013, along with the 80-400mm AF-S VR lens:
    While the 80-400 zoom is expensive at $2700, it seems to be a fairly major success. Unfortunately for Nikon, initially at $1100, the Coolpix A is now in fire sale at around 1/3 of its original $1100 price, when the viewfinder was an additional $450.
    Personally, I don't think I'll ever buy a higher-end camera that is stuck with just one focal length. I am afraid that the Coolpix A is not at all a business success, and it is unlikely that Nikon will risk losing more money on any successor.
    It maybe a great deal for those who are now picking one up at a fraction of the original cost, though.
  13. Purchased a Ricoh GR about 8 months ago - the (then) "cheaper" alternative to the Coolpix A (and with a better ergonomics to boot). I wanted something small and with a fixed focal length wider than the usual 35mm FX-FOV-equivalent. The Ricoh GR suits me quite well for "street" photography. The alternative would have been to purchase the AF-S 28/1.8 and use it on the D700 (or the 20/1.8 for use on the D300) - same (or similar FOV) but not quite as pocketable. Got the optical viewfinder as well (for free) - but hardly ever use it.
  14. if i was going to spend that kinda money, probably better off with a Richoh GR.
  15. My problem with the Coolpix A was always the price; the problem I have now is the Fuji X100 series. The Fujis aren't that small - though I now have a refurb RX100 that is - and they've still not quite dropped enough in price to make me get one; they also self-Osborne, in that I might be able to afford an X100 but I'd always wish I had an X100s, and then if I got an X100s I'd wish I'd got an X100t - and I really can't justify buying an X100t. But the f/2.8 lens compared with the f/2 on the Fujis, the lack of the ND filter on the Coolpix (which would tip me to the GR) and the lack of the Fuji's trick viewfinder are all vaguely discouraging, even if the Coolpix arguably has the most useful sensor. For now, I'm just not tempted. But if Nikon update this camera and charge a more reasonable (D3x00) amount of money for it, I might be in.
  16. But there's still no ideal (for me) pancake lens. The 27/2.8 Fuji isn't quite as wide as I'd like, and the faster 23/1.4 is too large and heavy.​
    Lex, agree with the Coolpix AF being a limiting factor. but Fuji also makes the 18/2. and it's hard to complain about the 27/2.8, which is an optically-impressive lens.
  17. ...the problem I have now is the Fuji X100 series...
    ... might be able to afford an X100 but I'd always wish I had an X100s, and then if I got an X100s I'd wish I'd got an X100t ...​
    My problem exactly. And you also mention my "solution" to that problem:
    The Fujis aren't that small ... and I really can't justify buying an X100t​
    BTW, the self-Osborne also applies to the Sony RX100 series...
  18. I am afraid that the Coolpix A is not at all a business success​
    Agreed - the $300-$500 clearance sales seem to indicate the Coolpix A did not generate a ton of demand. On the other hand, I am happy Nikon produced this camera. I doubt the success/failure of Coolpix A has much bearing on the overall financial health of Nikon. So they lose some money on the camera and make a small contingent of its customers happy.
  19. A few people have mentioned the X100, which looks like a great camera. Also a bit chunkier than the Coolpix A.,566
    I like both 28mm and 35mm FOV, so I think I would enjoy the Fuji.
  20. Dieter: Agreed about the self-Osborning of the RX100 range. The thing that broke that for me was a heavily-discounted refurb option. Of course, as problems to have, "too many updates" is one I'd rather have from the Coolpix A than not...

    Coincidentally, I've just received some spam about the Leica Q, which seems to be is the same vein. Except price, of course, but you knew that when I used the "L" word.
  21. Al - I like the view-camera idea ;) I have not used the camera much on a tripod, but it should work great. Manual focus using the LCD is a snap. I do plan on using the A with a tripod, especially for landscape. First I need to pick up the RRS body plate. I am hoping the plate does not take away pocketability.
  22. Dieter - how is the autofocus on the Ricoh GR?
  23. I have an original X100 and it's brilliant. Yes, the newer models are newer tech, but the old one does just fine for me, and
    it's not a camera I expect to have the latest tech. I think that, oddlycity actually like out that way. It's like a really nicely
    made old fixed lens rangefinder but with a D90 sensor in it, and that comes with all the limitations you'd expect.
  24. I have one and use it often. The lens provides high quality images in every regard. Considering its size and weights, it is an excellent choice for wide angle photography. And because of the sensor size and resolution, there is plenty of cropping ability for typical sized smaller prints.
    There was a firmware update a while back which you want to be sure to do.
    Video quality is also very, very good (both audio and video) and you can set the front function button to allow instant access to the video option - it is hard to get to the video functions otherwise.
  25. Obviously, Leica thinks that there is a market for a 28mm-fixed-focal-length camera: they announced the Leica Q (typ 116) today. 24MP full frame sensor, 28/1.7 lens. Cost a mere $4,250. Significantly cheaper than the new Summilux 28/1.4 M-mount lens $5,950). Not quite as compact as the Coolpix A, Ricoh GR or even the Fuji X100T. More along the lines of the Sony RX1/RX1R - but it got a build-in EVF.
    What's next - a repeat of the Leica CL?
  26. how is the autofocus on the Ricoh GR?​
    Don't have any issues when shooting in daylight, and the one time I used it after dark, no trouble either; it always got the job done. Read reports that the GR is faster in daylight but slower and less accurate than the A in low light. Never used the A, so I can't comment. IIRC, there are a couple of direct comparisons available online - I probably read/viewed all of them but can't recall specifics.
    Andrew - didn't see your post when I posted mine about the "Q". Grips are something Leica rather likes to sell as an add-on than actually mold into the body - so they can charge some more. Quite surprised that they actually included an EVF and not rely on the add-on wart.
  27. you can set the front function button to allow instant access to the video option​
    Elliot, I also set mine up this way. It really helps for quick access. I am looking forward to shooting more video with the A.
  28. Agreed about the self-Osborning of the RX100 range.​
    Just got worse - Sony just announced the MIV ;-)
  29. Dieter: I'd not read much about the Q when I'd posted, so no offence taken - you added more. But it's really not priced in my market.

