Nikon Coolpix A Sensor Review: Nikon’s first compact packing an APS-C sensor

By Paul Carroll - Friday, March 29, 2013

Camera Review
Introduction | Nikon Coolpix A sensor performance | Nikon Coolpix A versus competition | Conclusion

Nikon Coolpix A Vs Canon PowerShot G1X: Versatility Vs Image Quality

Although a compact camera with a large sensor the 1.5-inch (14x18.7mm) CMOS sensor in the Canon G1X is physically smaller than the Coolpix A’s APS-C model but the Canon compact is a more versatile all-rounder for enthusiasts thanks to its 28-112mm f/2.8-5.6 zoom lens.

With an overall score of 80 compared to 60 for the Canon G1X the Nikon Coolpix A wins by 20 points and offers +1.33 Stops better image quality overall. The Coolpix A trumps the G1X by +1 Stop with 23.4 bits to 21.7 bits and that slightly larger sensor delivers +2/3rds of a stop better Low-light performance with 1164 ISO compared to 644 ISO.   

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While great Color on the G1X tails off around ISO 250 the Coolpix A delivers the goods up to ISO 640

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With a slightly larger sensor the Coolpix A consistently delivers +2/3 Stop ISO performance over the G1X

Dynamic Range scores between these two throws up an interesting result however and while at base ISO the Coolpix A is a massive +3 Stops ahead of the G1X with 13.8Evs compared to 10.8Evs the Canon manages to maintain Dynamic Range better as sensitivity is increased and from ISO 1600 results between the two are very similar.

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Although the Coolpix A offers +3 Stops better Dynamic Range at ISO100 results drop off quicker than the Canon and at ISO 400 the difference is closer to +1 Stop and from ISO 1600 onwards they are the same.

Nikon Coolpix A Vs Fujifilm X100: Two high-end compacts with similar image quality

Although having the same sized sensor and fixed lens the Fujifilm X100 boasts a larger f/2 maximum aperture and a built in Hybrid viewfinder with framing guidelines and overlaid exposure settings.

The Coolpix A and X100 are similar propositions featuring a fixed prime lens with an APS-C sensor and have similar image quality although the Coolpix A just trumps the X100 by +1/3rd of a Stop overall with 80 points compared to 73. Color Sensitivity results are identical between ISO 200 – 1600 with the Coolpix A just stealing a +1/3rd Stop improvement overall thanks to its lower base sensitivity of ISO 100 and it’s a similar story for Low-light ISO. The most notable difference is Dynamic Range where the Nikon’s best score of 13.8 Evs betters the X100’s 12.4 Evs by +1.3 Stops but at ISO 200, the X100’s base sensitivity, results are closer with the Coolpix A’s 12.88 Evs only a +1/2 Stop improvement over the X100’s at this setting. 

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Although giving the same Low-light ISO performance between ISO 200 - 1600 the Coolpix A offers a +1.3 Stop improvement at its base sensitivity of ISO100 and 4 extra ISO settings up to ISO 25600.

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The most dramatic difference between the two cameras are their best Dynamic Range scores where the Coolpix A boasts +1.3 Stops better improvement although the gap narrows as sensitivity is increased.

Nikon Coolpix A Vs Nikon D5100 Vs Nikon D7000: Same 16.2-megapixel sensor equals the same image quality

Removing the optical low-pass filter from the sensor used in the D5100 & D7000 hasn’t affected the DxOMark Scores which are almost identical and combined with that prime lens the Nikon Coolpix A’s should yield great results. Without the low-pass filter you’ll need to try and avoid Moiré but this shouldn’t be too difficult shooting on a 18.5mm wide-angle lens.