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Nikon Coolpix A Preview updated with studio comparison pages

By dpreview staff on Apr 8, 2013 at 23:10 GMT
Buy on GearShopFrom $1,096.95

We've just updated our preview of the Nikon Coolpix A with a full set of studio shots, showing image quality in both JPEG and RAW capture modes. This is in addition to a gallery of real-world samples, and first impressions of our initial findings from shooting with the camera both in and out of the studio. The Nikon Coolpix A features a 16MP CMOS sensor, and a fixed, 28mm equivalent F2.8 lens. Click the links below to go to our preview, which now includes studio comparison pages. 

Studio Scene Comparison

This is our standard studio scene comparison shot taken from exactly the same tripod position. Lighting: daylight simulation, >98% CRI. Crops are 100%. Ambient temperature was approximately 22°C (~72°F).

Note: this page features our new interactive studio shot comparison widget. Click here to find out more.

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Nikon Coolpix A

Comments

Total comments: 59
Michael_13
By Michael_13 (Apr 10, 2013)

Excellent lens, but the JPGs are not doing it justice.

The RAWs however, are also quite misleading as I found:
- strong moiré patterns on the money bills make Nikon A look worse
- stronger default sharpening than for other models makes it look better

I took the RAWs of Nikon A and E-M5 and developed them to best sharpness & detail with their supplied RAW converters. My result:
Both are practically on par and deliver excellent iq. Some parts of the scene favor E-M5, others Nikon A. Moirés are almost gone.

Another comparison showed that the lens of Nikon A matches that of Oly XZ-1/2. Superb.

0 upvotes
Rexgig0
By Rexgig0 (Apr 9, 2013)

Seeing the images in this preview and posted by owners, and having handled an A in a camera store, I reckon the A is a decent back-up for a DSLR. I am disappointed to see that the pop-up flash cannot act as a comander for a remote SB-910. (Another site's reviewer indicated the pop-up could act as a commander for an off-camera Speedlight, so this is something I will need to verify.)

I am hopeful that Nikon sees fit to discount the price a bit. Something about one thousand US dollars tends to trigger my fiscally conservative side, and the A is well above that figure, at about $1100 USD, plus taxes.

0 upvotes
kecajkerugo
By kecajkerugo (Apr 9, 2013)

the sensor is from D7000..at least look like this: on the comparative chart swicth on the D7000 and see how they look like...same (almost same...depending on subjective evaluation).
Yet another good camera to take pictures. Not the best in class. Cannot compete with the best m4/3 with picture quality but it is quite there when comared with mid-class m4/3.

1 upvote
ashwins
By ashwins (Apr 9, 2013)

LOL!

2 upvotes
Bamboojled
By Bamboojled (Apr 9, 2013)

Which m43 cameras are you suggesting are better in detail?
Based on the studio samples, I can't find one that competes with this camera in level of detail from center to the corners.

2 upvotes
CHAS RX1
By CHAS RX1 (Apr 9, 2013)

Studio samples are not always reliable.

0 upvotes
Bamboojled
By Bamboojled (Apr 10, 2013)

Riiiight... So dismiss all the studio samples, but take the opinion of folks that have never used the camera and have hidden agendas in defending their own brand...sounds about right

1 upvote
bobbarber
By bobbarber (Apr 10, 2013)

@Bamboojled

This camera has phenomenal resolution in the center of the frame, but you're wrong about the corners.

Look at the watch. The Nikon A resolves the markings for 10, 11, 12, 1, and 2, as a single line. However, they are double lines. Also, the Nikon A heavily distorts the watch. The straight lines are curved.

Now pull up the OM-D. Not only the OM-D, but the other three cameras in the comparison (Panasonic G3, Sony Nex 7, and Samsung NX200, I think), resolve the watch correctly.

What does this mean in real life? It depends. But certainly image quality with this camera is degraded somewhat in the corners.

0 upvotes
Bamboojled
By Bamboojled (Apr 10, 2013)

@bobbarber

You posted something similar to this in another thread...
I, like the person that answered your comment in the other post, do not agree with you. In fact when the other person (I believe it was marike6) pointed out the lines of the brushed metal around the watch.

