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Performance (speed)

The Coolpix AW110 is very quick to start up, taking less than a second. That's good, since you can quickly catch a moment before it passes.

Autofocus speeds are above average for a compact camera, though they won't blow you away. In good light, the camera will lock focus in under half a second the majority of the time. In low light it took roughly a full second for focus lock. Shot-to-shot speeds were average, with delays of two seconds without the flash, and four with it.

The AW110 has a whopping seven continuous shooting modes, including two 'conventional' modes, another with a pre-shooting cache, and a another with ultra-high frame rates. Also available are Nikon's Best Shot Selection - which selects the best photo out of a burst of ten - and Multi-Shot 16, which creates a collage out of sixteen photos taken sequentially.

In the high speed, full resolution mode (Continuous H), the Coolpix was able to capture six shots at 7 fps. If you don't mind going a bit slower, the Continuous L mode took twenty-six shots in a row at 2 fps. Do note that the camera is inoperable for a full minute while it saves the photos taken in Continuous L mode to the memory card.

The Coolpix AW110 uses a 3.9 Wh lithium-ion battery, and its 250 shot per charge battery life (CIPA testing) number is among the worst in the waterproof category. Since that number is derived with the GPS turned off, expect a lot less if you're using that feature - especially the logging function. The battery is charged externally, and takes about 2.5 hours to charge from empty.

Image Quality

When you're taking photos above sea level, you'll be pleased with what the Coolpix AW110 can produce. It tends to pick the right exposure most of the time, with only occasional overexposure. Like nearly all compact cameras in its class, it will clip highlights at times, and since there's no RAW mode or any highlight recovery tools on the camera, there's not much you can do about it. Colors are vivid, which many people will find appealing. Chromatic aberrations aren't a huge issue, though you will spot them near the edges of the frame at times. Something else you'll find near the edges of the frame - especially the corners - is blurring, which is common on folded optics lenses.

Bright Light, Low ISO
This photo, taken on the Valley Isle of Maui, has vivid blues and greens.

ISO 120, 1/1250 sec, f/3.9

Look closer and you'll see some smudging of low contrast detail (shrubs, grass and, in this case, people), which is not uncommon in this class.

In terms of detail capture, the AW110 is a mixed bag. High contrast subjects look good, but low contrast objects - especially grass, trees, and hair - will be smudged due to heavy-handed noise reduction. Thats said, the vast majority of potential AW110 owners won't be viewing 16MP images at 100%. Rather, they'll be downsizing them for sharing with friends on Facebook, or perhaps printing them at 4x6 or 5x7 inches. One situation in which detail loss does become relevant is when you're cropping, which will make the smudging more apparent.

Don't expect miracles when the ISO sensitivity is set to 800 or 1600. Details get very smudged, making this setting best for small prints and web viewing. The ISO 3200 setting is best left alone, as there's virtually no fine detail left.

Low Light, High ISO
You can probably get away with using ISO 1600 for web viewing or small prints, but if you view things at 100%, you'll notice that fine details have really gone south. For example, the edge of the chest (bottom-center in the 100% crop) has completely lost the edge on its right side.

ISO 1600, 1/20 sec, f/3.9

The Coolpix AW110 performed fairly well underwater, but as mentioned earlier, the OLED display is very hard to see in these situations. The camera was able to keep the ISO down to its base level (125), so was able to capture plenty of detail. The main issue here - found on the majority of waterproof cameras - is a bluish color cast. The semi-included ViewNX2 software (you have to download it) can't fix this issue, but more capable software (including Photoshop) does a good job.

Aside from the bluish color cast, this this photo of a yellow tang looks pretty good. You can click here to see what the photo looks like after a trip through the 'Auto Color' feature in Photoshop CS6.

ISO 125, 1/500 sec; f/4.5

For more sample photos and analysis, please read our full review of the Coolpix AW110.

Video Quality

As we mentioned on the previous page, the Coolpix AW110 can record up to a half-hour of 1080/30p video with stereo sound. We have three examples below for your viewing pleasure.

Sample Video 1

This first video shows a seaplane taxing from its mooring. The wind filter is turned on, and appears to do a good job. The video is sharp, with vivid color, with the only annoyance being some choppiness near the end of the clip.

