Customer Reviews: Nikon COOLPIX AW100 16 MP CMOS Waterproof Digital Camera with GPS and Full HD 1080p Video (Blue) (OLD MODEL)
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on September 21, 2011
I have had this camera a few days now and have been very impressed with the tests I've put it through thus far. This camera does everything Nikon says it will and does them all wonderfully.

Overall Build
This is a small camera in your hands which is a good and bad thing. It's great because it means it's easy to slip in your pants or shirt pocket and always keep with you. It weighs little enough that you hardly notice it's there. I see where some people could see this as an issue because the buttons on it are very small in order to have the back LCD as large as possible. It does not feel cheap even though it's made out of plastic and although I don't plan on doing a drop test, I am confident it would survive a drop from chest high.

Picture Quality
With an 8GB SD card I don't see a reason to shoot at any other setting than the highest resolution, so all my playing around with it was done at this setting. The JPEGs that come out look great. The images are sharp, have good color and the auto whitebalance has done an amazing job. The main thing I was worried about was having to do difficult WB corrections after the fact if it wasn't right on with the WB, but so far it has been spot on in full sun shots, shady shots, indoor with incandescent and indoor with fluorescent lights. I honestly think the 16MP is a little overkill, but will keep shooting at full resolution as I don't know when I'll need those extra pixels. Lastly, low light shooting has definitely exceeded my expectations. I thought with a sensor as small as this one there would be lots of noise in the final result but even at the higher ISO levels the pictures are very clear and useable.

I don't really plan on using this for video too much but have tested it out nonetheless. It is very smooth while shooting at 1080p and looks great when run to my TV to view it. The microphones pick up the noises very well and even have a setting that reduces wind noise (I tested by blowing on the microphone while recording). To shoot video you don't have to change modes or anything - you just press the red circle button on the back and you're off.

Button Placement/Menu
Everything seems to get in the right place as far as buttons go. Most can be reached with either your right thumb or right index finger while you're holding it up to shoot without adjusting, although if you are a lefty you will need to get used to holding it in your right hand. I also shoot a Nikon d5100 and had no trouble figuring out what everything did without looking at the instruction manual, so if you've used a Nikon in the past few years this should be a breeze. The menu is fairly uncomplicated and not overloaded with useless features. It is quick to get to the setting I want without too many annoying clicks. This is important to me as I had missing shots while I fumble with the buttons.

Vibration Reduction
I tested this out by holding the camera at arms length with one hand while shooting some test shots. Even from the LCD I could tell the image was doing a lot less shaking than my hand was, and was very impressed by the pictures when they came out. This will definitely come in handy on the boat.

Having not used a point and shoot in a few year, I was very pleased with how far the autofocus has come. It quickly locks on to an object, highlights the object and will keep it in focus even if you start swinging the camera around. Going from objects ~1 foot away to 30 feet away has been focused quickly and accurately. No complaints here.

The main reason I got this camera is so I could take it out with me when I go fishing. This means the first chance I got, I took this camera in a pool to start testing it out. It worked as expected, shooting at the 10 foot deep end of the pool with no problem. The color correction for shooting underwater was also quite effective. After taking some test shots, I put the camera in my pocket for the rest of the time in the pool just to keep it submerged for as long as possible. After a quick towel off out of the pool, it looked good as new. The battery/SD card door has a foolproof way of shutting and remaining watertight so unless I puncture something I'm not worried about water getting in there.

I have loved the performance of the GPS even when indoors. This is something that will be very useful when I either go fishing or go out in the woods and want to take a picture of something that is in a location I want to come back to. The GPS data is written to the metadata so I can punch it in googlemaps after I get home to see where things were. It also has an electronic compass which is handy for a few reasons and has worked great so far.

It works and it lights things up. I've sort of grown to love to hate flashes for snapshot while using my dSLR so I try not to use it often. It is significantly better than some of the old point and shoots I've used, so in a pinch I will rely on it.

Battery Life
Don't let the tiny battery fool you - it lasts a long time. After the initial charge, I've spent close to an hour just going through all the menus playing with things, testing out the GPS, taking dozens of pictures and videos and reviewing them on the camera after the fact and am still above 50%. I couldn't imagine a situation where I would feel the need to purchase or bring a second battery along unless I was going to be out of civilization for a week or so.

I would highly recommend this camera to anyone who is looking for an outdoor/waterproof camera, or someone who needs a slightly more durable camera due to butterfingers.
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on July 31, 2012
I don't think I've ever written a review even after years of buying off of Amazon, but I feel obligated to save others from the experience I had with this product.

