Nikon Coolpix A comparative review
The Coolpix A can capture Full HD moves at 30, 25 or 24 frames per second (or 720p at the same rates). In common with the Ricoh, the Coolpix offers almost no control over shooting. The most control is gained if you select the movie drive mode from within Aperture Priority mode. This allows you to set the aperture before you start recording, then adjust exposure compensation as you shoot. The camera will attempt to adjust image brightness automatically, by adjusting ISO - the only way to stop this is to assign AEL to one of the Fn buttons.
There's no option to change focus while shooting movies (the focus ring is inactive, as are all the AF controls) and, though it is possible to set shutter speed, aperture and ISO if movie shooting is initiated from M mode, you can't actually change any of these settings once you hit the shutter button.
|The Coolpix A provides no control over exposure in movie mode.
When shooting, your only control is to pause the recording or apply either AEL or AFL.
So, while you theoretically can shoot footage with the Coolpix A, it gives so little control as to essentially be useless for anything creative. Beyond this, it offers the ability to trim the videos it's shot in-camera, if you simply want to edit a single clip for upload to the web, though. You can also extract a single fame as a still image.
|1920x1080 30p, MOV, 16 sec, 39.2 MB Click here to download original file|
The footage itself is ok - the camera's ~21mbps compression rate is a little heavy so some compression artefacts are visible in the footage. There's also some moiré to seen but the motion is relatively smooth and the auto exposure changes are handled with some subtlety. The lack of control rather limits what you can expect to get out of it, though.
As a 28mm equiv. fixed-lens camera, there are few situations in which you'd expect the Coolpix A to need to shoot particularly quickly, and its behavior lives up to that expectation.
When shooting, even in Raw+JPEG mode, it's always responsive enough (if you ignore focus lag), that you won't really notice it. Menus respond pretty quickly and it's unusual for you find yourself waiting for the camera.
This all unravels a little when you enter continuous shooting mode. The Coolpix A can shoot at up to 4 frames per second, with focus and exposure locked at the start of the sequence. If you choose to shoot in Raw and JPEG mode, the camera will shoot at 4 frames per second for around 10 shots before dropping to shoot pairs of shots at an average of 1fps.
|Frame rate||4 fps||4 fps|
|Number of frames||10||10|
|Buffer full rate||~1fps||~1fps|
|Write complete||8||18 sec|
The camera locks up completely after a burst, while it continues to save and display the images you've already shot (oddly, this is true even if you've switched Image Review off). The recovery time depends on the speed of your SD card - our SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MB/s UHS-I card took around 8 seconds to clear the camera's cache, which an Ultra 30MB/s UHS-I card locked-up for 18 seconds.
If you're not in continuous shooting mode, you can shoot a Raw + JPEG around once a second, with that gap extending after you've shot a three frames in close succession. With the faster card we could take our fourth shot 1.5 seconds after the third; with the 30MB/s card, there was a 6.5 second pause.
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