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Nikon Coolpix A puts an APS-C sensor in your pocket: First Look

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First Look: Nikon Coolpix A puts an APS-C sensor in your pocket

2:01 /

The Nikon Coolpix A is a fixed-focal-length lens model with an APS-C sensor along the lines of Fujifilm's popular X100 and X100s.

The Nikon Coolpix A is Nikon's first APS-C compact. It follows Fujifilm and Leica into that odd pricing limbo between $1000 and $1300. While more people are buying enthusiast compacts, they're not so enthusiastic about the price range. Fujifilm and Leica both offer a range finder like shooting experience for the extra money, but Nikon instead delivers great photo quality in a well-built compact body that's more like a point-and-shoot than most enthusiast compacts. Though it has a fixed focal length 28-mm lens, it extends and contracts like a zoom. That enables it to have a built-in lens cover which is a nice change from the other models in their extraneous lens caps. It also slows the camera down a bit though. The all-metal body is nice and has a substantial feel with a reasonable grip. Aside from the 2-user setting slots on the mode dial and a separate adjustment dial plus the 2 programmable buttons, the rest of the camera operates like a typical point-and-shoot. The control dial seems underutilized with no way to program the navigation buttons for direct access controls. As you'd expect, it has a manual focus ring and it has a pretty nice feel. There's a magnification window for focus assist but no peeking like on the X100S. Performance is mixed. It has great shot-to-shot speed and fast continuous shooting, but the auto focus system and lens are a little sluggish just like the rest of its competitors. Battery life is even more disappointing though. The real strength of the camera is the photo quality thanks to a nice sensor and lens. Photos come out sharp, metering and exposure systems are consistent, and the colors are accurate and pleasing. I like the camera. It produces great photos, but it lacks the extra Je ne sais quois that I expect to justify a price tag over $1000. And if you're not a pixel peeper, you may not think it's worth a few hundred more than something like the Sony RX100. I'm Lori Grunin and this is the Nikon Coolpix A.

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