Nikon Coolpix AW100 Review

November 16, 2011 | Mark Goldstein | |

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#1 MTwain

“ to plot your journey’s too.”

If you’re going to write for a living, try no to torture the apostrophe. The plural of journey is journeys.

5:03 pm - Wednesday, November 16, 2011

#2 Emden

Packs such a lot into a little camera. I have always been a fan of the Nikon Coolpix. My husband especially loves the camouflage.

5:23 am - Thursday, November 17, 2011

#3 steve

Image quality is horrible, even at base iso. Better to spend the dough on a waterproof case for a decent compact ?

9:04 am - Thursday, November 17, 2011

#4 Jim

Can the GPS function on this model be turned off?

4:34 am - Friday, November 18, 2011

#5 jeeves

I agree, poor sharpness - noise starting at 400
not suited for enlarging - easy to use

8:18 pm - Wednesday, November 30, 2011

#6 Grammar Guy

Dude, use spell check.

6:10 pm - Friday, December 2, 2011

#7 Howard

Bought one, returned it.  There is a programming error in the “shake” function affecting playback.  When you hand the camera to someone to look at a photo, often it advances and they are looking at a different photo.  Annoying!  Customer Services said they “will send the problem to Engineering”.

6:15 am - Tuesday, December 6, 2011

#8 Mike

Great review - in your expert opinion, would you recommend the AW100 over the FT3?

Also, have you heard any whisperings about an FT3 replacement (FT4?)...?

Many thanks!

11:20 am - Thursday, December 15, 2011

#9 Megan

I’m really in the market for a more compact VIDEO camera. I need something waterproof as I use it outdoors and have gotten caught out in the rain more times than I can count.

I need something that’ll fit into my pocket. However, the video aspects of these cameras seem to always get left in the dust on reviews. I don’t care about the point and shoot pictures. I want to know about the video functions and the battery life while recording. These things aren’t talked about much, if at all.

There aren’t many rugged, compact video cameras, so these “hybrids” tend to fit the bill more. But I still need more info before shelling out the $$ on these things!

11:01 pm - Sunday, December 25, 2011

#10 C.R. Parish

I like the AW100. Started using it 4 days ago. I
was skeptical at first, as images on the screen
didn’t look sharp. After transfering the files to
my computer, I applied some sharpening using the
supplied Nikon software. Big improvement, the photos looked good on the 15in. screen. Decided
to keep the camera. I ride a motorcycle, and the
AW100 fills a need for a slim camera I can take
anywhere while traveling light.

2:42 am - Wednesday, January 11, 2012

#11 BobbyFingers

I think the review was very comprehensive (even with the grammar issues) However, I didn’t see anything in the review about it’s underwater capabilities, and after all, isn’t that the reason someone would purchase a “waterproof” camera?

3:09 pm - Saturday, January 14, 2012

#12 S.H.O.

I got this camera about 2 month ago. At first all was fine even if the HD camera mode is much better than the pictures it can take. I use the camera for snorkeling and free diving up to 8m. The first video’s were impressive. But now the the camera is foggy…on the LCD scree, the lens and the viewer.  I’m used to dive with camera’s so this is not a good thing… I guess the waterproof-ability of the camera lasts only for 2 month…

12:17 pm - Tuesday, January 17, 2012

#13 Bryn

Purchased 2 x Nikon AW 100 cameras in the USA in Jan 2012 brand new after 1 week one of the cameras ceased to function properly kept freezing up. As I live in the UK sent it to Nikon UK for repair.. Cost to fix £90.00p. Nikon were adamant that is not covered under UK warranty. In a nutshell I will stick with Canon products from here on in. If your a outdoor person and buy one of these cameras ensure you try it out for a couple of weeks before you go around the world and Nikon let’s you down with faulty products!

1:40 pm - Wednesday, January 25, 2012

#14 loren

I’ve been playing with an AW100 and like what I see for the most part.  I have taken several photos using an ISO of 800 and been sorely disappointed with the results.  I suspect the sensor just does not do well at higher sensitivities.  At the ISO of 200, I have been impressed with the outcomes.  I especially like the video capabilities that are offered in such a compact package.

