Nikon Coolpix AW100 review

This guest post review of the Nikon Coolpix AW100 all weather camera is written by Yamil R. Sued (

When Nikon first announced the new “ALL WEATHER” AW100 Camera, I was sold. I have been looking for an all weather digital solution for years now. Yes, I know I can buy a nice underwater case, but that is just one more thing for me to carry on a trip. Over 50% of my workload is outdoor sports photography, but unlike other “general” sports shooters, I specialize in the shooting sports, pistol, rifle and shotgun events.  99% of these events take place outdoors and weather is not always so cooperative.

I wasn’t looking for a sports camera, that is a much more specialized item and in the not so optimal situations, I use “protection” on my D3’s against rain and even dust, I use my own gear and I can’t see the need to abuse it to a point of destruction. I know full well that the AW100 is just a point and shoot enclosed in a water/weather proof case. But putting together the basic features of the AW100 plus the all weather features, this camera is a sure winner and a must in my location kit. What for? Candids, location scouting, and to shoot those shots that happen when it rains and my D3’s are not yet weather proofed.

I don’t want to repeat the basic features of the camera, those are available at the Nikon website. I want to discuss the features I like and also the features I would like to see in future models of the AW series, maybe a AW101 or AW200.


  • The Image quality is superb, these JPG’s are out of this world, the only limitation I found what the time it took the camera to acquire focus.
  • The high ISO performance is very good too, I shot some images under a downpour in Florida at ISO 400 and some limited Images at ISO 800 and the image quality was outstanding for a point & shoot camera with a very small sensor.
  • Portability, this camera is very thin, light and small. Fits very well in a shirt pocket.
  • Ease of use, once you do the initial set up, it’s ready to roll. The AF modes are really useful, but it doesn’t focus very fast.

Dislikes (or wishes):

  • Lack of RAW Format, I shoot 99% of my professional work in RAW and I like the full control over the final image.
  • Lack of choice of color space profiles, then again this is a point & shoot and even the higher priced P7000 doesn’t have this feature, I don’t think the P7100 has this feature either.
  • AF, the camera focuses very well, but... coming from the DSLR world, it could focus faster, sometimes, in very low light it has a very hard time acquiring focus and locking into it. But then again, it’s a $379 point & shoot and not a $5000 DSLR.

Recommended accessories:

Lowe Pro makes this little pouch that fits the AW100 perfectly and it comes in several nice colors, it even has a great outside pocket to fit extra SD cards:

I took the AW100 to the mall and had the owner of the GadgetFilmz kiosk put a custom LCD protector on the AW100, there are several products out there that fit the AW100, like Hoodman, but I went with custom because I can never install the store bought protectors without leaving some large hunk of junk in between the protector and the LCD Glass, this could lead to a large scratch on the LCD protector glass.

The camera comes with a very nice neck strap, but I decided to use a wrist lanyard that I found laying around the house, it made more sense than to have a large neck strap on a pocket camera and it fits better on my pocket with the lanyard.


This is a superb tool, great camera for candid photography and all around outdoor family fun and it’s a great addition to anybody’s gear bag, professional or amateur.

Some AW100 wet fun by Yamil R. Sued:

The Nikon Coolpix AW100 is currently $30 off  (till October 29th, 2011).

This entry was posted in Nikon Point and Shoot, [NR] Reviews and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.
  • Soft


  • News pix

    Weak review. I don’t care how many Riflemen covers you have, this review feeble.

    • yrsued

      Thanks for being so kind, I’m a Professional Photographer, not a Camera Review Guy!!

      Maybe you can do it better, next time, call Nikon, they might send you the Preview Camera and you can do it then.

      • Anonymous

        I will take a few words from a pro over pages of mental masturbation by a brick wall shooter.

        Thank you for the review.

    • J

      Agree with @News pix. This review can be summarized as – likes: portable bc it is a p&s; dislikes: lack of the DSLR features bc it is a p&s. Coming off from quality review sites like dpreview, slrgear, and photozone, this review is like an Amazon customer post.

      • silmasan

        BS with thousand words “professional review” sites that are run by amateur photographers. Photozone is good for lab tests, but not field test. Dpreview is good for camera news and early (p)reviews, and a lot of the content is usually fit for specs masterberators. For real-use scenarios, I’d choose one-page pro’s summary (even a quick & dirty one like this) anyday precisely because them pros tend to skip all the BS. You’ll still have to try one yourself after all.

