Previous page Next page

Nikon Coolpix AW110

July 2013 | By Jeff Keller

16MP | 28-140mm (5X) Zoom | $282/£250/€289

This is the third in a series of short underwater/rugged camera reviews on DPReview. We're testing the cameras concurrently, and once all six cameras have been reviewed, we'll publish a roundup of the class, comparing them directly.

Nikon is a relatively new entrant into the world of underwater/rugged cameras much like its arch rival, Canon. Its original model, the AW100, was announced in Fall of 2011, and then replaced in January 2013 by the Coolpix AW110.

The Coolpix AW110 is quite similar to its predecessor, retaining its design, sensor, and lens. So what's new? The AW110 is more rugged, sports a sharper OLED display, and supports Wi-Fi for easy photo sharing.

Specification Highlights

  • 16.0 effective megapixel BSI-CMOS sensor
  • F3.9-F4.8, 28-140mm equivalent zoom lens (5X)
  • Optical image stabilization
  • 3-inch OLED display with 614,000 dots
  • Built-in GPS with compass, manometer, landmarks, maps, and tracking
  • Waterproof to 18m, shockproof from 2m, freezeproof to -10C
  • 'Action Control' allows for camera control while wearing gloves
  • Wi-Fi allows for image sharing and remote control with smartphones/tablets
  • 'Quick Effects' lets you choose from a selection of special effects immediately after a photo is taken
  • 1080/30p movie mode with stereo sound

As mentioned above, the Coolpix AW110 uses the same 16 megapixel, back-illuminated CMOS sensor as the AW100. BSI sensors, as they are known, promise higher sensitivity than traditional CCD and CMOS designs, by allowing more light to hit the photosites. Unfortunately, the AW110's lens doesn't help with high sensitivity / low light shooting, as it has a maximum aperture of F3.9-4.8, which means that it's not letting in as much light as a camera with a 'faster' lens.

The AW110 features an F3.9-4.8, 28-140mm zoom lens. It bears a strong resemblance to the lens on the Canon PowerShot D20, and it wouldn't surprise us if they're the same unit.

To its left you'll find the AF-assist lamp, which can also be used to brighten the scene when recording movies.

The Coolpix AW110 has features that go above and beyond its ability to go underwater and take some knocks. Read on to find out more about them.

If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

Images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of the image, clicking on the image will display a larger (typically VGA) image in a new window.

To navigate the review simply use the next / previous page buttons, to jump to a particular section either pick the section from the drop down or select it from the navigation bar at the top.

DPReview calibrate their monitors using Color Vision OptiCal at the (fairly well accepted) PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the (computer generated) grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally A,B and C.

This article is Copyright 2013 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

Previous page Next page
I own it
I want it
I had it
Discuss in the forums


Total comments: 100

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

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.

Scott Greiff

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

@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

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.


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.


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?

Deleted pending purge

@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

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.

Jeff Keller

Nobody likes a lawsuit :)


There is such a thing as a floating wrist strap.


"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

"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

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.


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

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

Jeff Keller

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

"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.

Mr Fartleberry

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.


@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). "

Total comments: 100