on December 20, 2011
I've been looking at waterproof and tough camera for over a year now... and I eventually chose this one!
About me: I'm a techie, over 20 years in photography (started early), played with very many DSLR and compact cameras. I buy best-of-breed and I'm not very brand loyal (SLR I've used/owned include: Leica, Nikon, Pentax, Canon; Compact camera I've used/own: Canon, Panasonic, Olympus, and now Nikon).
I did a lot of research (including Canon, Pentax, Olympus) and eventually narrowed down to: Panasonic TS3 (aka FT3 in Europe), Nikon AW100, Sony TX10
** Sony TX10 - I love its image sensor, its rugged yet sleek ultra compactness. Unfortunately the lack of GPS killed it. For an all-weather sports camera, you expect to travel everywhere and often in areas you find difficult to mark on Google Maps.
** Panasonic TS3 vs Nikon AW100 - There are many forum that compare the specs of these two cameras so I won't bore you. Both have great specs for a rugged compact; and both have similar setbacks (e.g. no RAW or manual controls, but don't forget they are not suppose to be high-end compact cameras)
Panasonic TS3/FT3 is one of my final 2 because:
1. Panasonic makes exceptional compact cameras (well-designed, and they're heavily invested in compact cameras, including their m4/3).
Nikon's compacts are hit or miss, and more miss actually, when compared to Panasonic or Canon seems lagging behind.
2. Panasonic's TS3 is the third generation of rugged compacts... so Panasonic must have refined it and nailed everything.
Nikon has no rugged compacts and AW100 is the first - risky!
3. Panasonic seems to produce very good underwater images (e.g. fishes, corals) seem more natural straight off camera.
Nikon seem to require you to set to underwater mode to ensure it corrects the color hues and color balance.
4. Panasonic has a tough, metal (and seemingly more durable) feel, but that also (unfortunately) makes it heavier!.
Nikon has an aluminum-like faceplate that gives color, but overall seem to be a tough lump of plastic.
Nikon AW100 ultimately won me over because:
I'm a risk-taker, and take the path less traveled (or camera less proven). It's got great specs like the Panny, PLUS some advantages:
1. Lightweight - For traveling, hiking, water sports, having a light camera is good. The plastic looks tough and durable.
2. Greater ISO range - with ISO 3200 I can take photos in darker situations than with a Panny
3. Screen is larger and higher res - 460k instead of Panny's 230k means I an see more and clearer (especially sports can be lots of misses)
4. Image is higher res - can be good or bad (I hate large files), but for sports, allows me more flexibility to crop and still retain enough resolution
5. Action button - this sounds gimmicky, but it actually works! It serves as a large button for GPS tracking, and changing modes without having to fiddle with buttons
6. Video format - I'll save the technie talks, but safe to say, it's Apple-friendly (I use both iMac and PC), high def (1080p) at lower file size.
7. Stereo sound - useful in videos where you're filming cyclist/athletes zooming past and creates more realistic feel
Additional bonus that I found very useful in practice as a sports/travel camera:
8. Clock - It's clock can synchronize with your location (so don't need to worry about adjusting the clock while traveling internationally
9. GPS - it actually works! It can log your route at intervals for period of 6 - 72 hrs, embed POI info, and select different levels of details
10. VIdeo HS - high-frame rate slow motion video are possible with this little camera. Initially, it sounded silly but as a sports and all-weather camera, I can certainly see great uses for this feature.
11. Movie light - This gives additional light to dark subject at close distance when its very dark
12. Smile trigger - Kids love this... We use this instead of self-timer so that when we take a family photo, the camera detects a smile and clicks it for us.
Don't get me wrong, I'm NOT saying NIKON AW100 is BETTER THAN Panasonic TS3. It's just better for my use (light to carry around in bag or even board shorts, versatile and travels to different country in sea, rain, mud etc). Honestly, I'm just pleasantly surprised Nikon can get so much right this time!
*Added tip: I bought this case and find its a good snug fit Lowepro Dublin 20 Slim Profile Pouches for Cameras and Compact Video Cameras (Black/Bordeaux Red)... I posted some pics here to let you see the fit.
====== <<UPDATED ON JAN 18 2011>> ========
See the pics yourself. I've uploaded few pics - intentionally provided them straight out of camera - no photoshop.
* PANORAMA - Quick and easy... no cropping/aligning. Just swing your camera slowly (~5sec) from one left to right or vice versa. Auto-stitched.