You then dismiss this and all the other examples given, showing you far more detail (the A on thursday). Also take a look a t the top far left right corner with the checkered pattern against any of the cameras.

It was also pointed out to you that on the OM-D it is using a 50 Macro if I remember correctly, so you are not comparing apples to apples.

If you want to make a claim that the lens is soft at the corners then you have to 1) compare to equivalent lens, 2) look at the corners of the checkered pattern on the far right corner, all other cameras show this soft and grey and white.

If you think this is not acceptable performance, show me a $1000 camera with a 28 equivalent that performs as well if not better.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
photog4u
By photog4u (Apr 10, 2013)

DP2 crushes the A.

1 upvote
bobbarber
By bobbarber (Apr 10, 2013)

@Bamboojled

You're making a case for this camera's IQ in the corners, when the camera is obviously missing in the corner.

Who give's a rat's patootie about the "brushed metal" you and marike6 are gushing about, or the Thursday, when the camera is incorrectly resolving basic, LARGE details like the markings for numbers on the watch? If you really want your eyes open, go smaller than m43 and look at how the XZ-1, TL500, LX7, and similar cameras resolve the watch. They do a better job than the A too. The markings for the numbers are depicted correctly.

This camera looks awesome in the center. You should take what you have, and stop arguing where you're wrong. Anybody who takes the time to look at the comparison images will see that the watch is distorted and incorrectly depicted in teh Nikon A image. The rest of the image I like very much.

0 upvotes
photog4u
By photog4u (Apr 10, 2013)

For $1200 I'll take a NEX5N with the 16-50mm over the A any day of the week! ...and have almost $400 left over for other goodies. :)

2 upvotes
Bamboojled
By Bamboojled (Apr 10, 2013)

@bobbarber,
a little pot calling the kettle going on....
You say that you don't give a rat's patootie about the brushed metal, you also want to ignore the other examples that make the case for the Nikon A corner sharpness.
It sounds to me like you are completely fixated on this and that is all you want to see, and no evidence to the contrary (Sharper lettering on the watch, detail around the watch, detail in the far upper corners of the image, Checkered pattern on the top)
DUDE YOU ARE STUCK ON THOSE MARKINGS IGNORING ALL OTHER EVIDENCE!!!
It's interesting you completely ignore the fact that you are not comparing apples to apples with regards to lenses as marike6 and I posted. The m43 are not using a 28mm and neither are all the other cameras you are comparing...HOW THICK ARE YOU THAT YOU CAN NOT GET THAT.

0 upvotes
bobbarber
By bobbarber (Apr 11, 2013)

Not thick at all.

I didn't cherry-pick the watch markings. They are one of the few things that I look at with all cameras. Why? Because I've bought wide-angle converters and wide-angle lenses that don't perform edge-to-edge. It's like getting cheated a little bit, because you buy wide angle specifically for that reason--to frame as wide an angle as possible.

Two other things I look at are the golden hair just above the watch, and the woman's face on the currency with red hatching. This camera dominates those two parts of the setup. It really does a phenomenal job.

So--I guess we just have a difference of opinion here. To me, this camera is more like a 35mm angle of view with premium image quality, and some distorted view thrown in at the edges, if that fits your vision. Would I buy it because I thought I was getting 28 mm FOV? No.

P.S. It creates detail in the corners (filling in markings), yet you trust that other detail is genuine (not created). Um, OK. How do you know?

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
CHAS RX1
By CHAS RX1 (Apr 11, 2013)

Just go buy an RX100. You get: Focus peaking, photo adjustments preview in real time (yes, including exposure compensation) , better LCD, much better battery life, smaller, Zeiss lens, Zoom, 20MP.

AND YOU SAVE $600!!

