The most underestimated camera ever? (the waterproof, shockproof and freezeproof Nikon 1 AW1)


"The most underestimated camera ever" by Henrik Fitinghoff is about the waterproof, shockproof and freezeproof Nikon 1 AW1 mirrorless camera ($797):

I´m a frequent reader of NikonRumors, and there hasn’t been that much good news as of late. I passed 50 years of age and bought my first Nikon when I was 16. It wasn’t a particularly easy choice, and certainly not obvious. But as the years went by I got to work with some hardcore Nikon professionals, and even if I never saw myself as a nothing more than fairly decent with a camera, I guess they inspired me to hold on to my Nikons. I also got to buy some used stuff off of them, which also helped. Since then I’ve renewed my cameras and lenses, trying to keep up with digital development. I left the pro segment with D3 and shifted to D750 and is very happy with that.


But when the Nikon 1 AW1 came out there was no doubt in my mind that this would be a camera for me. I preordered it with the kit lens and started to use it out of the box. I’ve been a quite adventures photographer/writer all my life, including skiing, snowmobiles, motorcycles, ATV:s, hiking etc. and missed a really good adventure camera. The D3 was/is sturdy but heavy as a brick. The AW1 is even sturdier and much lighter.

My first try to take pictures under water. The AW1 did the job.

This kind of pictures, where you stand with water up to your chest and getting sprayed occasionally with water or waves is a no brainer with an AW1.

So the AW1 is watertight down to 15 meters (49 feet) and shockproof if you drop it från two meters (6’7” I think). I haven’t tried that for real, but I do have used it under water and smashed it around quite a bit and it still works as out of the box. But another feature I really like is that it’s guaranteed to work in -10C (14F) which I tried several times, and it’s been a lot colder as well.

The sturdiness makes the AW1 more clumsy than all the other Nikon 1:s (yes I have the V3 and the J5 as well). It also lacks the new sensors with more pixels, the Expeed 4A and so on that the newer Nikon 1 models got, but it is still my favorite companion on all my adventures.

Sweden in November is as dull as it sounds, and during the night I fell both rain and snow. But it was fun anyway.

To have a tough camera that can go anywhere, without extra thought, makes it very useful, and it makes you take pictures you probably wouldn’t otherwise.

And the reason is simple. The AW1 is way better than my smartphone when it comes to capturing a moment, and it is still as easy to bring. I don’t need an extra bag or any packing/unpacking if I don’t want to. In other words, I never think twice about bringing the AW1.

We crossed the Pyrenees last summer in terrible weather conditions with 2C, rain and thick fog that seemed to make the raindrops stand still in the air. The AW1 was probably the only camera out there capturing that day. No, it didn’t become great pictures, but memorable.

Here we are "on top of the world". Apart from the screen not being bright enough, there is no problem taking pictures in any conditions with an AW1 making it a permanent partner on my adventures.

You can actually see the wind in this picture, but snow, cold, wind or all three combined is not a problem with an AW1.

We did a skiing tour in Norway in really harsh conditions. Very windy at the top, cold and of course snowy. Pick up the AW1 and take the picture you want. Put it in the snow while you organize stuff, keep it hanging on your chest if you like and then take the next picture. You can do this with any camera, and risk having moisture getting into the intro or the house. You can also risk dropping it because your hands are cold. There is a lot of things that can happen when you are out there, we’ve all been there, but not with this camera.

Things I don’t like? The screen is really bad in sunlight. I would love to have more AW-lenses. You can get decent pictures, even for publishing, but it demands good light. The Nikon 1 system may also the only one that might actually benefit from jpeg-format and using the cameras own system for noise reduction and such. I still use raw format, but the pictures from my Nikon 1:s demands a lot of processing in LightRoom to become good.

I’ve experimented with some night shots, just bringing a small Gorilla tripod, and it works pretty good.

Since my wife learned the AW1 I’ve been thinking of buying another one as I hardly get to use it anymore. She took this picture of me last summer in O Cebreiro, Spain.

So, while we are waiting for Sony to buy Nikon (?) or any really interesting and good news I would like to sing my praise to this little tough guy. I simply love the AW1, and I think I can sum up that love in one sentence: It’s the camera I bring when all the others stay home and therefore the camera I use to take the picture, making it my best camera.

What I don’t understand is why not every outdoor photographer has one? And why can’t Nikon upgrade it? I would gladly buy an AW2 that would cost like the V3 or more because it’s simply unique and very, very useful.

Some shades covering the sun, but otherwise a tough picture to shoot. The little built in flash helped.

I could probably have taken this picture with my phone, but then I wouldn’t be able to do a big print out of it.

Once again the built in flash made the picture.

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