Nikon adds a compact with a big heart to its lineup

Big cameras can be big, but what if you could have a small camera with a big heart? That’s the idea behind a new compact being produced by Nikon.

Geared at professional and enthusiast photographers out there, the Nikon Coolpix A is a hand-held camera with a sensor inside ripped straight from one of Nikon’s digital SLR cameras.

While the camera is relatively small – 110 x 54.3 x 40.3mm – and only weighs just a hair under 300 grams, the sensor inside comes from something much bigger, with a similar sensor to the CMOS module found in the D5100 digital interchangeable lens camera.

This sensor is bigger than the ones that normally appear in compact cameras, thanks to the “DX” format, which essentially yields a sensor half the size of a 35mm frame, which is still larger than what normally appears in compact cameras.

In the Coolpix A, this is a 16 megapixel sensor, which can pick up on a sensitivity range from ISO 100 to 6400 with additional low-light assistance from as high as ISO 25600, as well as the ability to shoot 14-bit RAW files, a feature normally seen only in the DSLRs produced by Nikon.

Unlike its interchangeable lens cameras, however, there won’t be any need for a lens, with the Coolpix A shooting only on a fixed 18.5mm f/2.8 lens, equivalent to a reasonably wide 28mm in the 35mm format.

Full HD videos are supported, as are external accessories and flash-heads, while a focus ring is attached to the lens allowing you to use manual focus if and when you need to really get up close and personal with the camera.

There’s also no optical low pass filter, a feature we’ve seen previously on the D800E, a special edition of a full-frame digital SLR that allowed the camera to produce extra sharp images.

Pricing hasn’t yet been announced for the Coolpix A, as is per typical with Nikon announcements in Australia – Nikon no longer gives RRPs locally – but from what we hear, the price tag will likely sit over a grand when it lands in stores at the end of March.