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Nikon Coolpix A

16.2-megapixel digital camera with fixed 18.5mm f/2.8 lens and optional Wi-Fi® (Silver)

1 Review

Item # 054CPIXAS

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Our take on the Nikon Coolpix A

Compact cameras aren't supposed to be this good. They're often written off as the pesky little brother of the DSLR — cute, but easily ignored. But the Nikon Coolpix A will not be ignored. Not with its large DX-style sensor like the ones used in big-time SLRs like Nikon's popular D7000. It allows this undersized champ to tower over its compact competition by capturing beautifully detailed photos with low noise and vibrant color. The wide-angle f/2.8 Nikkor lens is equally adept at shooting the grandeur of landscapes and the small wonders of macro subjects. Shoot after dark without a flash, blur backgrounds in portraits, and freeze fast-moving action for professional looking shots that you'll want to print for friends. Just don't forget to show them the little camera that performed such big feats.

Nikon's DX sensor comes to Coolpix

Compact cameras aren't supposed to be this good. They're often written off as the pesky little brother of the DSLR — cute, but easily ignored. But the Nikon Coolpix A will not be ignored. Not with its large DX-style sensor like the ones used in big-time SLRs like Nikon's popular D7000. It allows this undersized champ to tower over its compact competition by capturing beautifully detailed photos with low noise and vibrant color. The wide-angle f/2.8 Nikkor lens is equally adept at shooting the grandeur of landscapes and the small wonders of macro subjects. Shoot after dark without a flash, blur backgrounds in portraits, and freeze fast-moving action for professional looking shots that you'll want to print for friends. Just don't forget to show them the little camera that performed such big feats.

Stretch your creative legs

There are plenty of opportunities to get creative with the Coolpix A. The manual focus ring and assignable dial give you that old-school tactile control that photographers crave. They're great for making quick adjustments on the fly when you're shooting fast-moving action. For those times when your finger just isn't fast enough, shoot continuously at up to 4 frames per second at full resolution. RAW recording, 1080p video and lots of in-camera editing options can help you get the most out of your skills. Best of all, you won't have to lug around the large amounts of gear that go with SLR photography.

Expand this camera's horizons

The Coolpix A is first and foremost about superior image quality from a compact body. But if you want to expand its possibilities, there are plenty of options. Add Wi-Fi capability for easy photo sharing by picking up the WU-1a Wi-Fi adapter. Just pop it into the camera's USB port and you can instantly send photos over Wi-Fi to your smartphone or tablet. Plus, the Coolpix A's hot shoe lets you add an external flash or viewfinder to take this camera's features to even greater heights.

This is a great camera. I've added it to my Fuji X100, XE1 and Pentax MX1. Prime lens cameras are not for everyone, but really help develop a photography eye. I use the fine setting and then in-camera crop; high level of detail. Plus I did the firmware update, so the auto focus is faster.

Ethan, 12089

What's in the Box:

  • Digital camera (silver)
  • BS-1 Accessory Shoe cover (installed)
  • EN-EL20 Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery (7.2V 1020mAh 7.4Wh) with plastic terminal cover
  • MH-27 Battery charger (DC output: 8.4V 0.6A)
  • Neck strap
  • 2' UC-E16 USB cable (Type A USB on one end and proprietary connector on other end)
  • ViewNX2 software on CD-ROM
  • Reference Manual on CD-ROM
  • User's Manual (English)
  • User's Manual (Spanish)
  • User's Manual (French)
  • Warranty Programs sheet