    • arizonaSteve

      i thought is was okay, but i am wary of any review that starts :

      “When Nikon first announced the new “ALL WEATHER” AW100 Camera, I was sold.”

      impartial much?

      • Andrew


        Weary yes, but “impartial”, not necessarily. How many of us here at Nikon Rumors are sold by specs? I would say most. The rumor of the D800 has already created two camps, those who want high ISO and those who want high MP. These too camps are sold! Of course maybe there are about 5% who are withholding judgment until the product is released and a “professional” review comes out.

        Also consider those who have sold their D3 cameras just on rumors alone, and consider how many more will immediately sell their camera if Nikon was to give a fixed date that the D800 will be released before the end of the year.

        You can take his statement that “When Nikon first announced the new “ALL WEATHER” AW100 Camera, I was sold” not as a professional/final judgment on the ultimate performance of the camera but as a utilitarian response of his needs that all the “so called competent” high end cameras cannot satisfy. To be fair, you said you thought the review was “okay”, which is gracious.

        But one more thought – there are products that have been announced that even I have been sold on, sight unseen! Then as the details start coming out or the reviews start pouring in, I eventually change my mind. So in that regard, I take the statement “I was sold” as a figure of speech – though meant, was still subject to a final judgment; just like being sold on an item as a consumer cannot be considered as a final judgment. If the product fails to leave up to its billing, you can always return it. This is a rather long reply to your few words. Thanks.

        • arizonaSteve

          wary – 1. watchful; being on one’s guard against danger.
          2.arising from or characterized by caution: to give someone a wary look.

          Weary – 1. physically or mentally exhausted by hard work, exertion, strain, etc.; fatigued; tired: weary eyes; a weary brain.
          2. characterized by or causing fatigue: a weary journey.

  • Darren

    Thanks Yamil for sharing your observations and opinions from using this camera in the field. I found it useful as I’ve been researching this camera myself and getting plenty of numbers but not much real commentary from peers.

    Thanks for taking the time to write this up !

    Have a great weekend,


  • EvanK

    Nice review, quick and straight to the point. Enjoy the camera!

  • Gordon

    To add my own “dislike” to your list … I’ve had this camera for a month or so now. I intended to use it when bushwalking (hiking) rather than take a DSLR, and to make use of the GPS for geolocating images. However, I’m really disappointed in the ability of the GPS to pick up satellites in less than text-book perfect scenarios (eg when I’m in woodland, not even with dense canopy overhead). My Garmin handheld GPS (Colorado 300) indicates several satellites being received at good strength, but the AW100 fails to lock on (even after leaving the GPS receiver on for the entire trip – albeit that sucks life out of the battery).

    Other than that 🙂 I agree, it’s a really nice device.

  • Jeremy

    Is Nikon going to release the camo version in the U.S. like they have in other countries? Just wondering…

  • Jerem

    how do i mount this on the d800?

    • With duct tape maybe.

      • silmasan


    • Jenny


  • Jabs

    @yrsued – ‘nice’ name too – lol

    A couple of questions for you?

    1. How is fill flash indoors as well as outdoors?
    2. How is the video quality indoors and outdoors?
    3. It the camera easy to use and hold with gloves on?
    4. Is the WB great for Indoor or outdoor use with say Sodium lights, Mercury vapor, Florescents or such?

    I know that you might not run into these situations, but I am considering the purchase of one, so curious as I run into these scenarios often.

    Thanks for this Review and also the view of the excellence of its’ images, as that is paramount to me too.

    Lastly – did you take any shots below water, as in the sea/river/pool or such – LOL

    • @Jabs,

      I have in my possession, a Nikon 1 J1, 10mm f/2.8 pancake, 10-30mm zoom and 10-100mm power zoom. Save your money and get the J1…….wow. I wasn’t sure how impressed I was going to be…….I blown away. Super sharp, ungodly fast…….supurb IQ and DR, even at high ISO.

      I know you we’re thinking of getting the V1………do it! Full review coming soon!

      • Jabs


        Thanks and already know that the Nikon 1 is revolutionary, hence the naysayers here but I need a beater of a camera for dirty environments and not about the subject a sweet V1 to that mess – lol.

