Review: Nikon 1 AW1 adventure camera
The Nikon 1 AW1 action camera gets an A for styling because everyone who sees it likes it. It does stand out, especially the white version, with its silver accented lens. That ‘s the one I tried. I’m more of a silver or black camera body type, so fortunately for me, it’s also available in those colors. The camera is waterproof down to 49 feet and shock proof up to a 6-and-a-half-foot drop.
Nikon says it’s the first compact-style camera with interchangeable lenses that will go underwater. The one-lens camera kit, priced at $799.95, includes a 2.5x zoom lens which is a 35 mm equivalent of 30 to 74 mm. Also available is the AW 10 f2.8 lens priced at $199.95.
This camera is designed for the outdoor action enthusiast. It’s perfect for a trip to the beach, the snow, mountains or lake.
The camera has a very rugged feel, but while it says you can drop it from a height of 6 feet, I was hesitant to do so. I can imagine dropping this camera on grass, dirt or gravel but I just couldn’t try dropping it onto a hard surface like concrete.
While it was fun carrying this camera, it’s not going to fit into a pocket — it’s mid-sized between a conventional DSLR and a compact point-and-shoot. So for many looking for a smaller, more convenient, tough-style camera, the Nikon COOLPIX AW110 priced at $249.95 might be a better choice.
The smaller COOLPIX AW110 has a 5X zoom lens and built-in wi-fi, and it’s a lot easier to carry in a pocket while you’re out hiking or climbing. For most of us, convenience is going to win out, especially with the lower price, smaller size, and more zoom.
The new Nikon 1 AW1 camera has a great feel and it’s easy to switch back and forth from still to video with the two buttons on the top of the camera. It did take me a little time getting used to zooming using the lens barrel. It was a little stiff, and I’m used to a simple twist of the thumb with a switch around the shutter button for zooming on smaller cameras.
It would be nice if the camera had built in wi-fi, which seems to be standard on most new cameras at this price point. But it has the capability when you use it with the WU-1 mobile adapter at an additional cost of $59.95.
The camera features the necessary exposure mode with manual, programmed, shutter and aperture and a scene selector that includes landscape, night landscape, underwater, close-up and portrait.
Nikon 1AW1 STATS:
Sensor size: 13.2 x 8.8 mm Nikon CX format – 14.2 million pixels
Media: SD, SDHC, SDXC (one card slot)
Viewing screen: 3.0 inch diagonal TFT-LCD
Weight: 11.1 oz (body only)
Top shooting speed (full resolution): 15 frames per second
Video: 1920 x 1080 at 60i/30p and 1280 x 720 at 60p/30p
Format: NEF (Nikon Electronic Format) RAW and JPEG
Fastest shutter speed: 1/1600 second
Wifi: Yes with the WU-1b Wireless Mobile Adapter
I tested the camera mostly on the automatic setting, getting it wet at the beach and in the jacuzzi. I also tried some night photos to check out the low-light capability. The quality of the images was fine, matching the quality of most cameras with this size sensor.
One of the unique features is the Action control menu, which can be activated by the raised button, and gives you the ability to change the setting when you’re wearing gloves. Tilt the camera back and forth to change the functions. This would really be handy if you’re out in the snow or underwater.
The AW1 features a pop-up flash, but no hot-shoe. Its sleek style without many dials on the outside made it a bit cumbersome to change shutter speed and aperture. Also missing for me was the option of an eye-level viewfinder.
You can even dress up the camera with the Nikon 1 AW1 CF-N6000 Silicon Jacket, available in black, orange and khaki for $36.96. This might be a nice addition, since the camera can be a little slippery — especially when it gets wet.
While I found the concept interesting, and appreciate Nikon’s technology on the new AW1 adventure camera — carrying on the tradition from their popular Nikonos underwater camera days — this camera wouldn’t quite fit into my photo lifestyle. It’s just a little too bulky to carry with me on a hike or vacation. I guess I’m a little more into convenience, so the smaller-sized and cheaper COOLPIX AW110 might be a better fit for me.
January 9, 2014, 4:23 pm
Nikon seems to reinventing the waterproof camera which they perfected with the Nikonos in the 60's.
What I want to see is the AW1 with a depth rating of at least 33m, a lens like the 15mm Nikonos U/W, and a sensor that is full frame or at worst DX. There are a lot of underwater photographers professional and novice out there that would scramble to purchase such a camera – me being the first!
January 11, 2014, 12:26 pm
Really appreciate this post. It’s hard to sort the good from the bad sometimes, but I think You’ve nailed it!
May 1, 2015, 4:03 pm
Uh, this is a camera review. Where is the review of picture quality? This is the first rugged camera with a larger lens, that I've been waiting for for 10 years. I want to know if the picture quality justifies the bulkiness.
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