We pit six of the finest tough compacts up against one another to establish which is the most durable when they’re subjected to a series of brutal tests

Nikon Coolpix AW130


Key specs:

  • Sensor 16MP
  • Sensor Size 1/2.3in
  • Lens: 5x optical (24-120mm) f/2.8-4.9
  • ISO: 125-6400
  • Display: 3in, 921k-dot
  • HD Video: Full HD 1920×1080
  • Dimensions: 110.4×66.0x26.8mm
  • Weight: 221g
  • Price: £279

Available in black, yellow, red and blue as well as a more unusual camouflage finish, the Nikon AW130 is equipped with a 16MP CMOS sensor and 5x zoom (24-120mm) that benefits from being slightly faster (f/2.8-4.9) than its Canon, Panasonic and Fujifilm rivals.

Cold-resistant to -10 °C, shockproof from 2m and usable at depths down to 30m underwater, it boasts an altimeter and depth gauge, with convenient Wi-fi and GPS buttons accessible from the side.

The 3in, 921k-dot screen has the highest resolution of the six and displays a bright, clear and crisp image. Lens shift VR and Electronic VR team up together to effectively compensate for camera-shake, and set to its auto mode the sensitivity can be set anywhere between ISO 125-6400.

It can shoot a burst of high-resolution images at up to 7fps and the battery/SD card door features a robust locking mechanism just like the Fujifilm XP80. Behind this you’ll find a USB port that allows convenient charging on the move using a USB power bank.

Nikon COOLPIX AW130 sample image 11

1/1000 sec @ f/4.3, ISO 125

See more shots taken with the Nikon Coolpix AW130 in our sample image gallery


Build & Performance

In the hand the AW130 feels very similar to the Lumix FT5 – it’s durable and nicely finished. The rear of the camera is littered with buttons, but the d-pad and the buttons around it are on the small side.

Underwater the camera was slow at acquiring focus and it took us a few attempts to bag a sharp shot. Regrettably, continuous shooting can’t be set in the camera’s underwater mode like many of its rivals.


Image Quality


Nikon Coolpix AW130 resolution: ISO 125


Nikon Coolpix AW130 resolution: ISO 1600


Nikon Coolpix AW130 resolution: ISO 6400

The dynamic range performance is excellent and a high level of detail was preserved in the highlights of our high-contrast scenes.

Detail resolved from the 1/2.3in sensor is good too, with 24 lines per picture height being resolved at its base ISO 125 setting.

Detail drops off slightly at ISO 400 and ISO 800 is the upper limit of the range we’d be prepared to push too before noise has an ill effect on detail and sharpness.


Nikon Coolpix AW130 noise comparison: ISO 125


Nikon Coolpix AW130 noise comparison: ISO 1600


Nikon Coolpix AW130 noise comparison: ISO 6400


Underwater Test

Nikon COOLPIX AW130 sample image 1

1/30 sec @ f/2.8, +0.3EV, ISO 200

Although the AW130 exposed well for our underwater scene, the autofocus system wasn’t as responsive as others and our hit rate of sharp images wasn’t as high as some of its rivals. The white balance shows a bias towards cyan and the results were similar to those produced by the Canon D30, albeit with slightly less contrast applied.

See more shots taken with the Nikon Coolpix AW130 in our sample image gallery


Freeze Test


The AW130 fired into life straight away, but we had to wait for 4mins 19seconds until the shutter button and zoom lever defrosted enough to be fully operational.


Shock Test

Droppable from a height of 2m – much like the D30 – the AW130 showed no signs of damage or hesitation when asked to power up after a heavy impact


Nikon Coolpix AW130 – Initial Verdict

Pros – Wi-fi, NFC, GPS, altimeter and depth gauge, build quality, USB charging, screen, 7fps shooting
Cons – No continuous burst in underwater mode, underwater white balance, small dpad and buttons, autofocus response

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Canon PowerShot D30
  3. 3. Fujifilm XP80
  4. 4. Nikon Coolpix AW130
  5. 5. Ricoh WG-5
  6. 6. Olympus Stylus TOUGH TG-4
  7. 7. Panasonic Lumix FT5
  8. 8. Verdict
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