The overall performance of the Nikon A's autofocus system was slightly slower than I expected. The camera does not offer a vibration reduction system, but the quality of the images still appeared sharp and clear despite this neglected feature.
The Nikon Coolpix A is not the fastest camera out there, but it's also not the slowest either. It takes about 1.5 seconds to fire off your first image. Individual shots take over 1/2 second to acquire. At full resolution, the A can shoot about 4 frames per second.
The Nikon A's AF tends to be slightly slower than I expected for a camera that has a dedicated, fixed lens that was optimized for this specific camera. In macro mode, it is even more sluggish. The contrast detect AF of the Nikon A has a tendency to hunt more than cameras that are equipped with both contrast and phase detect AF. In good lighting the camera's AF will react relatively quickly. However, the Nikon A struggles in low lit environments. The camera has five focus-area selections: face priority, normal area, wide area, center, and subject tracking. When shooting normally, the camera can focus from 1.75 feet to infinity. In macro mode the camera can focus from as close as 4 inches.
The Nikon A records video at Full HD 1920x1080p at either 30 or 25 frames per second. The camera can also record 1280x720p at 30 or 24 frames per second. Audio is recorded in stereo sound. Unfortunately, the video mode is hidden in the menu instead of having its own dedicated button.
RAW shooters will be happy that the Nikon A offers a RAW file image recording feature.
The Nikon A is equipped with a pop-up flash that does good job. The flash is easy to trigger by way of a switch that is located under the flash on the back of the camera.
The camera's EN-EL20 lithium-ion battery is rated for about 230 shots or about 70 minutes of video. This is on the low end when compared to other cameras in its class.
Here is where the Nikon A truly shines. The lens is an 18.5mm (28mm equivalent) Nikkor fixed focal length lens. It has a constant aperture of f2.8. We would expect nothing less than a high quality, sharp image in a fixed lens camera because the lens should be specifically designed to work seamlessly with this sensor. The lens in the Nikon A does just that. The lens is comprised of 7 elements in 5 groups. The lens produces very sharp images in the center through most of the aperture range, but edge sharpness wanes as an overall rule.
The Nikon Coolpix A offers very good to excellent image quality. Modern cameras have become very effective at reducing noise up to 1600 and 3200. The Nikon A is no exception to this accepted norm. When entering into the extended ISO range, noise becomes apparent. But that is to be expected. There is a reason why it is not recommended to use the extended ISO range unless completely necessary.
Images taken with this camera showed great color quality as they were not too saturated or too flat. Although most Americans are like a more saturated image, the lack of saturation OOC gives more latitude to those wanting to tweak their images in post production software. That being said, images taken with the Nikon A have slightly more contrast and saturation than those taken with the Ricoh GR.
If you prefer a bit more sharpness straight out of camera, the menu offers a way to increase it.
At DigitalCameraReview.com we only give you images that are unretouched and straight out of camera (unless otherwise noted for specific reasons). By doing this we ensure that you are seeing the images as they were taken. We feel it would be unfair to our readers to alter the image's sharpness, color quality, or other features in post production. Default sharpness was used in this testing.
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