Nikon Coolpix A1000 Review
By Yvonne

Although the Nikon Coolpix A1000 camera is compact and easy to carry, it has a lot of zoom power, an electronic viewfinder (EVF), tilting LCD, and good low-light performance.

Nikon Coolpix A1000 Review

Let's get to the bottom

Although the Nikon Coolpix A1000 camera is compact and easy to carry, it has a lot of zoom power, an electronic viewfinder (EVF), tilting LCD and EVF. However, low light photography will not be a priority.

The pros

  • 35x zoom lens.
  • Eye-level EVF.
  • Raw imagery and 4K video
  • Bluetooth and WiFi
  • Design is relatively slim.
  • Touch LCD tilting.


  • Not good in dim light.
  • Autofocus is spotty in video.
  • Unresponsive after bursts.
  • Maximum zoom causes lens to soften.
  • Pricey.

Pocketable point-and-shoot cameras have split into two very distinct directions—models with big image sensors and shorter-range zoom lenses, built for low-light shooting, and others with smartphone-size sensors and lenses with huge amounts of zoom power. This is the Nikon Coolpix A1000 (479.95). It sports a 35x lens, which will magnify distant subjects in ways you can't with a smartphone, but it has the expected drawback—disappointing image quality in dim light. This zoom is a compromise that you will have to accept in order to fit it into a small body.

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It's not super-slim, but it is pocketable

The A1000 is definitely pocketable for me, even though its design may not be the most elegant or slimmest. The A1000 measures in at 2.8 by 1.5 by 1.6 inches. It weighs 11.6 ounces. It is comparable to the Sony HX99 with a shorter 30-x zoom lens. The HX99 measures 2.3 by 4.0 by 1.4 inches, and weighs 8.5 ounces.

Because of its handgrip, the A1000 is slightly bulkier. The A1000 is larger than that used in the HX99 or other superzoom pocket cameras. Even when the camera's turned off, the lens still sticks out slightly from the body. Nikon capitalizes on this extra space by putting a zoom knob and framing aid button on the barrel's left.

This lens has a focal length of 24-840mm, or 35mm equivalent full-frame. It also features an f-stop of f-3.4-6.9. It covers a wide angle of view when zoomed out—a little wider than most smartphone lenses—and zooms in to capture details on distant subjects. However, it isn't very good in low light. The f/3.3 rating doesn't mean that you will get sharper shots or have to use the pop up flash. This contrasts with flagship smartphones, which often come equipped with lenses that can capture more light but do not offer zoom.

A 1-inch sensor camera and shorter zoom lenses are ideal for those looking to buy a point-and shooter. The Canon G9 X Mark II and Sony RX100 III are our favorites at different price points. The A1000 is a great option if you are looking for maximum zoom.

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Interface and controls

The Fn button is programmable and can be found between the lens and grip. There are also zoom rocker, framing aid, and a zoom slider. The framing assist is helpful when working at maximum zoom—it backs the zoom out a little bit so you can find your subject in the frame, and zooms back in when released.

The top controls are arranged to the left. The standard mode dial has the usual PASM, auto, and Scene options. There is also the shutter button and zoom control. A control dial adjusts EV compensation, aperture and shutter depending on which mode you are in.

You will find the EVF and diopter wheels in the upper left corner. Just next to the button is the toggle switch for EVF, eye sensor, and mechanical release for pop-up flash. All other controls can be found to the right side of the LCD.

The thumb rest has an AE/AF-L/Focus button. You will find Record and Play below. Menu and Delete are at the bottom. At the bottom of the row of buttons is the flat rear control wheel. You can turn it to adjust exposure and navigate menus. It also serves as a directional pad. The button function adjusts flash output and sets EV compensation. It also toggles macro focus. Its center is the OK button.

A 3-inch LCD is used as the rear display on the A1000. The LCD's 1,036k dots resolution makes it very easy to read and also supports touch input. You can tilt it up and down to capture photos from low angles or higher. You can put it forward to take selfies. However, it will flip under your camera, rather than above, so it can be difficult to get used too.

An EVF is an advantage for long-lens cameras. The camera's lightweight makes it difficult to keep steady at arms length. This can cause camera shake while zoomed in shots are taken and framing using the rear LCD. You can hold the camera steadier by bringing it closer to your eyes and body.

Although the viewfinder may be small, it is still very useful. The LCD is a small 0.2 inch with 1,116k dots of resolution. These are plenty of pixels to fill a small frame. The EVF is not designed to detect small details in background images, but can be useful in taking telephoto photos or getting a clear view of the frame when the sun shines too hard.

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Connection and power

SnapBridge is Nikon's wireless connectivity system. The A1000 has it. Bluetooth can be used for faster connection to Android and iOS devices, background transfer of smaller (2 MP) photos, and to improve the speed of data transmission. For full-size image transfers and remote control, you can use Wi-Fi.

The A1000 is more attractive for travelers because it allows wireless transfer. The A1000 can be sent to your smartphone and shared on Instagram like normal. You don't even have to return from vacation. Although it's a more involved process than just taking a photo with your smartphone's camera, the A1000 zoom lens can take you photos that the phone cannot.

SnapBridge can be used to reduce the battery's capacity by about 250 shots. You can charge the battery via micro USB. The cable and AC adapter are included with Nikon, however you can also connect directly to your USB battery. The price for spare EN-EL12 battery batteries is $37.95 and the optional external MH65 charger costs $37.95.

The A1000 also has a micro HDMI input. The A1000 supports all modern card formats and images are stored to SD memory. You don't have to purchase a high-speed UHS-II card as it doesn't support fast transfer speeds.

