Nikon Coolpix AW110

This robust camera will stay strong through all conditions.
By Justin Walker April 9, 2014 Reading Time: 2 Minutes

To test a camera designed to be strong and sturdy, you need a location with the right criteria – somewhere cold, wet and muddy. Enter the Great Bear Rainforest, in British Columbia, Canada, the perfect test destination for Nikon’s new AW 110 camera.

The AW110 specs read like an adventurer’s dream: waterproof to 18m; shock-resistant to 2m; dust resistant; built-in altimeter; hydro-barometer; water-depth/altitude log and GPS. All good on paper, but how does it perform in the real, very wet world of Canada’s largest rainforest?

Very well, as it turns out.

During testing, conditions ranged from wet to cold to very wet and muddy. The camera was never dropped, but the robust nature of the outer shell is evident when squeezed; there is no movement whatsoever. The battery and (SD) card compartments are well sealed with a mini pressure-lock set-up, ensuring no water ingress.

The 3-inch screen was very bright; even on the darkest of stormy days, I had no issue framing shots with this screen. However, I may sound like a Luddite, but it would be good to also have an optical viewfinder – not only for composition but also to enhance the only-average battery life. That awesome OLED screen sucks power.

And speaking of power, the 16-megapixel CMOS sensor is fantastic in terms of low noise (grain), even at what are very high ISO sensitivities for such a physically small (1/2.3-inch) sensor. I was shooting quite often at ISO1600 and occasionally 3200 and grain, although evident, was not photo-destroying. The sensor is, however, let down by the slow lens – an f/3.9-4.8 lens – which is a shame, albeit not a deal-breaker.

Although the 5x zoom (equivalent of 28-140) does counterbalance this a bit, it would have been great for the lens to be a bit faster, like a lot of its competitors. A lens speed of f/4 across the zoom range would have been great, as most photos taken (in this particular case) were with the camera zoomed right out to 140mm. But this would entail a larger lens unit, taking away the camera’s great portability.

The AW110 does nothing wrong and plenty right. The image quality is great – as is outright usability and versatility. For those looking for a camera that can be turned on and used straight away, with good results, this camera deserves serious consideration.

The only caveat is be sure to pack an extra battery or two as it does chew through the power. The extra “techy” features, such as the GPS, Wi-Fi capability, barometer, etc., sound gimmicky but do work and add an extra dimension to photographing your outdoor adventures.

RRP $369.95 www.nikon.com.au