Nikon Coolpix A1000 Review

February 7, 2019 | Mark Goldstein |

Introduction

The Nikon Coolpix A1000 is a brand new super-zoom compact camera that's big on features and small in size.

It offers a versatile 35x zoom lens with built-in Vibration Reduction that offers an effective focal range of 24-840mm, a 1/2.3-inch type back-side illuminated CMOS sensor with 16 million pixels, 4K/UHD 30p video recording and Full HD at up to 60fps, a built-in 1160k-dot electronic viewfinder, full manual controls, support for RAW image recording, a 3 inch, 1036k-dot tilting touchscreen LCD monitor, side zoom control and snap-back zoom button, and compatibility with Nikon’s Bluetooth Snapbridge technology.

The Nikon Coolpix A1000 is available in black only and officially retails for around $399 / £409.

Ease of Use

Nikon Coolpix A1000
Front of the Nikon Coolpix A1000

The new Nikon Coolpix A1000 replaces the previous A900 model from 2016, principally adding an EVF, two extra zoom controls, touchscreen control and RAW recording. In terms of size and weight, the A1000 is subsequently slightly bigger and heavier than its predecessor, measuring 114.2 x 71.7 x 40.5mm and weighing 330g, but we feel that this slight increase is worth it given the inclusion of the EVF.

Or it would be, if the EVF wasn't quite such a disappointment. Maybe we've been spoiled by the viewfinder on the admittedly much more expensive Sony Cyber-shot RX100 VI, but the one of the Coolpix A1000 only has half the resolution, 1166k-dots versus 2350k-dots on the Sony, in the same 0.5cm sized viewfinder. This results in a rather grainy display that is really only suitable for light, rather than all-day, use.

The EVF does feature a handy sensor that detects when you hold the camera up to your eye and automatically switches from the rear LCD screen to the EVF. Alternatively, you can use the button immediately to the right of the viewfinder to toggle between the two displays.

In addition to making the camera slight bigger and heavier, the addition of the EVF to the Nikon A1000 has also required a reworking of the tilting LCD screen on the rear, which in contrast to the A900 camera now flips below the camera for easier selfies, rather than above it as before. The screen can also be tilted to face downwards, which is useful if you’re holding the camera over your head to get a high angle shot.

From the front, the two cameras look very similar. The A1000 has gained a new customisable Function button which by default selects the Continuous Shooting mode (also including Interval Timer Shooting, but which can be configured to one of seven other different settings. We set it to ISO speed, as there's no dedicated control on this camera for that key setting.

Nikon Coolpix A1000
Front of the Nikon Coolpix A1000

The Coolpix A1000 also has a subtly redesigned hand-grip, which we found easier to grip and general nicer to use than the one on the A900. On the rear of the camera there’s a small thumb rest area, which is also coated in a rubberised material. Other than those two changes, the cameras are very similar, with both using the same 35x, 24-840mm lens with variable maximum apertures of f/3.4-6.9, depending where you are in the focal range.

Moving to the top of the camera, the pop-up flash on the A1000 has been moved in-line with the centre of the lens in order to accommodate the new EVF. There’s a switch just below it which you need to slide across to make it pop up. When you’re done with it, you just have to push it back into place.

Alongside the pop-up flash unit is a dedicated Shooting Mode dial with exactly the same settings as offered by the A900, which allows you to quickly switch between the different exposure modes on offer. As well as the usual automatic and scene modes you might expect from a point-and-shoot, here you’ll also find P/A/S/M semi-automatic and manual modes. There’s also a “creative” mode found here, as well as the “Short Movie Show” mode.

Also on top of the Nikon Coolpix A1000 is a rectangular on/off button, which is found just below the shutter release button. Around the shutter release is the zoom rocker switch for controlling the zoom lens. It’s a little on the small side, but it feels relatively sturdy. Zooming the lens in and out is quite smooth, and it reaches the telephoto end of the optic pleasingly quickly.

Nikon Coolpix A1000
Rear of the Nikon Coolpix A1000

You will see a zoom indicator on the display - if you attempt to go into the digital zoom (there are two available), then first it will change to a blue colour, and then afterwards it will change to a yellow colour. You have to hold down the zoom switch for a second before the digital zoom will activate - a noticeable pause to help you avoid using it if you don’t want to.

