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Lens Tests

On fixed-lens compacts like the Coolpix A, the lens is right at the heart of the imaging system, and ultimately just as important as the sensor and processor in determining the image quality. Fortunately the Nikkor 18.5mm 1:2.8 is really rather good: its only flaw is relatively strong vignetting that persists on stopping down. However the Ricoh GR's lens is just as good, while exhibiting less vignetting: click here to compare the two in our lens data widget.

Note: it's not possible to determine the T-stop for a fixed lens camera, so this number is not displayed.

Sharpness Sharpness results are impressive. The centre of the frame is very good even wide open, although the corners lag behind a bit. Optimum results are obtained from F4 - F8, beyond which diffraction starts to have a clear softening effect. We'd probably steer clear of F22 (the smallest available setting) in normal use.
Chromatic Aberration Lateral chromatic aberration is very low, to the extent that you'll rarely see it in practice. But for the record you may see a little blue/yellow fringing at the extreme corners of the frame in uncorrected raw conversions (the camera's JPEG processing will remove it automatically).
Vignetting The lens's one weakness is vignetting - it measures 1.7 stops wide open, and drops only slightly to 1.5 stops at F4. But from then on it persists at all apertures, right down to F22.
Distortion The Coolpix A shows a little barrel distortion with recorrection towards the corners, but it's sufficiently low that you'll rarely see it in real-world shooting.

Macro Focus

The Coolpix A has a quoted minimum working distance of 10cm and it's actually more effective than this in real-world use. Our unit would happily focus down as close as 9.4cm, giving a magnification of 0.2x - a perfectly reasonable result for a camera with a 28mm equivalent lens.

Macro - approx 118 x 78mm coverage
Measured magnification: 0.2x
Distortion: negligible

Minimum focus distance*: ~14cm
Working distance**: 9.4 cm
Focal length: 18.5mm (28mm equiv)
* Minimum focus is defined as the distance from the camera's sensor to the subject - the position of the Nikon's sensor is not marked, so this figure is approximate.
** Working distance is measured from the front of the lens to the subject

What's rather less impressive is the image quality when working this close-up: all the lens' slight weaknesses are exaggerated when focused this closely. The slight curvature-of-field we saw when shooting our new test scene is much more pronounced, here, with image sharpness dropping away as soon as you move away from the center of the image. The camera's tendency towards vignetting is also amplified, with this back-lit scene exagegerating the effect to almost Instagram levels of corner shading.

The corners sharpen-up slightly as you stop down but are still rather smeared, even at F8 and the vignetting never goes away.

The lens test data in this review is produced in collaboration with DxOMark. Click here for the full test data and DxOMark's own review of the Coolpix A's lens, over on

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I own it
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Total comments: 13

Yes the firmware version 1.2 did improve the autofocus, I purchased a Coolpix A 3 days a go, and upgraded to the new firmware last night, it does make a improvement.


Some reviews say the corners are bit soft, true?

Also has the autofocus improved with firmware upgrades?


At the current $399 price new, I can't see how anyone could call it a bad deal. I love mine.


$399 ? Where ? Thanks


This appears to be gray market, but is new with a 3 yr. extended warranty included. The link has more at the bottom of the page. My previous post was during the summer, when more were available.

1 upvote
SW Anderson

In the spirit of constructive criticism, I sought in vain some mention about the LCD's usability outdoors in sunlight. (If I missed this, please tell me where in the review it's located.) I think LCD performance is especially important in a pocketable, take-wherever camera -- whose manufacturer charges a whopping $450 for a shoe-mount optical viewfinder. (For that kind of money, Nikon should build a top-plate replacement with built-in rangefinder, IMO.)


See it for $400 on amazon now in silver. Looks good for aerial photography but it lacks HDR, time-lapse and video is "basic". Only missing feature for time-lapse is that 4FPS is too fast, would be nice to slow it down (likely via time-lapse feature) to 1 FPS. I simply use rubber bands to hold my current camera's shutter button down and shoot continuously. Simple and adds no weight (rubber bands are also holding the camera down, so they are needed regardless).


Just bought one from BH Photo including the electronic viewfinder for $490.00. Quite a camera for that price.


Frankly, how you can let yourself be disappointed by autofocus when the camera has manual focus is beyond me. Pre-focus and snap away!


I see what looks like the same Coolpix A offered on for about 1000 dollars and for about 650 dollars. The latter is marked "import". Anybody able to explain the difference?


Any deeply discounted price indicates that it is likely an import. Nikon will not service it if you have a problem. You can take the risk, but if you experience a problem do not give Nikon a bad review. Don't say I knew but...

Also note that you will not be able to download firmware updates for the camera. I would not touch an imported camera. If you want to save money, then wait about a year and hope they are coming out with a newer version - and that is when they offer great discounts. For example, Nikon just dropped the price on the camera for only $699.


That price!

Comment edited 20 seconds after posting
unknown member
By (unknown member) (Nov 16, 2013)

Over $1,000 for a DX sensor with a fixed 28mm lens? I get that it is for "enthusiasts", but that seems like quite a bit of enthusiasm to me.

Total comments: 13