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Nikon A curiosities

Discussion in 'Nikon Coolpix A Forum' started by Livnius, Jun 13, 2014.

  1. Livnius

    Livnius SC Veteran

    475
    Jun 3, 2012
    Melbourne. Australia
    Joe
    Hi all.

    Just got my hands on a Nikon A today, love the GR and have no plans move it on just yet, but, I have become increasingly frustrated by the way the camera simply does not respect my ISO limits that I've set up for shooting street....in EVERY other shooting scenario the camera is a dream I must add. There is a workaround of sorts that will stop me hitting crazy high ISOs like 25,000 but even the workaround leaves me frequently hitting ISO values around the 10,000 mark, simply way to high for my liking....as brilliant as the GR sensor is, it 'aint no A7s ! I have always been keenly jealous of the way the Nikon A can be set up in this regard with a 'hard' ISO limit and a 'soft' minimum shutter speed....MUCH prefer this method. So today I've set the camera up with a few key settings and I really was pretty darn pleased when I was able to set a hard ISO limit and soft SS limit in the knowledge that under no circumstances was the camera going to breach ISO6400 and it would instead slowly chip away at my 1/400 min SS instead...happy days :) ...so that was custom user setting one (U1) done and I then went on to set U2 to a max of ISO1600 and min SS of 1/50 ...again, happy days. So I get out of the menus and go into shooting mode in the yard outside to see how it all goes...so I switched out of A mode and into U1 and togged back and forth to U2 on the mode dial and I notched the mode icon in the top left of the rear screen display either "P-u1" or "P-u2"...all good. Then I tried turning the top dial that controls aperture in A mode to only to find no response, the aperture remains unchanged at f2.8, no matter which way I turn...and no dial or switch or ring or anything gives me control whatsoever....the exception being that I can still control exp. comp in the regular way. At this point my anxiety levels shoot through the roof and i'm feeling minor heart palpitations!


    I went through the manual again, I went through my settings again and tried googling the issue....but all to no avail. When I'm in either U1 or U2 the shooting mode icon on the screen is a 'P' and the second I turn the aperture control dial the icon displays an asterisk next to it (P*) until I return the aperture control dial back into what I can assume is some kind of zero position. The only thing I can think of is that in both custom 'U' modes the aperture is locked in permanently at f2.8 and that the aperture control dial is 'dead' in these modes........or.......I've stuffed something up somewhere ! The difficulty with finding answers on the internet with regards to the Nikon A is that typing in "nikon coolpix a" into google shows up about a bazillion item relating to any of the countless 'coolpix' models and not specifically the 'A'.


    I'm sure the camera is fine, so what have I missed ? Can any of you A shooters (or Nikon shooters in general perhaps) shed any light on this for me ?
     
  2. Ranger Rick

    Ranger Rick SC Regular

    66
    Mar 12, 2012
    Tempe, AZ
    Rick
    For a search, put the "Nikon coolpix a" in quotes to force the search to just the A. For the rest, sorry, don't know anything about that camera.
     
  3. nickthetasmaniac

    nickthetasmaniac SC Veteran

    201
    Jan 20, 2014
    Launceston & Sydney
    Nick Clark
    Sorry this isn't answering your question at all, but what is your street set-up for the GR that is pushing the ISO limit?
     
  4. Livnius

    Livnius SC Veteran

    475
    Jun 3, 2012
    Melbourne. Australia
    Joe

    My issue with the GR is that when I set an upper limit for the ISO it doesn't actually respect that limit. So for street shooting, which for me means the camera 'pre-set' and down by my waist I typically I'd have ISO set at 6400 via the "auto-Hi ISO' menu option.....using the TaV mode I have values of f5 and SS1/500...and snap to focus pre-set at 1.5m. Generally these settings works brilliantly but when I'm moving in and out of pockets of varying lighting levels such as heavily shaded lane ways for example, the camera needs to compensate somehow in order to maintain correct exposure....it's HOW it compensates that i have never been able to like, that is, the camera breaches the upper ISO limit that I've set......I much MUCH prefer the logic employed by the Nikon A which is to respect the upper ISO limit and instead chip away at the SS, whittling it down from 1/500 until it reaches a value that allows proper exposure...BRILLIANT !! I'd much rather end up with a bunch of shots at 1/100 (even if that means very minor amounts of motion blur) rather than a bunch of shots where the ISO has inched it's way up to 25600. In saying that, one of my favourite photos Ive ever taken is where the GR didn't respect my ISO limit of 6400 and went all the way up to 25600....yeah I love this shot, but when ISO runs rampant the keeper rate is going to drop drastically.

    I realise that street shooting isn't about pixel level perfection, far from it....and when I shoot street I certainly don't strive for pixel level perfection, but I have simply never been comfortable with NOT KNOWING what crazy ISO value my camera is going to use.....whereas if I know my camera is going to respect my ISO limit and rather auto adjust to a slower SS...well, for this I can compensate to a good degree simply by in that moment putting a little extra effort to minimise the cameras and my own movement.