1920 x 1080, 30p, 16.7 Mbps, 33.6 MB, 16 secs  Click here to download original video

Sample Video 2

Our underwater video sample was taken with the fish below the camera. Since there's quite a bit of sand being kicked up, the quality isn't quite as good as when fish are right next to you.

1920 x 1080, 30p, 15.4 Mbps, 19.4 MB, 10 secs  Click here to download original video

As with its underwater still photos, the Coolpix AW110's videos also suffer from a blue cast. Unless you're a real video whiz, that's going to be hard to correct.

Final Thoughts

While the Coolpix AW110 doesn't lead the pack in terms of image quality it is, by far, the best value in the group. It offers one of the best feature sets in the rugged camera space, yet is priced anywhere from $15 to $60 less than its peers. It offers robust performance, one of the best GPS implementations out there, and built-in Wi-Fi.

That said, the AW110's image quality isn't great. While color and exposure are generally pleasing, fine details have an over-processed, smudged appearance. Panoramas stitched in-camera are low resolution and have poor quality, as well. However, if you keep in mind that most buyers of the AW110 won't be viewing their photos at 100% on a 27-inch display, these problems aren't as big of an issue as they sound. The AW110 also loses points for its mediocre OLED display visibility outdoors, and sub-par battery life.

If you want a budget-friendly underwater camera that's packed to the gills with features (pun intended) and you won't be 'pixel peeping', then the AW110 is worth a look. Just be sure to test out the OLED display before you buy.

Click here to read the full conclusion from our Nikon Coolpix AW110 review

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Comments

Total comments: 123
12
CameraLabTester

From this lineup, Lumix and Nikon are about the only ones you would not be ashamed of being seen as a user.

There rest are just Comedy Central.

.

1 upvote
Timmbits

not even...
Nikon: Not good for: Frequent shooting in bright light, pixel peepers, or those who want long battery life
Panasonic Lumix: "Photo quality is typical for this class. Fine details are often smudged and chromatic aberrations can be strong at times." Not good for: Low light

0 upvotes
tommy leong

does GoPro and Astac 7200 fit into this category ?

0 upvotes
Rod McD

Hi DPR, thanks for your review.

People buy these things because there's no alternative other than a bigger camera and a housing. I'd like to see a manufacturer opt for a new approach. Year after year your reviews (and others) comment on their small sensors and poor IQ. The internet is also littered with leak complaints and poor company response on guarantees.

There seems to be a view that wilderness/outdoor/water sport followers don't value better IQ, which is absolutely untrue. And that serious photographers should have a D4 in a housing. Try stuffing one of those in your life jacket. The middle ground - the old Nikonos - is gone.

We need a manufacturer to make a robust, WR, direct light path camera with an APSC sensor, a fixed 24-85eq zoom (or primes) and real "O" rings. One 25mm "O" ring cover could give access to an SD card, a shaped battery and USB plug. Add a decent grip. And useable with gloves please.

Yes it would be bigger and cost more. But worth every cent.

Comment edited 46 seconds after posting
6 upvotes
Treeshade

Most of these cameras are not only water-proof but also shock-proof - they are not just for diving, but also for skiing, skating, mountain-biking, etc.. It would be really difficult to shock-proof an APSC standard zoom.

Imagine the thickness of a 58mm fliter that would not break when dropped to the ground with a 1kg body crushing it.

But I agree that it would be fantastic be have, for example, a weatherproof tough X100s.

1 upvote
breth

Agree with Rod. I can't be completely sure, but I believe there is a good market out there for a WR aps-c sensor serious compact. Not only would it be the backpacker's ultimate camera for convenience, I think that perhaps it would also interest streetshooters who like to get photos in the rain, or other less than perfect conditions.
If Ricoh-Pentax would use their expertise in designing cameras like this, I see no reason why a serious WR compact would not be a hit. A WR Ricoh GR would perhaps not have to be much bigger than it already is - and even if it would be, it still would be very attractive to a lot of backpackers.

1 upvote
Timmbits

I'd settle for a waterproof RX100.

it would seem like a reasonable compromise.

