A very, very good and straightforward camera
I am a Nikon DSLR user with extensive semipro experience. I bought the AW 100 this August as my first underwater compact for holidays, backup and fun. After first evening I wanted my money back, but next day I decided to give it a second chance, this time after studying it carefully. Outstanding results for a so small sensor compact, amazing colours and breathtaking close-ups at 1 cm or even less ! I knew Nikon doesn't shine on small compacts, but they did a very good job on this one. Natural colours and landscapes, nice contrast and exposure, very - and I mean very - good underwater pictures. I tested this little gem in the pool and sea, with jumps from the higher boats (5m high and 5-6m detph) with very good results and no incident at all. Underwater pictures look very clear and natural.
This camera has five different modes: Easy Auto Mode, Intelligent Mode (with a pletora of presets such as portrait, landscape, restaurant, underwater, night landscape, night portrait, closeup, food, theatre, etc, etc), Soft/Sepia/LowKey/HighContrast Monochrome/High Key/Low Key, Smart Portrait (with Smile Detection) and Auto Mode. I normally keep it on Auto Mode, as the only one allowing all the important adjustments and settings such as Resolution, White Balance, Continuous Drive, ISO Sensitivity, AF Area Mode, Autofocus Mode, Digital Zoom, Sounds, Assigning Action Button, etc.
I usually shoot at ISO 125 - the lowest possible- in order to avoid noise, but I got printable pictures even at ISO 3200, where the noise is high and the image quality is visibly affected. But again, it's normal for this category of cameras. So to summarize>
- good image quality (for this group of cameras !!) at low (125-400) ISO settings
- good underwater image quality (and that's the main reason we buy it, right ?)
- lots of presets for beginners and no-fuss shooters)
- resistance to shocks (1,5m fall), freeze, water and sand (the last one is very important)
- easy to use after you study it (but a pain otherwise !)
- excellent macro for such a underwater compact
- solid built
- nice design ( advice: buy the orange one, it's more visible if it gets loose underwater by accident)
- small buttons
- sometimes difficult operation
- battery life not so long (you need a spare) and dies right after the indicator
- not a sports camera (although at 5Mp it goes faster)
- quite expensive
CONCLUSION: if you need it, buy it, it's going to spice up your life. Lots of fun with it ! I marked it four-star and a half because of its qualities and fun factor. 5 stars would seserve a DSLR.
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