Nikon AW100 Review - Digital Photography School

Nikon AW100 Review

As with their mirrorless camera, it has now taken Nikon a while to push its waterproof boat, sorry — camera — into the stream – and very welcome it is with some departures from the crowd.

The Nikon AW100 review camera had a blue face plate but it is also available in camouflage, orange and black. Hope you like the camouflage version shown here!

nikon-AW100 four colours.jpg

Nikon AW100 Features

There’s lots to like: the waterproof battery/card compartment is at the side, opened with a button push and a turn of a knob, so little chance of an accidental tip out.

nikon-AW100_BK_front.jpg

nikon-aw100_bk_back.jpg

A useful helper is an action control button which you activate by tapping the large action button at the side of the camera — then shake the camera: a big help if you’re wearing gloves underwater or on the snow.

Another aid is an underwater scene mode in which the white balance for underwater shooting is automatically adjusted to prevent a cast of unnatural green or blue in underwater images.

Filter effects.jpg

Then, it’s taken further: post shooting you can adjust the look of stored images with filtration: one which intrigued me was fog removal … could it clear up cloudy water? Dunno.

Maximum depth is 10 metres; shockproof drop limit is 1.5 metres; lowest temperature is minus 10 degrees C.

Menu.jpg

Powered up and with the zoom extended to its full 5x there’s no external protrusion from the camera, which remains a thin 22.8mm in depth. I do have a problem with the wide end of the zoom: the 35 SLR equivalent of 28mm becomes 40mm underwater and, as most divers will tell you, it’s best to stay close to your subject when below the surface.

With a 16 megapixel CMOS, its maximum image size is a huge 4608×3456 pixels or enough to make a 39x29cm print.

Movies? All the way up to Full HD in MPEG4. AF and exposure are constantly adjusted as the camera moves and zooms. Unfortunately, it will not catch stills while shooting video.

GPS 1.jpg

GPS 2.jpg

GPS display.jpg

The camera also has comprehensive GPS support, an electronic compass and a map display. There’s also a log function which can track and record movement even when the camera is off. Logs can then be saved and displayed on screen.

Startup

Nearly two seconds after startup the camera can shoot its first shot; follow-ons nearly as fast as you can hit the button.

Distortion

A good performer with no sign of any distortion at either end of the zoom.

Nikon V1 ISO 125.JPG

Nikon V1 ISO 400.JPG

Nikon V1 ISO 1600.JPG

Nikon V1 ISO 3200.JPG

Nikon AW100 ISO Tests

Noise only begins to show up at ISO 1600. By ISO 3200 more noise and some image softness — but still useable.

Float.JPG

Nikon AW100 Verdict

Quality: average snapshot images.

Why you’d buy the Nikon AMW100: you’re out and about, wet and wild; the GPS function can be useful in your activities.

Why you wouldn’t buy the Nikon AW100: you may find the control buttons hard to locate when underwater.

An impressive go-anywhere camera with some desirable features. But do yourself a favour before you get it wet: buy a waterproof carry strap… the supplied one gets sodden!

Nikon AW100 Specifications

Image Sensor: 16.0 million effective pixels.
Lens: Nikkor f3.9-4.8/5-25mm (28-140mm as 35 SLR equivalent).
Effective Sensor Size: 11mm CMOS.
Metering: Matrix centre-weighted and spot.
Exposure Modes: Auto, Program AE.
Shutter Speed: 4-1/1500 second.
Continuous Shooting: 7.1 fps.
Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC cards plus 83MB internal memory.
Image Sizes (pixels): Stills: 4608×3456 to 640×480.
Movies: 1920x1080p; 1280x720p, 960×540, 640×480.
Viewfinder: 7.5cm LCD screen (460,000 pixels).
File Formats: JPEG, WAV, MPEG4.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 3200.
Interface: USB 2.0, AV, HDMI mini.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, DC input.
Dimensions: 110.1×64.9×22.8 WHDmm.
Weight: 178 g (battery and card).
Price: Get a price on the Nikon COOLPIX AW100

Summary
Reviewer
Barrie Smith
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Nikon AW100
Author Rating
3

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like...

Read more from our Cameras & Equipment category.

