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What We Like

  • Good photo quality for its class
  • Responsive performance in most respects
  • Goes deeper than any camera in its class (it's also shock and dustproof)
  • Generous GPS feature set, with manometer, landmarks, maps, and logging
  • Built-in Wi-Fi allows remote control and photo transfer with smartphones
  • Good quality 1080/30p video recording with stereo sound
  • Considerably cheaper than competition

What We Don't Like

  • Details are smudged at base ISO (though likely not an issue for target audience)
  • Tends to clip highlights
  • Blue cast in underwater photos/movies
  • Display very difficult to see outdoors and underwater
  • Cluttered controls on rear of camera
  • Panoramas are low resolution and poor quality
  • Battery life isn't great

Conclusion

As we mentioned at the start of this review, Nikon is a relative newcomer to the waterproof/rugged camera scene (ironically, given the company's pioneering Nikonos film models of yore). The Coolpix AW110 is only Nikon's second rugged compact, yet it packs most of the features found on cameras that have been around for generations.

Design and Handling

The AW110 may not feel terribly rugged - especially with a plastic rear panel - but it ranks near the top of its class. In fact, the Coolpix can go further underwater than any rugged camera on the market: 18 meters (59 feet). It can also be dropped from 2 meters, if you're on the clumsy side. The AW110's slick front panel and lack of a grip makes it a bit difficult to hold. The controls on the back of the camera are cluttered and not easy to locate quickly. Nikon has implemented a feature called 'Action Control' for glove-wearing photographers, which lets you tilt the camera to move through menu items. While an interesting idea, Olympus' Tap Control feature is a lot easier to use.

You'll find a F3.9-4.8, 28-140mm lens on the Coolpix AW110, which it likely shares with the Canon PowerShot D20 that we reviewed last month. This lens doesn't have a very 'fast' maximum aperture range, meaning that it doesn't let in a ton of light at any point in its focal length span. Like several of its peers, the AW110 does have a back-illuminated CMOS sensor, which gathers more light than regular CCD and CMOS sensors, but this doesn't make up for the fact that the AW110's lens is pretty slow. On the back of the camera you'll find a 3-inch OLED display (possibly the same as the one on the Olympus TG-2) with 614,000 dots. The display looks great if you're indoors, with vivid color and a wide viewing angle. Outdoors, however, visibility is very poor, even if you crank the brightness all the way up.

Features

The Coolpix AW110 is loaded with tons of features. It's largely a point-and-shoot camera, with just a pair of manual controls (for exposure compensation and white balance), and is fully loaded with every whiz-bang feature out there. One of its most impressive features is its GPS system, which combines standard location data with a compass, manometer, landmark database, and maps. The GPS gets a signal quickly in open areas and performs fairly well in the city. The landmark database is substantial, and if the camera got it wrong, you can change or remove the incorrect data. The maps are especially nice, showing exactly where you've taken your photos, as well as nearby landmarks. There's also a logging feature for creating a path of where you took pictures.

Another major feature is Wi-Fi which, when combined with Nikon's iOS and Android apps, lets you take control of the camera. You can control the camera from your mobile device, complete with live view and the ability to operate the lens. Photos can be automatically copied to your phone as soon as they're taken, at which point you can forward them on to their next destination. The app also allows you to browse the photos already on the camera, and move them over to your mobile device.

The Coolpix AW110 also has more conventional features, such as an auto mode with scene selection, numerous special effects, and a 1080p movie mode.

Performance and Photo Quality

Performance is generally very snappy, with a few exceptions. The AW110 starts up in under a second, and focuses quickly in both good and poor light. The delay between shots ranges from two to four seconds depending on flash use. The camera has a whopping seven different burst modes, with the ability to shoot as fast as 7 fps (for six shots). If you want to take more pictures, you can drop down to 2 fps, though be prepared for the minute-long wait before the camera can be used again. Battery life is not one of the AW110's strong suits, with a CIPA rating of a mere 250 shots per charge.

The Coolpix AW110 takes good quality photos, given the audience and shooting situations at which it is aimed. Exposure is generally accurate, though like most compacts, the AW110 will clip highlights. Colors are vibrant and pleasing to the eye when you're above ground, though underwater you'll see a blue color cast in your photos and videos. Pictures are fairly sharp, though if you look at 100% you'll find some smudging details, even at ISO 125. However, this will only be an issue if you're making extraordinarily large prints or cropping. The AW110 isn't great at high ISOs, but the results are good enough for Facebook or a 4x6 inch print. Chromatic aberrations were just an occasional annoyance in our shooting.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the Nikon Coolpix AW110 is a full-featured rugged camera that performs well and takes photos that'll please all but the most discerning photographers. It's worthy of a silver award, missing out on a gold due to its sub-par screen visibility and cramped controls.

Nikon Coolpix AW110
Category: Waterproof / Rugged Compact Camera
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Features
Exposure and focus accuracy
Image quality (jpeg)
Flash performance
Low light / high ISO performance
Optics
Performance (speed)
Movie / video mode
Connectivity
Value
PoorExcellent
Good for
Divers, serious GPS lovers, or anyone who wants a easy-to-use rugged camera that takes good pictures and movies. Wi-Fi connectivity and a low price make it even more appealing.
Not so good for
Photographers who don't want to color correct underwater photos. Those taking photos in bright outdoor sunlight, or expect to get a full day of shooting on a single battery charge.
Overall score
73%
The Coolpix AW110 is a capable rugged camera with good photo quality for its class, an elaborate GPS feature, Wi-Fi for remote camera control, and a nice movie mode - all without breaking the bank. It can also go further underwater than any of its peers. Downsides include smudged details, blue color casts underwater, poor outdoor display visibility, and below average battery life.

