Nikon: new rugged camera can be 'market leader'

Nikon AW100
Nikon has launched its very first tough compact camera

Rugged compact cameras have been around on the market for a long time now, with most manufacturers offering up something for adventurer types.

But Nikon has always held back from entering this market, until this week when they unveiled the new AW100. The AW stands for all-weather, and it features some pretty serious tough credentials.

It's waterproof down to 10m, and can be knocked about from heights of 1.5metres. It's also freezeproof down to -10, perfect for snow-bound users.

So why now? According to James Loader, Product Manager for Consumer Products, a tough camera is something that has been on the boil for Nikon for some time. "We watched what was going on in the market, and if we think we can something better than what is currently available, then we will," he said.

"The reason we haven't done before now is simply that we like to take our time to make a more refined product, and make sure everything is absolutely spot on," he explained.

"When large consumer technology companies like Panasonic, Sony and Samsung launch cameras like this, there's leeway for them to make an error and it will just get sucked up into the corporate machine. With us, we have to look after our image carefully and make sure the products are the best possible quality."

Market leader

Packing some punch with extra features such as GPS positioning and onboard maps, Nikon is not only hoping to make some headway into the rugged market, but to come out on top.

"We want to be category leader in the shockproof, waterproof and freezeproof market and I think we can do that with the AW100," Loader said. "We didn't want to come in with an entry level model, so we've added things like the backlit CMOS sensor which I think really sets us apart from our competitors.

"It's been designed with a very specific type of user in mind – the adventurer photographer – for instance, it's waterproof down to 10metres, so it's not just for snorkelers. There's also things like the orange version appealing to mountain climbers and skiers, as it will be easily visible against the snow," he said.

The camera will be available from September at a pretty hefty price tag of £330 (RRP), so only time will tell if the AW100 manages to make it to the top of the pile, but some of the onboard features do seem to be pretty promising.

Look out for a full review of the Nikon Coolpix AW100 soon.

Amy Davies

Amy has been writing about cameras, photography and associated tech since 2009. Amy was once part of the photography testing team for Future Publishing working across TechRadar, Digital Camera, PhotoPlus, N Photo and Photography Week. For her photography, she has won awards and has been exhibited. She often partakes in unusual projects - including one intense year where she used a different camera every single day. Amy is currently the Features Editor at Amateur Photographer magazine, and in her increasingly little spare time works across a number of high-profile publications including Wired, Stuff, Digital Camera World, Expert Reviews, and just a little off-tangent, PetsRadar.