        Ever had graphite or dust get on your gear, then you would understand why the AW100 too.

        Hurry up with the Review then.

        That aspheric 10-100mm got me really excited and thus can’t wait for your Review – figured that you were doing that soon too.

        Make sure you get some 77mm Polarizers and a few combo Polarizers with warming filters or such and do a City scene like the Zeiss shot too, plus maybe a City Park or two – if they don’t arrest or harass you – lol

        I’ll settle for the J1 though, as I expect it to basically save Nikon or tide us over until the big guns get here, so thanks again.

      • Bart B

        Quote; “Full review coming soon!”

        Thx I would like to read your user review of the Nikon 1.
        Considering to buy one myself.

  • silmasan

    Looking sweet. Any chance we’re seeing a destruction derby torture test?

  • PeterB

    Sorry, I don’t care that it is <$400.00, and I'd like to add that in this economy that is not like picking through pocket lint for change, with no RAW what's the point?

  • Looks like a nice camera to go boating, but not diving. I suppose it could take a shot from the water surface.

  • I shoot Nikon

    I don’t want to side with the posters who harshly called your review crap, as it looks like you did make an effort to the best of your ability, but if you are going to dedicate a whole paragraph to the introduction of a feature that is supposedly the selling point of this camera, you should also dedicate at least one paragraph to a detailed review of that particular feature. We didn’t really need to hear you say how good the ISO performance or the image quality is (“these JPEGS are out of this world”, are you high???), but it would’ve been very nice if you had done any kind of semi-scientific, or even half-decent or simply just half-assed testing and review of the camera’s water-resistive properties. But instead all we are left with is your anecdote about a trip to the mall to get a screen protector for this supposedly rugged camera?

    • Happy

      Your critique is better than the review.

    • yrsued

      I guess if you want that, buy a Magazine!! I’m not a Tech Geek. I real life we don’t use terms like Dynamic Range and Bokeh. Hell, when I went to Brooks in the 80’s the term Bokeh didn’t exist!!

      I wrote this from the point of view of the Amateur buying an all weather camera, and the Amateur market is what this camera is geared to, it is ONLY a P&S on a weatherproof case. But you knew that didn’t you??

      And BTW, I did this for free, so it’s not like I’m a paid journalist on assignment. I’m a Professional Commercial Photographer, the curriculum at Brooks Institute of Photography in the 1980’s didn’t include journalism. Nor am I one of the Magazine whores writing about the greatest new Camera (The camera I got for free this week) I had the camera on loan form NPS for two weeks.

      Like I said before, please, if you can do better, please contact Nikon Rumors and they will give you the opportunity to write your own review because you are so much better. I look forward to reading your insightful review.

      • Jabs


        Thanks for your input and insight here about this camera. You see, this place is often filled with people who are Nikon detractors and whenever anything is said positively about a Nikon item, they pounce on you, so relax as it goes with the territory here.

        No matter what you do here, people will criticize it and then turn absurd on you plus now put words in your mouth too – lol.

        You gave a real hands-on experience plus how you use the gear as a Pro in your own daily work and then basically clueless idiots now try and tell you what to do. Again demonstrating that they do not do photography themselves.

        You explained why you would not put your valuable D3 in the rain and some foolish person now tells us that they do – whoop te doo! No one with common sense would subject a $5000.00 body plus their expensive lens to such harsh treatment unnecessarily and thus overlook people who are web site readers looking for long explanations of what basically only readers care about and not busy photographers do. You gave a perfect example in this elusive term “Bokeh” and basically I laughed and then remember it as something used mainly by Leicaphiles from the past to accord phony esteem to their lenses because Leica had no long lenses for their M system. To me, to get real Bokeh, just use a 180mm or longer and be done with the pretenses and thus agree with you.

        Be well and please do a few more Hands-on tests for us as some here are real photographers using gear.

      • john

        Thanks for the review… I just got one to replace the two defective GoPros I just bought.

  • Tony

    I’m speechless.

  • Aus

    Do you think AW10 could be working after a sea water fall accident?

    I had to change some circuits after my P5100 had been spotted by some sea water drops.