Barrie Smith is an experienced writer/photographer currently published in Australian Macworld, Auscam and other magazines in Australia and overseas.

  • http://www.photomiser.com photomiser

    Thanks for the review. I’ve not explored underwater photography. How well do these underwater cameras hold up over time with average use?

  • http://www.whitesmotorcyckes.com Mdw612

    I am on the fence to buy this camera for a cruise to the Bahamas at the end of this month. BTW B&H has this for a Great price!

  • http://cameraguyzack.blogspot.com Zack Jones

    I was really excited when the AW100 was announced and then released. I thought it would be the perfect pocket camera since it’s smaller than the Canon PowerShot D10 I normally used for that purpose. Having built in GPS was a huge plus, I thought. So far I have not been overly impressed with the camera. GPS lock, even when the camera has a totally clear sky overhead can take an extended amount of time (5+ minutes in some cases). Use of the GPS really drains the battery down quickly. The base maps on the camera can’t be updated either. I’ve actually resorted to turning GPS off and geotagg images using RoboGEO like I do the images from my DSLR. Another issue I and at least one other AW100 owner have discovered is if you don’t keep the lens cover really clean you’ll get ghosting on any image where there’s a bright light source and the camera is aimed anywhere near that source. So now each time I remove it from my pocket I need to make sure and clean the lens cover if I’m going to be shooting at or near a bright light source. For me the camera has been an expensive lesson — it’s not that much better than the Canon I already owned. I would have been better off keeping the Canon and using the AW100 money towards another lens.

    @photomiser – As long as you take care of the camera and treat it properly it will last a long time. For example my Canon states that after using it in salt water to soak it in fresh water for at least and hour. I do the same after using the camera in the pool and so far I’ve had zero problems.

  • http://www.newdigitalslr.com/ Karl

    Nice review, for some reason, I really wanna spend my money on this just for little get aways with friends. It seems really transportable and bloody hell! It has a GPS! Haha. I have no clue, but I’m really impressed by that one fact, but it seems really useless and just more of a gimmick add-on to me. But I’m excited for this, I can actually afford this, haha!

  • John

    As I waited till this camera came out before I made my decision … I was greatly under impressed. I use Nikon cameras for my daily use on land, from city to Serengeti. But if you are wanting a true underwater camera go to a company that knows that aspect of the business.

  • Lorne Melnyk

    Hi..great review. Thanks..Im having a big problem trying to find one in camo color.Any ideas on where to locate one.I live close to Edmonton Alberta Canada..Tks again and take care….Lorne Melnyk.

  • Lilith

    I got this to take on a 3 week exploration of Thailand. As a little pocket camera that I didnt have to worry about getting wet or taking some bumps (as I was working closely with Asian elephants) this worked very well. The battery life was also good, though video would drain it faster then just stills. I would fully recommend it to someone in need of a pocket camera for adventures and questionable weather outings.

  • http://www.camerapricer.co.uk Camera fan

    Thanks for the review Barrie, have you tried any other underwater cameras like the Canon D10? I’m curious to see how the Nikon AW100 compares.

  • Barrie Smith
  • http://www.whitesmotorcycles.com Mike White

    Well folks! I made the plunge, found the AW100 at Costco for $279.00 after a $50.00 instant rebate. I plan on taking the AW100 on a cruise to the islands at the end of the month. I will post a further indepth information ASAP.

  • ray

    hi guys bought this camera two weeks ago. i got it for the underwater capabilities and hd video. i dont really know much about photographyi take pictures and some look profesional and some look like they come from a disposble camera. any tips?

  • Marie Tucker

    I just ordered one and also got the Chums water strap both with free shipping for a total of 326.46 through Amazon. I can’t wait to use it. I shoot land photography with Canon and have used some old junk digitals that i didnt care about on various kayaking trips. The idea of decent quality shots with the AW100 is very exciting. I will let you know how it works out for me!

  • choop

    @John, ever heard of the Nikonos? If you wan’t professional quality you’re going to have to pay $4000 for it, not $300.

  • Kevin

    Does it have a manual shooting mode or is it 100% auto settings?

  • Barrie Smith

    As I recall there is no provision for manual exposure but there is manual white balance and manual focus.