Autofocus and burst shooting

It takes approximately 1.4 seconds for the A1000 to turn on, focus and take a picture. This is due in part to the fact that the lens extends from the barrel during the turning process. It is normal with point-and-shoot cameras. The autofocus system is fast enough to lock onto subject in a matter of 0.1 seconds. Although it is fast enough to take candid photos, a smaller camera may not be able to keep up with moving subjects. It also doesn't automatically focus between shots when the continuous mode is selected.

Although it can capture at high speeds, approximately 8fps or Raw images, this is only possible for short bursts. The A1000 can take 5 Raw+JPG images or Raw images at once, and 10 JPG photos. However, the A1000 can become unresponsive during a burst. This is quite disconcerting. It will take a while before you can capture another image or enter the menu. The duration varies depending on the file format you have set—10 seconds for Raw+JPG, 7 seconds for Raw, and 3 seconds for JPG.

The A1000 is capable of capturing full resolution at a faster speed and can also produce 2MP JPGs. The camera can capture 60fps or 120fps at both high speeds. There is also a pre-shooting cache that allows the camera to record a bit more action before the shutter clicks. Autofocus cannot be adjusted between shots as it isn’t adjustable for moving subjects, just like the 10fps option.

The autofocus system works well in general. It works great for most people because it covers a large area and has face detection. You should switch to the A1000 mode if you are looking to buy a large zoom to do backyard birding and similar activities. It uses a smaller central focus point to help you locate your target even in dense scenes filled with branches or other visual obstacles.

Photos and video

Although the A1000 lens has a large zoom power, it does make some compromises in order to fit that power into a small body. It's tiny to begin with and gets narrower as you zoom in. This makes it a poor choice for low-light photography. The lens also loses significant resolution as you zoom in.

Imatest (Opens in new window) was used to test the lens and camera. The camera captures sharp images even at the widest aperture and angle (4.3mm, F/3.4), which gives it an angle similar to that of a full-frame 24mm lens. It produces 2,583 lines at F/3.4, and 2,588 at F/4. Both have approximately 2,000 lines of resolution around the edges, which is a good result for a point and shoot. The f-stop can be set lower. If you are used to using an SLR, you might want to adjust it to f/5.6 and f/8. But you shouldn't—diffraction cuts resolution to 2,123 and 1,536 lines, respectively.

The lens is even better at the 50mm position—3,246 lines at f/4. The camera can be set lower, however; it drops to 2,314 lines at F/5.6 and 1,598 at F/8.

The maximum f-stop at 150mm drops to f/5.6. However, the lens still has 2,699 lines. At f/8, it drops to 1,949 lines. Similar results are obtained at 250mm at F/5.6 (2.572 lines) or f/8 (1.801 lines). At 500mm the maximum aperture is f/6.3, which is quite acceptable (2,534 line). At maximum zoom (approximately 840mm), the lens drops down to f/6.9. Lab tests show that resolution drops to 1,929 lines.

As long as you have enough lighting, the camera will produce good shots in the real world. The camera is capable of taking crisp images in bright lighting at ISO 100. Imatest has shown that the ISO 100 setting gives the most detail with the least noise.

Images of the A1000 show noise levels less than 1.5% at the highest ISO 6400 settings, however there is noticeable degradation in image quality when using higher ISO 6400 settings. At ISO 100 the finest details are sharp, but at ISO 200 there is evidence of blurred edges. Detail is good up to ISO 800. ISO 1600 is the lowest setting that the camera can use. Blur starts at ISO 3200. You will need to manually set ISO 3200 and 6400 settings, which are the highest blurry setting at ISO 1600.

Raw capture is possible. Raw capture is a great option for serious photographers who want more control over their images. Raw+JPG can also be turned on if you need JPGs. Although Raw images tend to show sharper details and more grain, there are limitations. Raw images shot at ISO 1600 look crisper. However, grain can be overwhelming at higher ISO settings.

While I did see some flare while shooting backlit subjects with the Sony HX99, it was not as severe and unsettling. The purple flare you can see in the image with strong backlighting is the most severe flare that I could create.

This camera supports 4K video. I found the autofocus to be a little problematic—at longer zoom, it doesn't lock on as consistently as with stills. The stabilization works well, even with telephoto video.

You can record 4K at 30fps. If you drop to 1080p you can record at 60fps—a plus for scenes with fast-moving subjects. A1000 supports both 720p at 30, 60, and 120fps. It also has 1/4-speed slow motion at 720p or 1/2 speed at 1080p. At any resolution, there is no 24-fps option.

Lots of Zoom, priced to match

The Nikon Coolpix A1000's zoom range is the main reason you should buy it. Smartphones are now so much better than ever, thanks to brighter lenses and more advanced image processing. They can take burst shots of almost unlimited lengths and no downtime, thanks to high-end processors and integrated memory.

Phone cameras are limited in space and offer little zoom. There is plenty of zoom power in the A1000. I have seen slightly longer lenses in slim zooms—as long as 40x—but the 24-840mm range here is ample, and while the lens does lose a bit of quality at maximum zoom, it still nets decent photos.

The real problem is low-light performance. The Panasonic FZ300 is a comparable model, with the same zoom power, image quality and brighter lens. However, it costs about half the price and won't be as easy to carry around in your pocket.

In general, going with a bridge camera—a model with a similar sensor, big zoom lens, and an SLR-style body—will net better image quality. Bridge models can be expensive, so this is an important aspect for many.

The A1000, although it is expensive, can be a great option for those who love to photograph distant subjects. Although you will pay more for EVF and tilting screens, they may be worth the extra cost. The Panasonic ZS50 is a comparable camera that costs less. This is an older model, but it's very capable and still available at a price of $300.

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