Nikon Coolpix AW100 review

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

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.

Likes:

  • 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.

Conclusions:

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).

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