    • yrsued

      This is tested up to 10 meters or about 33 feet, so if you dunk it and it doesn’t go deeper than that, you should be OK

  • Naoshi

    First thanks for your review. I also bought it for underwater photography, I always wanted to take pictures at the beach, swimming pools, etc. But when I tried on non-underwater photography, geez it is very bad, I wouldn’t use at all at night for street or family photography, about 40% or more of the pictures I took at night with this camera were horrible, out of focus, too dark, too much noise, etc. I still use my big and heavy Nikon DSLR to take all kinds of pictures, except then pictures I took underwater.

    Anyway as I said I bought it for underwater pictures and the underwater pics are good, thats at least something good about this camera.

  • Rob

    When did these go from being “hands on” articles to “review” articles?

  • I have it since 1 month and more or less the only thing that I miss – RAW aside – is the possibility to use PASM modes, although I realized that I can use or the “interior mode” (or “food” for some things which has also a white balance) or the AUTO mode (NOT the easy auto) since it’s a bit more customizable (flash, iso, exposure compensation etc)
    I’m quite satisfied of images taken so far.

  • broxibear

    Talking about Coolpixes, this is the new Nikon UK coolpix Autum 2011 advert
    I think it’s called the ” I am not what you’re waiting for, but condidering our factories have been hit by earthquake, tsunami and floods it’s all we’ve got so give us a break” campaign.

  • iworm

    What a profoundly unpleasant response by some to one guy’s quick review. FWIW, I enjoyed it for what it was: a quick overview and, very useful, real-world thoughts from someone who seems to know about real-world photography.

    Don’t let the snide remarks deter you… there’s plenty o’ folks like me out there who are happy to see this.

    • Andrew


  • Mike


    Being somewhat familar with your work (and working conditions … but didn’t see you at this years Nationals in Vegas!), I have to wonder about the range you were at. Were the photos shown above taken at this Florida range and, if so, was that Frank’s range? If so, god help us. The next WS is scheduled there for 2014. We may need weatherproof cameras if anyone is to report on THAT championship!

  • Don

    professional experience in the field more more more better than the loser who can only comment :((

  • Young Boy

    I have to join the crowd of displeased readers – if you decide to write and publish text called “review”, you must count on different public as people who don’t know anything and are excited with every positive word! You must be “professional”, otherwise it looks cheap and very amateur, like “wrong person at wrong place”. I guess that we readers have full right to ask Peter to give us relevant texts, and not something which is unfortunately example worse than junior school essay. I’m sure even great outdoor photographers read reviews and know, what is short and comprehensive assessment of functionality/shooting experience/results/costs! To choose right words is like choosing good subject of your photos – here it was fairly “out of focus”, you lost your “storyline” – most important feature I would expect from experienced outdoor photographer – cos outdoor photography is about “story out there.” Here I got no “story” about that little rugged beast. Sorry for that, but I’m genuinely disappointed. (Pleas, don’t take it “personal” – you are probably far more better photographer than writer! But I’m sure with effort, consultations and getting help form your peer you could do far more better! And as a reader I ask Peter – pleas, no more mistakes like this!)

  • Bjorn

    Your d3 is not weather sealed?? Really?? Did you remove the sealing?
    My d700 is sealed. I have used it in a moonsoon without issues. Just need to use a sealed lens like the 24-70 or 70-200

  • big eater

    Mr Sued,
    I have been a senior editor at one of America’s largest magazines for the last 15 years and a newspaper reporter for 10 before that; in addition I have a master’s degree from one of America’s top journalism schools. Allow me to weigh in on the review: It is a fine piece of work because you do exactly what you promise to do: give us one person’s experience of a particular camera in a particular circumstance. As you say, it is perfect for: “candids, location scouting, and to shoot those shots that happen when it rains and my D3’s are not yet weather proofed.” Your writing is admirably clear.
    So thank you for being brave enough to publish your work here and I look forward to your next contribution.

    • Vicrom

      Heeellooo, Thiiiiis is Vicrom! I am a very talented kite designer and calling to tell you that….
      Haha… Sorry…This popped up from friends 🙂

      For me no amount of paper, certificate, diploma, or sitting half a life in a paid school (cafeteria :)) worth a real talent or an Eye for photography. Same on any other field.
      NOT saying you don’t have it. I don’t know you so you might have it all. Just saying that anyone can wave around papers, and diplomas… I can have 2 in med and 2 in a related field yet I can be a pretty bad doc. with severe drinking probs. but I got the papers, the titles and all the goodies :), now open wide! 🙂

  • Anopheles

    I have had a AW100 for just under a month, and it has been used extensively outdoors and on a recent rip to Africa.

