Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Nikon Coolpix A in Action: Photos, Tips and Thoughts

After the previous post, I think everybody more or less knows how Nikon Coolpix A looks like. However, the photo quality is always the top factor to evaluate a camera's capability. In this post, I will share some of my photos taken by the camera and also my experience of using it. 

I have never used a Nikon camera before, be it compact or DSLR. It took me some time to get familiar with the controls and settings, but it isn't too long. Most of them are intuitive. I said MOST is because there are still some quirky settings I don't really appreciate. For example, the dial on the top right is set default as aperture dial. It can change ISO and exposure compensation, as well, by pressing the ISO or exposure compensation button. But I have to hold the button while adjusting the ISO or EV. This eventually makes me have to use two hands to operate the camera.

With the APS-C sensor, Coolpix A undoubtedly has superior image quality compared to a normal compact camera. Most of compact cameras nowadays are able to produce good photos under sunlight. The real challenge is the performance in low light. So noise level at high ISO is crucial. Coolpix A manages the noise pretty well, personally I feel that the maximal working ISO is 3200. 

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This photo was taken in the sunrise, outside my window. F5.6, 1/250s, ISO 110 using scene mode.

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After work, passing by Hong Lim Park. F4, 1/125s ISO 220, using scene mode.

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Boy playing with water at Bugis Junction. F4, 1/640s, ISO 200.

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Black Glutinous Rice at Ah Chew Dessert. F2.8, 1/30s, ISO 1600.

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Kids playing on the beach at Sentosa. F5.6, 1/400s, ISO 100.

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Macro shot of flower. F5.0, 1/30s, ISO 640.

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Chicken wings at Over Easy bar. The actual scene is even darker than the photo. F2.8, 1/15s, ISO 2500

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Close-up shot of apple cider. F2.8, 1/20s ISO 3200.


Some of my thoughts on Coolpix A, good and bad.


1. Small and light, it is one of the few that I am willing to carry on a daily basis. The compact body also makes it easier to snap street photos without drawing too much attention. 

2. High ISO performance is pretty impressive, thanks to its APS-C sized sensor. 

3. 28mm focal length is suitable for various scenarios, so I don't find the fixed length that inconvenient.

4. Battery seems pretty good, around 200 photos per charge. Considering it is small in size and APS-C sensor is definitely more power consuming than the compact camera sensor.

5. Though Coolpix A does not support Wi-Fi and GPS in camera, it's worth mentioning that its accessories can enable it for that. Of course that needs to be purchased separately.


1. F2.8 is fast, but not fast enough. In some extreme condition, F2.8 is still too small an aperture, which leads to slow shutter speed and hand-shake.

2. High ISO performance is a bonus point for Nikon Coolpix A. Since F2.8 is not sufficient, I turn to higher ISO. I find it more useful when I set the ISO to AUTO. However, the auto ISO option is not even in ISO setting. I have to go a few levels down and finally find it buried in the camera settings.

3. Image could be sharper, especially at F2.8. There is also some vignetting and loss of details at the corners.

4. Camera lacks built in HDR which may disappoint some users like me.

5. Price tag could be too high. It is even more expensive than some entry level DSLR. Even compared to the same category, such as Fujifilm's X100s, it is around the same price but seems offering more features. However, that depends on individual's needs and preferences.

In all, if you are looking for a compact, low profile camera which can produce excellent images, I would recommend you to take this camera in consideration. It is not much bigger than a smartphone so that you can literally slip it in the pocket.  28mm lens is good for most hangout or walkabout. Impressive high ISO performance makes indoor photo shooting much easier. 

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