Samples

There are 29 images in the Nikon Coolpix AW110 review samples gallery. Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter / magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review), we do so in good faith, please don't abuse it.

Unless otherwise noted images taken with no particular settings at full resolution. Because our review images are now hosted on the 'galleries' section of dpreview.com, you can enjoy all of the new galleries functionality when browsing these samples.

Nikon Coolpix AW110 Review Samples

30 images • Posted 5th July 2013 • View album
Sample photoSample photoSample photoSample photoSample photoSample photoSample photoSample photoSample photoSample photoSample photoSample photoSample photoSample photoSample photoSample photoSample photoSample photoSample photoSample photoSample photoSample photoSample photoSample photoSample photoSample photoSample photoSample photoSample photoSample photo

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Enter the 'Nikon Coolpix talk' Discussion Forum

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Comments

Total comments: 91
EdTheC
By EdTheC (4 weeks ago)

Absolute HATE this camera. Poor battery life (carry 3 spares!) but worse, the photos are AWFUL. Often blurry, bad exposure, and worse. The only positive I have is that the video is OK. Looks to me like there is always a plastic cover on our photos. Ebay here it comes....

0 upvotes
wtgate
By wtgate (1 month ago)

First time use underwater snorkeling we were required to wear life vest so cannot go deep. After using for first 20 mins the monitor display went black I thought it was the battery until we got back to the resort and discover everything else is working EXCEPT the monitor! Missed a lifetime chance shots! Now the NIKON camera is USELESS without the monitor! REALLY disappointed.
Trusting the NIKON quality is no longer the case . . . no way!
DO NOT BUY IT. Read below reviews, this is not an isolated case.
Nikon owes their trusted customer a factory recall. $300 in Canada this is an expensive mistake beyond our control relying on a 'Nikon' name.

0 upvotes
7D67488F6AC9443FB8DF80F837FC3261

Just got back from white water rafting. 1st time using the Nikon AW110. Actually got some cute pics. But now the screen is dead.
I'm seeing a lot of posts about this & also a lot of people not getting a new camera or their money back.
Has anyone gotten any success with the Nikon warranty?

0 upvotes
Downundermick
By Downundermick (2 months ago)

Stay away from this camera!! I had the exact same problem as others below. Used it one day snorkeling-- perfectly fine. Actually shot some nice pics. The next day the LED went completely blank. Camera was always at the surface. Buy at your own risk. Nikon wont even acknowledge this is a design flaw despite I see now multiple postings with this issue!

0 upvotes
sk8ter
By sk8ter (2 months ago)

Purchased this camera based on its advertised capabilities, “waterproof to 59ft”. After two days of owning it and normal use while on vacation in and out of a pool, never going below 2ft, the display on the back stopped working. The camera still functioned without the display but there’s not much you can do with it.

Returned the camera to Nikon’s warranty department in New York, who then sub-contracts and ships it to Precision Camera in CT, who then sent the camera back to me stating “Returning unit unrepaired, unit is beyond economical repair due to liquid damage”.

Upon talking with Nikon Service about this, their reply “sorry nothing we can do”, Precision Camera makes the call; you will need to talk to them. After pointing out that the camera was used in a normal manor and failed, your sub-contractor (Precision Camera) says it cannot be repaired and that the warranty is with you Nikon for replacement, their reply “too bad, thanks for being a Nikon customer”.

So, buyer beware!

0 upvotes
E9294ECB9F86488B8937620AA28C441D

I am so disappointed and upset. I bought this camera for my trip to the Florida Keys specifically for taking snorkeling pictures. The camera worked great the first 5 days on land. However the minute I got into the water the screen went black. Apparently it still takes pictures but without a screen it's impossible to know if it is working or to change settings, etc. I missed a once in a lifetime chance to take Florida Keys snorkeling pictures. DO NOT BUY THIS CAMERA!!!

0 upvotes
rondhamalam
By rondhamalam (8 months ago)

Really disappointed. The picture quality is so so bad. Really really bad. Worse than a cheap compact digital camera in the market. I returned mine.
Looks like Nikon lost the ground.

0 upvotes
ALiEN2108
By ALiEN2108 (8 months ago)

I had a Panasonic FT2 then FT3, but switched to AW110 because of 18m depth. Went on two dives....display dead. No water in camera, no fogging...simply black display...cam works though...

This really seems common issue...I wish Panasonic would update the design to 18m...

0 upvotes
Anderson Pereira
By Anderson Pereira (9 months ago)

AW110 Part 2:

Today I switched the camera on to see if the battery was still charged, and switched the camera off. Before leaving for snorkeling I switched the AW110 once again, and realized that the welcome screen did not show up. I tried to switch the camera on several times again, but nothing at all. All controls were simply DEAD.

What I find quite disturbing is that besides all comments I found before on the condensation issue, I realize now that there are a number of comments (also on this blog) stating that the camera ‘simply did not work anymore’.

Are we really talking about Nikon here?? I mean the Nikon quality? I mean, look at all the comments below. This is a joke. This is an 18m waterproof / 2m shockproof camera that goes totally dead after a few days snorkeling for a few hours a day.

