Absent from the waterproof camera market since 2001, Nikon has “cannon-balled” into the deep end with the introduction of the CoolPix AW100 compact camera. Ten years after halting production of its Nikonos series, Nikon has apparently realized that there is a much bigger market of adventure seekers with more interests than just scuba diving. There are more hikers and campers trekking into the wild country, kayakers on wild rivers, rock climbers, mountain bikers, ATVers, etc. These consumers require more than a waterproof camera; they need a piece of equipment that is built for the rugged environments they explore, and hard use.
Read real customer reviews of the Nikon CoolPix AW100 here.
The Nikon CoolPix AW100 clearly delivers the goods, as it is waterproof to 33 feet (10m), drop-proof from five feet (1.5m) and weather resistant to a bone-numbing 14°F (10°C). What this camera’s rugged chassis is protecting on the outside, with heavy-duty seals and covers, are the battery-chamber, SD card slot, HDMI mini-connector and USB/audio video connector. The impressive features and capabilities on the inside are also secure: a 5x wide-angle/zoom NIKKOR ED glass lens (28–140mm 35mm equivalent), a 16-megapixel CMOS sensor and new GPS technologies, for starters.
Nikon has been able to design and manufacture the CoolPix AW100, so it will withstand the rigors of the adventurous lifestyle, but in a small, convenient package. At approximately one-inch wide and only 6.3 ounces, this camera takes very little room in a backpack and can be easily operated, whether the weather is nasty or you’re hanging from a cliff.
Portability is certainly important, but you also want a camera that can produce high quality images, and the CoolPix AW100’s 16-megapixel sensor is where the magic starts. It is backside illuminated, so you’re able to capture stunning images in any of the many natural lighting conditions where you might find yourself: the bright, glaring sunlight of the open country or high altitudes, or the murky shadows of the deep forest or jungle. Not only is there a high-sensitivity mode for low light, but also an ISO range of as much as 3,200 to help record your travels, wherever you may go and whatever light is available.
Nikon also realized that the adventurous lifestyle is synonymous with people in motion, and often high-speed motion. That’s why the CoolPix AW100 includes Nikon’s proprietary Vibration Reduction (VR) technology to reduce camera shake, which results in sharper images of every amazing moment.
Nikon has pushed the design of this camera to the equivalent extremes that you experience whenever you seek outdoor thrills. The AW100’s “location” functions go well beyond a GPS, although GPS capabilities in this camera are comprehensive. You would expect a camera of this type to record latitude and longitude for each photo, and then view them according to these locations; however, you can also shoot and track your path with the included Nikon ViewNX2 software or via Nikon’s picture-sharing site, mypicturetown.com, or Google Earth™. With these additional tools, you can determine your specific orientation within any environment and view thumbnails matched to a map of the area.
The AW100 even records your various locations when its not being used as a camera. Share the route of your travels with friends, so they can follow or try to duplicate your trek through wild country. While viewing through the LCD screen, look for the E-compass, which also provides orientation information.
The CoolPix AW100 earns its “coolness” with the Action Control feature. You can pre-select various settings, so simply shaking the camera activates them. This is particularly helpful when you’re wearing various types of gloves or you only have one hand available to shoot a picture.
The CoolPix AW100 wouldn’t be much of a camera for rugged adventures if it didn’t shoot video; and Nikon built this camera with exactly what you need. Full HD 1080p video is easy to operate with a one-touch record button. Plus, the lens can optically zoom during moviemaking, and records stereo audio. Nikon was also fixated on capturing action during your video shoots with a number of recording choices: 60, 120 and 240 frames-per-second (fps) to create slow-motion footage and 15 fps to increases the speed of the action.
The Nikon CoolPix AW100 is just being released (September 2011) as this article is being written, so the timing is perfect for any scheduled or spontaneous fall adventures. Look for it in blue, black and an easy-to-see bright orange, with an estimated price of approximately $380.