  • 16.2-megapixel effective recording
  • Nikon DX-format (APS-C-size) CMOS image sensor for uncompromised image quality
  • fixed 18.5mm Nikkor f/2.8 lens (35mm equivalent focal length: 28mm)
  • high-def movie mode with stereo sound (up to 1080p/30fps)
  • manual focus ring
  • 3" high-resolution LCD screen (921,000 dot resolution)
  • minimum focus distance: 20 inches (normal), 4 inches (macro mode)
  • add Wi-Fi compatibility for wireless sharing of photos and camera control with a smartphone or tablet (requires Nikon WU-1a wireless mobile adapter)
  • 19 scene modes including Candlelight, Autumn Colors, and Night Portrait
  • built-in image editing features include Image Overlay, Straighten, and Color Balance
  • accessory shoe for optional Nikon flashes or viewfinder
  • built-in flash
  • warranty: 1 year
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee
Exposure Modes and Controls:
  • continuous shooting mode: 4 frames per second at full resolution
  • shutter speed range: 30-1/2,000 seconds, bulb
  • sensitivity or ISO (film speed equivalent) range: 200-3200 (extended output sensitivity equivalent ISO 8000, 10,000, 12,800, and 25,600)
  • program auto, shutter-priority, aperture-priority, and manual exposure modes
File Formats and Storage:
  • image storage modes: JPEG and RAW (NEF)
  • top image resolution (pixels): 4928 x 3264
  • H.264/MPEG-4 MOV movie files up to 1920 x 1080 resolution at up to 30 frames per second with stereo sound
  • records photos and video onto optional SD, SDHC, or SDXC memory cards
Connections and Dimensions:
  • mini HDMI output (cable not included)
  • high-speed USB interface
  • 4-3/8"W x 2-5/8"H x 1-5/8"D
  • weight: 10.6 oz.
Supplied Accessories:
  • rechargeable lithium ion battery and charger
  • accessory shoe cover
  • neck strap
  • USB cable
  • software CD-ROM

Nikon Coolpix A Reviews

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Hands-on research

Features and Specs

LCD Screen Size 3"
Adjustable-angle LCD No
Wi-Fi Optional
Touchscreen No
Waterproof No
GPS-enabled Optional
Lens 35mm Equivalent 28mm
Optical Zoom 1x
Digital Zoom 1x
Filter Diameter N/A
Manual Focusing Yes
Manual Exposure Yes
Built-in Flash Yes
HDMI Output Mini
Internal Memory None
Memory Media SD/SDHC/SDXC
Sensor Size 23.6 x 15.6mm CMOS
Megapixels 16.2
Image Stabilization None
Highest Resolution 4928 x 3264
4K Video No
Video Resolution 1920 x 1080
Width (inches) 4-3/8
Height (inches) 2-5/8
Depth (inches) 1-5/8
Weight With Battery (ounces) 10.6
Parts Warranty 1 Year
Labor Warranty 1 Year

Product Research

Play, Edit and Print Functions
Battery Information
Inputs and Outputs Notes
Supplied Software

Recording Features

Overview: The Nikon Coolpix A is an Advanced Performance compact camera with a DX format image sensor like the ones found in Nikon DX-format D-SLR cameras, and a fixed focal length prime lens. The full-sized accessory shoe lets you add an external flash, and the built-in GPS adds location data to your images and movies.

LCD Monitor: The Coolpix A has a 3" TFT LCD monitor featuring approximately 921,000 pixels, an anti-reflection coating, and a nine-level brightness adjustment. The LCD monitor's wide-angle viewing area makes it easy to see and use. The LCD monitor has approximately 100% horizontal and vertical coverage in the shooting and playback modes. There is no separate viewfinder on the camera.

Image Sensor: The Coolpix A features a 23.6mm x 15.6mm Nikon DX-format CMOS image sensor with a total pixel count of approximately 16.93-million pixels. The effective pixel count is 16.2-million.

Optics: The Coolpix A digital camera uses a Nikkor glass zoom lens for superb image quality. Every aspect of the lens manufacturing process is controlled by Nikon. The Nikkor lens is designed for the specific camera and image sensor combination. The Coolpix A uses an 18mm fixed focal length lens, that is equivalent to a 28mm lens in 35mm photography. The f/2.8 lens lets you create sharp, wide-angle images with beautifully blurred backgrounds and enhanced low-light performance.

Recording Media: Still images can be recorded onto SD, SDHC, or SDXC Memory cards. When an SD Memory card is inserted in the camera, the images are automatically recorded onto the card. The camera can support SD cards up to 2 GB, SDHC cards from 4 GB to 32 GB, and SDXC cards of 64 GB or 128 GB. Memory cards with a Speed Class rating of 6 or faster are recommended for recording movies.

