Nikon Coolpix AW120 gives thrill-seekers a faster, wider lens

Just as rugged as its predecessor, the new AW120 gives you a better lens for shooting underwater or in low-light conditions.

Joshua Goldman

Joshua Goldman

Senior Editor / Reviews

Joshua Goldman is a senior editor for CNET Reviews, covering laptops and the occasional action cam or drone and related accessories. He has been writing about and reviewing consumer technology and software since 2000.

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The Coolpix AW120 is Nikon's top rugged compact for 2014, able to survive underwater down to 59 feet, handle drops from up to 6.6 feet, and continue to operate in temperatures down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit. It even says so right on the camera so you don't have to remember it on your own.

Now, if you're the type to keep track of these things, you might notice that these are the same claims Nikon made for last year's version, the Coolpix AW110.

What is new on the AW120 is the 5x f2.8-4.9 24-120mm lens, which is wider and faster than the 5x, f3.9-4.8, 28-140mm on the AW110. Nikon also incorporated its Dynamic Fine Zoom, which digitally extends the zoom range to 280mm.

The f2.8 maximum aperture is certainly better than f3.9 and should help keep you from immediately needing higher ISO settings or slower shutter speeds when shooting with less light. Still, it's not the fastest lens on a rugged camera: The Olympus Stylus Tough TG-2 and Ricoh WG-4 each have an f2.0 maximum aperture.

Otherwise, the camera's specs and features are essentially the same as the AW110 including a 16-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor, 3-inch high-res OLED display, and built-in Wi-Fi and GPS.

Look for the Nikon Coolpix AW120 in March for about $350 in orange, blue, black, and camouflage versions. Also, for those who'd like to use the AW120 hands-free, Nikon will have a chest mount available for the camera as well as some silicone jackets to add a little more crash protection for the camera.


Now, if you're just looking for a knock-about camera for the family, Nikon's Coolpix S32 is probably a better fit. There are no bells and whistles here; it's a simple point-and-shoot that's waterproof up to 33 feet and shockproof up to 5 feet.

Nikon used a 13-megapixel CMOS sensor, which is nice to find in a camera priced at only $129.95 and allows the S32 to capture video in 1080p at 30 frames per second.

The Coolpix S32 also hits in March.