I bought this camera for a trip to Thailand and Vietnam this past summer, and also for future water related activities. After using it the second time in water, first time snorkeling, second in a pool: it broke. I wasn't using it abusively, but somehow water leaked into the camera and it started acting up.

By the time I got to Vietnam, the camera would take a single picture and then shut off.
After taking it out kayaking in the ocean in Vietnam, it died for good.
After the camera died I went scuba diving, jetskiing, and white water rafting. All without a waterproof camera.

There are a lot of good things about this camera (panorama, gps,etc.) and those features swayed me to overlook the negative reviews which actually documented this waterproof issue.
So I won't waste your time with the pro's of this camera, when it fails miserably at the most important feature which is it's waterproof-ness.

When I get another waterproof camera that survives, I'll update this review with a recommendation. Hope this helps!
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on October 29, 2011
I selected the Nikon AW100 over the TX-10 because of a better external form (TX-10 too hard to hold securely, sliding cover, and 3 seal points in 2 doors) and over the TS-3 with hopes of slightly better image quality and a better GPS performance. And over both, with hopes of using the included 40.5 mm filter adapter to attach to my Vortex Razor 85 scope's filter thread based camera adapter for digiscoping. The plastic 40.5 mm filter adapter attaches firm enough that I am confident the physical thread attachment will carry the off-center load. I am waiting for a filter step up ring to arrive to check out the optical compatibility and will update my review later.

Update on digiscoping experience (11/4/11).

The AW100 can be a great digiscoping camera, no matter what the weather conditions. I received the step-up filter adapters and mated the camera to my scope via the Razor digital camera adapter (RZR-DA) and the included AW100 40.5mm filter attachment. The attachment was just right for letting the camera hang onto the scope's eyepiece for taking pictures, pressing the buttons, etc, but I would not recommend transporting the scope with the camera attached as the plastic filter ring simply snaps into the AW100 via a single small catch point under the lens.

The optical compatibility produced very nice high magnification images. The non-protruding lens is very convenient to getting fairly close to the eyepiece of the scope. The wide angle zoom setting on the AW100 produce moderate vignetting (not unusual for digiscoping) but increasing to full optical zoom eliminated most of it. I used the timer to release the shutter to let vibration damp out as there is no remote release. The 2 sec setting is a little short and the 10 sec is a little long though. With wildlife shots, using a high ISO for faster shutter speed and manual release will be the way to go. I haven't explored the AW100's hybrid vibtration setting, but that may help too.

First impressions
This is my first weatherproofed camera and I have had it for a week. I have used several other P&S and DSLR cameras, but do not make my living taking images. Build quality is very good with nice image quality and plenty of features. I will say this camera won't replace the high IQ cameras where fine detail in grass, trees and textures is of high importance. Nor for the person who wants RAW or lots of manual control or who desires to do a lot of cropping. This camera is for the person who wants to capture their outdoor adventures in photos and videos no matter what the conditions and is willing to pay a premium over conventional P&S cameras. The AW100 images have a slightly soft look and zoomed-in fine detail tends to disappear by the image processing even at the lowest ISO. But the colors and general image quality are good enough for most users who just want a nice adventure picture to share with others in printed or online form. The 16MP CMOS element doesn't produce the IQ I'd hoped for, but I am still happy considering the compromises involved. 2x zoomed images shot at 5 MP generally look almost as good as the 16MP on my computer monitor, so the extra pixels are not adding that much benefit. Night and low light looks pretty acceptable with expected increase in noise.

The buttons on the back are small and close and a little finicky for large fingers. You must read the manual (pdf only) to keep from wondering why something doesn't work as expected (there are quite a few inter-dependent feature settings to understand and there's lots that are not intuitive). Plenty of different still and video settings/scenes that cover most P&S situations. This would not be a good manual control form factor anyway. The menu system is logical, and varies with the mode you are in so you are presented with only the applicable settings. The camera's GPS metadata geo-tagging has worked well on both the built-in map and Google Earth. Macro works well and the built in flash can even be used while in macro. The monitor is bright and clear and I don't miss the higher resolution on other cameras like the TX-10.

I am using a 16G class 10 Sandisk SDHC and am happy with the overall focusing, snap, and writing performance. The fast action button could be useful if you have it set up right, even being able to start the video using the large side button. Although you need to take care to press in the center as it will not actuate if pressed slightly off-center. Battery life can vary significantly depending on whether you have GPS turned ON or are doing a lot of HD video. I would highly recommend getting a 2nd battery at a minimum.

