Nikon COOLPIX AW110 Review - The Nikon COOLPIX AW110 is Nikon's second tough compact and bears all the key characteristics you would expect from such a model
Nikon COOLPIX AW110 Review – Features
The AW110 is Nikon’s second foray into the tough compact area of the market and follows on from the AW100. Mimicking the styling of its predecessor, it adopts many features and connectivity functions from Nikon’s Coolpix range, and it’s one of very few waterproof compacts to offer built-in Wi-fi functionality, which can be used in connection with Nikon’s Wireless Mobile Adaptor app (iOS and Android compatible) to transfer images directly from the camera to a mobile device or control the camera remotely.
With a 16MP CMOS sensor, 5x optical zoom (28-140mm) and built-in GPS, the AW110 is a well-equipped tough compact, though its 125-3200 ISO range is more conservative than some of its closest rivals, namely the Panasonic FT5 and Olympus TG-2. Continuous shooting at 8fps is useful for capturing fast-moving subjects, while the 3in, 614k-dot screen at the rear is sharp and displays a crisp image, albeit with a bias towards green tones. The subtle screen cast isn’t obvious when the camera is used in isolation, however when it’s positioned up against other screens it becomes more noticeable.
The Nikon AW110 is waterproof to depths of 18m, shockproof from heights of up to 2m and freezeproof for temperatures as low as -10°C.
To record the exact altitude at which you take a shot, the AW110 features a built-in altimeter (range -300m to 4,500m) and Nikon’s hybrid Vibration Reduction technology is used to reduce the effects of camera shake ruining image sharpness.
Nikon COOLPIX AW110 Review – Build & Performance
The build of the Coolpix AW110 is strong, suggesting it’s up to the task of surviving in the demanding conditions for which it’s made. Buttons offer a reassuring click when they’re used and the camera fires to life quickly for spur-of-the-moment shots. Full HD video is recorded at 30fps, while at the side of the camera there’s a secure lock that won’t allow the battery door to be opened unexpectedly below water. The AW100’s Action Control feature also makes it easy to operate the camera underwater or when using gloves by using a dedicated button on the side of the body.
Nikon COOLPIX AW110 Review – Underwater Performance
The hit rate of successful underwater images taken on the Coolpix AW110 wasn’t as high as some other compacts. Regrettably, it doesn’t allow you to select continuous shooting in its underwater mode; but that said, it’s capable of producing excellent exposures and faithful colour below the surface of the water. Above water and out of its underwater mode you can shoot at 8fps for up to six frames before the buffer kicks in and prevents more images being recorded.
Nikon COOLPIX AW110 Review – Freeze Test
The AW110 performed impeccably after freezing it overnight at sub zero temperatures. All of the buttons operated as they should, leaving very little to fault. If you’re planning to shoot in extremely cold climates, the AW110’s freeze proof performance has proven it has what it takes to survive the harshest environments. It’ll continue to shoot where other cameras will struggle or often refuse to operate.
Nikon COOLPIX AW110 Review – Shock Test
The AW110 claims to be shockproof from 2m. To find out how good it is at surviving an impact from this height we raised the camera to eye level and dropped it onto a hard floor that had little cushioning. The camera took a hard impact on the corner of the body but remained undamaged after an inspection and continued to work just as well as it did before the drop test. Compared to some of its tough compact rivals such as the Fujifilm XP60 and Canon D10, the Nikon AW110 is capable of sustaining shock from greater heights.
Nikon COOLPIX AW110 Review – Image Quality
The AW110’s images are crisp and clear. The sensor resolves an impressive 22 lines per millimetre at ISO 100 – an identical detail performance to the Canon D20, Panasonic FT5 and Pentax WG-3. As the sensitivity is increased you can expect images to get softer, particularly above ISO 800. Colour saturation remains consistent throughout the ISO range though and you can expect bright, punchy colours to be recorded very well at the AW110’s maximum ISO 3200 setting.
Nikon COOLPIX AW110 Review – Verdict
The Nikon AW110 is responsive to use and there’s little to fault in regard to its image quality performance. The screen has a slight green cast and you should bear in mind the sensitivity ceiling isn’t as high as some other waterproof compacts.
Overall, it’s pleasing to use and manages to shrug off heavy handling, water and cold temperatures without any problem. The Wi-fi connectivity will be popular for those who’d like to take advantage of instant image uploading, while the fast continuous burst will satisfy photographers who’d like to record fast action scenes or select a single shot from a group of images.