Additionally I do some scuba diving and am looking forward to trying some underwater shots, (LOW ISOs).  Most cameras are limited to about 10 ft underwater and this one is labeled for 33 ft.  That extra depth will certainly help!

4:26 pm - Thursday, January 26, 2012

#15 Russ

Has anyone printed photographs from this camera? Computer screens are one thing, prints are another. As to the comment to buy an underwater housing for a better camera I don’t think the person realizes the price. I’m looking for a light travel camera that will do for snorkeling (have a Nikonos IV with Morris flash for any depth but the rig weighs over 10 lbs).

I will mention that THE issue with u/w photography is light and you just won’t cut it with a tiny sensor and miniscule flash. Forget taking photos at anything close to its rated depth.

12:58 am - Wednesday, February 8, 2012

#16 rick davies

1. Re comment above “There is a programming error in the “shake” function affecting playback.  When you hand the camera to someone to look at a photo, often it advances and they are looking at a different photo.  Annoying! ” I have the same problem
2. Specs say it will work in up to 85% humidity. This is not very high, if you are living in the tropics. On two occassions while in the Galapagos the lens fogged up, because of (condensed) humidity of air within camera, let in when battery was removed for re-charging. On one ocasion camera stopped working full stop. but on both occasions it resumed working after rest, removal of battery and re-start.

2:37 pm - Friday, February 10, 2012

#17 sameer chavan

This camera is horrible and worst. Don’t buy al all. The image algorithm are all wrong. It makes all white images with very high ISO ratings. Totally wrong software. 90% images are all flooded with with no clarity. This camera hangs and does not respond to zoom and clicks. It does not respond to clicks.

6:21 pm - Saturday, February 11, 2012

#18 Eric

Thanks for all your helpful comments! I almost bought one of these cameras until I came across this page! phew… now I’ll either get a panny ts3 or an s100 and an underwater case. ugh… decisions decisions. portability and reduced image quality or bulk and… you know where i’m going with this.

i’m disappointed with nikon for coming out with the aw100 though!

4:33 pm - Saturday, March 3, 2012

#19 ws lirakis

I am looking for someone who uses Aperture and has downloaded photos from the AW100. I cannot seem to have the GPS show in the metadata. I have a GP-1 unit for my other camera and it looks fine.

5:38 pm - Friday, March 16, 2012

#20 Henrik

I really like the idea with water proof and GPS.

1) The sample pictures do not look that sharp
2) I looked at the meta data in one of the sample pictures.
And I can see that there are GPS data, and that it is taken at sea level.
But I can not see where. :-(

11:51 pm - Monday, April 16, 2012

#21 mer

hello Jim,
gps of.
camera on en push te gps button. then you are in the gps menu en you chanche te settings whatever you like.

first i did’nt like this camera but you realy need too read the menual dvd. the pictures are perfect now.

I dont recommend the ft3 because it doesnt have the cmos sensor.

if you ride motorcycle you haven to put the shakemodus of :P

I realy like the special effect and filters.

9:18 pm - Saturday, April 28, 2012

#22 manoj gupta

It is a very good camera,

1:35 pm - Tuesday, May 8, 2012

#23 Manas

how can all images of different cameras are same.
now dont tell that you take same photos at everything just as same as in all other pics

4:37 pm - Wednesday, August 15, 2012

#24 N.N.

So a big review - and so little info about GPS.

At least it is told that there are a lot of features and it does not affect battery life. That’s it (or I am blind…).

As far as I know, nikon works with an assisted GPS and a compass. I am interested in following questions:

1) How the assisting data are loaded into the camera?
2) What happens, if the camera does get this data?
3) How fast a gps fix is available after power on, especially below big trees, near scyscrapers, etc?
4) What about gps accuracy, especially below big trees, near scyscrapers, etc?
5) What about compass accuracy?
6) What happens with compass direction information, if I turn the camera for a portrait image?

