Basic Specifications
Full model name: Nikon Coolpix A900
Resolution: 20.20 Megapixels
Sensor size: 1/2.3 inch
(6.2mm x 4.6mm)
Lens: 35.00x zoom
(24-840mm eq.)
Viewfinder: No / LCD
Native ISO: 100 - 1600
Extended ISO: 100 - 3200
Shutter: 1/4000 - 8 seconds
Max Aperture: 3.4
Dimensions: 4.4 x 2.6 x 1.6 in.
(113 x 67 x 40 mm)
Weight: 10.2 oz (289 g)
includes batteries
Availability: 04/2016
Manufacturer: Nikon
Full specs: Nikon A900 specifications
20.20
Megapixels
35.00x zoom 1/2.3 inch
size sensor
image of Nikon Coolpix A900
Front side of Nikon A900 digital camera Front side of Nikon A900 digital camera Front side of Nikon A900 digital camera Front side of Nikon A900 digital camera Front side of Nikon A900 digital camera

Nikon A900 Review -- First Impressions

by
Preview posted:

Nikon A900 Review -- Product Image

Photographers looking for a svelte, pocketable yet powerful compact camera with a lot of zoom might want to take a look at Nikon's brand-new travel zoom, the Coolpix A900. The spiritual successor to last year's S9900, the Nikon A900 travel-zoom camera sports a similar exterior design, but upgrades the lens to a new 35x optical zoom -- up from 30x in the earlier model. Providing a versatile range all the way from a 24mm-equivalence at the wide end to a whopping 840mm-eq. at full telephoto, the Nikon A900 looks quite capable for capturing all sorts of subjects you'll see during your travels, from wide landscapes to distant wildlife.

The heart of a camera is, of course, its imaging sensor. The Nikon A900 gets a slight resolution upgrade to a 20-megapixel chip -- an increase from the 16MP one in the S9900. The physical size of the sensor is the same -- a small 1/2.3-inch type sensor as typically found in most common pocket zooms -- but it remains a back-side illuminated design, which should help with low-light performance to a degree. The new sensor, paired with an un-branded imaging processor, should give the Nikon A900 a boost in the still image quality department, but it also provides some new video horsepower as well: 4K video.

Nikon A900 Review -- Product Image

Indeed, in addition to the recently announced Nikon B700 superzoom camera, the Coolpix A900 is among the first Nikon Coolpix cameras to offer 4K video recording. Captured at 30 frames per second (or 25p for PAL), the A900 records 4K video at Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) resolution. Other video options include Full HD video up to 60p and a high-speed 120fps capture mode, though this is limited to standard-definition 640 x 480 resolution.

Taking a cue from their recent D500 DSLR, the Nikon A900 also features the new, always-on SnapBridge wireless connectivity feature. Utilizing Bluetooth Low-Energy technology, the A900 can maintain a wireless connection to a compatible, nearby smartphone or tablet for continuous image transfers as you shoot for quicker and easier sharing. With the SnapBridge companion app, photographers can also geotag images as well as operate the Nikon A900 remotely.

Nikon A900 Review -- Product Image

Getting into the nitty gritty of the Nikon A900's features and specs, let's start by taking a closer look at the 35x optical zoom lens. Beyond optical zoom, the lens can be further extended using Nikon's Dynamic Fine Zoom with a 2x multiplier for a 70x zoom (approximately 1680mm-eq.). For even more reach, traditional digital zoom up to 4x is available for a total zoom of around 3360mm-eq. at full telephoto. This is pretty impressive for a camera that can slip into a pocket, but as is typical of digital zoom, fine detail is bound to degrade somewhat no matter how enhanced it is.

The lens is comprised of 13 elements, including four ED elements, situated into 11 groups. The amount of zoom is certainly handy, but the lens itself isn't the brightest, with a variable maximum aperture of just f/3.4 at the wide end and f/6.9 at full telephoto. Thankfully, to help with lower light situations and at the longer zoom range, the A900 is equipped with Vibration Reduction -- a combination of optical VR and electronic stabilization -- though we don't have a spec for how much correction the VR system can compensate for.

Nikon A900 Review -- Product Image

At the wide end, the lens can focus as close as 1 ft. 8 inches (50cm), but as is usually the case, closest focusing distance increases as you zoom, with full tele limited to 6ft. 7 inches (2 meters). The Coolpix A900 offers a special Macro mode, however, which allows for an extremely close 0.4 in. (1 cm) focusing distance when zoomed out to the widest focal length.

As with Nikon's other compact cameras, autofocus on the A900 is a fairly straightforward contrast-detect AF system. There are a total of 99 focus areas to choose from should you want to manually pick an AF "point," and the camera offers additional focus modes, including subject tracking and Target Finding AF.

Nikon A900 Review -- Product Image

The external styling is very similar to the earlier S9900 model with a relatively rectangular bar-shaped design and a slight protrusion for a grip around the front. The primary difference in the A900 and the earlier S9900 is the change from an articulated LCD screen to a 180-degree tilting display. The 3.0-inch display panel itself is a TFT LCD and maintains the same 921K-dot resolution as the S9900's. Unlike a number of competing pocket and travel-zoom cameras, the A900's LCD display does not have touchscreen capabilities, unfortunately.

Nikon A900 Review -- Product Image

The top deck of the Nikon A900 is, again, similar to the S9900, with a handy thumb control dial at the corner and a standard PASM mode dial. The A900 also features a built-in popup flash. Along the top, you'll notice the small icons for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, but unlike the S9900, the new A900 does not feature built-in GPS -- instead offloading that capability to the SnapBridge companion smartphone app.

The Nikon A900's ISO sensitivity range spans from 80 to 1600 in automatic shooting modes. Users can however select up to ISO 3200, but only in P, A, S, or Manual exposure modes. With a new sensor, it's not surprising to see a different ISO range than the earlier S9900, which ranged from ISO 125-6400. It is interesting, however, that the maximum sensitivity is now capped at a lower ISO 3200. Given the small sensor size and higher resolution, this is probably a wise choice as image quality at very high ISOs on a 1/2.3-inch type sensor can be severely degraded.

Nikon A900 Review -- Product Image

The shutter speeds available on the Nikon A900 vary depending on the ISO or shooting mode. Normal shutter speeds range from 1s to 1/2000s, but shutter speeds can be set slower or faster depending on the particular shooting mode. While in a PASM mode with the ISO fixed to 80, 100 or 200, the shutter speed can be set down to 8 seconds. In high-speed continuous mode (which fires at a rate of 7fps for up to 7 shots), the shutter speed can go up to 1/4000s. For longer exposures, the shutter speed can be lengthened to 25 seconds for star trails shooting in "multiple exposure Lighten Scene Mode," and for the Fireworks scene mode, the shutter speed can be as long as 4 seconds.

The Nikon A900, like the S9900 before it, uses the long-standing EN-EL12 lithium-ion rechargeable battery pack. While no battery rating is provided in the A900 specs provided to us, the S9900 was CIPA-rated at around 300 shots on a single charge. Wired connectivity includes USB 2.0 High Speed data and Type-D Micro HDMI for high-def video. Images and movies are stored on SD, SDHC, or SDXC memory cards. The Nikon A900 records images in JPEG only (no RAW, regrettably) and videos in the mobile-friendly MP4 format with stereo sound.

The Nikon Coolpix A900 is set to go on sale this spring for an estimated retail price of US$399.95, and will be available in both a silver and black model.

 

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