* SNORKELING - Tried "underwater" and auto modes. Both work well. I did some injustice to the camera as I wasn't stable - swept by current and the fishes were all over me
* CLOSE-UP - See the white flower and aphid closeup. All handheld, Auto mode, Auto flash. You can go as close as about 1cm or closer.
* DYNAMIC RANGE - See the pelican photo. Backlight but still some details on the flying birds. Camera is fast/easy. I just picked up the camera and shoot.
Pls click "Was this Helpful - Yes/No" so I know whether it helps in your decision making, and if it does, it can help more people. (I'll post updates soon and refine this review I get more use out of it). Good luck!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I've been nothing but impressed with it so far and will update this review after a few months and a few fishing trips.
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.
on September 24, 2011
First, a few things to know before you buy, since Nikon doesn't tell you these things until you get your owner's manual:
Regardless of the size of memory card, single videos are limited to 4 GB of space (The manual says about 35 mins at the highest quality setting; the camera itself usually says 28 minutes. I haven't come close yet to maxing that out, so I don't know which is more accurate).
The user manual indicates that the waterproof packing in the camera may deteriorate after a year, so it is recommended that you have it serviced yearly to replace the waterproofing (at your expense).
The camera strap is supposed to be removed for underwater use. So be prepared to hold on tight, or buy your own waterproof strap!
Speaking of waterproof, the camera seems to live up to its billing as such. I tested mine in perhaps the dumbest way ever: I set it down on the wet sand in the surf zone at a local beach, held on tight and let an incoming wave surge over the camera. The video turned out very cool, but I had a huge, tedious cleanup job on my hand. The sand churned up by the wave worked into every crevice on the camera. Nothing got inside (the battery and SD card were clean and dry), but every button was jammed with fine grains of sand that had to be laboriously worked out. Worst was the wheel to open the battery door. It still scrapes a bit weeks later. Bottom line, I would seriously not recommend performing this test yourself. Just take my word for it, it doesn't leak. Using it underwater is fine, but you'll want to minimize the exposure to sand.
Battery life: Good but not great. At Disneyland, I started the day with a fully-charged battery and by that night it was depleted to the point where the camera shut down. I did have the GPS and compass turned on most of the time the camera was on, and did lots of chimping and deleting of photos. I left the power-off setting at the default of 5 minutes. All in all I shot 65 photos and eight videos, the longest of which was 2 minutes and 48 seconds. You will want to buy a second battery for multi-day trips or if you plan to shoot all day with GPS enabled. Battery life with GPS off seems pretty good.
Still image quality: Decent to good, but not great. It is a point-and-shoot, after all. The camera performed better than I expected in low light, but I wasn't expecting a lot. I should note that it's been about five years since I last used a point-and-shoot, and my reference point for image quality is a Nikon D700 SLR. I would say the image quality is about the same or a little better than the Canon Powershot A540 that was my last point-and-shoot. The camera does tend to overexpose, so I've taken to shooting at -0.3 or -0.7 exposure compensation.
Video quality: Good. I shot on the top quality setting, and the video looks smooth and sharp on my 47" HDTV. Like most small video cameras, every sound you make, including pressing the zoom and other buttons, will be recorded.
Performance: Vibration reduction and autofocus work very well and there's virtually no perceptible shutter lag. I am very impressed by the Subject Tracking AF area mode. It follows the subject better than the 3D tracking on my D700.
Recording formats: JPG only for photos (no RAW); MOV for video (Quicktime).
Features: If you want a lot of control over your settings, this is not the camera for you. You can turn off the flash and autofocus assist, and you can adjust exposure compensation. But you can't manually dial in your own shutter speed or aperture, and there is no bracketing, although the camera does have an HDR scene setting (an option on the Backlit setting). I tried the HDR setting and it does make a notable difference in dynamic range. You will need a tripod or somewhere stable to set the camera for best HDR results; handheld, you'll get blurring. In Auto mode (which ironically gives the most control over settings) you can select white balance, continuous shooting modes, ISO sensitivity, autofocus area and autofocus mode.
Additional observations: One omission that would be really nice to have is a histogram. Since you're forced to shoot jpg, it would be nice to be able to assess the exposure with a histogram. Mine does tend to blow out a lot of highlights and I've taken to knocking down the exposure compensation to -.3 or -.7
Bottom line: A decent point-and-shoot. Buy an extra battery if you shoot a lot.
If you have any questions I didn't answer, feel free to leave a comment and I'll respond.
