When one thinks of rugged cameras, either Olympus or Panasonic are among the brands that one thinks of instantly. These brands have been launching tough, shockproof cameras for years and though a tad on the pricier side, they are extremely efficient and perform in the way they are intended to. So, how does the competition respond to a unique camera such as this? By launching a similarly attributed camera with their own implementations. Who better to target this segment of cameras, other than Nikon, one of the world’s most popular camera manufacturers. Nikon has responded by launching their first rugged camera, the Coolpix AW100, with AW being an abbreviated form of All Weather. This camera boasts of features such as being waterproof up to 10 metres, shockproof from a drop of 5 feet as well as freezeproof up to -10 degree Celsius.
Unique locking mechanism on the battery bay
Design and Build Quality
Mostly cameras from this segment are chunky, even though they feature in the compact camera segment. The AW100, on the contrary is pretty slim and makes other tough cameras look ugly in comparison. It is available in four colour options, which are black, blue, orange and camouflage. The review piece given to us was the black model and as far as rugged cameras go, this is a really stylish looking, compact camera.
Like other all weather cameras available, there is no large lens adorning the face of the camera. Instead, the lens is located in a depression at the top right hand side on the front. The LED flash and the AF assist are also located on the face of the camera. Nikon have used a minimalistic approach, while designing the look of the camera. It will appeal to those who do not want anything too fancy or flashy.
On the rear of the camera is the large 3-inch screen that flushes along the body. Alongside the screen, to the right are the camera’s controls such as playback, zoom, menu, four-way navigational pad, etc. Most of these buttons have a squarish shape and like the rest of the camera, they too are made of hard plastic. The top of the AW100 features the shutter release button along with the power button. The GPS antenna is also housed in this panel at the top. A button featured on the side of the camera is the GPS/ Action Control button for adjusting settings when wearing gloves.
3-inch screen flushes along the body
Connectivity options for the camera are located in a bay at the side of the camera and they include a proprietary USB port and a mini HDMI port. Located in this bay are the battery as well as a memory card slot. The unique thing about this bay is its flap. To prevent the seepage of water, Nikon has provided a button, which needs to be pressed and a knob to be turned. Only once this is done, the bay will open. On the underside of the flap there is a rubber padding that ensures that it is further protected from water.
The build quality of the camera is really good and there was no need for all the extra bulk that is usually found on other rugged cameras. By reducing this bulk, Nikon has made the AW100 a sporty and stylish looking camera. This camera is not heavy, so shooting with a single hand is possible as it weighs just 178g. This camera is extremely compact as well and one can easily fit it in a shirt pocket, trouser pocket or a purse.
The main feature of the Nikon AW100 is its rugged abilities, which include being waterproof up to 10 metres, shockproof when dropped from a height of 5-feet and freeze resistant to around minus 10 degree Celsius. These are pretty neat features for a camera that is priced at this amount. The camera features a 16MP CMOS sensor, which allows one to click good pictures in low-lit environments. With the use of a 16 MP sensor, which is the size of 1/2.3 inches, one can click pictures at a maximum resolution of 4608 x 3456. This makes printing on large format papers possible. By using a CMOS sensor, Nikon claims that photos can be captured with great image quality as well as low image noise.
Large meshed shutter release button on the top
The camera has a 5x optical zoom with a vibration reduction feature that allows one to capture images from a distance with a reduced amount of blur. This feature can certainly help when one is performing adventure sports, such as rock climbing, mountain biking, etc. Apart from the rugged capabilities of the camera, it also has other interesting features such as 1080p video recording at 30fps, GPS capabilities and a whole lot of scene modes. The camera features a maximum ISO sensitivity of 3200, this makes shooting in low-lit areas possible.
The interface of the camera is similar to that of other Nikon cameras. So, if one has used a Nikon in the past, getting used to the camera will take place instantly. For those who don’t know, the interface of the Nikon is extremely easy to navigate through. One can just use the menu option to access options, then to select they need to press the OK button. The camera supports memory cards, such as SD, SDHC and SDXC. These sort of cards are found quite freely in the market. The features of this camera are really good and one would surely enjoy using them in extreme as well as in normal conditions.