Nikon Coolpix 'A' digital camera review
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Old 04-10-2013   #1
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Default Nikon Coolpix 'A' digital camera review

Youtube review: Nikon Coolpix 'A' APS-C Digital Compact Camera review by Dale - YouTube

The Coolpix A is small enough at 4.5 x 2.6 x 1.6 inches to fit into a closed zippered pouch that fits into an average shirt pocket, yet has a level of image quality that no other pocket camera can approach. I've shot a few samples that potential buyers can find on my website by searching my name. One of those, the bridge in rain and fog at ISO 400, has detail I've never seen in this kind of low-contrast image before. Since the Coolpix 'A' has a fixed 28mm effective focal length lens, it's most suitable for images where no zoom is required, or only moderate cropping would be necessary. This would be landscapes, group people photos, architecture and so on. The macro setting allows shooting no closer than ~4 inches, so the Coolpix 'A' would not be ideal for photographing small insects and similar sized objects.

Manual focus with the focus ring surrounding the lens is actually a manually-assisted electronic focus, which may obtain the same end result as a completely manual focus, but I wouldn't assume that the focusing distance it represents in one situation would hold true when the camera is moved and pointed at another subject, unless checking the meter on the screen confirms the proper distance. Focusing manually via the screen image is difficult or impossible without magnifying the image quite a bit, but then you would need to un-magnify to recompose, and that's a hassle. I would like to see a magnified partial frame superimposed on the screen while focusing so that recomposing is unnecessary. Perhaps there's a way to do that now that I haven't discovered.

I shoot most of my photos in bursts using the 'Continuous' option, which is a good way to increase the likelihood of getting sharp images when shooting handheld without a support. Since the Coolpix 'A' does not have vibration reduction, but produces highly detailed images, the slightest camera shaking in the hand could cause smearing of details in the photos. The downside of this kind of redundant burst shooting is having to compare multiple images on the computer at 100 percent view to find the sharpest image in the group. The Coolpix 'A's sensor type is 'APS-C', which is so large for this camera size that it required two major developments by Nikon: One, a special lens with a fixed effective focal length of 28mm, and the other a series of "microlenses" around the sensor to reduce distortions caused by having the camera's main lens so close to the large sensor.

The above developments are not new technology per se, but in making the smallest 'APS-C' camera to date, Nikon had to bend light to a greater degree than anyone else while insuring an undistorted final image. The Coolpix 'A' came with a neck strap only, which is odd given the design for a very small camera body. Since I had several wrist straps on hand, I skipped the neck strap and attached a wrist strap instead. There are lugs on either side of the camera, and strap rings are attached to those, so I removed the plastic protectors on the rings and then removed the rings, then attached the wrist strap to the lug on the right side. If someone wanted to carry the Coolpix 'A' in a pocket, and since dust can work its way into the camera and ruin the sensor, I recommend a small zippered bag like the Coach 'Clutch' series. Mine is 6.5 x 4 inches and fits the camera easily. For carrying on a shoulder, I use the Leica '18727' case, which is a perfect fit with a very classy appearance.

I don't have much to say about camera settings, since they're different in some ways than what I'm used to. Reading the manual is very important, at least to get the settings right. I shoot JPEG (.JPG) only, and I changed the default image quality from normal to 'Fine'. I haven't figured out the ISO settings yet - I'm used to setting 'Auto ISO' for most shooting, but with the Coolpix 'A' in 'P' (Program) mode, I had to select a specific ISO, and I chose ISO 400. This works well for what I do, but it would be better if I could select 'Auto ISO' with a maximum limit of 400 or 800 as some other cameras allow. Maybe what I'm seeing here is Nikon's way of saying that 'Auto ISO' belongs only with 'Auto' dial modes and not P/A/S/M. The Coolpix 'A' is a very high quality and expensive camera, and I recommend against trying to skimp on batteries or memory cards, which are relatively cheap. Always use a genuine Nikon battery, and choose a name brand memory card with a good speed rating, with 16 gb or greater capacity.

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Leica T/18-56, D-Lux(109), D-Lux6 (G-Star Raw); Panasonic ZS40.
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