Nikon today announced the 16-megapixel Coolpix A, its first point-and-shoot camera with a fixed, non-zoom lens to include a large DX-sensor. In general, bigger image sensors are more desirable for capturing photos and video because they perform better in low light without a flash, capturing images that are clear, accurate, and noise-free (or have very little grain). Cameras with smaller sensors generally produce grainier images in such lighting scenarios.
Until recently, only SLRs included such large sensors. It's new for Nikon, but other camera manufacturers have been including large sensors in point-and-shoots for a while, most notably Sony's RX1.
Presently, Nikon does have a lineup of small, mirrorless models that have large image sensors but also accept interchangeable lenses—namely, the Nikon 1 series. But the Coolpix A's sensor will be larger than the CX-sensor included in the Nikon 1 cameras.
Like the Sony RX1, the new Coolpix A will include a non-zoom lens: 18.5mm (which has a 35mm equivalent of a 28mm lens) with a maximum aperture of f/2.8, which should help the camera perform well in low-light. It also includes the ability to shoot RAW photos, can fire off in burst mode at 4 frames per second and has a 3-inch display. Like most advanced point-and-shoots, it also has a number of ways to control settings and focus manually.
The new Coolpix A, $1100, which is very pricey for a point-and-shoot, particularly one that doesn't zoom, will be available later this month. For more on advanced cameras, check out our digital camera buying guide and Ratings.