If Nikon is still the Nikon we all used to know they should be seriously looking into a factory recall.

DO NOT BUY IT. This is not an isolated case.

0 upvotes
Anderson Pereira
By Anderson Pereira (9 months ago)

AW110 Part 1:

I bought the AW110 two weeks ago in the Netherlands before leaving on vacations to the Maldives. I own another pro DSLR and a number of lenses from Nikon, and I purchased this one for snorkeling shots after a quick web search, trusting the Nikon quality.

The camera is a complete disappointment to say the least. After one week the whole OLED display was covered by condensation. Just one day later the lenses were also fully covered. All care was taken to access the card/battery compartment only once the camera was totally dry/clean, and the compartment was always carefully closed. I do not do any diving; only snorkeling. So the camera was never any deeper than 1 meter in the water.

After noticing the malfunction I searched the web for similar problems, and the number of comments stating the exact same issue was simply awkward. I was hopping this to be a just a bad unit, but it seems to have happened to many other not so satisfied customers.

<Continues on AW110 Part 2>

0 upvotes
BelizeScott
By BelizeScott (10 months ago)

Nice review. My question has to do with using a red filter to reduce the red and blue hues that appear once you are below about 15 feet. I believe that a filter will help even though this is supposed to compensate somehow for being under water. The underwater pictures I have found on the web are not remarkable. I experimented with and without a red filter for my GoPro camera and the increased definition with a filter is quite remarkable and I am thinking it may translate over to this camera too.
So, who would make the best red 40.5mm filter for deep underwater use?
Thanks.

0 upvotes
PeetieT
By PeetieT (10 months ago)

Can anyone explain me why the choppiness happens in the video? Is it low encoding performance of the processor? It seems to be a really common problem around compact/phone cameras.

0 upvotes
AlainPothier
By AlainPothier (10 months ago)

The Nikon AW110 takes great outdoor pictures, however, when we tried to take underwater pics while snorkeling during our trip to the Bahamas in September 2013, we were able to take only 3 pictures before the camera stopped working. There was no water inside the case and I even replaced the battery with a spare one but the camera still did not work. I just sent the AW110 to Nikon in Toronto for repairs which did cost me money to return them the camera. What is frustrating is that we purchased this camera solely for our trip and unfortunately, we could not use it. I do not recommend this camera to anyone who would like to use it underwater or in the water.

0 upvotes
Ken Hadi
By Ken Hadi (10 months ago)

I just returned my Nikon AW110.
On easy-mode auto with flash and face detecting it gave me inconsistently extreme overexposure. Sometimes it's under exposure as well but often it's extremely overexposure inconsistently. It happened indoors and semi-outdoors. Tried to play with settings and still inconsistently overexposure.
Other thing is, the lens is very sensitive to glare. There will be a massive mist from glare when there is bright light in front of sensor plane.

I have couple of Nikon pro DSLR and Lenses and I like Nikon, so I thought Nikon would give a good pocket camera in this type, but I was wrong.
I decided this one is not for me.

And again, Amazon is the best in the return department that I would always want to buy from Amazon. (Sorry this last bit is irrelevant. Just showing my gratitude).

0 upvotes
Bean Dar
By Bean Dar (11 months ago)

Im thinking of getting this, But I cant decide between this or the tough

0 upvotes
GaryBridger
By GaryBridger (11 months ago)

Oh for you kayaking and like to beat it up. A rubber boot would be good to slide it in. it slips into the sleeve of my we suite nicely. Will make a wet suite pocket for it.

0 upvotes
GaryBridger
By GaryBridger (11 months ago)

I bought the AW 110 after nocking its feed back. Some how something made me buy one, when passing the shop. So I tried it out. Shooting macro, food, and street, So far not bad , not fantastic images. Ok for recording what you see. lost of features for creativity.Easy to use. Only the lens is in the wrong place, and could be brighter. needs a cover, and would be nice if orange filter came with the holder and an underwater case was with it that took it deeper. have to ad a float as you could lose it in the deep.
When the weather got better, I took it for an underwater test . Wow it works well, Although a bit worrying at 18 mtrs, As it seemed to show pressure as the glass plate touched the screen. the inner screen seemed to concave. Images OK not using flash, Could be better. Were taken in bad conditions, Considering I did not do any photoshop on them they are on my FB if you want to take a look.For a small point and shoot and water proof to 18 mts, I am impressed. Thanks Nikon.

Comment edited 11 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
RickVancouver
By RickVancouver (Jul 31, 2013)

Update! Delivered the camera to Nikon today and received notice within an hour that they will replace the camera.. Very impressed with the quality of their support!

