7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Can stand up to a toddler
, 15 Aug. 2012
This review is from: Nikon COOLPIX AW100 Waterproof Compact Digital Camera - Orange (16MP, 5x Optical Zoom) 3 inch LCD (Electronics)
This camera fits my current life; the size makes it easier to carry when I go out with my toddler son than my full DSLR, it's build means it survives those trips better than my phone (both in usage and storage in a changing bag), and it has unique features that neither of my other cameras has. I bought this to replace a Sanyo with a flip out screen that failed after a year due to the seals going. This Nikon does what it says it should:
It's waterproof, and have used it to record my son swimming in a pool. There is a big dial on the side which requires you to push and turn to access the SD card, battery, HDMI and USB, making accidental opening practically impossible.
It's shockproof, and my son loves grabbing the long chord and pulling into the floor.
The screen is bright and easily visible, and the controls (for the activities I've used it for) are easy to navigate once you realise they are function dependant - so turning on GPS logging requires accessing the GPS display first, changing video modes requires being in camera mode, etc. The shutter button is chunky for easy snapping, though the video record button is a little less accessible being on the back of the unit.
Have taken panorama shots without much thought, just make sure you only move in one dimension. Rotating 180 or 360 at the same height is fine, but change the pitch and the camera gets confused and fails.
The GPS is fast, and once it has locked up it works (under normal GPS working conditions, if you can't see the sky then neither can it). Having a compass on the pictures to show which way your standing is a nice feature too.
The video modes let you film in "Full HD", but also have more clever features, like being able to slow the action down, which for smoothness is comparable to importing the footage into an editing suite and changing the time. Got some good footage on the Legoland rapids using this, though preferred taking 1080 footage and using editing software after instead, for reasons below. Audio is generally clear, and you can turn on a wind cut mode to improve sound.
The battery life is decent, I've been out for weekends till the SD card is full of pictures and video (without GPS, see below) needing to recharge.
There are a couple of niggles. As a sealed unit there is no lens cap, the lens is a couple of mili meters behind a piece of plastic. Having had the camera in my pocket or used it in water it has then focused on what is on this, and not the subject, so invest in a camera case and try to keep it clean. I have a lens filter on my DSLR and have no problem with my son crawling up to touch that, but the size of the lens means finger prints ruin a shot on this unit.
The video mode only record 29 minutes at a time regardless of the card size you have. Going on a bike ride (like they do in the Nikon advert) was fine, just had to stop before this period ended to stop and restart.
The slow motion modes only let you record 30 seconds of silent footage, and this is at reduced picture size, though think this might be a question of how big the camera memory buffer is. Slow motion is a nice feature, but filming at normal speed and getting some editing software is definitely more useful and offers more possibilities, particularly as you'll lose audio in slow motion mode.
Coming from a DSLR the manual features (aperture, shutter speed, ISO setting) of the camera are lacking, but I've written that off as this is supposed to be an action camera, and trying to fiddle around with all that while trying to capture a swimming toddler is very tricky. It would be nice if a future firmware upgrade let you shoot NEF photos to edit afterwards, but at the moment it's a point and shoot camera: you point and shoot.
The GPS logging only works on photos. Had hoped videos would also log location, but have to do that manually. And as with any unit, GPS is a battery killer (but what do you expect, you are receiving a signal using the power of a 50 watt bulb travelling from 12000 miles away using a unit that fits in your hand!), so turn it off when not in use.
Personally, I miss the flip screen of the Sanyo. Yes, that was probably the most exposed part, but it did let me film under water without going down myself. It is slightly awkward to hold one handed in the pool compared to the pistol grip of the Sanyo and with no gyroscope recording pictures vertically plays back vertically. On the plus side, setting it up to record on a push bike is as simple as a Go Pro with the advantage of being able to see the footage straight after.
The biggest worry for me is that while the unit is rough and tough, what killed my last waterproof camera was the waterproof seal degrading. The manual of the Sanyo and Nikon both say the seal needs to be replaced after a year AT MY EXPENSE, and that water damage is not covered in the warranty, but there is no definite time scale on this.
I understand it is the advantage and curse of a waterproof camera that the rubber on the seals will wear out over time, but it would be good if the design was such that the seal could be replaced at home, and had some way of indicating it's condition, rather than sometime in the coming year having to send the camera off to Nikon to get a huge bill for something that may not need doing at that point. I only used the previous camera once a week in a swimming pool, so hopefully this unit will last longer.
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