Great features, but about that image quality...
The AW100 is my first "tough" camera. It feels very durable, the GPS feature works well and the video quality is very good. All of the advertised features work and the camera handles quite well.
There are a few issues with it:
1. The image quality is not very good at the pixel level. The images show strange artifacts, as if the JPEG was over compressed. However, the high-quality JPEG mode shows almost no improvement. It's almost as if the sensor is not really 16mp and it is scaling up the images and introducing artifacts.
The good news is that the images look pretty good at non-1 to 1 zooms. I shot a few series in 16MP and 8MP modes and didn't see a noticable loss of detail in the 8MP images.
Overall, I'm happy enough with the image quality. The white balance is good, and the flash exposes well without being overpowering.
2. The GPS has a feature where it will show the nearest "Point of Interest" and embed it in the photo along side the normal latitude and longitude information. This feature dramatically slows down the operation of the camera. I noticed the camera freezing after every shot, and taking a second or two to respond again. I turned off the POI options and the freezing went away. If you really want the POI information (reverse geocoding) you can do this in a post-process on the computer.
The normal geocoding of images with latitude and longitude works very well.
3. The Hybrid VR doesn't work as I expected. It drops the ISO to a very low number and increases the shutter to a second or more, resulting in very motion-blurred shots. The normal VR mode (the default) does not have this problem and makes a much better picture.
Overall, I'm very pleased with this camera as a go-anywhere camera. I will use it a lot at the beach, in the snow, in the rain, etc. I feel comfortable letting my kids use it. The image quality is good enough for its usefulness.
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