Coolpix A Refurb: Couldn't Resist

Discussion in 'Nikon Coolpix A Forum' started by Crsnydertx, Jan 8, 2016.

  1. Crsnydertx

    Crsnydertx SC Top Veteran

    758
    Jan 21, 2011
    Houston, TX
    Chuck
    I decided to give the somewhat unloved little camera a go; something about getting a $1000+ camera for $300 that just became too tempting to overcome.

    Very nice build quality! I figured out to set up most of the critical features without too much trouble, in spite of my decades-long background in Canon, Panasonic and Fuji.

    But oh that hunting AF... I swear it's slower than my first digital (Canon Powershot G2). The reviews were generous. I've never seen a lens go from one extreme to another and back on virtually every shot. Forewarned is forearmed, but my expectations were a little higher than the reality turned out to be. Oh, well...

    However...before I pushed the "Buy" button, I'd already decided to use this camera as an all-manual experiment. I know it has a really nice sensor and lens, so if I can conquer manual focus, manual exposure, and a fixed 28mm perspective, I'll have accomplished something. If it helps me become a better photographer, it's worth the price. If it fails, someone will get a bargain on top of a bargain.

    I know this camera is all but forgotten, but I'll be looking here and elsewhere for tips on how to get the most out of the A experience. I'm looking forward to it, in spite of what might be interpreted as a semi-rant.
     
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  2. dalethorn

    dalethorn Guest

    The Coolpix A can make extremely good images, so enjoy!
     
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  3. Biro

    Biro SC All-Pro

    Aug 7, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    Steve
    If I didn't have a Ricoh GR already, I probably would have jumped on the Nikon A at $299. As it is, I just picked up a Fuji X-Pro 1 for $499 on close-out. Chuck, I think as long as you are realistic about the abilities and limits of the Nikon A, it should serve you well. Good luck, enjoy and let us know how it goes.
     
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  4. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Hi Chuck - congratulations! Great little camera, only unloved by some GR shooters. Those who have 'em tend to love 'em and nobody else has any idea why anyone would want a fixed lens 28mm only camera! I personally love it. Enough that I bought a second one on closeout to serve as insurances and, when averaged, to get the price of my first one down to a more reasonable level! ;)

    One thing to check - is the camera you bought running the newest firmware? The newest is version 1.12 but it fixed really minor stuff that probably will never impact most users - I never upgraded to that. But the jump from the original FW (I think maybe 1.01, but don't recall) to 1.11 was the key set of improvements. Including improved AF behavior. Here's the page with the downloads and the information and it'll tell you where to check what FW you have. I don't remember for sure, but I think my second copy of the camera may have still had the original firmware on it - so it's worth checking yours...

    Nikon COOLPIX A - C firmware: Ver. 1.12 - Download

    I don't think the AF is that bad, personally, but then I never use it for anything demanding - I use zone focus for any significant movement and for static subjects, it just never bothered me. The second version is somewhat better in good light but MUCH better in low light, where the first version could really hunt. If you already have 1.11 or higher and still think the AF stinks, well, nothing I can do for you! ;)

    -Ray
     
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  5. Crsnydertx

    Crsnydertx SC Top Veteran

    758
    Jan 21, 2011
    Houston, TX
    Chuck
    Ray, good evening. Alas, the first thing I checked was firmware version - 1.12. I would have been disappointed if the camera had come out of refurb without the latest FW.

    I didn't really give AF a fair test today; will wander around tomorrow and see if I can get used to it. I need to check out DOFMaster and learn a few hyperfocal distance rules of thumb. Should be a challenge with my rapidly advancing CRS.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  6. trisberg

    trisberg SC Veteran

    251
    Jul 5, 2011
    New Hampshire
    Double-check that you don't have the focus switch in macro mode, that seemed to slow regular distance focusing. I set mine up to focus with the Fn1 button, that way I didn't have to wait for focus on each shot. Since mine is broken now, I have a pair of batteries and a charger sitting around. Anyone interested let me know and I can send them to you.

    -Thomas
     
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  7. drd1135

    drd1135 SC Hall of Famer

    Jul 13, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Steve
    I did this very thing a year ago and used the A for the last SiJ challenge. What a great little camera.
     
