The Good Action control is useful. GPS updates with zero fuss. Great-quality HD video for a camera in this class.
The Bad Very limited exposure control. Image detail falters at mid- to high-ISO levels.
The Bottom Line Even though the AW100 is Nikon's first attempt at a rugged compact camera, it doesn't show. The AW100 is easy to use, and has a range of features well suited to action adventurers and everyday photographers.
Nikon Coolpix AW100
The Coolpix AW100 was a bit of a surprise entrance from Nikon when it was announced in August 2011, being the company's first waterproof compact camera. Up against the likes of the Panasonic FT series and the Olympus Tough cameras, the AW100 needed to stand out on paper and in performance.
The AW100 has a few aces up its sleeve. The big one is how attractive it is compared to its fellow tough camera compatriots. It's a slimline design, which can moonlight as a regular compact, with just enough bulges over the lens and side door to prove that it has what it takes to get in on the action. It also has a built-in GPS, can go down to 10 metres underwater and be dropped from 1.5 metres without any ill effects. For snow bunnies, it can also withstand up to -10 degrees Celsius. Weighing just 178 grams, the AW100 is significantly lighter than many other rugged cameras on the market.
The design means that the AW100 sits comfortably in the hand without the bulk associated with other tough cameras on the market. The textured shutter button also makes it easy to find when underwater, though on occasion we found ourselves accidentally hitting the power button rather than the shutter button when taking a picture. It also comes with a neck strap in the box, particularly useful for physical activities like skiing or biking. A word of warning, though: don't have the strap attached when going for a swim.
Nikon bails on advanced compacts and that's not good
Opinion: The company announced that it was dropping the attempt to produce its ill-fated series of enthusiast-targeted fixed-lens models and it doesn't sound like it plans to try again.
Best waterproof rugged cameras and camcorders compared
Whether you're just lounging by the pool or headed into the wilderness, there's a rugged camera or camcorder here to meet your needs.