0 upvotes
CHAS RX1
By CHAS RX1 (Apr 11, 2013)

Other RX100 features not found on the A that I forgot to mention: in camera image stabilization (Steadyshot), faster auto focus (much), and a horizon level that doesn't impede live view. The quick menu accessed from the Fn button is much better implemented on the RX100. SAVE $600 for other goodies like extra batteries and a charger etc.

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Bamboojled
By Bamboojled (Apr 11, 2013)

WOW, neat features...
Question; How do the images compare to the Nikon A?

Ahhh, I thought that would stump you :)

0 upvotes
CHAS RX1
By CHAS RX1 (Apr 11, 2013)

I've been shooting/testing with both for about a week and hands down the RX100 produces images that are much more pleasing to my eyes. The RX100 produces sharper images, with better color and the OOC jpegs crush the A. The RAW files from the RX100 are much heartier also. Please don't say "but what about the studio samples?" I'm talking live, in person REAL LIFE testing, not someone else's studio shots. IMO the RX100 is simply a much better camera than the A...sorry. Plus with the RX100 you get 10 fps burst (vs. 4 from the A) the camera does not forget the self timer (as it does on the A) sweep panorama, Sunny Weather LCD and max aperture of f1.8 vs. 2.8 on the A. The RX100 wins hands down, it's really no contest... ALL FOR $600 LESS!!

Comment edited 30 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Bamboojled
By Bamboojled (Apr 11, 2013)

CHAS RX1
I had the RX100, nice camera, it does not hold a candle to the Nikon A...
Regarding heartier files, folks are throwing this around lately and seems to be the new word for filmic or film like or 3d look.
No matter what word you decide to use the RX100 does not outperform the Nikon A's files.
This is clear, CLEAR, in the studio samples, it is clear in all the reviews, and it is very clear in DXO ratings of both of these cameras.
The Nikon A has greater dynamic range, far better High ISO performance, and greater color depth.
So if you want to talk about heartier files or whatever the latest catch phrase is, the RX100 is not that.
Now if you like the look better, that I cannot argue as that has to do with your eyes.
Anyone that has 20/20 vision however, might come to a different conclusion.

Comment edited 40 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
CHAS RX1
By CHAS RX1 (Apr 11, 2013)

@Bamboojled

Sorry but your simply wrong. Get an A for yourself then get back to me. You've been bamboozled! :)

0 upvotes
bobbarber
By bobbarber (Apr 11, 2013)

I agree with Bamboojled on this one.

The RX100 is worse than the Nikon A in the corners. Nice IQ in the center of the frame, though.

0 upvotes
Bamboojled
By Bamboojled (Apr 12, 2013)

Ah Bob, I knew we would finally agree on something!!!
Cheers

0 upvotes
photog4u
By photog4u (Apr 14, 2013)

You all make very compelling arguments for your own individual opinions but I'm afraid I must agree with Chas RX1. If I needed a compact camera, I would choose the RX100 over the Coolpix A on the basis of value for the money alone e.g. $600 vs $1200. If I were going to spend $1200 for a new camera today, then I would most certainly buy the D7100 and for $199 more get the excellent AF-S Nikkor 35mm f1,8 lens. Just my 2 cents... :)

0 upvotes
photog4u
By photog4u (Apr 17, 2013)

Buckle up, the Ricoh GR isa come'n. At $800, its an A killer!...

0 upvotes
photog4u
By photog4u (Apr 9, 2013)

The build quality on the Coolpix A is second to none in its class. That's about all the good I can say about it. The sensor is old-tech, even with AA removed. Auto ISO select is buried in the menu along with sharp, contrast and sat. pictures controls UGH... OOC jpg can't touch the RX100. RX100 raw files are much hardier. Camera forgets self-timer. $1200 for this camera is way out of wack. Sorry Nikon, your trying to play catch up with Sony and Fuji and you missed the mark by a significant margin.

3 upvotes
Bamboojled
By Bamboojled (Apr 9, 2013)

That's interesting that you make this claim as every image in evidence, every review out, and DXO itself mark your statement as pure rubbish...

