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Nikon introduces CoolPix AW100 rugged compact camera

By dpreview staff on Aug 24, 2011 at 04:03 GMT

The Nikon AW100 rugged waterproof camera has surfaced. It features a 5x image stabilized zoom lens (28-140mm equivalent in 35mm terms) and a 16MP CMOS sensor. It is waterproof to 10m (33ft) and drop-proof from 1.5m (5ft) and features built-in GPS. It's the first time Nikon has dipped its toe in the waterproof sector since its famous Nikonos series was discontinued in 2001.

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Press Release:


Nikon's Newest COOLPIX Camera Goes Extreme with Compact Rugged Body, CMOS Sensor for Superior Image Quality and GPS Capability

MELVILLE, N.Y. (August 24, 2011) – Today, Nikon Inc. announced the new COOLPIX AW100, a camera that can stand up to the rigorous expectations of those with an appetite for adventure who demand incredible image quality within a strong, durable body. The waterproof, freeze proof and shockproof COOLPIX AW100 is forged with features for adventure seekers who need amazing image quality and Full High Definition (HD) movie recording to keep pace with their active lifestyle.

The COOLPIX AW100’s newly designed rugged chassis is built to withstand harsh environments, yet is compact and lightweight enough to pack for a weekend on the trail. Ready to conquer the rocks, the ice and the waves, the AW100 hosts a myriad of Nikon core technologies aimed at providing stunning images and Full HD 1080p movie recording as well as new GPS technologies for outdoor enthusiasts.

“With detailed engineering and advanced technology, the COOLPIX AW100 is the rugged compact camera for the adventure enthusiast who never slows down and needs a camera that delivers amazing images and stunning Full HD movies without a second thought,” said Lisa Osorio, General Manager of Marketing at Nikon Inc. “The AW100 is as tough as the user that needs it, and it offers a sturdy exterior and advanced technology that enables users to capture life’s triumphant moments.”

Adventures Captured with Stunning Detail
The fast and compact AW100 can be used underwater to a depth of 33 feet, is shock resistant from a drop of five feet and weather resistant down to a frigid 14°F. Whether staring in the face of a raging monsoon or kayaking down the rapids, the battery-chamber, SD card slot, HDMI mini connector and USB/audio video connector are securely covered to prevent intrusion from the elements. Because every extra ounce matters when packing for a trek, the COOLPIX AW100 is one of the thinnest and lightest among true water-proof cameras at approximately 0.9-inches thin and 6.3 ounces light.

Image quality is what sets the COOLPIX AW100 apart from the pack, and the camera features a 16.0-megapixel backside illuminated (BSI) CMOS sensor for improved picture quality even in challenging low-light conditions. Whether scrambling a cliff face in scorching sunlight or carefully treading underneath a dense jungle canopy, users can confidently capture images in a variety of light. The camera uses a high sensitivity mode to capture the action in low-light and also features a maximum ISO of 3200 for the

ability to capture images where lesser cameras do not make the cut. For added versatility, the COOLPIX AW100 also features a 5x Wide Angle Zoom-NIKKOR ED glass lens (35mm equivalent of 28-140mm) to let users shoot wild POV angles and zoom in on the action. When the action starts moving fast, the AW100 helps to create blur free images with the use of Nikon’s Vibration Reduction (VR) to minimize camera shake to capture sharp images and HD movies.

Engineered with Adventure in Mind
The COOLPIX AW100 is born to be extreme and includes features created for the adventurer. The new GPS function and internal map display allow photos to be displayed via location information and saves latitude and longitude information in the image data. Consumers can now shoot and track their route with the included Nikon ViewNX2 software, Nikon’s picture sharing site or Google Earth™ to pinpoint the exact orientation at the top of a ski slope or display thumbnails together with a map of the terrain. The camera will also track location while not in use so the user can show an accurate map of their travels up the mountain or kayaking down a river. The AW100 also includes an E-compass, allowing the user to orientate via the LCD screen.

The COOLPIX AW100 also features a new Action Control operation, which allows photographers to assign a function to a swinging motion to swiftly select specific settings such as scene mode by simply shaking the camera, avoiding the need to remove gloves in situations like skiing, diving or hiking. The camera has a large 3.0-inch, bright LCD screen with Clear Color Display and anti-reflective coating, providing the ability to see in difficult lighting conditions. Users are also able to mount the camera securely to various mounting systems via the built-in standard tripod mount.
Full HD Movie Recording
Adventure happens fast, and the AW100 is ready to capture Full HD video to document the day’s climb, hike, bike or dive. The COOLPIX AW100 can capture stereo audio and has the ability to optically zoom during video recording. In addition to Full HD, the camera features a dedicated movie-record button enabling fast, one-touch recording on the fly. Creative movie making can happen with slow and fast action recording options; shoot slow-motion movies at 60, 120 and 240 frames-per-second (fps) or capture fast motion movies at 15 fps.

