First impressions: Fujifilm X100s vs. Nikon Coolpix A: a mini review, with side by side af speed comparison

First impressions: Fujifilm X100s vs. Nikon Coolpix A: a mini review, with side by side af speed comparison

shot with the Nikon A at f2.8, 1/500, ISO 500, AF-C

I received the Nikon Coolpix A today and immediately gave it a workout on the streets of New York, find out how the camera performed after the break

Update: Coolpix A OOC jpg low light test just posted ISO 100-25600, click here.

I walked to Tribeca to meet my friend Seb Farges,

Nikon A f 2.8 1/250 ISO 1000
above, Seb snapped with the Nikon A holding his Panasonic GH3’s
below, smoking a Camel (he knows smoking is bad for him) shot with the X100s and the 23mm lens

f 2.2 1/125, ISO 200
both raw captures, converted to dng and default processing.
and one more, Seb with his DOP, Manon, this one shot with the Fuji X100s

plenty of photo opportunities to give this little power house a work out. As a Nikon shooter, I felt right at home going into the menus and I had it set up in less then a minute.

shot with the Nikon A at 2.8 1/500, ISO 1250

shot with the Nikon A at 2.8 1/500, ISO 1250

Nikon Coolpix A, f9, 1/500, ISO 100


Most impressive about this camera is size, or lack of it (that’s before you take a look at the files), one of those things hard to grasp looking at images online. This camera is tiny! Aesthetically, not my cup of tea, but man, it will sure fit into most pockets and it weighs almost nothing! During this walk I focused on af performance, af speed, ergonomics and stopped to snap a few sky scrapers with both, the Coolpix A and X100s with the Wide angle converter attached. Nothing scientific here but it should give you a pretty good idea how it performs aside from MTF charts.
Everything was shot raw, then converted with the latest DNG converter.

After shooting and reviewing at different af settings I ended up with af-c for most of my walk, just like on the X100s, the best and fasted setting to acquire focus on moving subjects-large or small focus square didn’t make a difference, however there was plenty of light.

Bottom line, auto focus speed is definitely slower then on the X100s and it also misses shots more often, which really surprised me. Let’s not sentence it to shooting static objects only (that’s Sigma Merill’s territory), needs more testing.
1:0 Fuji on af speed and performance

Ergonomics and handling: no contest here, the Fuji wins big time, however, keep in mind the X100s is also quite a bit larger and pound for pound, the Nikon robots did a great job fitting all the dials and buttons on this tiny camera. My Fuji thumb grip happened to fit which made handling a lot better.
1:0 Fuji on handling and ergonomics

Size and pocketability. The Nikon A is the clear winner here, it is also a feather weight.
0:1 For the Nikon A.

LCD and EVF: very good LCD on the Nikon A, I kept lifting the camera up to my eye to frame the shots in the EVF…..
1:0 Fuji scores here big time

Most dials and buttons have a pleasant feel to them, a little too loose for my taste, still acceptable though, the multi control dial on the back feels better then on the X100s, everything else does not feel as solid, this is the moment when we remember it is still a Coolpix.
1:0 Fuji scores again

Minimum shutter speed in auto mode: Nikon Coolpix A, no limit (you can choose any shutter speed, I chose 1/500 on this walk) Fuji X100s, 1/125 upper limit
0:1 for the Nikon A

Sensor: This is the hard question: I love the X trans sensor and I love the D800e sensor and now I also love the Coolpix A sensor :) where will this end? Getting rid of the AA filter paid off again, mind blowing detail, if you like your images ultra sharp, then this sensor is for you. My personal choice is the X trans.
1:1 Fuji/Nikon (subjective)

Battery life: Huge battery (relativ) in the tiny Nikon A and it shows its muscle, the X100s looses this one big time.
0:1 to Nikon for good battery life

Lens performance: The lens appears to be crazy sharp wide open. This lens/sensor combo delivers the sharpest shots I have seen from an APSC sized sensor. Scary sharp, really. To achieve this Nikon gave up one stop and we have to live with 2.8, whereas on the X100 we get a 2.0, on a 35mm equiv pancake.
0:1 for the Nikon A if SHARP is your middle name A

click through to flicker for the full size images (aperture reflected in the file names)



and below the full size files, also default processed without distortion correction – wide angle conversion lens attached to match FOV

x100s at f4 with WA lens attached



ISO/Noise: not tested, appears to be very good at high ISO

get your Coolpix A here or here.
get your X100s here or here.

Bottom line: Anyone who needs to pack light and small for whatever reason (expedition, extreme sports, etc), can live with the 28mm equiv FOV, has no choice, the Nikon A is the one. Unlike us purists, with both feet solid on the pavement, we do have a choice,
Leica or Fuji X100s. :)

shot with the X100s f13, 1/250, ISO 200

get your Coolpix A here or here.
get your X100s here or here.

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31 thoughts on “First impressions: Fujifilm X100s vs. Nikon Coolpix A: a mini review, with side by side af speed comparison

  1. JOZEF

    Another great comparison. I cannot help it but the Fuji X100s has a soul most of us just were missing since film times :) just my opinion. Thanks Mike

  2. mike.kobal Post author

    are you sure nothing is wrong with the camera, is the af switch turned off by accident? because, 4×6 prints really should look sharp

  3. Jim Seekers

    Mike I went into the menu on my Nikon D80 and Turned up the Sharpening and take out the SD Card and put it into the Photo Print Machine in the shop and photos was not sharp at all.
    will it be diferent on the Coolpix A.