As far as Fuji having hardier files, I can't see how you can make this statement with facts in evidence; the Nikon A has better high ISO, greater dynamic range and far more detail as shown by both DXO and confirmed by DPReviews studio shots in Raw against the Fuji X100s.

Sharpness and detail are so much better that its not even a contest.
Just look at the comparison in the studio shots in Raw at 1600 ISO of the hair next to the robot and try to justify your post. Sad truly sad.

3 upvotes
photog4u
By photog4u (Apr 9, 2013)

I don't need to justify my post. I bought it, I tested it and I stand by my opinion. But it is after all, just an opinion. If you feel that strongly about it, go get one. Knock yourself out slugger!

Comment edited 50 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
sounder71
By sounder71 (Apr 9, 2013)

And you also prefer sparkling wine to champagne and the Monkey to the Beattle.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 34 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
CHAS RX1
By CHAS RX1 (Apr 9, 2013)

I think he is dead on balls accurate. I returned mine after a week. junk...

0 upvotes
Bamboojled
By Bamboojled (Apr 10, 2013)

Yes, the guy that said to ignore studio samples, and take his word for it, interestingly RAW support has only been out on this camera recently so if you returned it after the first week you didn't even shoot RAW.
Dont get me wrong, the RX1 is a very nice camera, but it should be considering that its almost 3 times the price.

0 upvotes
JEROME NOLAS
By JEROME NOLAS (Apr 9, 2013)

Looks great, however will have to wait for the price going down, then I'll buy one!

1 upvote
bobbarber
By bobbarber (Apr 9, 2013)

Not to rain on the parade or anything, but this camera may not be that good at the edge of the frame.

I always look at the 10, 11, 12, 1, and 2 markings on the watch, which have two lines on them, not one. This camera merges the two lines together. A lot of other cameras do too. The watch is not even that close to the edge of the frame, either. If you're going to argue against this point, please, present some data. I mean, there it is. Maybe to be expected with a wide lens.

Just so the Nikon shills don't get their panties in a bunch, The D5200 and D5100 handle the lines on the watch extremely well, better than most other cameras. Also, the detail on the Coolpix A in the middle of the frame is exceptional. Very sharp there.

P.S. Detail at the bottom of the frame doesn't count as "edge of the frame", since the bottom of the frame is farther in from the edge of the circle of light cast by the lens than the right or the left sides are.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
1 upvote
marike6
By marike6 (Apr 9, 2013)

That's utter nonsense. Change to RAW and change one of the camera to the Olympus OMD and look at the Paul Smith watch. The A image is sharper. In fact you can see the brushed metal texture of the watch with the A. The markings of the watch are merging into one because of lens distortion not lack of resolution. But look at the word "Thursday". The A is sharper than all the other cameras including the OMD.

The words "Kodak Professional Papers" just above the feathers - again the A is sharper than the OMD w/ 50mm macro lens.

In fact it's hard to find a single area in the OMD image that's sharper than the Coolpix A, either in the corners or the center.

The Martini Rossi Vermouth bottle on the other side of the frame, paper clips, purple / green rug swatch? It's the Coolpix A showing better sharpness, so you may have intended to rain on Coolpix A fan's parade, but a quick OMD vs Coolpix A comparison is actually going to make Nikon fans much happier than it does m43 fans.

Comment edited 7 minutes after posting
6 upvotes
bobbarber
By bobbarber (Apr 9, 2013)

marike6--

It's not "utter nonsense", unless we have a different understanding of the English language.

I said that this camera was not "that good" at the edge of the frame. I didn't mention lack of resolution. You did. You're right about the distortion though. The watch in the Coolpix A picture looks like it's melting, in a Salvador Dali painting.

Please note. I pointed out that the Coolpix A had "exceptional" detail in the center of the frame, and was "very sharp". I also pointed out (as you pounced on, incorrectly) shortcomings at the edge of the frame. Since we're working on vocabulary here, let me help you out. The word we use for my position in standard English is "objective".

I've spent a lot of money on wide lenses that sucked at the edge of the frame. People need to look closely at that watch. If they expect IQ as in the center of the frame, they won't get it, not without cropping which gives a wider FOV and fewer Mp.

