This is the Nikon Coolpix A. It was released in March 2013, and back then, Nikon said:
Unlike any other COOLPIX camera, the new COOLPIX A is equipped with a DX-format CMOS sensor that enables users to achieve superior image quality previously only possible with a Nikon D-SLR. … [This] firmly positions the COOLPIX A as the reigning flagship camera in the COOLPIX line.
“The introduction of the COOLPIX A, as Nikon’s flagship COOLPIX camera, provides uncompromised image quality and incredibly sharp detail in a compact point-and-shoot camera. As the first COOLPIX to use a DX-format sensor, the COOLPIX A will exceed expectations for its unsurpassed performance.”
So. This is clearly a camera that is something special to Nikon, and it's the first time they used the single letter "A" as a model name. That's very distinctive, and sets the camera apart.
Now it's been almost three years since the launch of this flagship camera, and about two years and eight months since the Ricoh GR commandingly trounced it. The GR has since had a mild update, so I've been wondering what Nikon would do to counter, if anything.
When the rumour sites started talking about new Coolpix cameras with that same flagship letter, the A10 and A100, I was cautiously optimistic.
For a very long time my mantra with Nikon has been "never underestimate their ability to screw up the easy and the obvious." As the owner of both a Coolpix A and a Nikon 1 V1, I think I've earned the ability to hold that opinion.
And yet, so many times, I'm surprised.
The new Nikon A10 and A100, inheritors of the Coolpix A badge, have turned out to be a pair of forgettable, disposable cameras. I honestly can't remember which one is which, but it's not as if that matters. One of the headline features that the press release touts for each is the "Scene Auto Selector, with which the user need simply point the camera at the intended subject." Lofty stuff. At least one of these cameras, possibly both, deserves the ignominy of being sold on pegs in blister packs.
Perhaps there will be another A-series in the future that will once again produce "the highest image quality possible from a compact point-and-shoot". Perhaps it will even be a decent camera, surpassing the original flagship in function and design.
I won't hold my breath. Never underestimate Nikon's ability to screw up the easy and the obvious.