Nikon Coolpix AW100 review

Nikon's waterproof and shockproof with GPS

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  • Packed with features
  • Waterproof, shockproof, freezeproof
  • GPS geo-tagging and digital compass
  • Action control
  • 1080p movies and creative movie options


  • Relatively expensive
  • Choppy pictures at highest ISO settings
  • Fairly slow zoom
  • Plastic controls can feel cheap
  • Lack of manual controls

The Nikon Coolpix AW100 is the first camera in the new Coolpix All Weather line. It's a rugged compact that's waterproof down to 10 metres for up to one hour, shockproof to a drop of 1.5 metres and freeze-proof for temperatures as low as -10C.

The Nikon Coolpix AW100's tough shell houses a 16MP backlit CMOS sensor and a 5-25mm 5x optical zoom that offers a 28-140mm equivalent focal length. The Nikkor lens features ED glass to reduce chromatic aberration, and offers a relatively bright maximum aperture of f/4.8 at the telephoto end of the zoom.

Compared to the rest of the rugged camera crowd, the Nikon Coolpix AW100 is surprisingly light and relatively small. It does weigh more than the rubber Pentax Optio WG-1 GPS, but with a depth of less than 23mm, the AW100 is noticeably slimmer. Appearance-wise it's unfussy, and shares more in common with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT3 and Olympus Tough range of cameras, and it's certainly equally as sturdy.

We're not talking black box recorder levels of robustness (the manual warns you not to sit down with the camera in the pocket of your trousers). But the Nikon Coolpix AW100 is certainly a well built and sealed camera that's likely to take family holiday punishment in its stride.

In keeping with the needs of adventurous photographers, this Coolpix is loaded with features optimised for the outdoors. The built-in GPS geotagging means you can see where your pictures were taken when you upload them to websites such as Flickr. The Nikon Coolpix AW100 also comes with a built-in world map - so you can track your photographic travels on the camera's LCD screen, too - and a digital compass.

In terms of shooting modes, the Nikon Coolpix AW100 features the familiar slew of Nikon Coolpix S-line menu options. There's Easy auto mode, Auto mode, Special Effects mode and Smart Portrait, plus 19 Scene mode options (including an underwater mode that optimises white balance and focus).

There isn't much in the way of manual control. You can set ISO (from 125 to 3200), change white balance and flash modes, and apply exposure compensation from -2 to +2 in 1/3 stop increments. But there's no exposure histogram, and the Nikon Coolpix AW100 only supports JPEG shooting.

But then, this Coolpix is aimed at people who want a camera to take care of business while they worry about how much air is left in their tank, or where to place their next carabiner. (Or, more likely, where the kids' sunscreen is on a family beach holiday).

A collection of in-camera effects and a wide range of movie options round out the Nikon Coolpix AW100's feature set.

As well as shooting 1920 x 1080p Full HD videos, the rugged digital camera offers creative high speed and slow motion options. You can shoot footage that plays back twice as fast, or go super-slow with movie clips that show movement at up to 1/8 the normal speed (at reduced resolution).

Tech Specs

Product TypeCompact Camera
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Green CompliantYes
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Effective Camera Resolution16 Megapixel
Wide AngleYes
Product FamilyCoolpix
HD Movie ModeYes
Memory Card SupportedSecure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card, Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC)
Image StabilizationOptical, Digital
Optical Zoom5x
Digital Zoom4x
Brand NameNikon
DurabilityShock Resistant, Freeze Proof, Water Proof
FeaturesSelf-timer, Continuous Shooting Mode
Screen Size7.6 cm (3")
Video FormatsMPEG-4, QuickTime MOV
Viewfinder TypeNo
Weight (Approximate)178 g
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityRoHS, WEEE
Image Sensor Size1/2.3" (6.16 mm x 4.62 mm)
Maximum Image Resolution4608 x 3456
Display Screen TypeLCD
Height64.9 mm
Width110.1 mm
Depth22.8 mm
Focal Length5 mm to 25 mm
Image FormatsJPEG
Focus ModesManual, Auto
ManufacturerNikon Corporation
Product ModelAW100
Product NameCoolpix AW100 Compact Camera
Product LineCoolpix
Exposure Control

Programmed Auto Exposure

Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberVMA894E1
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

Built to capture the action on land or in the water, the COOLPIX AW100 is as ready for an adventure as you are. Waterproof, shockproof and freeze-proof, it is the perfect camera for active pursuits - be it winter, spring, summer or fall. The built-in GPS system, electronic compass and world map mean you can geo-tag your images, orient yourself in new places and track your route when on the move. The highly sensitive 16 megapixel CMOS sensor and dedicated low light modes combine to deliver stunning results under bright sunlight, at night or deep down under the sea.

Package Contents
  • Coolpix AW100 Compact Camera
  • Camera Strap AN-CP19
  • Audio Video Cable EG-CP16
  • Battery Charger MH-65P
  • Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL12
  • USB Cable UC-E6
  • Filter Adapter UR-E23
Limited Warranty1 Year