2 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (Apr 9, 2013)

My English is perfect. You said the Coolpix A wasn't good in the corners. You said nothing about distortion.

The D5200 and D5100 use the 50 1.4 Nikkor, a 75mm lens on DX. It's normal for wides to show more distortion than these on DX. But you never said that. You said "Nikon shills don't get your panties in a bunch" but the A is not good in the corners. How silly, and how inaccurate.

The Coolpix A has excellent, class leading detail in most parts in the frame. Go ahead compare the RAWs from the OMD w/ the 50mm Macro lens (a flat field lens) and you'll see that the Coolpix A, in general, is sharper in the center, borders and corners. But wide angle lenses have traditionally have more distortion than normal lenses. That is the part you left out of you little diatribe.

So no, the 18mm f2.8 from the Coolpix A "doesn't suck" at the edge of the frame, far from it. As a wide, it just show a level of geometric distortion that the 50mm Nikkor and Olympus 50 Macros don't.

2 upvotes
bobbarber
By bobbarber (Apr 9, 2013)

marike6-

You're just making things up as you go along.

I said. this camera is not that good in the corners, period. I didn't give a reason why in my initial post. You made up reasons that you must have guessed I was thinking. You were right about the distortion. It is easy to see.

The corner performance is acceptable, maybe, but certainly not for $1,000+++.

What it most reminds me of is the TCON converter that I bought for my Olympus C-7070 way back when. That gave me 19mm equivalent. I was excited to have so much width, until I started looking at the edges of the frame.

Those kinds of converters regularly get trashed for IQ in the forums, but you want to trumpet the IQ this camera. OK. People can see for themselves what the IQ is. Phenomenal in the center of the frame, so-so at the edges. Nikon doesn't get a medal for making a small camera that doesn't perform edge to edge. That's why manufacuters have used small sensors in this class of camera to date.

2 upvotes
bobbarber
By bobbarber (Apr 9, 2013)

I'll admit, I was too lazy to check the OMD and the watch, but I just did.

The OMD and the three cameras that come up with it in the comparison tool, the Panasonic G3, the Sony Nex-7, and Samsung NX200, all resolve the watch correctly. They all show 2 lines for the 10, 11, 12, 1, and 2 marks.

But the Nikon A doesn't.

You are right about this camera resolving the brushed metal texture of the watch, but I'm not sure that I trust the details that it purports to show, since it obviously has created detail elsewhere (filled in the blue between the white marks on the watch). I'm not convinced that distortion caused it to miss the mark on the watch. The A obviously distorts the watch, yes, straight lines are shown to be curved, but I think that the solid white line is equally likely an artifact of a sloppy noise reduction routine, which is confused by a sliver of blue inside two strips of white.

Comment edited 7 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Camediadude
By Camediadude (Apr 9, 2013)

Intriguing little guy, this Coolpix A.

I am glad to see that you are still sticking with the classic Studio Scene that we all know and love, at least for the time being.. I'll miss it greatly if it goes!

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
3 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (Apr 9, 2013)

Our new test scene will tell you more about edge-to-edge sharpness, low-light performance and real-world behaviour. It will take a while for us to build back up to having so many comparison cameras, but that will be a priority for us.

1 upvote
Hugo808
By Hugo808 (Apr 9, 2013)

I hope the robot gets to stay in. He's my favourite.

2 upvotes
gl2k
By gl2k (Apr 9, 2013)

If you want ultimate sharpness that beast is for you. Impressive !!!
But the "slow" lens and no VF bother me.
The most devious & deceptive camera is the Fuji with its highly cooked RAW files.
The ultimate letdown is the Sony delivering nothing that would justify its price point.

2 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (Apr 9, 2013)

Not sure when f2.8 became a slow lens, but the Coolpix A has a VF. It's just an option. Those who want to go small can shoot without it, and those who don't care about size, can choose the good quality OVF. But if the Coolpix A doesn't appeal to you, there are plenty of cameras with features you need.