2 upvotes
KonstantinosK

I'd even be happy with a waterproof DMC LX7. But even this seems highly unlikely to happen...

2 upvotes
monkeybrain

I completely agree with all these comments. A waterproof and ruggedized Ricoh GR or Nikon Coolpix A would be a great outdoor sport camera. Also, Nikon wants to revitalise the Nikon 1? Bring out a fully waterproof and shockproof model with a couple similarly toughened primes to match. It's already got the great autofocus that would be good for skiing etc. Nikonos reborn!

2 upvotes
LaFonte

It is extremely expensive to make waterproof "real" camera that would withstand more than a year of use. On all professional equipment you have to regularly change the o-rings and take pretty good care of the housing. A grain of sand can make waterproof camera no longer waterproof.
All of those small wp cameras are basically with planned 1 year obsolescence. They are cheap inside so if they start leaking, then you throw it away and get new one. Many of those would leak after some time, some even after first dip :-)
You definitely don't want a wp expensive camera like rx100 or x100 and nobody will make it. If you need wp you will buy a marina case that is probably more expensive than the camera itself, but it will protect your equipment.

0 upvotes
PicOne

Sony rx100 option here below.
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/909217-REG/Ikelite_6116_10_Housing_For_Sony.html

0 upvotes
tiberius_dinu

I have bought the Lumix TS5 and I'm very pleased with it. The image quality is as good as it can be in this class but would not care more about. I do shoot Canon 6D but I can not take in the water or running or snorkeling. The video is as advertised and it looks awesome and that was one of te reasons I opted for TS5. I had no issues with the wifi and it connects smoothly to my ipad, iPhone and the LG android I'm using. Neat to be able to control the zoom and the settings in the camera remotely.

Thanks for the reviews I did follow them and it did help me.

Cheers

T

2 upvotes
PicOne

Would have liked to have seen some mention/discussion of options out there using dedicated or aftermarket housings in conjunction with standard compact cameras. Ie. Can u get a better performing camera + housing for not much price difference?

1 upvote
Mikhail Tal

This is the review you should have made to begin with instead of giving every single rugged camera its own review. Why do you assign these cameras for review rather than the many mirrorless cameras you have skipped or may be about to skip over like the GF5, G5, GF6, G6, E-PL5, NEX-5R, NEX-3N, just off the top of my head. Not a single one of your six individual rugged reviews got even 100 comments. I guarantee you that any one of the cameras I mentioned would get more than 100 comments if it was still the current model.

5 upvotes
Barney Britton

We don't judge success by comments - if we did, every other news story would be about Adobe Creative Cloud.

16 upvotes
Mikhail Tal

Simon Joinson himself said that you judge success by traffic and I'm sure there's a strong correlation between number of comments and number of page views.

Comment edited 19 seconds after posting
5 upvotes
Timmbits

bah! come on!
no harm was done.

0 upvotes
Mikhail Tal

We're talking about cameras that should have been reviewed and weren't, not whatever your definition of "harm" is.

0 upvotes
monkeybrain

I doubt there is a correlation between comments and page views. Most page views surely come from people who are not registered members of the site. DPReview reviews cameras that will generate more page hits, so why budget DSLRs are reviewed in a timely fashion and also consumer friendly cams like these rugged cameras (summer's almost over though, these are a bit late I'd say).

0 upvotes
Mikhail Tal

If you honestly think that a review with 50 comments and a preview with 700 comments are equally likely to have the most page views between the two, you are completely delusional. More likely is that you just don't understand correlation very well.

2 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer

Barney makes a good point. A doorstop from Nikon will generate 10 times more comments than an unusual or outstanding camera from a small fry like Ricoh.

0 upvotes
Mikhail Tal

Nikon Coolpix AW110 Review: 77 comments
Ricoh GR Review: 214 comments
Panasonic GX7 First Impressions Review: 702 comments (and counting)

Want to try again?

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 29 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
Barney Britton

Mikhail - please stop it.

0 upvotes
Mikhail Tal

Can you be more specific? What I've done here is to refute people's factually inaccurate statements, is that not allowed? Or if I have myself said anything inaccurate in this chain of replies, please explain that as well. Thank you.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Total comments: 123
12