Optional Wi-Fi: You can attach the optional WU-1a Wireless Mobile Adapter to the USB/AV connector. This will allows the camera to be connected via Wi-Fi (wireless LAN) to a smart device, such as a smartphone or tablet. Through the wireless connection (IEEE 802.11b/g/n), you can automatically load photos and videos to your device as you take them, use your smart device to remotely take photos on the camera, or download existing pictures from the camera's memory card to your device. Once you have downloaded images to your smartphone, you can share them via email, texts, or social networking sites.

Note: The smart device must have the Wireless Mobile Adapter Utility application, available for devices running Android 2.3 or later (smartphones), Android 3.0 or later (tablets), or iOS 6.0 or later (iPhone, iPad).

Optional GPS: Using the optional GP-1 GPS unit, location data can be recorded when you take a photograph. This data allows you to view your images on a map showing the precise location where they were taken. The GP-1 plugs into a dedicated input on the left side of the camera.

Image Sizes: The Coolpix A records still images in JPEG and RAW format, as well as High Definition movies in MOV format (Video: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264; Audio: LPCM stereo). You can choose the image quality for still images as Fine (1:4 compression), Normal (1:8), or Basic (1:16). You can record still images in three sizes, or HD movies in two frame sizes and three frame rates:

  • Still Images:
    • Large: 4928 x 3264
    • Medium: 3696 x 2448
    • Small: 2464 x 1632
  • Movies:
  • Frame Size Frame Rate Bit Rate Maximum Length
    1920 x 1080 30p 18 Mbps (Hi Quality
    10 Mbps (Norm Quality)
    20 min (HQ)
    29 min 59 sec (NQ)
    1920 x 1080 25p
    1920 x 1080 24p
    1280 x 720 30p 10 Mbps (HQ)
    6 Mbps (NQ)
    29 min 59 sec
    1280 x 720 25p
    1280 x 720 24p 8 Mbps (HQ)
    5 Mbps (NQ)

RAW: Raw image data from the image sensor is captured in the NEF (RAW) format and saved directly to the memory card. You can process the images, and adjust settings such as white balance and contrast after shooting. You can choose to record a single RAW image, or record two images: one NEF (RAW) image and one JPEG image at the same time. The JPEG image can be Fine, Normal, or Basic Quality.

Command Dial: The camera's Command Dial can be used with other controls to adjust a variety of settings when shooting information is displayed in the monitor. You can choose from several combinations of aperture and shutter speed when in P mode.

Shooting Modes: Using the top-mounted mode dial, you can choose one of the following shooting modes:

  • Auto Mode: For simple point-and-shoot photography.
  • Programmed Auto: The camera automatically adjusts the shutter speed and aperture to ensure optimal exposure in most situations.
  • Shutter-Priority Auto: You choose the shutter speed, while the camera automatically selects the aperture that will produce the optimal exposure. Slow shutter speeds suggest motion, while fast shutter speed freezes motion.
  • Aperture-Priority Auto: You choose the aperture while the camera automatically selects the shutter speed that will produce the optimal exposure. Large apertures (low f-numbers) increase flash range and reduce depth of field. Small apertures (high f-numbers) increase depth of field, bringing out details in the background and foreground.
  • Manual: You control both the shutter speed and aperture.
  • U1 / U2: You can assign frequently-used settings to the U1 and U2 positions on the mode dial.
  • Scene Mode: You can select one of the following scene modes with settings optimized for the shooting situation: Portrait, Landscape, Child, Sports, Close Up, Night Portrait, Night Landscape, Party/Indoor, Beach/Snow, Sunset, Dusk/Dawn, Pet Portrait, Candlelight, Blossom, Autumn Colors, Food, Silhouette, High key, and Low key.

Continuous Shooting: You can set the camera to take one picture at a time or multiple images by selecting one of the following options:

  • Single: The camera records one picture each time the shutter release button is pressed.
  • Continuous: While the shutter-release button is held down, pictures are taken at a rate of about 4 frames per second (fps).
  • Self-timer: The camera is equipped with a self-timer for self-portraits or to reduce blurring caused by camera shake. You can select delays of 20, 10, 5, and 2 seconds.
  • Delayed Remote: Using the optional ML-L3 Remote Control, the shutter is released 2 seconds after pressing the remote's shutter release button.
  • Quick Response Remote: Using the optional ML-L3 Remote Control, the shutter is released immediately after pressing the remote's shutter release button.
  • Movie Recording: Movie recording begins when the shutter release button is pressed, and ends when the button is pressed again.