1 upvote
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (11 months ago)

You have been really lucky. Usually the "water damage" will be the user's fault, coming from...
- improperly closed hatch,
- hair, lint, sand or other dirt in the watertighting closure area,
- dropping / bringing the camera to a depth over the rated limit,
- failing to replace the gasket(s) in the recommended intervals,
- using some sort of gasket grease against the manufacturer's maintenance procedure, etc.
In the meantime there is quite a list of possible reasons for water ingress which have to do with assembling negligence, faulty gaskets / packing, implementation of sloppily made watertighting elements, and most importantly, not pressure-testing the finalized units before shipment.
Once, a long time ago, all underwater devices were water-pressure tested to at least 150% of the maximum usage limit, but somehow I doubt the new cameras undergo that procedure.
Until u/w camera manufacturers finally learn about o-rings, expect this kind of frustrations to keep on hapenning... :(

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Briangib
By Briangib (11 months ago)

Hi Rick. Just bought a AW110 (as well for sea kayaking), really wanted the Pentax WG 3, but none available with GPS. Fell for the spec of the AW 110. Just a little concerned with the ergonomics, one hand to camera and one on paddle (when a bit bumpy)! do you feel it easy to operate with one hand (grip and chose command)? Like: it is easy to fit in pocket of the lifejacket. Brgds, Brian

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
RickVancouver
By RickVancouver (Jul 29, 2013)

I purchased an AW110 on July the 19th – used it 3 times, I was impressed with the ergonomics of the camera – I’m using it with neoprene gloves – balancing in a sea kayak. However on the 3rd use I noticed moisture on the lower part of the screen which rapidly spread to fog the whole screen – then killed the display. Clearly water had somehow gotten into the camera despite the battery cover being securely locked. I returned it to the store – assuming they would replace it as it was clearly faulty. But no! As the camera was suffering from ‘water damage’ they would have to return it to Nikon and that I was told would take 6 - 8 weeks. If it was then deemed to be a fault they would replace it. I’ve called the local Nikon office who has offered a quicker two week process if I can get the camera to them – but beware even though they say these cameras are waterproof – some stores are not willing to stand behind that statement! I have this horrible feeling that I just bought a problem camera.

0 upvotes
dune11
By dune11 (Jul 29, 2013)

The reason that I'm writing this is because my wife said to me a few days ago:

"Let's get a new camera! We've had this one since before our boy (he is 12) was born. Why don't we buy a camera that we can bring everywhere without having to worry?"

Since then I've been spending a lot of time looking at different reviews and sites and come to the conclusion that what we need is a one of either Nikon AW-110/Olympus TG-2/Pentax WG-3/Lumix TS-5.

But.

When I read all the user comments here at dpreview I get the impression that all of these cameras really SUCK! You can't see the screen, you can't use the buttons, the battery time is worthless, you can't (and this seems to be the most important flaw) take decent photos with them.

Is this really true?

Should we give up the idea of buying a camera that you can bring to the beach/slope/woods and not have to worry? And still take decent photos?

Comment edited 7 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
lmtfa
By lmtfa (Jul 24, 2013)

Jeff

You said that Nikon has little or no experience in uw photography. I may be wrong but I seem to remember owning a Nikonos IV. That was made and developed by Nikon and in fact some of the best accessories.

0 upvotes
Jeff Keller
By Jeff Keller (11 months ago)

I meant in the digital arena. Your point is well taken, though.

0 upvotes
meanwhile
By meanwhile (Jul 9, 2013)

I'd love it if we could get to - as an example - the rugged X100.

0 upvotes
DistantView
By DistantView (Jul 9, 2013)

Thanks for the reviews - but to say that the full set will be available in a few weeks means the holidays will be nearly over !! Quick, quick get those reviews posted !!
RT

0 upvotes
jaygeephoto
By jaygeephoto (Jul 8, 2013)

Taken with my WG-3 last month:
http://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/post-your-photos/229906-sports-sailing-rhode-island.html#post2438258

0 upvotes
Jefftan
By Jefftan (Jul 9, 2013)

Is lack of an aperture mode as in TG-2 a problem?
the image in your sample has F9.5 which would suffer from diffraction
or maybe not because it is probably using an ND filter

0 upvotes
JohnEwing
By JohnEwing (Jul 8, 2013)

Small, toughened cameras such as this are not as good for diving as pure UW jobs or DSLRs in housings, but they're great for sports where you might be getting sweaty, caught in downpours or knocked about, where getting the image counts for more than pixel-peeping.

The trouble from the manufacturer's point of view is that, for this purpose, 2- or 4-year-old models are just as good as the latest offerings. On a 1200 km Audax, such tomfoolery as WiFi and glacially slow GPS is useless.

Get a used or new old-stock Panny TS3/FT3 or even an TS1/FT1 and you'll not be missing out by much in comparison.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Jefftan
By Jefftan (Jul 9, 2013)

you are probably right
My Panasonic TS1 is still working and believe it or not, at base ISO it may be better than all current waterproof camera because it has a CCD sensor not CMOS

If people understood CCD got fantastic color at base ISO

0 upvotes
JohnEwing
By JohnEwing (Jul 9, 2013)

I liked the TS1 but found it very easy to hit the shutter button instead of the zoom, esp. w. gloves on. Great wee camera, though. Still got it but sensor yields purple haze all up one side.

0 upvotes
jaygeephoto
By jaygeephoto (Jul 8, 2013)

Buy a Pentax WG-3 in black, with or without GPS. It's a great value and doesn't look like a tub toy. You can use it as a general purpose point and shoot and not look foolish. The image quality is outstanding too for a camera of this type.

0 upvotes
Jefftan
By Jefftan (Jul 9, 2013)

Do you own it?
astonishing compare to what?
got TG-2 and curious about WG-3

why not TG-2?

0 upvotes
Aaron Sur
By Aaron Sur (Jul 8, 2013)

nikon AW100 lasted one week on a snorkel trip, fogging LCD crap auto focus soft images etc.It was replaced by Nikon and would probably have kept it if the images from the old Ixus 70 in the Dicapac housing did not look better!
12 months later after pounding surf , sand rain and sunscreen the Dicapac still does the job and has a strap that can get wet.
Learnt my lesson well on future purchases in this category of camera.

