Nikon Coolpix A lens review: High performance, compact size

By David Newton - Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Lens Review
Introduction | Nikon Coolpix A lens performance | Nikon Coolpix A lens versus competition | Conclusion

Nikon Coolpix A Lens Vs Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 lens

Comparing the lenses on these two cameras may seem unfair on the Nikon, given the $1700 price differential, but they fall within the same camera genre and have similar aims, so it makes for an interesting comparison.

If we look at the headline figures, the Coolpix A does not fair too well against the RX1, scoring 11 points less in the overall DxOMark scores. However, we must take into account the very different sensors – the Nikon features a 16Mpix sensor, to the Sony’s 24Mpix so you would expect a higher P-Mpix result from the Sony.

However, if we look at the data in a different way, the overall resolution of the sensor differs by 8Mpix, but the sharpness only differs by 5P-Mpix, suggesting that the Nikon combo is actually more efficient than the Sony.

In all other areas, these two lenses are similar with approximately equal distortion, vignetting and chromatic aberration scores.

Nikon Coolpix A Lens Vs Canon PowerShot G1 X Lens

This comparison shows the different approaches by two of the major manufacturers. Nikon have chosen a prime lens for their flagship compact, while Canon have selected the versatility of a zoom lens. In terms of the cameras, both models feature roughly the same size sensor and similar sensor resolutions; the key difference is the lens.

As with the RX1 comparison, there is a 11 point difference in overall DxOMark scores, but this time the Nikon comes out on top (22 vs. 11). Again though, this is largely driven by the sensor performance, with the Coolpix A benefitting from a markedly better sensor than the G1X.

Even comparing the two lenses at roughly similar focal lengths (18.5mm f/5.6 for the Nikon and 21mm f/5.6 for the Canon) we see that the Nikon lens produces a substantially more homogenous sharpness result across the frame, which accounts for the 7P-MPix difference in sharpness scores.

In other areas, the chromatic aberration is roughly equal on both lenses.

Overall, the G1X may be versatile but the image quality is lower at all focal lengths and apertures. Conversely, the Coolpix A gives away versatility in search of much better image quality.