Lots of choices in the settings. 1080p30 works well replayed in the camera, but 1080p as replayed on my desktop had a jerky characteristic. 720p30 plays smoothly so I suspect its a moderately old desktop processing issue. High and low speed video also work well, but this is not a professional videographers tool. Again, great for catching the outdoors and sharing with friends. The dedicated video button is nice if not a little small and hard to find by feel. Time from button push to record is less than 1 second. Video sound replayed from the camera is very faint. Replay on other devices has good sound but zoom and focus motors are easily picked up (stated in the manual)

I dunked it into a water-filled sink to see if there was an obvious defect in the seals - still worked afterwords. All these waterproof cameras state to replace the seals annually and the AW100 is no exception. One concern about the Sony TX-10 was it had a total of 3 seals in 2 doors, so I was more interested to have a tight locking single door and the AW100 at least looks the part. I don't intend to drop test it.

All in all I am satisfied with this camera. I gave it a four star rating as I would want slightly better image quality and more usable buttons.
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on November 7, 2011
I shoot a Nikon D3100 when I'm in the states, but I wanted something of similar quality (picture quality) to carry with me while in Afghanistan. I knew I wanted/needed it to be able to take a beating cause it was definitely not going to be babied.

I couldn't be happier with this camerea. I haven't shot many pictures with it, but I'm super happy with the results I've gotten so far. For a point and shoot its got very little noise and the VR works great.

It feels very sturdy in your hand and not like a flimsy piece of junk like some other ruggized cameras I looked at. It takes good low light photos, with acceptable grain. This is what I really wanted it for, as the old Canon it was replacing you couldn't make any manual adjustments.

The one feature they don't discuss and the one I was most surpised about how much I like it is a built in panoramic feature. The camera will assist you in taking either 180 or 360 panoramics. It will either perform the stitching for you and produce a single panoramic or take the needed individual shots for you to stitch later. I've found this an awesome feature for here in Afghanistan for taking deployment pictures of the scenic landscapes here.

I highly recommend this camera to anyone that wants/needs a camera to take places they don't feel comfortable taking their DSLR, as this is the niche it fills for me.
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on May 30, 2012
Here is a video review of the Nikon Camera I bought last weekend.. The pictures are PERFECT but I'm going to return it,, here's why....
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on December 19, 2011
A little background so you know where I'm coming from.

I use to be a point and shooter like everyone else then fell in love with photography. From there I started to accumulate DSLR and equipment like crazy. Learning and stumbling as I go but eventually good pretty good at the concept. Now I take photos on a semi professional level. I am not professionally trained or I feel I know more a little more than the average bear.

Now on to the review...

With all the standard features most other cameras comes with and then some. 16mp..1080p etc. I'm sure you guys know all the specs by now if you're reading this.

Since I've own many Pentax Optio waterproof, kodak playsport, Olympus rugged cameras I'm pretty familiar with many of the competition. Their strengths and pitfalls.

Nikon has been on the side line as the point and shoot rugged/waterproof camera was passing them by.

What I like about the Nikon that convinced me to buy it. It was between this or the Canon D10. I did not get the D10 because the shape made it too bulk and it only did SD video.

Nikon Glass (I own most all their pro glass.. so I'm a big fan)
The waterproof latch is infallible. I've had pentax bumped while underwater and it was toast.
Macro lets you get super close
Filter adapter, lets me use polarize filters. A must for when on the water and better colors.
Wide 25mm, love it.
Turns on quickly
Nice feel

GPS is nice but I could live with out. Besides by the time the thing locks on I'm already finished with my snap shots.

Excellent point and shoot images. Not as good as the DSLR by any means but for a point and shoot its good.

HD 1080p video yes, but the nice toy is the 240fps and 120fps slow motion mode. Yes its lower res but still fun to play with.

Don't expect
Raw mode or Manual mode

I've used it several times and has put up videos on Youtube and such. Stills, underwater stills, video in slow mo, underwater, I'm testing it all.

Overall, this was a good first entry for Nikon. It had 90% of the features I was looking for and at the moment I'm pretty satisfied.

It is a great little vacation/adventure camera.