3 upvotes
SayCheesePlease
By SayCheesePlease (Jul 8, 2013)

I AM the "target audience".

I am a 44 yr old serious enthusiast photographer
I am a good snow skier ( skied West Coast Canada since I was 6 yrs old)
I now live in a warm climate and surf 2 times a week
I regularly dive (snorkel and scuba)

I have tried waterproof camera boxes- ok for diving but much too big for surfing/skiing.

It is a big effort paddle out into pounding surf and wait in the break line to get a good picture of fellow surfers. For this effort I want a good camera- the Canon S110 waterproofed- not a glorified smartphone.

I know where I took the picture. I can upload the picture later. However when clinging to a ski slope, treading water in overhead surf my goal is to get a good picture.

"Details smudged at base ISO" = Silver award?

DPR- End the candy coated reviewing. Review this camera for what is- a camera . It is not a GPS device, nor a web device.

Calling all Camera Co's- We don't want gadgetry- just make a really good affordable waterproof CAMERA!

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 14 minutes after posting
6 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (Jul 8, 2013)

Unfortunately, people do want gadgetry but sharp photos should also be a minimum requirement for any type of camera award.

0 upvotes
Richard Murdey
By Richard Murdey (Jul 8, 2013)

All the sample images look like they've been passed through the Photoshop "smartblur" filter.

Re-sized to fit on screen, though, they are not terrible. "Not terrible". There you are: that pretty much describes every modern compact digital camera, in varying degrees, from something like the Nikon 1/X20/XF-1/RX-100 on down.

2 upvotes
Tony Milner
By Tony Milner (Jul 7, 2013)

Hmmm... an outdoor and underwater camera with a screen that is hard to see outdoors and underwater... Sounds like a deal breaker to me...

4 upvotes
Gesture
By Gesture (Jul 7, 2013)

If the reviews were harsher (i.e. more honest rating), it might encourage the OEMs to develop models with better image quality. I don't get it. This is one of the only compact camera segments with strong growth potential, but .... What happened, Nikon, to the Nikonos legacy.

9 upvotes
Jefftan
By Jefftan (Jul 7, 2013)

Only TG-2 and WG-3 with F2 lens is worth buying

Anyone buying this camera not prepare to use it indoor? if so would you want ISO 200/400 or ISO 800/1600

So simple. This slow lens waterproof are obsolete and why they still exist is many buying public don't understand lens aperture

I have TG-2 and is definitely much better than my Galaxy smartphone. The only thing I don't know is if WG-3 is better than my TG-2. It seems there is less NR in WG-3 and more detail left but this is only evident at 100%

For normal viewing on screen image is very attractive. In good lighting I can mistaken them to be take by my NEX-5N

1 upvote
Jefftan
By Jefftan (Jul 7, 2013)

If they further improve it to F1.4 than can use up to ISO 400 in low light than it would be perfect

Now still have to use ISO 800 in many scenario and as you know not very good

ISO 400 is the highest tolerable ISO for small sensor

Comment edited 34 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
arhmatic
By arhmatic (Jul 7, 2013)

With camera phones getting so much better, there is little reason to get a point and shot. The latest camera phones from Sony Xperia are waterproofed. Not as good as this nikon, but it's work in progress I suspect. More and better will come.

Point and shot manage to stay afloat with this niche markets, but this markets are getting smaller and smaller. The only way to stay in business is getting much better with image quality. Lx7 is a benchmark IMO.

1 upvote
xMichaelx
By xMichaelx (Jul 7, 2013)

It'll be a cold day in hell before I take my phone into the ocean with me, waterproof or not. There will *always* be a good market for waterproof point-and-shoots.

7 upvotes
arhmatic
By arhmatic (Jul 7, 2013)

@Michael - I bet five years ago you were saying 'It'll be a cold day in hell before I use my phone as my main camera'

1 upvote
Tee1up
By Tee1up (Jul 8, 2013)

I really want to see a camera that can replace my P&S or even my DSLR for casual shooting. For outside, bright light they get the job done but once we go indoors, it is Russian Roulette.

0 upvotes
audijam
By audijam (Jul 6, 2013)

they don't see why to manufacture waterproof cameras since it is such a low-demand and low profit sector. I have never used one but by judging the sample pictures i don't think I will ever own one. I will just buy a waterproof housing for my canon powershot then....if it goes so be it..

1 upvote
Simon97
By Simon97 (Jul 6, 2013)

"Good image quality for its class." I think that should read, "Good image quality compared to a camera phone. I don't understand why no one makes a decent durable P&S camera. Canon came close with the D10. They need to get a 12mp 1/1.7" BSI sensor in there and stop screwing around with the 16mp pinhead junk.

16 upvotes
Mr Fartleberry
By Mr Fartleberry (Jul 6, 2013)

I have the AW100 and the 16MP jpgs are smeared junk.

3 upvotes
arhmatic
By arhmatic (Jul 6, 2013)

The image quality is comparable to $100 camera.
But it's allright, it's waterproof, right?

6 upvotes
happypoppeye
By happypoppeye (Jul 7, 2013)

Actually, if you can find a Panasonic ts20, if may be better image quality for under $100.

