Monday, July 08, 2013

New Nikon compact big-sensor camera (updated twice)

Nikon, as one of the last, has finally stepped into the bustling arena of battling compact cameras with big sensors, with Coolpix A. It has a large APS-C sensor, but no image-stabilization.

I would say the two most prominent features are:
1) A fixed, non-zoom lens, at 28mm equivalent, and F:2.8 (not so fast these days).
2) It's surprisingly compact, much smaller than the nearest competitors, I'd almost call it a true compact camera despite the large APS-C sensor. Lo:

So if you like all that, this may be just the thing for you.
For me, personally though, I think they made the same mistake as Leica did: go with too big a sensor, necessitating big compromises on the lens.

With the amazing sensors these days, the differences between an APS-C sensor and the next two sizes down are really not big (except maybe in dark conditions, and then much less than it used to be). And if you go to a slightly smaller sensor, you can do what Fuji and Sony have done (with the X10 and the RX100): make a very compact camera with high quality results, and still have a flexible and fast zoom lens, freeing up the usefulness of the camera enormously.

Size comparison from

They are indeed almost the same size. The Nikon has a notch bigger sensor, but from the comparison shots on the article on top link, it doesn't seem to make a huge difference. The Olympus has in-body stabilization and exchangeable lenses.

It should be said, like Bru points out, that with most lenses, an exchangeable-lens camera become larger than a fixed-lens camera with a foldable lens.
Though in my view, as I've said, this needs to be a reasonable zoom (28-120mm) to be really useful. And for this to be compact, even folded, the sensor currently needs to be smaller than the one in either of these cameras.


emptyspaces said...

I shot with the Coolpix A for a few weeks. It is truly pocketable, I slipped it easily in a shorts pocket. Its image quality was fantastic. But man did I wish it had a tilting screen.

That needs to be a new rule: if you will not provide a viewfinder, then your screen must tilt to waist level.

Ken said...

We seem to have left the era of the megapixels war and are now in the sensor size war. I can remember a few years ago, looking at the wildlife photographer of the year exhibition, and they were large prints, much larger than anyone would do at home and they looked superb. All done with 6 megapixel cameras and APS-C size sensors. Amazing what can be done with skill. The main advantage of the new cameras is the low light capacity.

TC [Girl] said...

I've got to agree w/you, ES, (huh! Just realized that two heads turned, when I wrote "ES!" lol! ;-) something needs to be done, if there's no viewfinder!! I was out on the ocean, a couple of weeks back, and could, barely, see WTH I was doing!! It's RIDIC!! it fair to compare the Sony RX-100 with this Coolpix A? Perhaps not...since one doesn't even have a zoom?! :-/

emptyspaces said...

I've shot with the RX100 quite a bit, too. It's totally different than the Coolpix A. The zoom is one thing. It's WAY smaller. It's image quality isn't as good, but it is more versatile. It's another I wish had a tilting screen. The Coolpix A is easier to shoot with, since the Sony makes you dive into menus a little more.

I've noticed something curious lately. My favorite way to shoot Canons is in manual mode, but with auto ISO. That way I can control the two things I want to while the camera keeps the exposure proper. But every other camera I've shot with lately also freezes out auto ISO while in manual mode. Weird. Both the Coolpix A and RX100 do that.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Right, My Olympus does that too. How stupid! It's an interesting way of working.

I agree with the tilting screens. I'm happy to see that the newest versions of RX100 and Oly E-P5 have them.

I have an interesting helper with the screen in dark light. It's just a loupe you mount on the back (in the tripod thread), so you can get your eye and head close to the camera, and the screen becomes clear as day. It doesn't even need any sides to block the light.

David Evans said...

An Olympus Pen with a 17mm f/2.8 lens looks to me to be about the same size as this, if not slightly smaller, and of course much more flexible.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Good point. Look at the update.

TC [Girl] said...

"The Olympus has in-body stabilization and exchangeable lenses."

You're not supposed to be teasing me! lol! ;-)

Bru said...

Your comparison photo is misleading. Try the view from the top, with a lens added for the Olympus.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

That's a good point. Though the Nikon does not have a zoom. And the Oly has some primes which are much smaller.

You can't beat a foldable zoom on a compact like the X10 or rx100. That's where the exchangeable-lens cams come short.

How did you get the top view? I couldn't find it.