It is not a replacement for your DSLR and it does not try to be.

ps. Dear Nikon please add raw option next time will ya!
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on December 30, 2011
I have to preface this with the disclaimer that I am a "semi" professional photographer and so I am very, very picky about image quality. I compared my new aw100 against my Canon 60D with the 24-105 L lens. not fair I know, but life's not fair.
Of course the 60D blew it away, but I was still impressed by the aw100. the macro is decent, images are good quality. nice set of presets (indoor, pets, underwater etc...). would I use this camera for a photo shoot, no. but as a small, lightweight rugged camera that I can easily carry in a pocket, it impressed me. this will be the camera I take with my hiking, to the beach, boating or anywhere else I where getting the best possible shot is not worth risking $4K worth of camera gear. I even stuck in my Koi Pond to see how it did underwater. I wish I had this camera when I went snorkeling instead of the cheap disposable underwater camera I had. I may even leave my Canon at home the next time I travel over-seas. lugging a backpack full of lenses and cameras halfway around the world is not as fun as you would think.

decent image quality for a point and shoot
good video quality and I like the one button record feature
low shutter lag as long as you are not using red-eye reduction
built in GPS and world maps (very cool for travelers)
lots of presets for the non-pro users and the smart auto settings seems to work well

colors are a little more muted than I would like
a little bit of jpeg compression artifacts at high magnification (most users would probably not notice or care)
poor low light performance. (typical of most point and shoots, better than some)

Bottom Line:
if you are looking for a camera that you can take anywhere and get decent pics, this is a good pick. Picky people like me may not be 100% satisfied with the images, but for posting online or any non-professional use you should be more than happy. when you weigh the less than stellar images against loosing or breaking your big expensive DSLR, it is no contest. Can't wait for scuba diving this spring.
NOTE: camera does not float, so if you plan on taking it boating or around water deeper than 33 feet, get a floating strap for it.
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on April 19, 2012
I bought this camera for backpacking, family camping trips, and our annual Hawaii trip. I needed something that was extremely scratch-resistant, tough enough to be banged around in a backpack, water- and sand-resistant for the beach, and good for capturing important memories. It has performed admirably, with a few notes and exceptions.

First, read the manual. If you do, your life will be easier. Really. IF you bother to read the manual, you will find that there are drainage ports built into the camera to help clear it when you get out of the water. The camera's not leaking, it's draining. Also, if you, say, leave the camera in the bright sun for a while, then take it snorkeling, the lens will fog up. It's physics, not a design flaw. The fog should clear after 10 - 15 minutes, but may take much longer, depending on the temperature differential. After each use in water, the camera should be gently rinsed in fresh water or else the seals may crack and leak. These were the vast majority of the complaints about the camera that could have been resolved by taking 15 minutes to RTFM.

Batteries: I found the battery life to be pretty excellent. After two days and about 60 photos (GPS on, Compass off), the battery was still at 80%. The unit comes with a 1050 mAH battery, but 1500 mAH batteries from Japan are available pretty cheap. The aftermarket battery lasted through a whole day of snorkeling and four separate sessions of 5-minute videos.

Sound: I found the sound quite good. Dolby THX? No. But I could hear what was said and it was in stereo. Bonus points? My snorkeling videos sound like Darth Vader shot them.

Video: Pretty fracking amazing. 5 stars, seriously. Sharpness, focus, and color saturation were right on. Sure, I would have loved image stabilization, but this is a point-and-shoot camera, not a video camera.

SD Card: Oh, wait. The AW100 doesn't come with an SD card. Oops. Nikon has a very limited list of approved memory cards. I went with a 64GB Patriot, Class 10 SD card. It wasn't on the approved list, but I've had good luck with them before. Maybe not my best move. The camera definitely "lost" a few shots, but nothing heart-breaking. On the other hand, I didn't spend $200 on a memory card. The camera lets you know when it didn't capture the image. I just restarted the camera and everything worked fine.

Images: Solid. The camera doesn't really do the best job with strong back-lighting, but everything else was great. Underwater, action shots, night portraits, drunken oh-crap-don't-drop-it shots all turned-out with embarrassingly fine detail.

Other Stuff: There are a few things I found lacking. The included software was pretty much crap. It did nothing better than the photo transfer wizard baked into Windows. The data transfer cable? Well, it worked about half the time. Hey Nikon, is there any reason we can't just use a USB cable to recharge the battery? Though lightweight, the recharging unit is bulky and delicate. Did I forget to mention that the camera doesn't come with an SD card?
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on October 3, 2011
stills are very nice once you get it setup.
videos are pretty, but mechanically very noisy.
if you record a quiet scene, you will hear the autofocus continually adjusting,
like the sound of a cat purring. when you zoom, the noise becomes faster.
you will also record the clicks of the zoom button pushed and released. no, not a click, more like a thunk.
it does not matter if you set the auto focus to single or full time.
other reviewers do you have this problem also, or is it my camera?

UPDATE upon registering the camera on the nikon website, nikon says this is a gray market camera. fortunately the optional "canopy" warranty will take care of repairs.
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on January 27, 2012
The camera functionality works great! However, waterproof?? With a light use on our snorkeling trip it survived, but when brought it into the pool it just died.
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