UPDATE: Interestingly, another AW100 user pointed out to me that the best image quality appears to come not at the full 16MP size, but 12MP. I've started shooting at 12MP and found it to be at least as good as the 16mp setting. I've also experimented with a lens hood and filters with good results. The hood and filters can be attached using the filter holder included with the camera. The holder takes 40.5mm filters. If you stack filters or use the hood and filters together, you will get some vignetting. Zooming in a bit (to approximately the 35mm film equivalent of a 36mm field of view) eliminates that. The hood I bought is the EzFoto 40.5mm Wide Angle Metal Lens Hood Shade for Leica, Contax Zeiss, Voigtlander and other Lenses. I also picked up a Hoya filter kit with UV, ND and circular polarizer filter, and Nikon's LC-N40.5 lens cap, which works with the filters (but not with the hood, which needs a 58mm lens cap). The polarizer is very handy and helps curb the camera's tendency to blow highlights. Filters and particularly the hood do make the camera a little bulkier. I leave the filter holder and polarizer on the camera with a lens cap, and carry the hood in my pocket for the times when it's necessary. I've uploaded photos of the camera with the filter holder and hood. I highly recommend at least getting a polarizer if you do a lot of outdoor shooting.
on April 26, 2012
As noted in many other reviews, the waterproofing on this camera is not reliable. When I received the camera, I carefully examined the seal around the battery/card compartment for any dirt, sand or lint. As a Nikonos owner for many years (a camera that successfully went on 100+ dives), I understand the importance of a clean seal. After familiarizing myself with the functions of the camera on land, I look it snorkeling. Diving from the surface, I didn't go to a depth of more than ~10 ft. After a going under a few times, I noticed condensation at the edges of the screen. Given that it was hot and humid when I went in the water, this was not troubling (the manual said this might happen). After about 20 minutes in the water, however, the camera started to malfunction, eventually stopping altogether.
When I got out of the water after less than an hour, the camera was not working at all. I soaked the camera in fresh water, and then let it dry for several hours. When I opened the battery compartment, there was quite a bit of moisture and the contacts on the card and battery were already beginning to discolor. I removed them from the camera and allowed it to air for another 24 hours before replacing the battery. The camera was completely dead. I returned it (with no questions asked by Amazon due to their great returns policy) and will not be re-ordering this camera.
One other complaint: the camera ships with a battery charger that requires a separate cord. Nikon knows how to make a charger with an integrated plug. Why not offer it as part of the original equipment rather than an upgrade?
on November 9, 2011
Please read "oz zy "waiting for the dvd" review first before you continue with mine....
Alright folks after two full days of accurately testing the Nikon Coolpix AW100 camera, I feel it's time for a partial review:
A little background, I wanted a rough and tough camera that I could put to the test physically. I have two young children and pictures are the greatest way to capture wonderful moments. Nonetheless, low-light conditions were always a huge problem in our house.
First, the picture quality is great. I just came from a Canon elph 7.1 MP camera. After shooting a total of 232 pictures on the Nikon, the quality is much better can Canon respectively, and obviously. The one thing that most individuals will not like is the lack of options to manipulate the lighting effects. The Nikon itself is made for dummies- and I use this loosely. I do not intend to placate anyone as a "dummy." I am merely stating the obvious once you have this camera in your possession.
Moving forward with the quality, I have read some reviews stating that low light conditions really aren't that great. I do beg to differ, I come from a Townhome that is very dark and all low light pictures came out great once you select, "the low light feature", or select auto, which in turn will automatically select low-light conditions. The low-light pictures come out good, not great. Most cameras out there like the Sony TX10 (I think) did not perform well in this aspect.
As for the video quality, it is indeed good. The HD video on this camera is the reason I gave it three stars. The reason for my rating, is not the quality it's the zoom (please refer to Oz zy's review). Once you start recording, the low light conditions I feel are really good. My videos came out decent enough for me wanting to keep the camera. I had also tested the Sony TX10, and I thought the Nikon was much better.
Now onto the zoom! Once you depress the zoom button you are in for a big surprise. Of course, this surprise does not reveal itself until playback. It appears like oz zy has stated, you indeed hear the zooming from the lens which sounds like a cat purring. On my camera alone, the zoom sounds louder (quite a shock). Furthermore, this was only half the problem. The other problem I encountered was depressing the zoom button alone. Once depressed, you can hear a loud knock or bump (describing it verbally is difficult) each time you press either zoom button. This alone sounds aweful. IF you attempt to film a quiet seen, this will be the only annoying noises you will hear.