The Sony RX1 is incredibly small, with a sharp and fast 35 f2 lens, and a FF sensor with near class leading IQ performance. The RX1 is not cheap, but to say that Sony delivered nothing to justify it's price is inaccurate. Sony delivered quite a lot of camera in a small package. But like the Coolpix A, if it's not for you, then you'll need to look elsewhere.

3 upvotes
mumintroll
By mumintroll (Apr 11, 2013)

If you want ultimate sharpness go for Sigma Merrill.

What do you think? Why they NEVER compare Sigmas Merrill with other cameras? Because all cameras would be shamed.

0 upvotes
CeleryBeats
By CeleryBeats (Apr 9, 2013)

Holy cow! This thing is super sharrrrp!!!!!

4 upvotes
dpLarry
By dpLarry (Apr 9, 2013)

It'll be as popular as Leicas.

0 upvotes
photo perzon
By photo perzon (Apr 9, 2013)

Once hooked on a concept enthusiasts deliver. Look at m4/3 lenses going for $ 1000 a pop no problem. m4/3 owners with 10 lenses are a dime a dozen.

1 upvote
photo perzon
By photo perzon (Apr 9, 2013)

Note the Nikon A is almost the same size as the Sony RX100 for practical purposes. You can put it on your jacket and it is only 2 ounces more. At 10 ounces, when you take it out to take pictures at meetings it looks like a humble P&S. Does not command attention, you do not look like the enthusiast photographer. The X100, Leica X1 are twice the volume and 50% more weight.

I call it a social camera size.

Comment edited 35 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
rondom
By rondom (Apr 9, 2013)

--deleted------

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 6 minutes after posting
1 upvote
kodachromeguy
By kodachromeguy (Apr 9, 2013)

Very nice. But almost $1000, and the optical viewfinder is $450? Do you think they may be limiting their market a bit?

2 upvotes
Trollshavethebestcandy
By Trollshavethebestcandy (Apr 9, 2013)

For the A + viewfinder cost you could almost get the X100s and the 28mm adapter

5 upvotes
Bamboojled
By Bamboojled (Apr 9, 2013)

Yes, but you still would not have the same quality (Dynamic range, High ISO, outstanding detail).

2 upvotes
photo perzon
By photo perzon (Apr 9, 2013)

I put a $200 exquisite Voigtlander glass OVF on the A. It is better than the $ 400 Leica plastic OVF. The Voigtlander is small and comes with a high quality carry case.

3 upvotes
AngryCorgi
By AngryCorgi (Apr 9, 2013)

Super sharp lens + no AA filter = crazy detail...the thread detail at the bottom of the frame is just insane!

0 upvotes
Bamboojled
By Bamboojled (Apr 9, 2013)

I just did a corner comparison in RAW to see how sharp the lens is against the other cameras, the Nikon A is the only one that is showing the texture of the wall and clearly defines the checkered target.

0 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (Apr 9, 2013)

The back wall isn't meant to be in the plane of focus - those corners won't tell you anything useful about corner performance. We'll shoot something flatter as soon as we get a moment.

1 upvote
Bamboojled
By Bamboojled (Apr 9, 2013)

That would be great! looking forward to seeing the samples...

0 upvotes
Dianoda
By Dianoda (Apr 9, 2013)

It definitely does way better in the corners than my RX100 at equivalent focal length (that's my only real disappointment from the RX100 - even stopped down, the corners can never be considered great). The JPEG engine in the A also seems to do a decent job at reducing moire while retaining a high level of detail - but the moire in those RAWs would probably drive me nuts from time to time.

0 upvotes
Bamboojled
By Bamboojled (Apr 9, 2013)

This little camera is pretty impressive.
The RAW studio samples against the competition are amazing in the level of detail it's rendering.

0 upvotes
Dianoda
By Dianoda (Apr 8, 2013)

Very sharp, but plenty of moire. As such, some of the fine detail rendering is rather unappealing (in particular, the red bit of fabric below the fur patch looks pretty poor).

0 upvotes
Total comments: 59