  8. Crsnydertx

    Crsnydertx SC Top Veteran

    758
    Jan 21, 2011
    Houston, TX
    Chuck
    Did you assign AF-ON to Fn1? I've seen that mentioned before. Sort of like back button focus with a front button... Thanks.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  9. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Really good point - I've forgotten to switch back out of macro a couple of times and that REALLY slows things down, with incredible amounts of hunting...

    -Ray
     
  10. rayvonn

    rayvonn SC Veteran

    309
    Jan 19, 2015
    Don't worry about that "unloved" bit, I can tell you as a GR owner that I would love to have a Coolpix A, even though they're the same focal length, etc. By general consensus, the colours on the A are apparently significantly better than the GR.
     
  11. Crsnydertx

    Crsnydertx SC Top Veteran

    758
    Jan 21, 2011
    Houston, TX
    Chuck
    Postscript on this one: there's a good chance that yesterday I did indeed have the AF slider in the macro position. Today's performance is much, much snappier. Thank you, Thomas, for the valuable tips!
     
  12. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    That sounds much more like it. It's not the snappiest AF you'll ever see, but it's more than adequate for a 28mm equivalent lens. It's still a bit more of a hunter in low light, but believe me, it's way better than if you had the old firmware.

    Enjoy the camera Chuck!

    -Ray
     
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  13. donlaw

    donlaw SC All-Pro

    Sep 14, 2012
    Texas
    Don
    It this a great camera. As a long Nikon DSLR user the interface is second nature. I left that switch to Macro too many as well. Now when ever I use the macro mode I automatically calmly switch it back to AF to be ready for the next image.
    Second year that I have made this camera my choice for the SIJ challenge.
     
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  14. Crsnydertx

    Crsnydertx SC Top Veteran

    758
    Jan 21, 2011
    Houston, TX
    Chuck
    I'm finding the interface to be quite comfortable. Unlike some other cameras with extraordinarily complex menus, this one is just about right for me. The Shooting Menu and the Setup Menu are particularly clear; I'm unlikely to use the Retouch Menu, but it's fascinating to look at the list of options.
     
  15. drd1135

    drd1135 SC Hall of Famer

    Jul 13, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Steve
    Of course, the biggest problem was the original price of this camera at $1000. At $299, the Nifty/$$$ ratio is much higher.
     
  16. clicker150

    clicker150 New to SC

    3
    Jul 19, 2013
    Thanks to this forum and you guys, I just bought one refurb too. ($286 with tax) It seems that the Coolpix A is a great little camera.
     
  17. dalethorn

    dalethorn Guest

    Here's the first photo I got with my $399 Coolpix A (the first round of discount):

    image.
     
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  18. Crsnydertx

    Crsnydertx SC Top Veteran

    758
    Jan 21, 2011
    Houston, TX
    Chuck
    Of course, Fuji came out with a similar model (X70) just after I bought the "A". No regrets, though; I really like the Nikon. Still getting used to 28 mm perspective, but that will come.
     
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  19. Biro

    Biro SC All-Pro

    Aug 7, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    Steve
    For $299, you can't beat it, Chuck. Even if the X70 looks like a great camera. And I say that as a fellow Fuji owner.
     
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  20. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    If I was just getting into one of these cameras today and price wasn't an issue, I'd give the X70 a good hard look. It's got pretty much all of the things I really love about the Coolpix A and a couple of additional advantages as well. The flip screen would be nice and I just prefer this type of old-school control layout, with an aperture ring and an exposure comp dial. I don't love the X-Trans sensor and it doesn't look like the X70 lens is as sharp as the Nikon or GR, but I doubt either of those would bother me much for how I use this type of camera. I still wouldn't be looking at a GR or GRII because Ricoh doesn't have the auto-ISO setup that's pretty much a minimum acceptable standard for me anymore.

    That said, at $300 and less, the Coolpix A is well less than half the price of either of the alternatives and that would make it a no-brainer for me if I was just getting into one of these cameras today. It's a great camera and that's just a stupid low price...

    -Ray