  • angelo

    hi barrie, your review was awesome. im really searching for a person (reliable) to ask to, what underwater digicam would you exactly recommend to me? rugged and wild adventures, like hiking and beach and stuff etc.. i saw this aw100 from the net and its no. 1. im not sure about it.. thanks

  • christian

    I bought this last december and have been using it for a bit. Image quality isnt great just as you would expect from a compact camera. Low light conditions are passable but not too good. I bought it as a carry everywhere camera since I use a D7000 plus 4 bulky lenses for my land photography. I also scuba dive and bought it for the underwater feature. If not, I´’d have bought either a J1 or G12 or even some ILC (thinking of quality). So far I’m satisfied with the performance underwater since I went down to 12meters (i know it is supposed to go to 10m) and it handed it well. I dove 3 times at 8, 10 and 12m and it was all ok. The downside: when you’re deep in the ocean, the buttons may get stuck because of the pressure and you might end up with only the main buttom to shoot pictures. The video buttom got stuck all 3 times so i could not get many videos underwater. The other issue is that fogging can occur depending on quick temperature changes and you might miss some photo oportunities. All in all, I’m ok with it, but again, it’s my first waterproof camera. I hope this helps.

  • George Driskill

    How fast does the Nikon AW100 record images? Any advantage in buying a Class 10 or a UHS-1 or UHS-2 SD card?

Some older comments

  • christian

    May 23, 2012 09:26 am

    I bought this last december and have been using it for a bit. Image quality isnt great just as you would expect from a compact camera. Low light conditions are passable but not too good. I bought it as a carry everywhere camera since I use a D7000 plus 4 bulky lenses for my land photography. I also scuba dive and bought it for the underwater feature. If not, I´'d have bought either a J1 or G12 or even some ILC (thinking of quality). So far I'm satisfied with the performance underwater since I went down to 12meters (i know it is supposed to go to 10m) and it handed it well. I dove 3 times at 8, 10 and 12m and it was all ok. The downside: when you're deep in the ocean, the buttons may get stuck because of the pressure and you might end up with only the main buttom to shoot pictures. The video buttom got stuck all 3 times so i could not get many videos underwater. The other issue is that fogging can occur depending on quick temperature changes and you might miss some photo oportunities. All in all, I'm ok with it, but again, it's my first waterproof camera. I hope this helps.

  • angelo

    April 24, 2012 10:37 pm

    hi barrie, your review was awesome. im really searching for a person (reliable) to ask to, what underwater digicam would you exactly recommend to me? rugged and wild adventures, like hiking and beach and stuff etc.. i saw this aw100 from the net and its no. 1. im not sure about it.. thanks

  • Barrie Smith

    April 23, 2012 08:04 am

    As I recall there is no provision for manual exposure but there is manual white balance and manual focus.

  • Kevin

    April 23, 2012 07:12 am

    Does it have a manual shooting mode or is it 100% auto settings?

  • choop

    March 12, 2012 02:53 am

    @John, ever heard of the Nikonos? If you wan't professional quality you're going to have to pay $4000 for it, not $300.

  • Marie Tucker

    March 1, 2012 04:20 pm

    I just ordered one and also got the Chums water strap both with free shipping for a total of 326.46 through Amazon. I can't wait to use it. I shoot land photography with Canon and have used some old junk digitals that i didnt care about on various kayaking trips. The idea of decent quality shots with the AW100 is very exciting. I will let you know how it works out for me!

  • ray

    December 11, 2011 05:24 pm

    hi guys bought this camera two weeks ago. i got it for the underwater capabilities and hd video. i dont really know much about photographyi take pictures and some look profesional and some look like they come from a disposble camera. any tips?

  • Mike White

    December 11, 2011 03:15 pm

    Well folks! I made the plunge, found the AW100 at Costco for $279.00 after a $50.00 instant rebate. I plan on taking the AW100 on a cruise to the islands at the end of the month. I will post a further indepth information ASAP.

