Nikon COOLPIX AW100 Digital Camera Review

My wife and I are psychos when it comes to photos.  Since going digital many years ago, we now have a database of over 30,000 digital photos that we store via various methods of backup.    That is over 30,000,000 words if you use the picture to word conversion.   (That being said, the unabridged version of "The Stand" by Stephen King still has us beat by a million words or so.)

Seriously, I don't know that we actually enjoy the events we attend now because 90% of what we see is still through a 2" viewfinder whether the stage is 10 feet in front of us or not.  Often we have two hands going at once, one armed with a camcorder and the other with a still camera.  I'll be damned if I'm just going to sit there and enjoy myself.  We can watch the actual event later, on the computer, with desktop speakers, where half the screen was inadvertently blocked by a 400lb mammoth driving a "Rascal" that got preferred seating in front of us even though we were 2 hrs early to the performance and she was 15 min. late.  It guess it takes extra time to...never mind.  (Bottle it up Meatwad, push it down deep)  I guess you could say that this is our form of documenting history.  We don't write in journals or diaries, we just film everything possible and figure posterity can figure out the rest.

So we have several cameras.  They usually outlast technology so we are accumulating a camera graveyard of sorts.  We have at least 5 vintages of digital point-and-shoots, 4 eras represented via camcorder, A few pocket cams, web cams, a nice digital SLR, and our most often used, smart phone cams.  Let's just say that if any starlets have a wardrobe malfunction in our presence, we'll be getting a big check from Star magazine.

 Believe it or not, even with this cornucopia of cameras at our disposal, we were missing something big when planning our trip to Hawaii.  We had absolutely nothing that could go underwater and we had planned on SCUBA and snorkeling a lot.  I searched the internet for options and to be honest, if you don't want a cheapo disposable film camera for underwater, or a $250-$400 waterproof case for a camera you already have, there are not a ton of options out there.  The point and shoot cameras that are "approved" for underwater use usually have a depth rating of a meager 10 feet.  Anyhow, after the Google dust cleared, we settled on the Nikon COOLPIX AW100 16MP camera.  There were some sketchy reviews out there, but the vacation date was quickly approaching and I decided to risk it.

To be honest, I assumed this wouldn't work at all. I was just hoping to get a few shots of fish before the water ruined the thing.  Then I would just send it back to Amazon.com when we returned from the island.  I am happy to say that I couldn't have been more wrong.  It worked great for all the shots I took, underwater and otherwise.  I also got a ton of HD video footage underwater which was way better than I had hoped.  Don't get me wrong, I didn't have any special flashes and this doesn't compare to a high quality DSLR with studio lighting, but in the conditions in which I placed the camera, if performed like a champ.  I used the auto settings most of the time as they were quick and I could get good footage while still enjoying the water.  The camera never got moisture inside, but I was diligent with the "soaking in tap water for 10 min after coming out of the ocean and then letting it dry thoroughly before opening" rules that are clearly stated in the instruction manual.  It also has a nice tether that goes around your neck instead of just your wrist, which made it perfect for snorkeling and diving where you need your hands free quite often.  It is rated to a depth of 40 feet by the way, so it is just fine for novice divers and land lovers like myself, though it may not be the camera of choice for entering the Abyss.  

The other functions are very intuitive, like any decent camera in this class, and the results were way better than expected for a camera with a $200 price tag.  Because of the quality, this is my new go-to camera when I need something small and handy and I don't want to lug out the SLR.  Well done Nikon!   The one problem I do see is the disclaimer that this camera shouldn't go into the hot tub because the temperature could ruin the seals.  There are some candid underwater shots I was still hoping to try there.  Oh well, my snorkeling gear has no such shortcomings, so when I'm tub diving, I guess I'll just have to throw on my mask and  take some mental pictures.

Note:  The photos I've added are actual photos from the actual camera, from the actual trip.  No stock photos here.  Pay no attention to the manatee in the background, it's been a few years since my skin has seen the sun.


Fiona said...

I must have that case for my planned underwater photography. I currently have two Canon Cameras and I am still looking for a very dependable underwater case.

Unknown said...

I had always loved Nikon Lenses for it takes a lot of good quality pictures. It sure can bring out the photographer in you.

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