    On the other hand, I'd not seen the RX100-IV announcement. I'll keep saving up, although $1000 is a long way from the £250-ish I paid for the refurb mk 1. I'd also not seen the A7RII announcement. The supposed video and low-light behaviour is mildly interesting, though there's the small matter of my 200 f/2 to consider before I switch systems. I wonder if Sony have got the hang of not mangling raw files yet? Suddenly my D810 feels slightly low-res... or will do when this and the 5Ds/r are shipping. Oh well, I'm sure there'll be a D850 at some point, and we can all argue about whether our lenses can resolve for it while hand-held again...
  30. Suddenly my D810 feels slightly low-res... or will do when this and the 5Ds/r are shipping​
    Don't think 42MP vs 36 makes a difference that is visible to many. 50MP vs 36 might. Quite conceivable that the same (or similar) sensor will find its way into a Nikon DSLR before long anyway. I certainly hope that with my D810 purchase I have stepped off the upgrade bandwagon for some time - that's at least the plan. In terms of lenses, I should be all set too.
  31. Oh well, I'm sure there'll be a D850 at some point, and we can all argue about whether our lenses can resolve for it while hand-held again...​
    It doesn't have to be that way, Andrew. To quote Sarah Connor, "There's no fate but what we make for ourselves."
  32. 'Scuse my facetiousness, everyone. 36MP will keep me happy for a while (12MP actually was restrictive on occasion). Even 50MP doesn't pull me all that much, especially since the dynamic range of the Canon sensor still seems to be behind. My camera before the D700 was a 6MP Eos 300D, so I guess history suggests that I'll start worrying somewhere between 72 and 108MP. That does indeed mean that I might pay attention if someone offered me one of the 80MP medium format cameras at a sufficiently reasonable price, though "sufficiently" would have to be very just now.

    Must...print...wall...sized...poster... (Though there's something to be said for being able to point the camera randomly with a wide-angle, and know your subject is decently captured in there somewhere.)

    So, Nikon, 80MP Coolpix? It would have my attention more than a body that a cynic could describe as "using up the last of the D7000 sensor stock while the D7100 production ramps up"...
  33. The (D7000) 16MP sensor still does a beautiful job, and with the Coolpix A's excellent optic, it sings. I wouldn't be afraid of 24" X 36" prints with it.
  34. Sample from my first Coolpix A, last winter. I just received my second one today, and plan on keeping this one.
  35. Great shot Howard - very nice color.
  36. Thanks, Chip. Here's one from last Sunday morning on the Chippewa River, in WI
  37. Just gave in to temptation and ordered the $349 refurb 'A' from Nikon today... first real camera acquisition for me since I rounded out my D600 w/ the 28-50-85 1.8 G lenses and almost simultaneously acquired a bargain basement 1V1 with 10/2.8 and 18.5/1.8. The FX/CX combo along with my AI-s glass has kept me very satisfied for the relatively casual pace of shooting I've been doing the past 2 or so years. Picking up the 'A' is still a bit of a departure for me, I've never gone this small, and I've never gone fixed lens. The main drivers were;
    - I like the 28mm focal length... N1 10mm and FX 28mm have both become natural for me
    - I like the small size of the N1/10mm, that combo gets out of the house more than any other just based on portability
    - My #1 complaint about the N1/10mm is low light performance combined w/ no onboard flash or regular flash compatability. This is compounded by the fact that so many of the social events I want the N1 to record are evening activities.
    - My #2 complaint about the N1/10mm is ease/speed of use and ergonomics while shooting. Don't get me wrong, 2 years in I can work the N1 pretty well but it could be so much better. Worst for me is the auto switching between EVF and LCD screen as the sensor gets mucked up way to easy and essentially disables the LCD.
    - I'm extremely comfortable with Nikon DSLR controls and menu's, which combined w/ the $ differential pushed me into the 'A' over the Ricoh GR and X100S. (I'm still awfully tempted by the X100S)
    My main concerns are;
    - Lack of a viewfinder will be an annoyance.
    - It might be 'to small' for my meathooks...
    - I'll still look wantingly at the Fuji X series
    I'm real excited to get my hands on the 'A', I think it'll become my daily companion for bike commuting and I generally intend to always have it on hand. My work travel has evolved to a one bag, carry on only mode of late and while time for photography is pretty minimal now the 'A' will give me the opportunity to push the edges of darkness a bit more than the N1 system permits.
    I'm also tantalized by the thought of an ultra compact two camera rig with the 'A' on one side (pocket) and a N1 with the 32/1.2 on the other... maybe see if the 1J5's get a Back Friday or Holiday special then add a used 32/1.2. DX with deadly sharp 28/2.8 equiv on one side and new backlit/no AA filtered CX with deadly fast AF and 85/1.2 equiv on the other. The 32/1.2 is spendy but darn that's a small setup with two useful focal lengths! Or I could just do as Ralph and pick up a D3x00 to use my existing 85/1.8 with...
    I doubt the results will be terribly suprising but I do plan to do a side-by-side-by-side shoot out w/ the 1V1 10mm, 'A' 18.5mm and D600 28mm once I have the A in hand. Should be fun.

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