I was shocked when I heard how loud the zoom, and buttons were on playback. There is a positive in all of this, I guess- It appears the microphone on this unit is very strong and accurate. Almost to strong in a sense to be troublesome depending on how you view this. The only other reason I can think of these noisy buttons is because the unit is waterproof...
The unit/casing is very sturdy. My wife is under 5 feet, and she is prone to accidents (sorry sweetheart). After about 12 minutes of her testing the camera, WHOOPS she dropped it. The Nikon made a thud on the floor, and she looked at me with fright. She was surprised that the camera was unscathed and was able to resume its duties in this house.
Following this, I had sub-merged the camera in water 2 separate times: the first, in about one foot of water for 6 minutes, the second, 8 feet of water for 12 minutes. Both times the camera came out fine. I did test a couple of basic pictures underwater and they appeared fine. (please note, Nikon recommends you have the camera serviced once a year because the gaskets that help lock out the water where the battery/memory cards are located can wear).
All in all the camera was a good pick up. Again, I was unimpressed the with functionality or lack of with the zooming and buttons on playback. I also want to reassure you that not using zoom for the video recording looks great, and performs very well with the Nikkor lens. I am NOT an expert reviewer so please be gentle upon posting comments. Hopefully, this will help some individuals decide whether or not this is the right camera for them. In the meantime, my rating of three stars still stands.
on December 6, 2011
Picked this camera up at the Maui Costco for a family snorkeling vacation on the way to the beach from the airport. This camera replaced my aging Sony T7 and it's water proof case. I liked that it had built in GPS and that I wouldn't need to use my Eye-Fi card to add geo-tags to my photos.
Much to my dismay the quick reference guide makes no mention of how to turn on the GPS (off by default). It only refers to the reference manual on CD (who carries a laptop with CD drive when travelling anymore?). I finally found it here on page 85:[...]
Here are the steps for anyone googling how to turn on GPS on their Nikon CoolPix AW100:
- turn on your AW100 camera (push the small rectangle button at top of camera)
- push the GPS/Action large rectangle button on the left side of the camera (screen should show a world map)
- push the MENU rocker button on the lower right corner of the camera (bottom right from the screen)
- you should see the choice for GPS options. Use the OK button to turn it on (off by default).
- you can then turn on "Record GPS data" to add the GPS data coordinates to your JPEG images.
- while you are here you should also have your camera sync time/date stamp with the GPS satelitte (you have do to this everytime you change time zones).
Important note: The GPS data is added to your JPEG image file as EXIF data (date photo taken, camera model, camera settings, etc) so if you post these photos online the GPS data can be revealed - something to be careful of when posting photos publicly from places you may not want people to know about (like your home's location).
Now when you press the GPS button on the side of the camera you will see markers wherever the photos have been taken. This setting only works for new photos you take, it can't be added retroactively to previously taken photos. GPS data is only stored on photos where the camera was actually able to see 3 or more satellites. All of my underwater photos did NOT have GPS info added to them, so be sure to take a few surface shots to get your location recorded for future reference (ie favorite dive spot).
I've posted a few snorkeling photos so you can see the image quality underwater as well as read the GPS info from where the above water boat photo was taken in Maui.
Couple of notes on product improvements: Although the strap says it is to be removed for use in water it holds up fine. Make sure you soak camera for 10 minutes in fresh water after use in the ocean to remove the corrosive ability of salt water. Would be nice if Nikon included a float with the camera or at least a bright colored water proof strap so you can find it after it sinks to the ocean bottom. be sure to move camera slowly in water and never spray water on the camera - both cause increased water pressure which can exceed the 10m pressure it was designed to resist.
Software like Apple iPhoto and Google Picasa can display your JPEG GPS info along with the image. If this review helped you setup your GPS please vote for it to help others find it.