    ISO 25,600 doesn't have to be bad ! (but it took a hell of a lot of post processing to extract this image)

    9067416241_3b215f45dd_b. [explored] Old Friend. by Livnius, on Flickr
     
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  5. Livnius

    Livnius SC Veteran

    475
    Jun 3, 2012
    Melbourne. Australia
    Joe
    Figured the problem out.....as it turns out, you don't customise the U1 and U2 modes by being in these modes on the top dial, rather, turn the dial to the desired mode (in my case A) and when done tinkering with the various settings you save the current setting to U1 and U2 via the menu....now U1 and U2 are set and good to go.

    First day with a camera...always a challenge !
     
  6. nickthetasmaniac

    nickthetasmaniac SC Veteran

    201
    Jan 20, 2014
    Launceston & Sydney
    Nick Clark
    Instead of Tav, have you tried:

    A
    f5
    Auto-Hi - Max ISO 6400 - Change Shutter Speed 1/250

    This should get the effect you want, ie. maintains f5 and keeps shutter over 1/250 until 6400iso is hit, then lowers shutter to compensate.

    Unfortunately they don't offer 1/500 for as the change shutter speed setting...
     
  7. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Joe, you can DEFINITELY change the aperture when you have it set up to do what you're doing using the custom modes. I have it set up almost exactly the same way. My street setting comes on at f6.3, but I can easily dial the aperture open to f3.5 in lower light. It even leaves it there when I turn the camera off and on. If I want to reset it quickly, I have to switch out of U1 momentarily and then switch back to it and then it resets to f6.3. Or I can just turn the aperture dial back to it. I'll have a play with it later this morning so I can try to recreate where you are with it and how you can get out being stuck at one aperture.

    -Ray
     
  8. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Oh cool - I was just getting ready to suggest that you set the custom modes from A, not from P. It sounds like you were doing neither, but I'm glad you've got it worked out.

    Have fun with it!

    -Ray
     
  9. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    One more quick hint. You can customize the little fn button on the front of the camera to control exposure comp and then you can pretty much control everything you need to one handed in that mode. It creates some redundancy with the other exposure comp button, but it can take your left hand out if the equation...

    -Ray
     
  10. Livnius

    Livnius SC Veteran

    475
    Jun 3, 2012
    Melbourne. Australia
    Joe
    Thanks Ray, got it sorted....albeit by complete fluke ! (see post #5)
     
  11. Livnius

    Livnius SC Veteran

    475
    Jun 3, 2012
    Melbourne. Australia
    Joe
    Yeah....I'm yet to decide what I want done with the Fn1....I'll figure those things out as I go. Its still a very alien machine to me, things I both like and dislike and things I'm not so sure about just yet. If the rain holds off really looking forward to getting a good session in tomorrow.


    Next problem is trying to figure out if I can get the LCD to hold exposure...or constant live preview if you will....instead of just at shutter half press. Thus far when dialling in some exp-comp I don't see the effect until a shutter half press, nuts, ....I'm kinda lazy and really love the constant live preview as per the GR, OMDs and the GX7.
     
  12. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    It's funny, there's a guy on DPR who's been shooting a GR who was just short of irate because it doesn't show the shutter speed and other exposure information until you half press. And he was very happy that the Nikon A does do that - it constantly meters and refreshes the shutter speed and whatnot before you do anything to the shutter. I'd never have even noticed this but he thought this behavior made the Nikon a "proper camera" and the GR somehow not. I'd also never noticed that you don't see the exposure comp settings reflected in the LCD until you half press, although now that you mention it I think I have noticed it but never gave it a second thought. Funny the things we care about and don't. When I was shooting with a DSLR for a month or so earlier this year, I was very conscious of not having any sort of live view information coming back at me when looking through the OVF, and I didn't particularly like that, although I loved the view through the OVF... But most of these details don't seem to bother me much. Although the auto-ISO thing you're talking about as your reason for trying the A is exactly what drove me to the A rather than the GR, which I otherwise liked a lot. To me, that was a make or break difference but it was something a lot of people didn't give a second thought to. So I guess we all have different pet peeves and wants and likes.

