Nikon Coolpix AW100 Review

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When one thinks of rugged cameras, either Olympus or Panasonic are among the brands that one thinks of instantly. These brands have been launching tough, shockproof cameras for years and though a tad on the pricier side, they are extremely efficient and perform in the way they are intended to. So, how does the competition respond to a unique camera such as this? By launching a similarly attributed camera with their own implementations. Who better to target this segment of cameras, other than Nikon, one of the world’s most popular camera manufacturers. Nikon has responded by launching their first rugged camera, the Coolpix AW100, with AW being an abbreviated form of All Weather. This camera boasts of features such as being waterproof up to 10 metres, shockproof from a drop of 5 feet as well as freezeproof up to -10 degree Celsius.

Unique locking mechanism on the battery bay

Unique locking mechanism on the battery bay


Design and Build Quality
Mostly cameras from this segment are chunky, even though they feature in the compact camera segment. The AW100, on the contrary is pretty slim and makes other tough cameras look ugly in comparison. It is available in four colour options, which are black, blue, orange and camouflage. The review piece given to us was the black model and as far as rugged cameras go, this is a really stylish looking, compact camera.

Like other all weather cameras available, there is no large lens adorning the face of the camera. Instead, the lens is located in a depression at the top right hand side on the front. The LED flash and the AF assist are also located on the face of the camera. Nikon have used a minimalistic approach, while designing the look of the camera. It will appeal to those who do not want anything too fancy or flashy.

On the rear of the camera is the large 3-inch screen that flushes along the body. Alongside the screen, to the right are the camera’s controls such as playback, zoom, menu, four-way navigational pad, etc. Most of these buttons have a squarish shape and like the rest of the camera, they too are made of hard plastic. The top of the AW100 features the shutter release button along with the power button. The GPS antenna is also housed in this panel at the top. A button featured on the side of the camera is the GPS/ Action Control button for adjusting settings when wearing gloves.

3-inch screen flushes along the body

3-inch screen flushes along the body


Connectivity options for the camera are located in a bay at the side of the camera and they include a proprietary USB port and a mini HDMI port. Located in this bay are the battery as well as a memory card slot. The unique thing about this bay is its flap. To prevent the seepage of water, Nikon has provided a button, which needs to be pressed and a knob to be turned. Only once this is done, the bay will open. On the underside of the flap there is a rubber padding that ensures that it is further protected from water. 

The build quality of the camera is really good and there was no need for all the extra bulk that is usually found on other rugged cameras. By reducing this bulk, Nikon has made the AW100 a sporty and stylish looking camera. This camera is not heavy, so shooting with a single hand is possible as it weighs just 178g. This camera is extremely compact as well and one can easily fit it in a shirt pocket, trouser pocket or a purse.

The main feature of the Nikon AW100 is its rugged abilities, which include being waterproof up to 10 metres, shockproof when dropped from a height of 5-feet and freeze resistant to around minus 10 degree Celsius. These are pretty neat features for a camera that is priced at this amount. The camera features a 16MP CMOS sensor, which allows one to click good pictures in low-lit environments. With the use of a 16 MP sensor, which is the size of 1/2.3 inches, one can click pictures at a maximum resolution of 4608 x 3456. This makes printing on large format papers possible. By using a CMOS sensor, Nikon claims that photos can be captured with great image quality as well as low image noise.

Large meshed shutter release button on the top

Large meshed shutter release button on the top


The camera has a 5x optical zoom with a vibration reduction feature that allows one to capture images from a distance with a reduced amount of blur. This feature can certainly help when one is performing adventure sports, such as rock climbing, mountain biking, etc. Apart from the rugged capabilities of the camera, it also has other interesting features such as 1080p video recording at 30fps, GPS capabilities and a whole lot of scene modes. The camera features a maximum ISO sensitivity of 3200, this makes shooting in low-lit areas possible.

The interface of the camera is similar to that of other Nikon cameras. So, if one has used a Nikon in the past, getting used to the camera will take place instantly. For those who don’t know, the interface of the Nikon is extremely easy to navigate through. One can just use the menu option to access options, then to select they need to press the OK button. The camera supports memory cards, such as SD, SDHC and SDXC. These sort of cards are found quite freely in the market. The features of this camera are really good and one would surely enjoy using them in extreme as well as in normal conditions.

This is a rugged camera that is meant for people who are into a lot of outdoor activities. These activities may, at times force the photographer to hold it in a single hand and shoot. The camera has a matte finish so gripping it does not pose a problem. The shutter release button is fairly large as well, which allows one to easily snap a picture. The camera was dropped several times from heights, ranging from two feet to five feet and not only did it work well, it came out unscathed, too. Apart from this, we ran our regular test such as the ISO sensitivity test, zoom test, etc. in a controlled environment as well as outdoor to gauge the performance of this compact camera.

ISO sensitivity test

ISO sensitivity test


ISO Sensitivity Test
From the image above, we can see that at ISO 125 there was no image noise whatsoever, and the colours looked accurate. From ISO 200, we can see that the colours look a bit desaturated, but there was not much noise seen. From ISO 400, onwards, we can see a slight amount of image noise. From ISO set at 800 onwards, we can clearly see the noise levels rise and at the fastest ISO which is 3200, the noise levels are extremely high.