Answers to this quiestions would be great. And, at least for me, this is much more interesting and important for cameras like the AW100 than small oddities in image quality above ISO 1600 ;-)


12:55 pm - Thursday, August 30, 2012

#25 Megan


I have the camera, but do not use GPS all too often to really answer the questions around it.

I will say that the compass is NOT accurate when live. After photos, it seems to get it right when marked which direction the photo was taken, but if you’re planning on using the built in compass as a guide, don’t bother. You’d be better off walking around with a bag over your head.

2:25 pm - Thursday, August 30, 2012

#26 cameratester

Poor camera. Photos are often blurry, either from glare, easily-smudged lens, or temporary interior fog. The sun or lighting can’t be anywhere in front of the camera, or overhead, or you will get glare streaks. Instant first shot, but slow thereafter. The sensor seems unusually noisy in other than sunlight; decreasing the resolution seems to help. The GPS uses the battery as fast as any handheld GPS: a few hours. This means your camera will be dead a few hours after a full recharge. There is no clear indication that the GPS is off, and there is no “GPS OFF” function (through a complex menu, you tell the GPS not to track, and I think then it is off. I hope.)

8:09 pm - Sunday, September 23, 2012

#27 Richard B

Does anyone know if this camera will survive use while sea kayaking. ie near the sea but not IN the sea?

Not so long ago I bought a Panasonic FT1,  which sea water has eaten through the case, despite being rinsed after use each time.

It would have been a good camera otherwise ....  FT2 has the same problem and the new FT5 seems to have similar construction and problem

9:23 pm - Tuesday, October 16, 2012

#28 zeno malan

I cannot make the flash work when I want. I’ve tried to find a manual over-ride when I want the flash but the camera seems to have a mind of it’s own.  I would appreciate any help re. this.


1:23 pm - Monday, November 26, 2012

#29 Megan

Zeno, aboce the “ok” button, there is a squiggly arrow. That is the flash. Push that button and a menu will pop up at the top of the screen. Scroll down to what you want. There’s automatic, off and on.

So, obviously, if the flash isn’t working on automatic and you want it on, you’d select on. Make sure you hit the ok button when choosing from the flash menu or else it won’t set.

Works just fine for me.

3:21 pm - Monday, November 26, 2012

#30 zeno malan

Megan, I got that far.  The problem is my menu doesn’t offer the same other options as are written in the instructions.  I have only two options.  Auto and no flash.  I want a fill flash whenever I want and I can’t make it work manually. Disappointed!


8:49 pm - Monday, November 26, 2012

#31 Megan

Zeno, if after pushing the flash button you only have 2 options, then something is quite wrong. You either have a different camera or if the camera you have is an AW100, then it is defective. There are 5 flash options on the AW100.

Hopefully you get things sorted.

1:55 am - Tuesday, November 27, 2012

#32 Carly


Thank you for the thorough review!  I did have one question though.  I’m a basic point and shoot person, but I’m wanting to replace the camera I have because the printed/developed photos come out very grainy/noisy. 

Did you try printing any pictures from this camera?  Were they pretty clear?


4:29 pm - Friday, March 29, 2013

#33 Hiten

I have had this camera for over a year having previously owned an early Olympus Tough (for HD movies, which iTough now has)

I would not recommend it.

Big fogging issue when used.

The Oly has a lens that is exposed to the elements, the Nikon has a clear plastic lens to protect the glass lens, unfortunately this fogs. Nikon is aware of this.

Having a camera that is meant to be element friendly this is a major flaw. I am giving mine away and going back to Olympus

8:29 am - Monday, April 1, 2013

#34 Rhonda

I begged for this camera/video recorder and was gifted it for Christmas Dec 2012.  I want to know how many of you out there in video land have the same problem that I do.  Please respond via email. When I video and use the zoom, I get a clicking sound that does not go away and is very annoying.  Please help me make this a big deal to Nikon so that they will address the issue.  Has anyone had this problem and sent your camera in for repair and it was fixed?  Need to KNOW ASAP.  Thank you.

