Despite the Nikon Coolpix AW100's robust build, its plastic feel isn't to everyone's tastes. The control panel down the right-hand side of the rear screen is peppered with angular and ridged control buttons that are small and a bit fiddly, even with bare fingers.
However, they start to make sense when you take the camera underwater, where their stiff nature gives excellent responsiveness.
If you're wearing gloves, though, the buttons are impractical, which is why the Nikon Coolpix AW100 features a larger Action button one down the left-hand side of the camera. This button can be assigned to either bring up the world map or to simplify camera operation when set to Action Control. In this mode, you shake the camera with one hand to cycle through a limited range of shooting modes, start movie recording or play images, and press the Action button to confirm selections. It works, although the button does feel a little spongy compared to the rest of the controls.
Shooting-wise, the Nikon Coolpix AW100 keeps things pretty simple. The four-way multi selector gives you direct access to self-timer, flash, exposure compensation and macro mode options. You'll need to dip into the menu to change white balance and ISO - we'd happily swap the self-timer function for direct access to one of these functions instead.