Bracketing: Bracketing automatically varies Exposure, Active D-Lighting, or White Balance slightly with each of two or three consecutive shots. In AE Bracketing, the camera shoots three shots, and varies the exposure by +/- 0.3 to +/- 2 EV with each shot. With ADL Bracketing, two shots are taken, one with Active D-Lighting on and the other off. Three shots are taken in WB bracketing: one at the current white balance setting, one with increased amber, and one with increased blue.

Interval Timing: The Coolpix A will take photos automatically at preset intervals. You can select the interval between shots, the number of total shots to be taken, and a starting time.

Focus Area Selection: You can select between the following Focus Area Selection methods to determine where the camera focuses: Face-priority, Normal Area, Wide Area, and Subject-tracking AF.

Focus Modes: The Focus Mode can be selected using the 3-way switch located on the left side of the camera. You can choose from the following modes:

  • AutoFocus: The camera automatically focuses on objects from 1' 8" to infinity. In the menu, you can select single-servo (focuses when shutter release button pressed halfway) or full-time-servo (continuous focus) focus modes.
  • Macro Mode: Macro mode is used for taking pictures of objects as close as 4".
  • Manual Focus: Using the focus ring, you can focus manually. For a closer look at the subject, the "magnifying" button will enlarge the subject while focusing.

Focus Lock: The Focus Lock feature is used to focus on off-centered subjects in the frame.

AF-Assist Illuminator: If lighting is poor, the AF-assist illuminator may light to assist the focus operation when the shutter-release button is pressed halfway. You can turn this function on or off, as desired.

Exposure Compensation: You can alter the exposure from the value suggested by the camera, making pictures brighter or darker. You can adjust the exposure from -5.0 to +5.0 EV in 1/3 steps.

ISO Settings: Sensitivity is the measure of how quickly the camera reacts to light. The higher the sensitivity, the less light needed to make an exposure. The camera features ISO settings of Auto and ISO 100-6400 in steps of 1/3EV. For higher ISO values, you can select Hi 0.3 (ISO 8000 equivalent), Hi 0.7 (ISO 10000), Hi 1 (ISO 12800), and Hi 2 (ISO 25600).

White Balance: White balance ensures that colors are unaffected by the color of the light source. Auto white balance is recommended for most light sources. In P, S, A, and M modes, you can choose from the following WB modes: Auto (normal), Auto (warm lighting), Incandescent, Fluorescent (sodium-vapor lamps, warm-white, white, cool-white, day-white, daylight, and high-temp mercury vapor), Direct Sunlight, Flash, Cloudy, Shade, and Preset manual.

Built-in Flash: The Coolpix A has a built-in Speedlite flash with a range of 1'-8" to 37'. Not all flash modes are available with every shooting mode. You can apply Flash Compensation to alter the flash output from -3EV to +1EV. The following flash modes are available:

  • Auto: Flash fires automatically when lighting is poor.
  • Auto with Red-eye Reduction: Pre-flash fires before main flash to reduce red-eye effect.
  • Flash Off: Flash will not fire, even when lighting is poor.
  • Fill Flash: Flash will fire whenever a picture is taken.
  • Slow Sync: Auto flash combined with slow shutter speeds.
  • Rear-curtain Sync: The flash fires just before the shutter closes, creating streams of light behind the moving light sources.

Optional External Flash: The camera's full-sized Accessory Shoe allows you to add an external flash unit, including the following Nikon Speedlites: SB-910, SB-900, SB-800, SB-700, SB-600, and SB-400.

Play, Edit and Print Functions

Thumbnail Playback: During playback, you can view multiple thumbnail images (4, 9, or 72) at a time. While these "contact sheets" are displayed, you can use the multi-selector to highlight individual pictures. Highlighted pictures can be deleted, if desired.

Calendar Display: This feature displays a calendar allowing you to select and view pictures taken on the same date.

Playback Zoom: During playback, you can enlarge a still image up to 31x for large images, 23x for medium images, or 15x for small images. Once the image is zoomed, you can use the multi-selector to scroll around to non-visible portions of the image. You can record a new picture of the cropped image by pressing the shutter button.