7:27 pm - Wednesday, May 8, 2013

#35 zeno malan

For the various faults I still like the AW100 - I am going to get the AW110
Out of focus, slow, don’t use video, and that was a problem I won’t go into here, and my fault didn’t dry off well now download doesn’t work must use card reader.

I like the size and the perfect focus and ‘LO’ setting for sunsets - spectacular!

Nikon is not at all helpful, at least in my opinion.

If there is a better comparable out there please say so.

Meanwhile back in the ocean - I take it everywhere, even when I’m using my D-200, as a point and shoot at the ‘talent’ around me.

8:05 pm - Wednesday, May 8, 2013

#36 stefano

Slow, slow write speed to class 6 SD card. I can slowly count to 9 or 10 before I can take another shot. I am using it for shooting underwater in apnea. Means that it takes 30 seconds to take 3 shot if not more. It is not great to wait that long while you are maybe 5m/17 ft underwater holding your breath. last year i used a Canon Elph with a cheap Canon enclosure. better quality shots and faster, But was not waterproof to 10 m/ 33 ft deep. It is not a camera for shooting underwater. Today I was in Akumal Mexico, Sea turtles do not wait. I wanted to dive and take 5 / 6 shots in 30 / 40 seconds underwater. Felt like an eternity and the turtles move so do the fish.
The GPS is great. gets the signal pretty fast and I can copy and paste the GPS metadata to my DSLR shots. It also shows where you are on the map

5:30 am - Monday, June 3, 2013

#37 Jeff

Poor warranty conditions, Nikon will support only in country where purchased - however if there is no service centre there is no service so beware if you purchase while on holiday or in a small country as when they are not working (even due to a known fault) it is your bad luck.

4:43 am - Wednesday, June 12, 2013

#38 stefano

failed after 2 weeks in the Yucatan peninsula.

2:34 pm - Wednesday, June 12, 2013

#39 N.N.

hi, it’s me again. They offered the camera with a cut in pice, so i couldn’t resist and took it.

The assisting data can downloaded from Nikon’s website. See manual for URL. They are stored on the cameras memory card. Then you put in the card an activate the data (this is done with the cameras menu). Actually, all you need is a card reader and a browser, and therefore loading assisting data works also with linux, e.g.

Without this assisting data you have to wait for 10 or 15 minutes to get the first gps fix.
Subsequent fixes are much faster, with typical values from 5 or 10 seconds.

Of course, it seems to need more time for a fix, if there was some delay (one hour?) after a gps fix.

Accuracy is good. My Garmin GPSMap60 is not better.

In other words: GPS ist just fine.

compass is also o.k. Accuracy is maybe +/- 10° (estimated), and it works also in portrait position! After taking out the battery and inserting it again, you have to calibrate it. This is done by moving the camera in a “8” figure (see manual) - very simple.

So, im my opinion GPS & compass are well made and reliable.

P.S.: image quality is indeed not really outstanding :-)
But keep in mind: This is a small outdoor camera with a tiny lens and a tiny sensor (with too much pixels for its size). For this facts, the images are o.k.

7:44 pm - Saturday, June 15, 2013

#40 Ion Anderson

You review a waterproof camera, one of the very few and you don’t take it for a swim?? Common, such camera is made for the beach. It’s a simple compact and I bet half of its production price goes into sealing it. At least put it in a fish tank and give us some samples!

3:37 pm - Wednesday, August 14, 2013

#41 graciousgarg

The extra megapixels aren’t required if pictures are taken in full resolution. I just love the image quality. And the Camouflage colored device is just pretty in appearance.

7:52 am - Sunday, October 13, 2013

#42 Jim

If you lose your camera can you go online and track it with the GPS

2:03 pm - Wednesday, November 6, 2013

#43 Megan


That is not how the GPS function on the camera works.

3:09 pm - Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Entry Tags

hd video, hd, 3 inch LCD, 1080p, 16 megapixel, nikon, hdmi, 5x zoom, coolpix, waterproof, shockproof, freezeproof, action, shock proof, water proof, freeze proof, aw100, Nikon Coolpix AW100 Review

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