Customer Review

83 of 86 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice, March 11, 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 (Camouflage) (Electronics)
First off, this is an upgrade to the fairly popular AW-110, and there's a ton of YouTube videos that list the features and show comparisons to other cameras. I suspect that Nikon wanted to compete with the Olympus TG-2 with this model, which has similar features. The biggest upgrade here is the 24 mm wide-angle lens and faster maximum aperture of 2.8. The Olympus still has an F2 lens. There is of course a GPS, and Wi-Fi. I don't much use my camera as a compass, so this really wasn't a big deal for me. I can see where the Wi-Fi could come in useful for remotely controlling the camera. Nikon has also added a number of new video formats. Admittedly at highest resolution you're going to generate some humongous file sizes. Even a short video can run 500 to 600 megs. I suspect most people would be happy with the 720 mode.

I would not get too wrapped up in megapixel rating as the sensor sizes are generally very small in point and shoot cameras. More megapixels does not necessarily equate to better images. In fact, it usually means more noise. I'm not sure how this camera stacks up against other point-and-shoot cameras in its class as most of my other gear is pro equipment. To me, I see a fair amount of noise even at ISO 400, but again I think this is pretty common for this price level camera.

There's a number of things that do bother me about this camera. One is the zoom. I don't know if I have a defective camera, but the zoom is very jerky, and not smooth at all. Occasionally (Frequently) it just zooms all the way out or all the way in instead of settling at an intermediate step. I'm going to contact Nikon about this as again, I may have a defective camera. I have been unable to take any professional looking, smooth videos.

The focus is fairly fast. I will have to play a little bit with post production with the images, but the camera needs lots of light for best results. I really would like to see an even faster lens. As to apertures, there is basically two. I believe it's 2.8 and 4.2. (Fireworks mode does stop the camera down more, but also changes the white balance). There is no way(mode)to stop the lens down further for greater depth of field or any kind of creative effects. The cameras is capable of slower shutter speeds, but you would have to put some neutral density filters in front of the lens if you want to access them for creative effects. I believe the Olympus has an advantage here.

My understanding was that the older 110 model came with a filter adapter to allow you to use 40.5 mm filters, but this new does not include one. I'm not sure if they are available as an accessory or not. There are quite a few "Scene modes" and then an easy auto if you really don't want to think about anything. Namely the camera will do its best, based on its programming, to get you a good picture. The auto mode (different than easy auto mode and scene mode) gives you much greater control, and you do have the option at least of turning the flash on and off, using fill-in flash, or slow sync, redeye reduction, timer, macro mode, etc. each scene mode add some kind of attribute. The party/event mode for example adds a redeye reduction, the close-up mode puts the camera into macro mode, the sports mode uses a high shutter speed, the fireworks mode turns off the auto white light balance, and puts the camera into a different color temperature and stops the lens down more and decreases shutter speed, the list goes on. The more you know about photography, the less you would be likely to use these modes, but I'm sure many people will appreciate them.

If you're interested in more of the auto features I think these are very similar to the older model, and you can read about them in other reviews. I actually wish there was more manual control, but not very common with point-and-shoot style cameras. All the buttons are very small and pretty tough to read. I think you may be able to press the shutter release with a pair of gloves on, but other than that you would have to remove gloves to operate. Here again I think the Olympus has an edge.

I was able to see the screen in sunlight, but it does tend to wash out. You can see well enough to compose your shot. I believe Nikon also attempted to improve the image stabilization as I see there is a "hybird" mode now. I really can't comment on how well it works over previous models, but my handheld videos look quite good.

Color accuracy looks quite good, and I suspect resolution is decent for this class of camera. Again, don't be fooled by the 16 megapixel rating. My eight-year-Canon D-20 takes much better pictures at eight megapixel with less noise. Of course, this started out as a $1500 camera, so not exactly an apples to apples comparison.

I would say for the price this camera has a lot of outstanding features. It's small, lightweight, has some pretty nice video with plenty of options, and image stabilization seems very good. The scene mode gives you loads to address most situations, but don't expect manual control here as you're not going to get any. I would say the still modes would give you good enough quality to produce a very nice 16 x 20 print. I even tried a 24 x 36 print last night and it held its own--impressive. The fill-in flash mode worked very well in my few test, whereas used as a main flash it's a bit harsh. Again, pretty typical for a point-and-shoot.

I only tried a few underwater shots, and did not even have the camera set to the proper mode, and got some good results. I think this camera could easily replace something like a Go Pro, and you can actually frame and see what you're shooting! Overall I think it represents an excellent value. Oh, I will add that I accidentally dropped the camera from 4' (thought I had it attached to the tripod screw and did not-ooops!) and it bounced a couple of times on my laminate floor. Not even a scratch!

I'm taking off one star for the very poor zoom function.

if you would like to know about any specific feature please don't hesitate to post a comment.

Beat out the Black addition of the Go Pro:
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Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 12, 2014 3:52:33 AM PDT
I just picked up an aw120 as well. Question, when the camera is off and you hold it and move it around or shake it(gently of course) do you hear a knocking/clicking like something is loose inside? Weird thing is, when I turn on the camera that phenomenon goes away and appears the camera works fine. I'm returning it, but was curious if it happens to yours. Thanks for the review!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 12, 2014 10:17:08 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 12, 2014 10:17:25 AM PDT
Troy D. says:
Yes, mine rattles as well. It may be once it's energized the servos for the lens are engaged, which in turn stops the rattle. It's also possible there are small gyros for the image stabilization, and that may be contributing as well. Just a hunch, but doesn't appear to be a defective camera.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 12, 2014 11:00:52 AM PDT
Thanks for the reply!

Posted on Mar 21, 2014 7:22:04 PM PDT
now what says:
Thanks for taking the time to write a sensible and comprehensive review.

Good point about the excessively high pixel count (and therefore high density) on a small sensor. It's hard to understand why they do it. The TG-2 consistently gets higher marks for image quality due to the lower pixel count.

Posted on Aug 5, 2014 6:53:47 PM PDT
Liza Jane says:
Troy. Thanks for the in-depth review. Did the zoom function remain jerky? Did you get an explanation from the manufacturer about whether what you experienced was "normal" for this camera? Thanks!

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 5, 2014 7:10:30 PM PDT
Troy D. says:
Yes, the zoom function still remains "jerky" and pretty consistently overshoots the target. I did not pursue things further with the manufacture, but you have reminded me I need to do so! Would be nice to find out if this is normal behavior.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 5, 2014 11:29:21 PM PDT
Liza Jane says:
Please do let us know what you find out, because it sounds like it would drive me bonkers, especially for video. In the meantime, I'll also post a question in the general section about this and see if anyone else is having the same experience. Thanks!

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 6, 2014 12:05:18 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 6, 2014 12:06:00 AM PDT
Troy D. says:
I can say on the plus side is not nearly as noisy as the Olympus TG-2 or 3. I just sent the TG-3 back. Absolutely horrible video quality. I was watching some video I shot a few days back at 720 on the Nikon, and it's really quite nice--very nice colors and contrast, and the anti-shake feature works quite nicely. I sure wish this camera had interval shooting mode though. Many times this can be more interesting than a full-motion video. It's very easy to generate humongous file sizes, fast.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 11, 2014 10:26:26 AM PDT
BethBV says:
A lot of cameras with image stabilization have a clicking/knocking noise when the camera is turned off. It has something to do with the "floating" mechanism that allows for the image stabilization. When the camera is turned on the mechanism is engaged so it doesn't knock around like it does when the camera is off. It's normal.
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