COOLPIX Technology
The new COOLPIX AW100 also includes Nikon’s EXPEED C2TM image processing engine resulting in enhanced image quality and processing speed. With the high-speed continuous shooting performance of the camera’s CMOS sensor, combined pictures are used for challenging lighting conditions. When HDR controls are accessed in Backlighting Scene Mode, the camera combines consecutive images of different exposure so that a wide tonality is achieved.

Additionally, the COOLPIX AW100 includes Easy Auto Mode, which automatically recognizes the shooting situation and adjusts camera settings accordingly for great pictures. The Smart Portrait System incorporates a series of automatic functions including In-Camera Red-Eye Fix™, Face-Priority AF, Face Priority AE, Smile Mode, Blink Warning, Skin Softening and Pet Portrait mode. Additionally, the COOLPIX AW100 comes with the UE-E23, an attachable 40.5mm thread filter mount adapter.

Price and Availability
The new COOLPIX AW100 is scheduled to be available in early September 2011 and will have an estimated selling price* of $379.95. It will be available in black, blue and a distinctive, highly visible orange. 

*Estimated selling price listed only as a suggestion. Actual prices are set by dealers and are subject to change at any time

Nikon AW100 specifications

Sensor • 1/2.3" Type CMOS
• 16.0 million effective pixels
• 16.79 million total pixels
Movie Full HD 1080p (1920×1080)
Lens • 28-140mm (35mm equiv)
• f = 5.0 - 25 mm
• 5x optical zoom
• F3.9-4.8
Digital zoom up to 4x
Focus range • Wide: Approx. 1 ft. 8 in. (50 cm) to infinity, Tele: Approx. 3 ft 4 in (1.0 m) to infinity,
• Macro mode: Approx. 0.4 in (1cm) to infinity (wide-angle position)
ISO sensitivity • Auto (auto gain from ISO 125 to 400)
• Fixed range auto (ISO 125 to 400)
• ISO 125
• ISO 200
• ISO 400
• ISO 800
• ISO 1600
• ISO 3200
LCD monitor • 3.0 inch touch LCD
• 460,000 dots
Storage • SD/SDHC/SDXC
• Internal memory 83MB
Connectivity • USB 2.0 Hi-Speed
• AV out (PAL / NTSC switchable)
Power Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL12
Battery • Still pictures: Approx. 250 shots
• Movies: Approx. 1 h 35 min
Weight (inc batt) 178 g (6.3 oz.) approx
Dimensions 110 x 65 x 23mm
I own it
I want it
I had it
Discuss in the forums


Total comments: 39
By bwlambert (Sep 20, 2012)

Great camera. Had an issue where the camera suddenly locked on me during a recording while snorkeling and then would not work properly after. Contacted Nikon support and send the camera away. They determined that there was some water damage and replaced the camera. Great support and service. Only cost me the shipping cost to return the camera to Nikon in Ontario.

Before this happen, I used the camera while on vacation in Cuba and then in the waters around PEI for the summer. Really pleased with the quality of pictures and video both underwater and out-of-water.

Check out the video:

By Scottelly (Jul 29, 2012)

From what I have seen, the photos it captures look like they have more fine detail than the Sony TX10. I don't know about the TX20. What I do know is the TX10 video does not compare to this new Nikon's video capabilities. I also like the GPS on this camera.

It looks like a winner to me. With fast shooting ability, great image quality, the best GPS in any camera that I have ever seen, and the Nikon name, I will have to buy one. I was going to get a Pentax Optio W2, but the image quality, high-speed video (120 fps at VGA resolution), optical image stabilization, GPS and digital compass on this camera convince me otherwise.

The Olympus Tough TG-1 looks pretty good too. I really like the fish-eye lens attachment for that camera. The depth alarm is also very cool.

Harbs 1973
By Harbs 1973 (Apr 30, 2012)

I had a Nikon Aw 100 and did use it once or twice snorkelling before our trip to Cairns. It takes a average photo but is easy to use. Just don't expect high grade images. Also be very wary of using it in water. Mine failed after five minutes on the Great Barrier reef at a depth of less than 1 meter. Nikon has stated they will replace camera but I will never go near water with it again as it is far from water proof as stated. No wonder the actual water proof seal looks cheap and nasty. I mentioned this when I brought it but the sales man stated it would be fine. I should have went with my instincts that the camera look a cheap build quality

camera digital store
By camera digital store (Apr 27, 2012)

The new GPS function and internal map display allow photos to be displayed via location information and saves latitude and longitude information in the image data. The AW100 also includes an E-compass Users are also able to mount the camera securely to various mounting systems via the built-in <a href='' title=''>standard</a> tripod mount.