0 upvotes
ovatab
By ovatab (Jul 6, 2013)

Camera does not actually float
+
OLED screen is not actually visible
There actually was a chubby girl with paddle on the original photo
http://www.dpreview.com/galleries/reviewsamples/photos/2612499/dscn9982?inalbum=nikon-coolpix-aw110-review-samples

;)

2 upvotes
Jock Elliott
By Jock Elliott (Jul 6, 2013)

Jeff,

I have read and respected your reviews for years, so I am have difficulty reconciling two things: (A) the silver award and (B) "The OLED display on the AW110 looks great when you're indoors. It's bright, vibrant, and has a wide viewing angle. But, as mentioned above, the one on the back of the AW110 is nearly impossible to use outdoors, and not much better underwater, which is disappointing on a camera designed to be used in those situations. "

Where else would you use a rugged camera except outdoors or underwater? If you can't see the display, in the absence of any other viewfinder, how do you compose a picture? It strikes me that inability to see to compose a picture is as close as you can get in any camera, let alone a rugged camera, to a fatal flaw in the camera's design.

I get that the Nikon and the TG2 have a lot of other virtues, but lack of a decent way of composing an image strikes me as a very serious problem.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
7 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (Jul 6, 2013)

I think "nearly impossible to use outdoors" is an exaggeration, most sold smartphones from Samsung, for example, use OLEDs, and people buy them and use outdoors. The same with many many cameras.
Well, polarizing sunglasses may be a problem sometimes.

0 upvotes
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Jul 6, 2013)

There is no external monitor that offers good viewing in all light situations. Normally, if your light comes from the back over your shoulder, every monitor will be affected, outdoors or in (shallower) water. Sometimes a bit of DIY can solve this. Think of some sort of monitor shade, either of soft material, or along the lines of collapsible viewfinders of old double-lens cameras.
The underwater-housed cameras can be even worse, since there are four glass surfaces to look through (eye / air > glass > water > glass > air / monitor), and every material change takes away some of the available light and contrast.
That was the reason for early analog u/w cameras to carry "sports" frames topside, which approximately showed what the lens will see. Of course, it did not work for macro, but for general scenery shots it was good enough.
Underwater, some sort of hooded articulated monitor would be best. That is, if you're young enough to wait until manufacturers arrive at that idea. ;)

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Jeff Keller
By Jeff Keller (Jul 6, 2013)

The AW110 and TG-2 were both knocked for their OLED displays, and I agree with your sentiment. But they make up for it in other ways. The total score is a blend of different traits of a camera. If the AW110 didn't have the fancy GPS, Wi-Fi, and low price, it's score would've been lower.

1 upvote
Impulses
By Impulses (Jul 6, 2013)

Not every OLED display is built the same peevee... Compare a 1st or 2nd gen Galaxy S to a 4th gen one, big differences (not just in resolution). Anyway, Samsung's SAMOLED displays actually get knocked for being a little less visible than competing SLCD displays in other phones... And there's even more esoteric stuff to take into account still. Take heat for instance, Samsung actually clamps down brightness once a phone gets beyond a certain temperature... Cameras probably don't do that so their max brightness is surely lower to begin with.

There's a word of intricacies when it comes to displays, just like sensors, lenses etc. Smartphone displays have been pushing the envelop and most camera displays are far behind, even if you ignore resolution which is the biggest gap (only recently did I start hearing of camera displays eliminating some of the air gaps that smartphone displays did away two or more years ago).

0 upvotes
jhinkey
By jhinkey (Jul 6, 2013)

I tried the Panasonic and the Nikon waterproof cameras and bought the Panasonic.
That being said it was certainly the lesser of two evils. Neither gave very decent image quality and the autofocus was pretty bad. Battery life is terrible.

I wish someone would make a waterproof camera that I would be the intended target audience for - i.e, someone who owns a DSLR and m43 camera and knows what fantastic and horrible image quality and af performance is.

I would not expect DSLR or m43/APS-C mirrorless quality from these ruggedized cameras, but at least give me LX-7 like image IQ, OIS, and AF performance in a waterproof/rugged package. These cameras are barely one step above smartphone image quality.

Yes I know it will not be inexpensive to produce such a thing, but that's OK as I'm willing to pay for the convenience of a small form factor over the hulking behemoth that is putting a DSLR or m43 mirrorless is in a waterproof housing . . .

Comment edited 45 seconds after posting
9 upvotes
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Jul 6, 2013)

Don't give them the ideas about how you're willing to pay whatever they like for the good UW camera... or you will! Actually, it is not so difficult to produce these as many people seem to think, also not too expensive. All the components are already available. What misses is the will to put it all together in the properly designed casing.
And a properly designed casing isn't so much different from all the UW housings that can already be bought for small money.
Properly made case annuls outside pressure without deforming (e.g. follows convex shape as much as possible), has o-ring sealed closures (including interchangeable lens mount), and uses reed switches instead of sealed-pin commands (thus, no holes through the casing).
On the other side of the problem, users should invest a bit of learning before they enter the water to take photos. It is a very different photographing ambient, and it pays to get acquainted with it, and not simply expecting "good results".

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 13 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
jhinkey
By jhinkey (Jul 6, 2013)

It's not the casing, but the electronic components that they use which bring these cameras down.
Slow AF, slow lenses, poor OIS, poor battery life, lack of RAW support, etc.
We're not talking about a dive quality casing where you can take it 10 meters underwater, but just as they've advertised it's usage - near the surface pressure capability and drop-resistance.

I think they've made them poor performing to make up for the increased cost of making it water proof and damage resistant to keep the price point low.