Retouch Menu: The Retouch Menu lets you create trimmed or retouched copies of the photos on the memory card. The following options are available: D-Lighting, Red-eye correction, Trim, Monochrome, Filter Effects, Color balance, Image overlay, NEF (RAW) processing, Resize, Quick Retouch, Straighten, Fisheye, Color Outline, Color Sketch, Perspective Control, Miniature Effect, Selective color, Edit Movie, and Side-by-side comparison.

Printing Pictures: You can print pictures stored in the internal memory or on the memory card by using the Print Set option in the playback menu. Using DPOF (Digital Print Order Form), you can designate which images to print, and how many copies to print. Pictures can be printed as followed:

  • Printer or Photo Lab: insert the memory card into a printer, or take the memory card to a digital photo lab (images stored in the internal memory need to be transferred to a memory card prior to printing).
  • PictBridge-compatible Printer: connect the camera to a PictBridge-compatible printer via USB cable
  • Transferring to Computer: transfer the images to a computer before printing them via USB

Battery Information

Power Requirements: The Coolpix A is powered by the EN-EL20 Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery (7.2V, 1020mAh, 7.4Wh). A fully charged battery is good for approximately 230 shots or 1 hour and 10 minutes of movie recording. The EN-EL20 charges in approximately 2 hours in the supplied MH-27 Battery Charger. You can also operate the camera on AC power with the optional EP-5C Power Connector and EH-5b AC adapter.

Auto Off: When the camera is operated on battery power, the Auto Off mode will automatically turn off the monitor to reduce the drain on the batteries if no operations are performed for the length of time specified in the Auto Off menu. The time limit for the Auto Off mode can be set to 30 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minutes or 30 minutes.

Inputs and Outputs Notes

HDMI: The Coolpix A is equipped with a mini-HDMI (Type C) output, allowing you to connect the camera to an HDTV. An optional mini-HDMI-to-HDMI cable is required. The camera's HDMI output can be set to Auto, 480p, 720p or 1080i.

USB Output: The camera features a single proprietary jack on the side of the camera for connecting the supplied USB cable (UC-E16). This output allows you to download your photos to your computer or printer via USB using the supplied USB cable. The USB interface is USB 2.0 Hi-Speed compatible.

Supplied Software

ViewNX 2 CD-ROM: The supplied CD-ROM contains the following software:

  • ViewNX 2:
    • Nikon Transfer 2: to transfer pictures from the camera to the computer
    • ViewNX 2: for viewing, editing and printing your images
    • Nikon Movie Editor: for basic editing of transferred movies
  • Panorama Maker: for creating panoramic images from the camera's recorded still images
  • Apple QuickTime (Windows only)

Compatible Operating Systems: The supplied software will work with the following operating systems:

  • Windows: Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP
  • Mac: OS X 10.6, 10.7, 10.8

Our Product Research Team

At Crutchfield, you'll get detailed, accurate information that's hard to find elsewhere. That's because we have our own in-house Product Research team. They verify what’s in the box, check the owner's manual, and record dimensions, features and specs. We stay on top of new products and technologies to help people make informed choices.

Staff Reviews

Product reviews from the Crutchfield Labs

A big sensor that fits in your pocket

Written by Zak Billmeier, Staff Writer - Creative, on 6/17/2013 11:33:00 AM

Larger image sensors help you make better images, because they gather more light, feature a greater dynamic range, and let you blur backgrounds. Problem is, you don't always want to carry the bigger camera it takes to take advantage of such a sensor. No more! The Nikon Coolpix A puts in the same sensor found in many of their bulkier SLR camera into a pocketable point-and-shoot style camera.

And it's really pocketable — I had it in my front shorts pocket during the whole time I was trying it out. The image quality blows away every other pocket-sized camera (though it is bigger than some). You get a 28mm-equivalent lens that partially retracts into the body, which makes it more compact in size than other big-sensor compacts.

I was super impressed with the lens-sensor combo; upon close inspection, image details just jumped out at me. The camera is not without its flaws, however. It can hunt like crazy for focus at times, and there's no viewfinder. But no camera is perfect and I suspect the focus will improve in future updates. Bottom line: it's a fantastic lens, a big sensor, and it really can fit in your pocket. Hard to beat that.

What are the Labs?