Nikon has announced the Coolpix A, a compact camera with a big SLR sensor in it. Like many of Nikon’s cameras of late, it doesn’t actually sound that exciting on paper, but as it seems designed to work more like a stripped-down SLR rather than a gussied up compact, I have a feeling that it might be pretty damn good.
When Nikon announced its 1-series cameras, you may have been forgiven for taking it as a cruel joke. I know I did. I still do, in fact. When everybody else was making large-sensor compact cameras to compete with Micro Four Thirds, Nikon put out a toy with a tiny sensor and absurdly small, interchangeable lenses.
Now, it has made its proper mirrorless effort, a 16.2 DX (read: APS-C) sensor (probably the one found in the D7000) inside a tiny body, with a fixed ƒ2.8 18.5mm (28mm equivalent) lens.
It does have some of the joke Instagram-like modes of cheaper models, but these are safely hidden behind a single click on the mode dial, leaving the rest of the slots for Program, Aperture-Priority, Shutter-Priority and Manual modes.
It shoots RAW, goes up to ISO 6,400 (25,600 in extended mode), captures 1080p video and works with an optional optical viewfinder. It’s like Nikon put all the ingredients into the world’s most boring computer (actually a Thinkpad that’s been painted beige. It sits in a doctor’s waiting room somewhere in Brussels, next to a pile of magazines about horses playing golf) and out popped this design.
Which isn’t to say it isn’t excellent: When Nikon produces a truly great camera it has a way of getting out of your way, and letting you concentrate on the photos. Hopefully a review will tell us more.
$1,100, theoretically available now.