on October 5, 2011
I got this camera two days prior to a week long trip to Cancun, where I Scuba Dove and Snorkeled for a week. I recorded all images at the least compressed mode (*), and images stored at 6-7.5 mp. The video I shot was at 1080p, 30fps. For a memory chip I used a sandisk 16gb class 10 extreme. I was happy with this setup and the performance of the camera was quite good. I took photographs at 30-35 feet under water for 45 minutes on the second dive at Cozumel, shallow because the first dive was really deep (110 ft, and the camera was in the boat for this dive). The camera preformed beautifully underwater, good movies and good images. Great color rendition, very accurate using underwater mode. The maximum depth the camera went to on that dive was 41 ft, for a couple of minutes. No issues noted. I also took the camera cavern/cave diving in the "Cenotes", which bottom out around 40 ft. Great light filtered through the 'roof', good pictures. Again no complaints. I took the camera out when my wife and I were body surfing and if beach mode is chosen these are really good point and shoot photographs. For land shots we took some of the jungle and ruins on scenery mode and these are very nice. Exposure control and color are very good, and the image compression engine was fast and not overtly 'lossy'. Focus remains sharp. My other camera is a Nikon D80 with a big lens. Will this camera take pictures at that quality? No, not if you want it blown up 40-60in, as I have done with images from the D80. But, these look like they will easily look good at 20-30in, and the camera is tough. Clearly my D80 isn't going anywhere near the water, but the jungle and ruins shots would have been possible and probably great. For the first time I left the D80 behind, and at the end of the vacation, sunsets, scenery, jungles, animals, snorkeling, scuba and all the adventures have good pictures documenting the trip. Several are probably good enough to classify beyond vacation shots, but actual 'images or photographs'. High quality, well proportioned, perfect lighting, and accurate focus and color. I tried and was successful in a couple of depth-of-field studies, and was surprised at the result given the tiny lens. Again, does it match the level of control and ability of the D80, No. But is it really good - yeah. My wife and I ski, climb, scuba, snorkel, backpack, raft, mountain bike, and kayak. This camera looks to be a good fit for that, and the D80 with the big lens is going to get less use.
on January 27, 2012
This camera failed after about 330 exposures and a week of light beach/resort use.
The LCD display became splotchy and intermittent, and the camera would not always wake up on powerup (removing and replacing the battery sometimes jogged it to life).
Splotchy "fogging" of the LCD might have been a symptom of moisture infiltration, or an electrical failure. Symptom appeared more than 24 hours after a water exposure, with no battery access.
Other pros and cons, should reliability improve:
+ The panorama feature is very good
+ Vibration reduction seems to work well in video mode (although the sound is poor).
- The camera is VERY slow to boot up, change modes, display menus...
- The GPS feature is not intuitively easy to turn on and off, it's quite easy to forget it is on, and it apparently consumes battery power even when the camera is turned off. So it is quite easy to put the camera down for a while and then find it completely dead next time it's needed.
- Autofocus is slow to converge, and easily confused. These days one should not have 1/3 of images come out focused poorly, especially simple ordinary vacation snaps. Special focus modes seemed no better than the "default". Macro mode rarely converged focus quickly the first try, even if the subject was within range from the start.
- Exposure was hit-and-miss. Beach mode totally washed out (at the beach). Indoor shots did not seem able to access the full range of available ISO even in "Auto ISO" mode, leading to unnecessarily long (shaky) time exposures. Fill-in-flash was almost impossible to get right. Night shot (flash + time exposure) almost useless.
- Menus are not arranged intuitively, and depend on context without reminding the user. For example, mode-specific menu options are confusing, because the current mode is not obvious unless you remember previous selections.
- Buttons are small and have poor tactile feel (for an AW/outdoors camera they should be LARGE)
- Button labels are tiny and have poor contrast (again, they should be BIGGER and MORE VISIBLE for a camera designed for water or outdoor conditions).
I am an experienced amateur with several excellent Nikon SLR's and Canon compacts. This camera was evidently not properly engineered or tested, and does not deserve Nikon's mark. While on paper it has great features, I was dissatisfied with its usability and controls, very disappointed with the quality of the few picture I did get, and very irritated that it stopped working. I returned it for a refund. I don't recommend it.
on October 24, 2011
I have been looking for a waterproof camera to take on vacation to Thailand. After considerable research the Panasonic Lumix TS3 seemed to be the top dog for rugged cameras. In favor of the Lumix, I liked the durable feel and overall fit and finish, the wide angle lens and I think people willing to play around with settings will have nice options. Unfortunately, the lumix was quite bad in low light situations and overall had soft photos. I recently saw the Nikon AW100 on sale locally and decided to try out the latest and greatest rugged (at least I hoped so with nikon's recent attempt in the waterproof market). With limited testing and no underwater use I decided I preferred photos taken with the AW100 better and returned the lumix. I am happy with the contrast and low light photos of the AW100 and hope I made the right choice for my vacation.
-1/2 star: One thing I hate about the Nikon is the battery charger with it's separate long cord. Come on this is a $300 camera designed for outdoor/travel use, but you can't include a portable battery charger with the flip out plug!!! I really don't need this extra weight in my travel bag.