Nikon Coolpix AW100 review

Nikon's waterproof and shockproof with GPS

Nikon Coolpix AW100
The 16MP Nikon AW100 is available in black, orange and camouflage finishes in the UK

TechRadar Verdict


  • +

    Packed with features

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    Waterproof, shockproof, freezeproof

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    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

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    Lack of manual controls

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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).

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