  4. mike.kobal Post author

    Look in the menu and turn up the sharpening, the Coolpix A produces crazy sharp shots right out of the camera at default settings.

  5. Jim Seekers

    I have a Nikon D80 and when I take out the SD Card and when to shop Camera Kiosk Printer the photo’s where not sharp as Nikon expect you to sharpen them on computer.
    is the Coolpix A the same.

  6. mike.kobal Post author

    HI Armanius, sorry to disappoint you, I returned it already, too tempting to keep, waiting for a significant price drop. In short, incredible image quality in a pocket camera, af speed – last generation. For landscape, travel, anything where af isn’t crucial, I would totally recommend it.

  7. mike.kobal Post author

    Yes, I saw the orig announcement, makes the camera very photogenic, the problem with the OVF is that if the focus point is critical for your shot you will still have to use the LCD.

  8. Savarin

    Coolpix A OVF and a hood just announced. Camera gets a little more interesting. I personally am in gridlock trying to decide.

  9. derek

    thanks Mike for this great comprison review.
    I, too, tried the A a few days back and I actually liked it a lot.
    I was prepared to be disappointed with it , though.
    like you said its only real quirks are the slow AF and lack of any kind of VF.

    I also pleasantly shocked to see how small an APS-C 28mm compact camera can get.
    they are both great cameras.

  10. mike.kobal Post author

    :) If I were to go on a monster backpacking trip or mnt bike adventure in the Alps, where grams count and you think twice what you pack, I would get the A, a bunch of batteries and memory cards and be done with it, include a light bean bag or a super light mini tripod and the whole package would only add about one pound

  11. Armanius

    Thanks for the quick review. I hope you’ll have a full review of the Nikon A. When it came out, I was totally unimpressed and not interested. After playing with one and taking a few sample photos, and doing the same with the X100S, I was totally surprised that I liked the Nikon’s photos better. They are sharp. Very sharp. At 3200, the RAW files of the Nikon were slightly noisier than the X100S. BUT, they also contained more detail, which allowed me to apply NR, while still retaining more detail than the X100S. As of right now, after my brief experience with both the Nikon A and the X100S, I’m leaning towards the …

    … well, if image quality is everything, I’d go with Nikon.

    But … I like OVF/EVF. And I like 35mm more than 28mm. And the X100S is just a prettier camera. So that pushes me over to the X100S.

    Decisions, decisions …

  12. mike.kobal Post author

    Thanks Mrks, agree, in default output, I too prefer the X trans image rendition, however, the files from the A can be totally tweaked to your liking, probably more so then the fuji files, at default settings, the A files look a bit harsh.

  13. mike.kobal Post author

    Felix: I wouldn’t let f2.8 deter me from seriously considering the A. Image quality is mind blowing and af speed is fine for most family situations -including low light and so is ISO – should be great for group hang outs etc-shooting little toddlers running around would be a problem, I have only seen focus misses with strong back lit subjects, most cameras struggle with that, however, not as much as the A. I will probably do a video to demonstrate the focus speed. As for the 14mm 2.5 lens I think it is so fast because the barrel movement is very short when traveling from infinity to close up. The small sensor advantage.

  14. Felix

    I see that you say the AF speed is less than the X100s and much less than the Oly (how come the Oly is so fast?), but how is it in its own right. How fast in low light? How often does it miss?

    I can see this camera for £800 in the UK which is 20% less than when it was announced and significantly cheaper than the X100s (but the same amount more than the Nex-6).

    If the AF was ‘good enough’ and the lens was f2 then I would get it (maybe also if someone convinced me the extra stop was not necessary for my available light family snaps). But if the AF is poor then I will give it a miss.

    I hope you can cover these points if you do a review.


  15. mike.kobal Post author

    You guessed it, Erik, it would blow the Oly away in image quality and auto focus would feel VERY sluggish, I remember shooting with the 14mm, af speed is almost instant, crazy fast.

  16. moderntimes99

    How well do you think that the Nikon Coolpix A would compare to the Olympus E-PM2 + Panasonic 14mm f2.5? (I guess the Nikon would win in size and IQ and the Olympus in AF speed and fps? But would the Nikon feel sluggish in comparison?) BR, moderntimes99

  17. mike.kobal Post author

    Hi Cathy, I should have been clearer, of course I don’t recommend shooting sport action with it what I meant was if I were an extreme athlete I would have the A in my pocket, hardly bigger then the iphone and incredible image quality.

  18. mike.kobal Post author

    @MuMinded, you are right, I was very curious to see how it performs at that focal length, seriously considered buying the A and returning the Fuji converter. I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome, the files aren’t as bitingly sharp as from the A but plenty sharp for my type of shooting and I much prefer the handling and speedier af on the X100s which in the end is far more important for getting or missing a shot.

  19. MuMinded

    I just wonder how well the Nikon would work if it was fitted with a converter to make it equivalent to the native fuji lens? As good as the Fuji wide converter is I think it does make the test slightly biased towards the Nikon.

  20. Felix

    Thanks for the review Mike.

    I think you should have mentioned that the Nikon is only an F2.8 lens against the X100s F2

  21. Cathy

    Thanks for the review. If Nikon A misses focus a lot, how could it be recommended to extreme sports? Would like to know more about the AF-C performing on both cameras. Someboy said, that Fuji only focuses on the first frame at serial shooting at AF-C, is it really so?

  22. Hards80

    The large sensor small camera market is getting interesting. Have to say prior to this article I wasn’t that excited for the coolpix A, but if the sensor/lens is that good, it’s much more exciting. Still think for me the x100s is my next purchase for the handling and vf.

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