The Coolpix AW100 is Nikon's first trek into rugged camera territory, yet it "manages to do just about everything right," says Jim Fisher at PCMag.com, who gives the novice an Editors' Choice award. While a bit smaller than competing waterproof cameras, the AW100 still braves the elements: it's waterproof to 33 feet, shockproof to 5 feet and withstands temperatures dipping to 14 degrees Fahrenheit.
Experts praise the sharp 5x zoom lens and responsive rubberized buttons, while the vivid 3-inch LCD is impressive. Adventurers will appreciate the fast-tracking GPS (with maps), plus Nikon's Action Control button lets you choose camera functions with a simple shake of the wrist, so you can capture snow-peaked scenes without taking your gloves off.
The AW100 outpaces the competition with fast start-up times. However, critics say the sharp, colorful photos and HD video (1080p) are peppered with noise, the zoom lens can be heard when shooting video and the GPS activation can be tricky. In addition, the AW100 costs more than the competition, yet isn't quite as rugged. Nevertheless, the all-round performance of the Nikon Coolpix AW100 wins over critics, who say it's the best in its class.
The Nikon Coolpix AW100 isn't the most rugged camera available, but it can hold its own in the elements. It's a fast camera that's designed to be easy to use in any situation, whether you're underwater or up to your knees in snow. Reviewers at PCMag.com, CNET (Asia) and ConsumerReports.org offer rigorous "torture" showing how durable the AW100 is. Amazon.com users are mostly happy with the camera.
"Overall, the AW100 is an excellent first attempt from Nikon at a rugged camera," says Jim Fisher. While it's not as durable as the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 and its photos aren't as sharp as the Olympus Stylus Tough-8010, the AW100 makes its mark as the speediest rugged camera around and performs "admirably" on all fronts.
Review: Nikon Coolpix AW100, Jim Fisher, Dec. 20, 2011
To date, editors have put hundreds of point-and-shoot digital cameras through rigorous testing. Each camera receives a report card that lists ratings for features and performance, and the newly expanded test results summarize key findings. Editors provide an extensive comparison chart that shows how the Nikon Coolpix AW100 fares next to rival digital cameras.
Review: Point & Shoot Digital Camera Ratings & Reliability, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, As of June 2012
3. CNET (Asia)
"Though this is Nikon's first tough camera, don't let its understated exterior fool you," says Shawn Low. The camera excels with its tough build and "no-frills" shooting experience that delivers vivid photos and fast-tracking GPS, although the lens makes an audible "pop" when shooting video.
Review: Nikon Coolpix AW100, Shawn Low, Oct. 17, 2011
The Nikon Coolpix AW100 ranks as one of the top rugged cameras "thanks almost entirely to the lens," says Christopher Snow. It also excels with lots of advanced features and sharp image quality, although color accuracy isn't the best.
Review: Nikon Coolpix AW100, Christopher Snow, Nov. 28, 2011
For Mark Goldstein, the "innovative" Action Control feature makes the Nikon Coolpix AW100 a great travel companion. He also likes the "surprisingly tactile" buttons and above average image quality, but says the camera is "pricey."
Review: Nikon Coolpix AW100 Review, Mark Goldstein, Nov. 16, 2011
With more than 180 users chiming in, most say the Nikon Coolpix AW100 is a great camera. They like the solid build, great image quality, GPS and Action Button. However, a small, yet vocal, segment consider it a dud. For some, the camera leaked the first time it hit the water, while others gripe about the poor autofocus, lens noise and slow shooting speeds.
Review: Nikon Coolpix AW100, Contributors to Amazon.com