Top critical review
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Great photos, great video, somewhat difficult to use.
on October 16, 2011
I tend to replace my point-n-shoot about every 3 years. I normally shoot a Nikon D90 but last year upgraded to a D7000.
[UPDATE Feb 2012] The original camera was replaced by Nikon since it failed on the 2nd use in water. This one worked through our Caribbean holiday for 4 full days before it started overheating and would not shut off. It stayed on until the battery drained. Leaving it "sit overnight" and then removing and recharging the battery got it working again, however I could feel the heat the longer it was in use.
The disappointing thing is this camera takes such great photos and now that we got it to work underwater, we know it takes fairly good underwater photos and video. But there's something wrong with either its design or the manufactured batch that we received. Had it too long to return to Amazon for a refund, so I'm probably going to send it a 2nd time back to Nikon. Note their repair service is great, but you have to be proactive and follow up or your repair/replacement will just sit there until you call them and ask for a status update. Once I did that after two weeks of hearing nothing and no status changes they said they'd check and the replacement was shipped out the next day.
I took it to the Bahamas in order to test out the underwater capabilities. I also took along the D90 for "good" photos. After some fumbling with the crappy menu system, (its just me) I found that the AW100 photos were at least as good as the D90. The default color settings were wonderful. The video was better than expected above water, and much better than the Kodak PlaySport below water. The still photos (above water) were so good in fact, that I left the D90 in the hotel room safe for the rest of the trip.
It has a 16Megapixel sensor that is back-wired. This moves the connections to the rear of the sensor which supposedly gives less noise and lower-light sensitivity. My testing at night showed this to be true for me.
The bad things about it: The buttons are VERY touchy, the "use it in the snow with big gloves on" feature is a bit goofy, but then I haven't used it in the snow.
The battery life is no where near as good a any CANON point and shoot I've owned, but with the GPS off it was acceptable.
Speaking of the GPS, what a cool features. Not only do you geo-tag your photos, after you take a picture, it shows you the POI (point of interest) aka, the name of your location right on the screen. Not sure how that translates into the photo's meta data yet, but hopeful it will.
All-in-all I really don't care for the menu structure which is rather limited and requires that you be in a specific MODE in order to change a setting. This is just silly IMHO.
But the photo and video quality is about the best I've seen to date. So if you're looking for a simply camera, keep looking, but if you're reasonably comfortable fumbling with context menus, this may be the best imaging camera on the market today.
People are asking why "3 stars"? Because the controls are VERY touchy. While the camera image quality is beyond what I would ever have expected, the controls are difficult to use because they are so sensitive. Making use annoying.
WATER PROOFING FAILED: On my second trip to the Bahamas with the camera this month, it failed as soon as I hit the water. It was working fine for the two months that I've owned it, and was even working on the Beach. But then when I went into the water, it worked for a few minutes and then DEAD... Since it is more than 30 days old, I am sending to Nikon Service for repairs. If it comes back fine, I won't post again, but it something happens, I'll update this review again. With the U.S. holiday coming up and the timing of it being returned, I really don't expect to see it for at least 3 weeks.