Nikon Coolpix A

Last year, Sony’s RX100 and RX1 demonstrated the demand for premium performance pocket cameras, positioned at midpoints between cheap point-and-shoots and full-frame DSLRs. Now Nikon’s continuing that march with an option of its own: Coolpix A ($1,100). Rather than picking a tiny or full-frame sensor to stuff in a compact frame, Nikon chose a DX format APS-C sensor with 16.2 Megapixels. And like the RX1, Nikon picked a prime rather than a zoom lens, fixing Coolpix A at a landscape-friendly 28mm-equivalent width. It’s very obviously designed to appeal to the prosumer user who wants a high-quality pocket option—something that produces much better images than any iPhone—but doesn’t want to pay crazy Sony RX1 prices.

Coolpix A’s technology choices are respectable—the 18.5mm all-glass lens promises “ultra-sharp” clarity and boasts a not terribly fast f/2.8 minimum aperture, enough to enable depth of field/bokeh in images, with a manual focus ring to help you compose your shots just so. Similarly, the sensor isn’t the highest-resolution or the largest Nikon has ever shipped, but rather a compromise capable of ISO100-25,600 range and saving 12- or 14-bit RAW image files. A 3” screen on the back provides traditional point-and-shoot composition, while optical viewfinder, flash, and Wi-Fi accessories will be sold separately. This is definitely a small camera to keep an eye on.

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