0 upvotes
Richard Murdey
By Richard Murdey (Jul 8, 2013)

In principle, it wouldn't be too hard to make a waterproof version of the Nikon 1 camera with fixed 10mm F2.8 lens.

You'd have reasonable image quality.

The tradeoffs, if they aren't already self-evident:

1. expensive ($600 minimum)
2. no optical zoom
3. "slow" lens, i.e. its not the F1.4 that some of you seem to be holding out for.

1 upvote
CaseyComo
By CaseyComo (Jul 6, 2013)

I have a nice dslr and one of these. Guess one takes better pictures? Guess one goes in my pocket when I am swimming/rafting/riding my mountain bike?
Each one is a good choice for its intended use.

3 upvotes
Rod McD
By Rod McD (Jul 6, 2013)

Quote from the conclusion :- "Details are smudged at base ISO (though likely not an issue for target audience)"

Why is there this ongoing assumption that people who like the outdoors aren't interested in better IQ? In my experience, people who want tough, WR cameras to take to wild places greatly value where they go and the images they bring back. Perhaps the target audience who buy these cameras do so because there's simply nothing better available. It doesn't mean it isn't wanted and wouldn't sell. And no, one shouldn't have to carry a D4 in housing. We need something in-between - a modern day Nikonos with a fixed wide to standard zoom.

Surely someone could make a better small WR camera with a 1"- APSC sensor, a WA zoom, and real O-ring seals? Yes it would weigh more and cost more, but many would be prepared to pay more for a comprehensively better outdoor camera.

9 upvotes
Simon Joinson
By Simon Joinson (Jul 6, 2013)

i think the point is that the target audience is likely to be looking at these images at considerably less than 100% (pixel level).

8 upvotes
seilerbird666
By seilerbird666 (Jul 6, 2013)

"Why is there this ongoing assumption that people who like the outdoors aren't interested in better IQ? "

It is not an assumption. If you are interested in taking high IQ photos underwater this is not the camera you would buy. You would get a housing for your DSLR. Anyone who thinks a $300 camera is going to get great IQ photos underwater is living in a dreamworld.

3 upvotes
austin design
By austin design (Jul 6, 2013)

I agree with the OP. This needn't be an either/or(I learned this from Goldilocks). I'm quite sure a good many people would prefer something like the AW110 but with a 20% bigger sensor and a 20% bigger lens -- and pay 40% more for it without complaint. It's not as though there are any technical barriers to such a camera.

2 upvotes
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Jul 6, 2013)

What's funny, the properly constructed diver-usable UW camera should not cost much more than those offered to the market.
All it takes is some serious thinking about the design solutions related to depth pressure (shape, sealing), light insufficiency (bright lenses), and some comprehensible range of accessories (remote light-triggered flash / video-light units, large-capacity batteries, etc.).
The problem is, we can offer valid suggestions to the manufacturers till cows come home, all to no avail. They're listening to some faraway voice (probably from the ad department) which keeps repeating "never mind what they want, make them want what we give..."

2 upvotes
CaseyComo
By CaseyComo (Jul 6, 2013)

No one's taking this on a National Geographic photo shoot (they still exist, right?) It's casual snapshot camera that can be taken to the beach or on a camping trip. 64 Gig memory card, a couple of spare batteries, and you're good for a week in the woods with the fam.

0 upvotes
Gesture
By Gesture (Jul 7, 2013)

How else should an image be judged but at 100 percent pixel view. This "it will look better when downsampled" defies logic/common sense. I've looked at many a camera's output and there is a difference. My Kodak Z8612 IS can stand scrutiny at per pixel level, but of course Kodak failed in the marketplace!

Comment edited 24 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
SayCheesePlease
By SayCheesePlease (Jul 8, 2013)

False- Anyone who thinks a $300 camera is going to get great IQ photos underwater is living in a dreamworld."

I understand the extra cost of waterproofing. But we should not need to spend $3000 on WP housing / DSLR (ugly beast they are). Most of us would love a camera with image quality equal to the Canon S110, Olympus XZ1 etc.

0 upvotes
Rod McD
By Rod McD (Jul 8, 2013)

@ seilerbird666 : It seems you're not letting facts interfere with your post....... I did not say I expected DSLR IQ from a $300 camera. What I actually said was "it [my preferred option] would weigh more and cost more, but many would be prepared to pay more for a comprehensively better outdoor camera." The Nikonos showed that you don't need a DSLR in a housing to get high IQ. The camera was itself water proof to 40 metres and far tougher than any of these rugged compacts. And it was small enough to stuff into a life jacket or a caving suit. Try that with a DSLR in a housing. There's no technical reason there couldn't be a similar camera in the digital era. And once again, I'd pay a good price for it.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Revenant
By Revenant (Jul 8, 2013)

@Gesture
I judge images at the image level, not the pixel level. Isn't that how you look at and enjoy images? If an image looks good at the viewing/print size you normally prefer, then what's the problem?

1 upvote
Shamael
By Shamael (Jul 5, 2013)

when the day comes we get one in apsc, I will look at them. I use a F30 with a housing, and that is a cheap solution. Fuji always offered good small cameras and correct priced housings for it. On the other side, there are 200$ housings in excellent quality made in China for the most common dslr's too. Those gadgets you test here are simple "vaccation at the sea" utility tools. For sure, it is good to know by tests like this one what's about. Some of them have serious flaws and are total misconceptions.