    Overall I am very impressed with it. The picture quality is above what I was expecting and found focusing fast enough for taking lots of pictures out of the moving (bouncing) trucks we were travelling in on African roads (calling them roads is is being generous). I also took along a D7000 with a Nikon 16-85mm zoom.

    The main purpose of the AW100 was in dusty conditions (everywhere in Africa) and for the damp/rain/humid conditions. Condensation is a major issue, going from an air conditioned building to outside, and I can say the AW100 performed superbly for the 3k pictures on it so far.

    Dislikes: short battery life, very slow saving of pictures to memory card when the card started to fill up (32Gb Class 10+ card)

    Likes: Waterproof, fast on, reasonable focus time/accuracy, great video, GPS works quite well. This is compared to a Garmin CPSMAP 62s, which has one of the best antennas of any handheld GPS, but that is like comparing a P&S to a DSLR.

    • Andrew

      Thank you for adding the experience of your trip to the review. It gives us an added perspective, especially your mentioning its use in humid or damp conditions. Unless one has a weather sealed camera like the D7000, such conditions definitely require a camera like the AW100. It is too easy for one to consider the AW100 for conditions such as rain or underwater only and leave out humid or damp conditions.

      It would be nice if Nikon can make an AW1000 camera with the Nikon 1 sensor; this should significantly enhance the AW100’s all weather capabilities. Or better yet, make a Nikon 1 underwater/all-weather camera.

    • Anopheles

      I should also add that last year I took a P7000 to the same locations in Africa. I was overall much happier with the AW100 under similar circumstances. It is smaller and faster to start. The small size of the AW100 was important for “discrete” shots. You don’t want to be waving around ANY DSLR in many locations…..

      A problem with the P7000 was that after one week, dust was visible inside the lens elements!!! And this was with keeping it in a pouch the majority of the time.

      Just a note that the trip to Africa was not a photo trip, photos were for record/documenting a large project. There was little time for setup shots, and the majority of shots were grab shots, and many of the countryside and people were from moving vehicles.

      It was very easy to get perfectly centred shots with the AW100, when moving by a subject at 30 mph. Meaning the shutter lag is very short and can easily be anticipated for a moving shot.

    • Jabs


      Thanks for confirming Nikon’s claim about the AW100 as some of us read – lol.

      From Nikon USA:
      Grab a rugged, waterproof, shockproof, freezeproof COOLPIX AW100 with 5x Zoom-NIKKOR ED glass lens and 16-MP CMOS sensor to record action photos and Full HD (1080p) movies. Life on the road deserves GPS + Elecetronic compass, so the COOLPIX AW100 has these too.

      Many of us don’t need to be explained what these are, but nice to know that you went to an environment that allowed it to strut its’ stuff on land too – lol.

      Sealed to me means dust and dirt plus moisture do not get in also.

      WOW – I discovered something totally fab and new – yeah right – NOT! – (at someone else, not you)

      Thanks again for your insights and usage scenarios – appreciated by me.

      • Jabs

        Look – Nikon made a boo-boo (lol)

        From Nikon USA:
        Grab a rugged, waterproof, shockproof, freezeproof COOLPIX AW100 with 5x Zoom-NIKKOR ED glass lens and 16-MP CMOS sensor to record action photos and Full HD (1080p) movies. Life on the road deserves GPS + Elecetronic compass, so the COOLPIX AW100 has these too.

        Should have been:

        From Nikon USA:
        Grab a rugged, waterproof, shockproof, freezeproof COOLPIX AW100 with 5x Zoom-NIKKOR ED glass lens and 16-MP CMOS sensor to record action photos and Full HD (1080p) movies. Life on the road deserves a GPS + ELECtronic compass, so the COOLPIX AW100 has these too.

        LOL – me discover a thang er two – me’s real genius eh – Right Beavis?

        – Sir Beavis to you Butthead da dork – LOL.