1 upvote
By pahl (Oct 29, 2011)

I'm purchased this camera for the GPS geotagging function. I like to upload photos to panoramio for google earth. I have been geotagging for a few years now and found other gps enabled cameras gps systems slow and week for picking up satellites in tree cover. The Nikon AW100 GPS system is awesome! It's quick to pick up satellites and holds a lock on them even in heavy tree cover. The Nikon AW100 GPS system also has the advantage of using A-GPS file that can be downloaded from this URL.

When using the A-GPS file the Nikon AW100 finds the satellites with in a second or two, simply amazing!

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Navigator TM
By Navigator TM (Dec 30, 2011)

Many thanks for the A-GPS info. :)

1 upvote
By Zrock (Oct 28, 2011)

A friend of mine just got this camera... Definitely not impressed. She has always taken fairly good shots with all our other point and shoot. I seen pictures from this one yesterday. Both indoor and outside shots. All the pictures were extreamly soft and over exposed. Turned me away from buying it. When we were looking at them we were taking test shots in the store and they looked good but anything looks good on a 3" screen

1 upvote
foto mad
By foto mad (Nov 13, 2011)

I had the same problem.very good photos after changing the settings from SOFT to HI and drop the light down a notch .turn off the digital zoom.. see if this improves things..

1 upvote
By farrell_photo (Nov 29, 2011)

@foto mad....i have the aw100 and am noticing that the quality is terrible say that you changed the settings from soft to hi....where at? I cannot find any menu option to do that, I turned of the digital zoom but dont see other quality options

1 upvote
By Al666 (Mar 26, 2012)

I have the same problems
Im selling it today...

I have always loved Nikon Cameras, and I own a D7000
But this is just plain bad...

1 upvote
By ultrasonic (Oct 17, 2011)

I am interested in this camera but would love to see some photos of users before my purchase. Who would like to share some?

1 upvote
Navigator TM
By Navigator TM (Dec 30, 2011)

This link will show some sample pictures taken with the Nikon Coolpix AW100

1 upvote
By omarasl (6 months ago)

I have this camera since one year ago and it is very amazing I have some photos of it in my lens in squidoo the lens is about Nikon D3200 but I have also some photos by my Nikon AW100 in Poland , really it is challenging of the weather , if you want my lens is here
I hope it will help you

By Suheim (Oct 6, 2011)

I got one a week ago and normally use a Sony compact for quick shots. Was attracted to the rugged promise. Having said that the results were disappointing with loads of grain. I fiddled with all the settings possible and found that it did not improve at all. I shot parallel with an old Sony 10.6 MP and got much sharper and low grain images than the AW100 at 16MP.

Planning to talk with Nikon to ensure it is not a defective piece.

1 upvote
By rmedia (Oct 5, 2011)

I have purchased a Nikon AW100. I have never made a compact purchase before for the simple reason that I could not stand the shutter lag. The AW100 focusses really quickly and has virtually no shutter lag! You press the button and it takes a picture. I printed a perfectly lovely 12"x16" un-sharpened image straight out of the camera on my Epson 9900. If you hate shutter lag you will love this camera. Even if the camera is off you can turn it on and take a sharp picture in under 4 seconds! I could make a number of criticisms of the camera but the fact it focuses quickly and has virtually no shutter lag trumps them all.

1 upvote
By MikeFook (Sep 8, 2011)

any idea WHEN this is coming out exactly?

1 upvote
By Blizzard (Sep 2, 2011)

I would have liked time-lapse

1 upvote
By pat_teng (Aug 28, 2011)

Does it have a built in lens cover? it does not look like it, but that is something I want in my rugged camera. So that I can place it in my pocket with other items, and not worry about having a case so that the exposed lens does not get scratched.


1 upvote
By siuyendiana (Aug 28, 2011)

Nikon AW100: How can I access the In-Camera Special Effects? WhichbR they?

1 upvote
By Stunna (Aug 25, 2011)

No, the Nikon AW100 does not use the Ricoh's CCD. It uses Sony's BSI-CMOS sensor, so image quality should be similar to the Sony TX10. In DPR's recent waterproof camera review, Panasonic TS3 came out on top, with the Sony TX10 coming in second. Nikon's AW100 should perform similar to the TX10.

With the TS3 price at $299 and dropping, TS3 should remain the best rugged camera for this year.

1 upvote
By EdRo (Aug 25, 2011)

Anyone have more information about the faster fps movie mode? If it really is capable of recording at 240fps, what resolution is it recording at?