1 upvote
Mikhail Tal
By Mikhail Tal (Jul 5, 2013)

DPR Why are you wasting time reviewing these ridiculous underwater cameras, they are toys for kids and nothing more, anyone who wants real underwater photos will get a housing for their real camera.

4 upvotes
Scott Greiff
By Scott Greiff (Jul 5, 2013)

Because if they review cameras that would rock their world (Sigma DP Merrills, for instance), they would alienate a large segment of their audience. And upset Amazon.

It's also amazing how waves take better photographs than you can!

Comment edited 55 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (Jul 5, 2013)

@Scott Greiff - having shot with the DP1 Merrill, I must conclude that my world is more solidly founded than you seem to think.

@Mikhail Tal - waterproof cameras are quite popular and we receive lots of requests from readers to find out about the latest ones. I suspect many 'real' (as opposed to fictitious?) photographers like to dip their toe into underwater photography without the cost of an underwater housing. Or perhaps want a small, rugged camera they don't need to worry about. Or maybe even just for, you know, fun.

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
23 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (Jul 6, 2013)

Mikhail, the cameras like this are actually interesting for hundred times more people than expensive FFs, let alone practically unusable one trick ponies like Sigma DP cameras.

8 upvotes
InTheMist
By InTheMist (Jul 6, 2013)

I couldn't disagree more. When I'm on vacation, my D800 stays in the hotel safe more often than not, and an underwater compact gets the nod for beach and surf.

They're anything but toys.

8 upvotes
Revenant
By Revenant (Jul 6, 2013)

Underwater photography is not the only (or even most important) use case for these rugged compacts. How about being able to use your camera out in the rain or snow, in environments with a lot of dust or sand in the air, or in situations where it's difficult to handle your camera like a newborn baby?

4 upvotes
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Jul 6, 2013)

@Mikhail... there is nothing ridiculous about underwater photography, it is oriented toward the 70+% of our Earth surface, so perhaps you should try it before you bash the cameras equipped to go there. True, many amphibious cameras sold today are misconcepts which must be bettered in more than just a few ways, but the progress of underwater cameras isn't following the state of technology, rather some weird mercantilistic half-notions, so the common-sense design (and) betterment will eventually happen.
In the meantime, try taking and /or showing some of your own pictures (dry-land or underwater) to back up your words with some credibility. Otherwise, people might think you're just another forum photographer.

1 upvote
reginalddwight
By reginalddwight (Jul 5, 2013)

Thank you for the heads up, DPR. Since the AW110 can't float in the water like your photograph suggests, I will take a pass.

0 upvotes
Jeff Keller
By Jeff Keller (Jul 5, 2013)

Nobody likes a lawsuit :)

5 upvotes
CaseyComo
By CaseyComo (Jul 6, 2013)

There is such a thing as a floating wrist strap.

2 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (Jul 5, 2013)

"In fact, the Coolpix can go further underwater than any rugged camera on the market: 18 meters (59 feet)"

But dark lens and weak LED light will allow you to get only black picture at this depth. And even at 15m. And no long exposures - it's not like you can bring a tripod down there.

1 upvote
LJ - Eljot
By LJ - Eljot (Jul 6, 2013)

"it's not like you can bring a tripod down there." I bet I can. But it will be useless if not put on the ground.

1 upvote
peevee1
By peevee1 (Jul 5, 2013)

Well, in conclusion I don't see why the camera got 73% vs TG-2 getting 72%. In a camera where low-light performance in a HUGE deficit a lens being 2 stops faster is HUGE. That trumps marginally useful battery draining WiFi (which can be replaced by an EyeFi card for those who need it for some reason) hands down, not even close.

3 upvotes
BorisK1
By BorisK1 (Jul 6, 2013)

I agree. The TG-2 and WG-3 are the new standard. The AW110 might be competent within its "comfort envelope", but the envelope is pitifully small.
A cloud, or dense foliage, or a deep canyon - and the AW110 is out of its element, while the TG-2 and WG-3 keep going well into twilight.

But the review rating is more like a sum of weighted features. Don't expect it to make decisions for you.

Besides, different people have different priorities.

For example, if you're only ever planning to take pictures in broad daylight, and only while standing in the shade, then this camera could work just as well as its faster-lens, decent-LCD competitors...

1 upvote
peevee1
By peevee1 (Jul 5, 2013)

@DPR - copy and paste again: "Even if you ignore the panning issues that we found, the TG-2's video quality is just average."

0 upvotes
Jeff Keller
By Jeff Keller (Jul 5, 2013)

Thanks for both of your corrections, they've been fixed. I've reworded the video section a bit, as well.

Comment edited 20 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (Jul 5, 2013)

"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, and no undesirable effects."

Actually, there is plenty IS "jumping" instead of smooth panning.

0 upvotes
Mr Fartleberry
By Mr Fartleberry (Jul 5, 2013)

Pay attention to the negatives - they are ALL valid. I have the 100 which I bought solely for GPS marking, and it frequently won't get a satellite lock. The smeared jpg files these AW cameras generate mean I do all my non-DSLR shooting with my iPad. Much better results.

0 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (Jul 5, 2013)

@DPR. copy and paste? "The TG-2's built-in flash has a maximum flash range of 5.2m at wide-angle and 4.2m at telephoto (at Auto ISO, which maxes out at ISO 1600). "

0 upvotes
Total comments: 91