    There are a few things that bother me on the A, but none of them bother me much. I initially hated the little flashing warnings on the back that you simply can't turn off. Fortunately I managed to just not see them anymore after the first few days, but at first I found them so irritating I thought that might be a deal breaker. Second, I don't like that you can't see what the exposure comp is set to EXCEPT when you're adjusting it with your finger on the button for exposure comp - just seems like that should always be displayed. I'd also love it if you could assign the rear wheel around the OK button to something like exposure comp or ISO when you're in a mode where it's not being used for anything else (which I'm in pretty much always, so that dial is just wasted on me). I'd love to be able to just give that a little turn without having to press a button simultaneously to adjust exposure. And, of course, it would be nice if it had something like snap focus, or at least recall your last MF distance setting when you turned the camera off and back on. That's the one feature from the GR that I'd really like to have. OTOH, I shoot almost everything at 2 meters when I'm zone focussing and when I turn the camera on and the distance is set to infinity, I've got it down to muscle memory to turn the lens ring the quarter turn it takes to set it to 2 meters, so I don't even really notice this anymore - I doubt it takes me more than a half second or so. And frankly I do prefer the lens ring for a quick adjustment down to 1 or 1.5 meters when I'm shooting at closer quarters, rather than having to re-set the snap focus distance, so there are pros and cons to both. None of these are big issues for me at all, just things I'd change if they made me king for a day I got to design the firmware. Other than that, I find it just about perfect for my needs...

    -Ray
     
  13. Livnius

    Livnius SC Veteran

    475
    Jun 3, 2012
    Melbourne. Australia
    Joe


    Yeah I hear you, these little quibbles are mostly minor issues and things that one could easily learn to live with.....like the way the Nikon doesn't allow exposure comp fine tuning once the AEL button has been pressed...urghh, I mostly shoot this way on all my cameras, meter off somewhere that will give me closest possible approximation, lock in the AEL then recompose and fine tune the exp. comp a click or two if required before shooting. Is the lack of this feature likely to be a deal breaker ? Not by a long shot, its just one of those little "king for a day" things I'd change. lol....yeah the flashing '?' icon is a bit annoying, in fact, it was one of the first things I tried to disengage ! But it's not as if the GR was without it's own peculiarities that kinda bugged me....I really disliked that locking mechanism on the mode dial...TOTALLY unnecessary, such a low profile mode dial with ample 'click resistance' engineered into it should not need a locking button, but again, it was one of those little things that you would change if you could but are happy enough to live with it anyways.

    In my first day with the camera, mostly spent tinkering with settings and beginning to get a feel for it there are several things that I really like too......the MF ring is surprisingly good and way better than I ever thought it would be...the way the ring turns translate to the scale on the LCD feels really natural, the screen is a little nicer than that on the GR and the focus too, I don't know what it was like with original firmware because the first thing I did when I opened the box was to update to the newest firmware version and yeah, it's 'fractionally' quicker than the GR in good light and 'noticeably' quicker in poor light. But I'm sure over the next week or so I'll find more points of difference, things that I like, things that I don't like but either way I'm sure I'll find a way to work mostly harmoniously with the camera....however, it was always about the one and only big issue...the way the camera treats user defined ISO and SS parameters in its exposure logic.
     
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  14. aleksanderpolo

    aleksanderpolo SC Regular

    112
    Apr 18, 2013
    Polo
    Joe,

    On GR the auto Hi (w minimal shutter speed) is not functional in TAv mode, because the A and S have higher priority than ISO, so the ISO will reach the ceiling before shifting down the shutter speed. I am sure you already know about the DR high trick to limit the highest ISO to about 8000. I personally shoot bracket in Av mode, so I will always get a shot in 1/250s, 1/500s, and 1/1000s at ISO6400 max, pity that with firmware 4.0 they still haven't add minimal shutter speed higher than 1/250s (which Ray had already suggested a year ago).

    Have fun with the A. :)
     
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  15. mondalok

    mondalok New to SC

    7
    Jun 14, 2014
    My first post here...

    As a long time Nikon DSLR user, I have found Coolpix A a very straightforward camera. Most functions, including U1 & U2 modes, are exactly as in bigger Nikons. Menus are slightly simplified which is a good thing compared to (say) Sony menu jungle.

    There are a few things I would like to be different in Coolpix A but they are mostly in the area of performance. After the new firmware af is acceptable. Not good, but acceptable. I think I will anyway continue zone focusing in many occasions.

    I cannot understand why Nikon made the A auto focus so slow when Nikon 1 cameras are still class leading in focusing performance. I also long for the commander mode in flash. Commander mode would give some unique possibilities since Coolpix A can synch also with fast times.

    Picture quality of Coolpix A is very good at low ISO numbers. However, as it gets darker A is not so special anymore. Optical stabilization in lens would definitely help things considerably.

    Since I was able to purchase my Coolpix A for less than 500 euros, I feel that the price was right. Ricoh GR would have been way more expensive, and Fuji X100s even more so. The 28mm equivalent focal length is also nice. More dynamic than the 35mm Fuji offers.

    I wish Nikon would continue iterating Coolpix A better. Faster af, better high ISO performance and commander mode are top 3 things on my wish list. Maybe also focus peaking to aid manual focus?? Keep the price reasonable and the thing will sell well... Later it would be nice to see an fx-version of similar camera. A 28mm/3.5 lens would suffice with Nikons excellent 16mpx fx sensor.
     
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