  • Barrie Smith

    December 11, 2011 08:55 am

    to Camera Fan

    here are some more of my underwater camera reviews:

    www.digital-photography-school.com/ricoh-g700-review

    www.digital-photography-school.com/sony-cybershot-dsc-tx5-review

    www.digital-photography-school.com/panasonic-lumix-dmc-ts1-dmc-ft1

    www.digital-photography-school.com/sanyo-xacti-vpc-wh1ex-camcorder-review

    There are more on the DPS site. Set Search to 'underwater'

  • Camera fan

    December 11, 2011 05:50 am

    Thanks for the review Barrie, have you tried any other underwater cameras like the Canon D10? I'm curious to see how the Nikon AW100 compares.

  • Lilith

    December 9, 2011 05:04 am

    I got this to take on a 3 week exploration of Thailand. As a little pocket camera that I didnt have to worry about getting wet or taking some bumps (as I was working closely with Asian elephants) this worked very well. The battery life was also good, though video would drain it faster then just stills. I would fully recommend it to someone in need of a pocket camera for adventures and questionable weather outings.

  • Lorne Melnyk

    December 7, 2011 05:12 am

    Hi..great review. Thanks..Im having a big problem trying to find one in camo color.Any ideas on where to locate one.I live close to Edmonton Alberta Canada..Tks again and take care....Lorne Melnyk.

  • John

    December 5, 2011 12:43 am

    As I waited till this camera came out before I made my decision ... I was greatly under impressed. I use Nikon cameras for my daily use on land, from city to Serengeti. But if you are wanting a true underwater camera go to a company that knows that aspect of the business.

  • Karl

    December 2, 2011 10:49 pm

    Nice review, for some reason, I really wanna spend my money on this just for little get aways with friends. It seems really transportable and bloody hell! It has a GPS! Haha. I have no clue, but I'm really impressed by that one fact, but it seems really useless and just more of a gimmick add-on to me. But I'm excited for this, I can actually afford this, haha!

  • Zack Jones

    December 2, 2011 10:20 pm

    I was really excited when the AW100 was announced and then released. I thought it would be the perfect pocket camera since it's smaller than the Canon PowerShot D10 I normally used for that purpose. Having built in GPS was a huge plus, I thought. So far I have not been overly impressed with the camera. GPS lock, even when the camera has a totally clear sky overhead can take an extended amount of time (5+ minutes in some cases). Use of the GPS really drains the battery down quickly. The base maps on the camera can't be updated either. I've actually resorted to turning GPS off and geotagg images using RoboGEO like I do the images from my DSLR. Another issue I and at least one other AW100 owner have discovered is if you don't keep the lens cover really clean you'll get ghosting on any image where there's a bright light source and the camera is aimed anywhere near that source. So now each time I remove it from my pocket I need to make sure and clean the lens cover if I'm going to be shooting at or near a bright light source. For me the camera has been an expensive lesson -- it's not that much better than the Canon I already owned. I would have been better off keeping the Canon and using the AW100 money towards another lens.

    @photomiser - As long as you take care of the camera and treat it properly it will last a long time. For example my Canon states that after using it in salt water to soak it in fresh water for at least and hour. I do the same after using the camera in the pool and so far I've had zero problems.

  • Mdw612

    December 2, 2011 01:21 pm

    I am on the fence to buy this camera for a cruise to the Bahamas at the end of this month. BTW B&H has this for a Great price!

  • photomiser

    December 2, 2011 11:00 am

    Thanks for the review. I've not explored underwater photography. How well do these underwater cameras hold up over time with average use?

Receive a FREE SAMPLE of our Portrait Photography Ebook

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download

Receive a FREE SAMPLE of our Portrait Photography Ebook

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download

Receive a FREE SAMPLE of our Portrait Photography Ebook

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download

Sign up to the free DPS PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download

GET DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS Feed

Sign up to the free

DPS PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download

GET DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS Feed

Sign up to the free

DPS PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download
Today’s Deal: 100 professional Lightroom presets for $10!BUY NOW
DPS NEWSLETTER
DPS NEWSLETTER
DPS NEWSLETTER

DPS offers a free weekly newsletter with: 
1. new photography tutorials and tips
2. latest photography assignments
3. photo competitions and prizes

Enter your email below to subscribe.
Email:
 
 
Get DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS feed