1 upvote
Navigator TM
By Navigator TM (Dec 30, 2011)

In movie mode the Nikon Coolpix AW100 can only record faster fps at lower resolututions for example 320x240 allows 240fps, 640x480 120fps, HD 1280x720 60fps.

1 upvote
By schaki (Aug 24, 2011)

I see it seems to have the same zoom and 16mp ccd as the Ricoh PX. The image quality from the PX was a catastrophe imo and one can only hope that Nikon have made a better jpeg engine. Still the zoom is too slow at the wide end.

The group test contained nothing but trash as far as detail levels was concerned for image quality. Noise reduction did
well to ruin it for most but Fuji which instead had a too thick protection glass.
If you want image quality, find yourself a Canon D10, Panasonic TS1 or Pentax W60 which all figured around the top of the group test in 2009 and actually seem to display more details in full size from their sample than later models.
Guess how glad I'm, having a Ricoh Caplio 500SE with 1/1.8" ccd and f2.5 at 28mm which are rather fast to be a rugged cmaera which can take some use in the water. That industrial beast can be found as used on as it shows up sometimes.

1 upvote
By picsnmorepics (Aug 24, 2011)

I was encouraged to see the AW100 offering. Seems like a usable zoom range in a "take it to the beach" camera. Maybe not your late-night party offering but still has some technology that would be useful as a second camera when the going gets rough.

The VR looks to be "Lens Shift" technology, which on my larger Nikons is superb. My favorite Coolpix feature is BSS "Best Shot Selector" and the AW100 offers that. I had BSS on my original Coolpix 900 and it saved my bacon any number of times in difficult situations.

I'm looking forward to seeing the results from this one. I do wish Nikon would cap the MP at 10-12 and use that "extra space" to improve the sensor image quality for dynamic range and highISO/lowNOISE. Maybe the BSI will offer more of an improvement in that aspect.

1 upvote
By thedonga (Aug 24, 2011)

I've got a post with a couple of sample images -

By saidiadude (Aug 24, 2011)

Nice pictures. I'm looking for simple point-and-shoot for the folks. How well does it do in Auto mode? Can one just turn it on and shoot in low light? Does it focus easily on the kids when they are running around (in good light)? Focus on kids running around in poor light? Thanks for your feedback

1 upvote
rajesh r nair
By rajesh r nair (Oct 25, 2011)

could you please direct me to specific picture which are taken by AW

1 upvote
By Nate21 (Aug 24, 2011)

wow nikon finally joined only a few years late but very interesting camera

1 upvote
Nuno Souto
By Nuno Souto (Aug 24, 2011)

But look, it's got 16Mp, that'gotta be better than 12Mp of the Pana. Isn't it? Say it is!...

1 upvote
By Jefftan (Aug 24, 2011)

"AW100 helps to create blur free images with the use of Nikon's Vibration Reduction (VR) to minimize camera shake "

This mean no optical image stabilization? $380 just cracy

1 upvote
M Jesper
By M Jesper (Aug 24, 2011)

What do you mean, no optical image stabilization?

Then what did you just quote !!!???

1 upvote
By Vitruvius (Aug 24, 2011)

Yup, No Image Stabilization - meaning that Nikon's "VR" is a software algorithm which "interprets" pixels and adjusts as best it can (which often is not very good since you can't get blodd from a rock either) and it uses a LOT of processing power AND take a LONG time AND doesn't work with video. Huge delays between shots. Who wants that when you can get the Lumix TS3 for less money and IS for stills AND video.

1 upvote
By picsnmorepics (Aug 24, 2011)

I interpret the statement on Nikon USA's site differently. Nikon says that the AW100 has "Lens Shift VR" in the "Vibration Reduction" specification.

By thedonga (Aug 24, 2011)

agreed it's lens, not maths

Hossein Zaka
By Hossein Zaka (Jun 24, 2012)

I perhaps it has a optical anti Vibration!

And you most compare it with TS4! Not the old one !

By Jefftan (Aug 24, 2011)

same price as well established and very good Panasonic TS3

Bring nothing new to the table F3.9 vs TS3 F3.3 and not cheap. Not small too TX10 is less than 150g

Nikon is not really trying to be competitive.

1 upvote
By hajagosb (Aug 24, 2011)

Why can't they release somthing like this with a much faster lens?

Andre Neves
By Andre Neves (Aug 26, 2011)

I'm guessing it has to do with cost in order to keep it competitive with other brands.

1 upvote
Hossein Zaka
By Hossein Zaka (Jun 24, 2012)

Whats your expectation from this kinda rough & rugged camera!?

5mm-140mm f2.8!?
24 f1.4!?

its hard in optics and catching the lights...!

Total comments: 39