Zoom test

Zoom test



Zoom Test
The camera features an optical zoom of 5x, with an equivalent to that of 28-140mm lens in 35mm format. While using the camera with its zoom set to maximum, we noticed that there was no blurring in the shots. The VR image stabilizer takes care of the blur and one can expect to capture crisp images even when on the move.

Performance Continued
While clicking pictures outdoors, we noticed that the camera handles direct sunlight pretty well and the images captured do not look dark. Outdoor images had a very minimum amount of colour fringing and this can be noticeable only if an image is zoomed in on a PC. Indoor images shot really well, too. There was not much grain noticed in these shots, which is great while capturing pictures indoors. Shooting in macro mode is really good as there is a lot of detail visible in these types of shots.

Macro images provided a lot of detail

Macro images provided a lot of detail



We recorded videos in 1080p to check the video recording qualities of the camera and we were quite pleased with the results. The video recorded well and there were no transition issues when moving from a dark area to a bright one. Video playback was good as well and we faced no issues with it, whatsoever. The flash of the camera is quite powerful and it can illuminate an area of approximately 15-feet. A 1050mAh lithium ion battery is bundled with the AW100 and Nikon rates it at approximately 250 shots.

GPS button located at the side

GPS button located at the side


The Nikon Coolpix AW100 is available in India at a street price of Rs.15,000. The camera has some really amazing features and looks pretty stylish as well, especially for a rugged camera. It is quite slim, too, as far as compact cameras, in general, are concerned. Performance-wise, it has done really well and with its shock resistant capabilities put to the test, the camera came out on top. A thing that is really going for this camera is its price. There may be some differences, which feature in other rugged cameras that may not feature on this one. But taking everything else into consideration, this is something that should definitely not be overlooked, if you are in the market looking for a tough camera.


The rush lasts a moment, the pictures last a lifetime: You live to be “in the moment,” so anything that brings back the rush is worth it. The Nikon COOLPIX AW100 is waterproof, shockproof and freezeproof, so you can take it on all of your extreme adventures. It packs a 5x Zoom-NIKKOR ED glass lens and a 16.0-MP CMOS sensor to record low-light and fast-action photos and Full HD (1080p) movies. Life on the road deserves GPS + Electronic compass, so the AW100 has these too. Add a 3-inch monitor, our new Action Control for easily adjusting settings when wearing gloves plus a range of in-camera special effects, and you\'ve got a camera as rugged as you. Start saving those action-packed memories—every view and heartbeat. The AW100 can handle all that Mother Nature can throw at it. Take it diving to depths of up to 33-feet. Shoot at temperatures as cold as 14° F. And don\'t sweat drops of up to five feet. Whether it\'s in your hand, mounted to a surfboard, clipped on a backpack or attached to a scuba tank, every twist, splash, dive and crash can be recorded in both still and Full HD (1080p) movies. Plus, Nikon\'s new Action Control brings fast and easy operation to gloved hands. The AW100 lets you capture every thrilling moment from inside the action—not the sidelines. Adventure doesn\'t always happen during perfect photo-taking conditions. Imagine sharp images produced 33-feet underwater, photos and movies captured while you explore a dark cave, or snapshots nabbed during that last run just as the sun was setting. What does it take to get these and more? A 16.0 MP CMOS sensor that blazes through low light, fast action and challenging shooting conditions to capture high-impact photos with exceptional image quality and low noise. Shoot three shots in about one second using one-touch control for Full HD (1080p) movies and ensure not a single moment of your action-packed lifestyle is missed. Imagine you and a friend are white water rafting down an unfamiliar route. The AW100\'s rugged waterproof build can take the pounding action while you record photos and movies of this incredible adventure. Use the built-in GPS to track progress with Nikon View NX2 software, NIkon\'s myPicturetown® photo sharing site or Google Earth™. A built-in map lets you view your path, and the Electronic compass is an extra safety measure that can even help you ascertain which branch to take if there\'s a fork in the stream. Your geo-tagged photo travelogue will give you bragging rights as you share the adventure with your friends.


Type of Card SD


Type of Camera Compact
Effective Resolution 16MP
Sensor Type CMOS
Digital Zoom 4x


Optical Zoom 5x
Focal length f/3.9-4.8


LCD Size 3
Resolution 460k
Aspect Ratio 4:3

Shooting Specs

Imaging Processor EXPEED C2 image engine
ISO Sensitivity Range ISO 125-3200
White Balance Auto / Cloudy / Daylight / Flash / Fluorescent / Incandescent / Manual
Shutter Speed 1/1500-1 sec
Burst Mode Up to 3 shots at approx. 7.1 frames per second
Scene Modes Beach|#|Black and White Copy|#|Close Up|#|Dusk/Dawn|#|Fireworks Show|#|Food|#|Landscape|#|Museum|#|Night Landscape|#|Night Portrait|#|Panorama|#|Party/Indoor|#|Pet Portrait|#|Portrait|#|Snow|#|Sports|#|Sunset|#|Underwater


Maximum Resolution 1920 x 1080
Maximum Frame rate 30fps


Storage SD, SDHC, SDXC
File formats supported JPEG


USB Cable Yes


Type of Battery Li-ion
Numbers of Shots 250


Dimensions (W x D x H) 110.1 x 22.8 x 64.9 mm
Weight 178 grams

Camera Features

Sensor Resolution 16
Digital Zoom 4x

After Sales Service

Warranty Period 1


Warranty Period 1

Published Date: Dec 22, 2011 01:08 pm | Updated Date: Dec 22, 2011 01:08 pm