  • danny

    You guys are sooo much more fun than the C@non camp. 😉

  • Ben

    Thanks for the review – I picked mine up today, basically for a very similar purpose. Could not take it out yet, but I am pleased to hear that it delivers decent JPGs. I was a bit weary of the absence of manual controls, but then again who care for aperture priority in a compact and I realized that I would not want to fiddle much with dials in any situation that this camera is built for.

    Now I have a compact that I can drop into the toilet from 5 ft in and ice storm – perfect!

    And never mind the people here that apparently think they somehow “own” camera reviews.

  • Rob Ueberfeldt

    Good review. Tells me what I need to know.

    BTW none of these “tough” (thanks Olympus) cameras are for shooting underwater. They are waterproof as a side effect of being dust and drop proof. None of these cameras are meant to go under 10 meters of water most only go to three meters. You can get great underwater shots. Just don’t expect any kind of life expectancy if your taking your new pride and joy for regular trips into the ocean.

    Reminds me of waterproof watches. I have one that is rated to 50 meters, which means you can wear it in the shower.

  • Fishguy

    I bought an AW100 last week (since they are on sale). One issue I’ve had is that my left finger keeps getting in the way of the lens – something I have to just learn to avoid I guess. The large LCD is definately going to need a screen protector, and I wish there was better protection for the lens. The map in the GPS is a feture new to me, but it lacks the labels of my driving and boating GPSs. While I like the positive lock to the battery cover, the yellow molded sealing gasket does not look like it is user-replacable. After staying under compression all the time like that, I suspect that it will develop a “memory” and start to leak in the future.

  • John

    I did a quick comparison (test shots and movies viewed at home, not on the camera’s LCD screens) between the TS3 and AW100 in the local pro shop and I had the opposite view of the reviewer regarding the AW100:
    – jpg quality was just OK – on par for a P&S, but definitely worse than the TS3
    – image quality from the Nikon lens was OK, but the TS3 was better, especially in the corners.
    – AF speed was really good – a bit better than the TS3. This was not an issue for me at all
    – The door sealing mechanism was pretty good – better than the TS3
    – Build quality of the AW100 seemed cheap overall, but it’s probably OK for a P&S

    In the end I went with the TS3 because I liked the button layout and menu system better and it felt better built. The IQ was also better than the AW100

  • Honestly, I’m not very impressed with this camera. I took it out on a climbing trip recently, and found the IQ to be sub par for 16 mp. I previously owned a TS3, but dropped it while rock climbing in Yosemite. While the video on the TS3 was inferior to the AW100, I found the TS3 still quality to be better. Even though the TS3 has a smaller lcd, it is brighter and more crisp. I’m also a bit disappointed with the controls available on the AW100 compared with the TS3. For instance, it takes far too many button pressed to change ISO, and the GPS/map controls are sub par. Video quality on the AW100 is on par with the TS3, and I think the image stabilization is probably better with the AW100, but I need to get it out on the snow to really test that.

    As far as build quality goes, the AW100 is definitely cheaper feeling than the TS3. However, it is lighter, and I like the card/battery closure system better than the TS3. While skiing, I found that the safety switch on the TS3 would come undone every so often.

  • Shy

    Hi Yamil, thank you very much for your review. It is very helpful to me. It focuses on the important issues of this camera. If the camera fits my particular needs or not is a different story.

  • Hugo Meiland

    Hi, I really don’t want to be a pain, but has anyone compared this cam with the panasonic lumix dmc-ft3; apart from a few minor button changes and a different locking mechanism for the battery cover, these camara’s seem to be exactly the same…. is Nikon branding OEM camera’s??

  • Weston

    Does anybody know what exact lowepro case that is? I can’t find it on AMazon. I plan on getting one of these aw100’s for diving in the Great Barrier reef, as a wedding shooter I’ve never taken photos underwater yet, so I’m not interested in dishing out a special case for my d700.

  • rollin

    I have had this camera for a year. I have also had Oly iTough cameras. The Nikon suffers very badly from condensation. The rear screen and the lens. I live in the tropics and the camera was NOT subject to massive temperature changes. Non – aircon room to ambient outdoor pool and misted up for the day. The Oly has NEVER had these issues and I have used that in 15C water. Product is useless and Nikon Service is in denial.

    I am a semi-pro photographer underwater photographer, this was my point and shoot for the boat and land – very disappointed

  • Back to top