New to the Nikon A1000 are two controls located on the side of the lens barrel - the side zoom control and snap-back zoom button. The former control essentially replicates the function of the rocker switch on the top-plate with a slightly more convenient switch that's bigger and controlled by your left hand instead of your right.

The snap-back zoom button is handy when you're using the longer focal lengths - as its name suggests, it quickly zooms out back through the range to give a wider view, allowing you to find your subject more easily. It then either automatically returns to the previous focal length after about a second or so, or you can keep holding it down if you need longer to find the subject.

The final dial on top of the Nikon Coolpix A1000 is unmarked because it has different functions depending on when you’re using it. It is used to alter certain settings - for example aperture when in aperture priority, or shutter speed when in shutter priority. You can also use the dial to scroll through images in playback. If you’re shooting in manual mode, the dial on the top will be used to alter aperture, while the thumb-controlled dial on the back of the camera can be used to alter shutter speed.

Nikon Coolpix A1000
Top of the Nikon Coolpix A1000

New to the A1000 is the ability to save your files in both JPEG and Raw formats (Nikon's NRW format), allowing for more flexibility during post-processing. Coupled with the fact that you can take full manual control of this camera, it makes the A1000 more appealing as a pocketable second camera for more serious enthusiasts.

Moving to the rear of the Nikon Coolpix A1000, there’s the usual array of buttons we’ve come to expect from cameras of this type - in fact, the A1000 is identical to the A900, with one exception - the snap-back zoom button, which is now on the side of the lens barrel, has changed to a very handy AE-L/AF-L button.

There’s a four-way navigational pad, with each directional key doubling up to a specific function, for example the left key is for the drive mode or timer, the up key is to alter flash mode, the down key is to switch on macro focusing (and off again), and the right key is to access the exposure compensation setting.

Other buttons on the rear of the A1000 include a video record button, a playback button, a delete button and the main menu button. There’s also an OK button in the middle of the four way navigational pad, which you can use for a variety of menu adjustments and so on.

Nikon Coolpix A1000
Tilting LCD Screen

The previous A900 suffered in comparison to some of its rivals by not having a touchscreen - for 2019, Nikon have rectified that, so you can now use it to make changes to the camera's settings, change the AF point when shooting in any mode, and fire the shutter. You can also use the A1000's menu system by touching the screen too, something that is not always offered even by more recent cameras.

Just like its predecessor, the Nikon Coolpix A1000 is capable of shooting 4K video. To do this, you need to go into the Main Menu and change Movie Options to 2160/30p, because by default, the camera will record in 1080/60p. You can also change the frame rate to 25fps in order to record 25p 4K footage and 1080/50p footage. The camera has a Hybrid Vibration Reduction system when shooting video which combines optical and electronic VR to help keep your videos sharp and steady.

The Nikon Coolpix A1000 starts up very quickly, going from completely off to ready to shoot in approximately one second. Moving through the menu systems and playing back images is also very speedy, and the camera is also very responsive when shooting JPEG files. It can shoot up to 10 frames at 10fps, but this is only with AF/AE locked at the first exposure, and for JPEGs only. Note that the camera also becomes unresponsive for about 10 seconds while it clears the buffer.

Nikon Coolpix A1000
The Nikon Coolpix A1000 In-hand

Sadly, though, things slow down even more when shooting RAW files, with a delay of least a couple of seconds before you can take the next image in single shot mode. You can also only take around 3-4 RAW frames in a burst before the camera locks up completely again in order to buffer them. Considering this is one of the major upgrades to the A1000, the slow performance when shooting RAW is a disappointment.

In good lighting conditions, the contrast-detection autofocus system is very quick and generally also accurate. However, it can struggle a little in lower light, even though there is a focus assist lamp to help things along. The macro mode allows you to get very close to your subject to fill the frame which is great - there is also almost no instances of a false confirmation of focus, too.

Like many of Nikon’s newest models, the Nikon Coolpix A1000 is equipped with Snapbridge. This means that once you’ve set it up, the camera can maintain a low-power bluetooth connection with your smartphone to automatically transfer images and video across to your phone without having any additional input. You can either have images send across at full size or at a reduced size to save time (transferring over bluetooth is slower than over Wi-Fi). It’s a very handy tool that works well to take the hassle out of transferring your images ready for uploading to social networking - this may be particularly appealing to those who want to use the camera while on holiday.