Nikon 1 series takes a dive

September 18, 2013 9:00 PM PDT / Updated: September 18, 2013 9:00 PM PDT
Nikon
The AW1 dressed in its grippy silicone skin. Nikon

Weatherproof, schmeatherproof: Nikon one-ups Olympus' weather-sealed OM-D series of mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras with the Nikon 1 AW1, the first underwater-capable ILC. Waterproof to 49 feet as well as freezeproof to 14 degrees and 6.6-foot-drop shockproof, the AW1 looks like the first member of the Nikon 1 series that actually looks tempting to me.

The weather-sealed version of the 11-27.5mm lens. Nikon

Based around the innards of the J3/V2 and most similar physically to the J3 -- albeit with some important design changes to make it more usable in the cold and wet -- the most notable difference is a small grip. There's no physical mode dial, and the shutter button and movie record have been raised for easier access. Like the AW110 and many similar point-and-shoots, there's an option to navigate by shaking the camera along with all the standard buttons. For the most part it has a similar set of features to the J3, but adds built-in GPS (wireless only through the add-on WU-1b, and of course on land only) that supplies an altimeter and depth gauge.

Nikon will release the camera along with two weatherproof lenses for single and dual-lens kits. When using standard lenses on the body, you cover the gasket with a ring.

Here are some other cameras you might want to compare it to:

  Fujifilm X-M1 Nikon 1 AW1 Samsung NX2000 Sony Alpha NEX-6
Sensor (effective resolution) 16.3MP X-Trans CMOS
n/a
14.2MP CMOS
12-bit
20.3MP CMOS
n/a
16.1MP Exmor HD CMOS
n/a
23.6mm x 15.6mm 13.2 x 8.8mm 23.5mm x 15.7mm 23.5 x 15.6mm
Focal-length multiplier 1.5x 2.7x 1.5x 1.5x
Sensitivity range ISO 100 (exp)/ 200 - ISO 6400/25600 (exp) ISO 160 - ISO 6400 ISO 100 - ISO 25600 ISO 100 - ISO 25600
Continuous shooting 5.6fps
30 JPEG
15fps
n/a
(60fps with fixed focus)
8fps
n/a
3fps
11 raw/15 JPEG
(10fps with fixed exposure)
Viewfinder None None None OLED EVF
0.5-inch
2.4 million dots
100% coverage
1.09x/0.73x
Hot shoe Yes No Yes Yes
Autofocus 49-area
Contrast AF
73-point phase detection, 135-area Contrast AF 21-point Contrast AF 99-point phase detection, 25-area contrast AF
AF sensitivity range n/a n/a n/a 0 - 20 EV
Shutter speed 30-1/4,000 sec.; bulb to 60 min; 1/180 x-sync 30 - 1/16,000 sec; bulb; 1/160 x-sync 30 - 1/4,000 sec.; bulb to 4 minutes; 1/180 x-sync 30-1/4,000 sec.; bulb; 1/160 sec x-sync
Metering 256 zones n/a 221 segment 1,200 zones
Metering range n/a n/a 0 - 18 EV 0 - 20 EV
Flash Yes Yes Included optional Yes
Wireless flash Yes No No No
Image stabilization Optical Optical Optical Optical
Best video 1080/30p H.264 1080/30p H.264; up to 1200fps slow motion at 320 x 120 1080/30p; 1080 x 810/24p H.264 MPEG-4 AVCHD 1080/60p @ 28Mbps, 1080/24p @ 24Mbps
Audio Stereo Stereo Stereo; mic input Stereo; mic input
LCD size 3-inch tilting
920,000 dots
3-inch fixed
920,000 dots
3.7-inch fixed capacitive touch screen
1.2m dots
3-inch tilting touch screen
921,600 dots
Wireless connection Wi-Fi Optional WU-1b
($59.95)
Wi-Fi, NFC Wi-Fi
Battery life (CIPA rating) n/a 220 shots (est) 340 shots 270 shots
(with viewfinder)
Dimensions (inches, WHD) 4.6 x 2.6 x 1.5 4.0 x 2.4 x 1.1 (est) 4.7 x 2.5 x 1.4 4.8 x 2.8 x 1.1
Body operating weight (ounces) 12.8 7.5 (est) 8.5 (est) 12.3
Mfr. price $699 (body only) n/a n/a $749.99 (body only)
$799 (with 16-50mm lens) $749.95 (with 11-27.5mm lens) $649.99 (with 20-50mm i-Function lens) $899.99 (with 15-60mm PZ lens)
n/a $949.95 (with 11-27.5mm and 10mm lenses) n/a n/a
Ship date July 2013 October 2013 June 2013 October 2012

At $750 for the base kit, you're paying about $150 premium over the dry-land version, which isn't bad; I'd probably pay that just to get the grip. While I'd like to be able to time my testing of the AW100 with a trip to someplace warm and beachy, it'll more likely be cold and wet NYC.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Digital camera type Digital camera with support for interchangeable lenses
  • Optical Zoom 2.5
  • Optical Sensor Type CMOS
  • Sensor Resolution 14.2 Megapixel
  • Image Stabilizer Optical
  • Optical Sensor Size 13.2 x 8.8mm
About The Author

Lori Grunin is a senior editor for CNET Reviews, covering cameras, camcorders, and related accessories. She's been writing about and reviewing consumer technology and software since 1988.