Nikon’s new Coolpix A is a point-and-shoot that has a heart of a DSLR

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Nikon has introduced three new compact point-and-shoot models that couldn’t be any more different from one another. The standout from the bunch is the new Coolpix A, Nikon’s first compact camera to utilize a DX CMOS sensor to deliver DSLR-like quality imaging in a point-and-shoot. In addition to the cameras, Nikon also unveiled an 80-400mm FX-format (full frame) telephoto lens.

Coolpix A

Check out our review of the Nikon Coolpix A digital camera.

Packing a large sensor normally found in their DSLR cameras, the Coolpix A is Nikon’s first Coolpix model to feature a DX CMOS sensor, making it the flagship model in this family of point-and-shoot cameras. It has a solid metal construction akin to a Nikon DSLR than many Coolpix models.

Looking like the big brother to the also just announced Coolpix P330, this advanced 16.2-megapixel rangefinder-style shooter has an all-glass 18.5mm (28mm equivalent) Nikkor prime fixed lens with an f/2.8 aperture. Although there’s no optical zoom, the shallow depth of field achieved would satisfy the likes of street photographers. The ISO ranges from 100 to 6,400, but can expand up to 12,800 in Hi-1 and 25,600 in Hi-2 settings. The Coolpix A has a fast autofocusing system and a burst mode of 4 frames per second, and it handles video recording at 1080 at 60i or 30p. Full automatic shooting mode is available, but the manual and semi-automatic controls give users greater control over the settings; along with a manual focus ring and RAW/NEF image capture, the Coolpix A is a suitable backup camera for advanced and pro DSLR users. Users moving up from basic point-and-shoots might find the lack of an optical zoom unnerving. 

On the back is a 3-inch LCD (190K dots). Available optional accessories include an adapter ring to use with lens hoods and filters, an optical viewfinder with 90-percent angle of view, and Nikon Speedlights that are compatible with the hotshoe. The Coolpix A is also Wi-Fi-ready through the optional WU-1a adapter.

The camera will come in black and silver for a very pricey $1,100, available sometime this month.

Coolpix P330

A step down from the Coolpix A (in fact, several steps down in price) is another new advanced camera, the Coolpix P330. Looking like smaller version of the Coolpix A, the P330 has a 5x wide-angle optical zoom (24-120mm, 35mm equivalent) and uses a large 12.2-megapixel backside illuminated CMOS sensor. The lens has an aperture range of f/1.8-5.6, while ISO ranges from 80-3,200 (6,400 in Hi-1 and 12,800 in Hi-2). The P330 can shoot video at 1080 at 60i or 30p. Like the Coolpix A, there’s a 3-inch LCD (190K dots), and there’s manual controls and the ability to shoot in RAW/NRW images. GPS is built in, and Wi-Fi is available via the optional WU-1a adapter.

The P330 will complement the existing P310, which will remain in the lineup. While the Coolpix A is designed for a more advanced user who want a DSLR sensor in a compact, the P330 is ideal for anyone looking to step up for a basic point-and-shoot.

Expect this camera to sell for a more palatable $380 in black and white, sometime this month.

Coolpix S3500

While camera manufacturers have pretty much acknowledged that smartphones have taken over their sales at the low end, they aren’t throwing in the towel. As long as there are customers willing to shell out a Benjamin or two for a point-and-shoot camera, they will continue to make them. Enter Nikon’s new Coolpix S3500, a pocket cam that will sell for $140 this month.

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Entry-level it may be, but Nikon has thrown in a few features that smartphones can’t match, namely the 20.1-megapixel CCD sensor, target-finding autofocusing system, and 7x wide-angle optical zoom lens (26-182mm, f/3.4-6.4). It also has Nikon’s lens-shift Vibration Reduction that compensates for camera shake and helps reduce blur. There’s a 2.7-inch LCD (QVGA) on the back, and it shoots high-definition videos in 720p. There are in-camera editing functions like Glamour Retouch and Quick Effects that let users manipulate their photos.

The S3500 comes in silver, red, purple, orange, and pink.

AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR

In addition to the Coolpix point-and-shoots, Nikon also unveiled a new FX-format telephoto zoom lens. Designed for sports and nature photography, the lens has a 5x zoom range. When used with DX-format DSLRs, the zoom reaches from 120-600mm (35mm equivalent). The lens has Vibration Reduction (up to four stops of image stabilization) and Nikon’s Nano Crystal Coat to prevent ghost and flare. Autofocusing is quiet thanks to the Silent Wave Motor, and two focusing modes are available (autofocus with manual override and manual). The lens has a new optical formula with 20 elements in 12 groups, plus Super ED Glass Element and four ED glass elements. (ED Glass is a special Nikon optical glass that it uses with standard optical glass to correct chromatic aberrations.)

This lens will be available in April for $2,700.

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