Customer Review

59 of 64 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Modest improvement over the AW110 (Updated), March 12, 2014
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This review is from: Nikon COOLPIX AW120 16.1 MP Wi-Fi and Waterproof Digital Camera with GPS and Full HD 1080p Video (Black) (Electronics)
This camera does what I ask of a point-and-shoot. It's easy to use with a minimum of work to extract useable photos and video. But as of right now, this camera costs $130 more than the camera it replaces, the Nikon AW110. I purchased the AW120 over the AW110, with no reviews to guide my decision, hoping it resolved some of the AW110's shortcomings. Here are some of my initial impressions:

1. 24mm equivalent wide angle is more versatile than the 28mm AW110.
2. There seems to be an extra lip around the lens to prevent unwanted fingers wandering into the frame.
3. Longer rated battery life (using the same battery).
4. The sensor and image processor appear to be identical to the AW110 - acceptable 16MP photos with heavy noise reduction smoothing (standard for this class of camera). No improvement here.
5. Smart auto mode appears biased toward "night" mode in low light. This has the effect of relatively longer shutter speeds and blurry subjects if they are moving. Setting the camera to portrait or regular auto mode seems to enable the flash and eliminate the blurry phenomenon. From reviews of the AW110, the AW120 seems very similar with perhaps no improvement.
6. Videos have a quiet ticking sound when using zoom during filming, but I found it acceptable.
7. Charger does not have the option of charging the battery out of camera. I believe this is a change from the AW110.
8. Display screen is higher resolution than the AW110, but may still be prone to washout in bring sunlight.
9. Buttons are on the mushy side. They are probably the same as the AW110. They are useable, but inferior to the Panasonic TS5 buttons for sure.

So it boils down to a few modest improvements over the AW110 for quite a hike in price. I really appreciate the 24mm wide angle and longer battery life (if true), but the rest of the camera is functionally equivalent to the AW110 (for me, anyway). You'll have to decide for yourself if it's worth the premium.

Since my original review, the AW120 street price has dropped considerably, and the AW110 has been discontinued (although still available), so the comparison is no longer appropriate. After using the AW120 for several months, here are some additional thoughts:
1. The 24mm wide angle lens is truly useful--not just for still photos but especially for videos. To achieve the HD video aspect ratio, the top and bottom of the sensor's image are cropped, effectively zooming in and reducing your field of view. Having a wide angle to start with gives you a fighting chance to keep your close subjects in the frame.
2. Brightly lit, outdoor casual snapshots are about as good as other point and shoot cameras. No complaints here.
3. Indoor shots are another matter. The AW120 really likes to show off its image stabilization feature with slow shutter speeds. The problem is that moving subjects needs faster shutter speeds and there really isn't a good way to control shutter speed. None of the auto modes favor faster shutter speeds, nor is there a manual mode. Forcing flash helps somewhat but the AW120 still tends to slow-sync even with flash. I found that bumping up ISO sensitivity (instead of leaving it in auto) did force the camera to choose a faster shutter speed, but Nikon dropped the ball with their smart modes here.
4. The f/2.8 aperture is a bit of a marketing gimmick. It is only f/2.8 at 24mm. But with just two taps of the zoom lever, the aperture jumps up to f/4.2 (and then increases somewhat linearly to f/4.9 at max zoom). Not that this is a huge deal or anything, it takes snapshots just fine. Just don't buy it for the f/2.8 lens!
5. The neck strap is ridiculous. Nobody wears a point and shoot like a dSLR. I commandeered a wrist strap from an older camera and installed it on the AW120.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 14, 2014 12:18:08 PM PDT
jamstyle says:
You forget to say the following:

The AW120 has an maximum aperture of 2.8 - 4.9, the AW110 only 3.9 - 4.8
The AW120 has 921,000 screen dots, the AW110 only 614,000

Greets Raoul

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 23, 2014 10:17:30 PM PDT
Chris L. says:
Thanks for the added information, Raoul.

However, I found the f/2.8 lens to have limited benefits in real world application. The reason is that as soon as a small amount of zoom is applied (~28mm), the aperture immediately darkens to f/4.2. I'm not that familiar with folded optic lenses, but the nonlinear max aperture based on zoom was a surprise to me. The f/2.8 aperture works great for indoor video at 24mm, though!
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