Small and lightweight, but with a 16.2-million-pixel, APS-C sensor and 18.5mm lens, the Nikon Coolpix A could be an ideal second camera for many enthusiasts. Richard Sibley puts it to the test
Nikon Coolpix A review – Build and handling
The Coolpix A is a very conservative-looking camera. Its simple black polycarbonate body is fairly linear in design and it has a magnesium-alloy top-plate. On the front of the camera is a slight rubber strip that acts as a grip. The lack of a significant grip helps to keep the depth of the Coolpix A to a minimum, which in turn means that it is easy to slip into a pocket. I would have liked the option of a slightly larger grip that could be screwed in, though, to offer extra support.
The Coolpix A could easily be mistaken for the Coolpix P7700 or the P330 and it has obviously come from the same design department. As photographers, we spend more time behind the camera than in front of it, and as such I would rather blend into the background a little more with the black version of the camera. The silver version is the better-looking model, though.
In terms of operating the camera I had no real problems, and all the buttons are clearly labelled. On the side of the camera is a focusing switch that changes between manual and automatic focusing, and a focus-limiting setting to allow macro shooting. By default, macro shooting is not available, and limiting the range in this way helps to speed up the focusing.
On the front of the camera is a customisable function button that can be easily pressed while the camera is in use. On the rear is another function button, as well as the option to set the function of the rear control dial. Overall, there is just enough in terms of customisable buttons to allow quick access to the features and settings you may need to change.
Around the lens is another dial that is used to manually focus the lens, and a quick turn of this switches it from autofocus to manual focus. The focus ring operates electronically rather than mechanically. This means that as the ring is turned, it sends an electronic signal to shift the focusing motors. One improvement that I would make is to allow the ring to change the lens aperture setting. A number of other cameras offer this facility and I’m surprised that it hasn’t been included in the Coolpix A’s custom menu. After all, on a camera like this a photographer will change the aperture far more frequently than they will focus manually.