Nikon Coolpix AW130 Review

September 24, 2015 | Zoltan Arva-Toth | |

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 16 megapixel High JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 7Mb.

When viewed at 1:1 magnification, the images captured by the Nikon AW130 can look quite disappointing, with smeared details and other signs of overzealous noise reduction. That being said, the photos still print very well up to at least 18×24cm and also look great at most screen resolutions. The internally stacked zoom lens covers a very useful focal range of 24-120mm (in 35mm terms) but tends to produce noticeably soft corners at most focal lengths. As with other small-sensor compacts, dynamic range limitations can be an issue, but at least there is an HDR option to fall back on when shooting in contrasty light. The lens-based anti-shake (VR) system does a remarkably good job of countering the image blurring effect of camera shake.

Noise

The Nikon Coolpix AW130 has 7 sensitivity settings ranging from ISO 125 to ISO 6400. The effects of noise reduction are evident even at base ISO and become progressively more pronounced as you go up the sensitivity ladder, but ISO 800 (and perhaps ISO 1600 in a pinch) is still adequate for regular-sized prints.

ISO 125 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso125.jpg iso200.jpg
   

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

iso400.jpg iso800.jpg
   

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

iso1600.jpg iso3200.jpg
   

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

 
iso6400.jpg  

Focal Range

The lens has a 35mm equivalent focal range of 24-120mm, which is very useful.

24mm

120mm

focal_range1.jpg focal_range2.jpg

Sharpening

Images from the Nikon Coolpix AW130 are adequately sharp in the middle of the frame, but rather soft in the image corners. Additional sharpening cannot fix this lens-related issue, but it can brig out some extra detail in the image centre, as demonstrated by the examples below.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg
   
sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

File Quality

For full-resolution photos, are two JPEG quality settings available on the Nikon Coolpix AW130, standard and high. The latter is marked with a five-pointed star in the image size menu. The average file size is approximately 3.5MB for standard-quality images and nearly 7MB for high-quality ones.

High (100% Crop)

Standard (100% Crop)

quality_starred.jpg quality_standard.jpg

Chromatic Aberrations

The camera obviously applies a clever algorithm to get rid of any chromatic aberration in the images, and it's mostly successful. The 100% crops below show you what to expect in the absolutely worst case.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

chromatic1.jpg chromatic2.jpg

Macro

The Nikon Coolpix AW130 has a 1cm macro mode, which enables you to achieve a very high magnification. Geometric distortions, chromatic aberrations and corner softness are quite extreme at this setting, and properly lighting your subject also becomes a challenge, but this super-macro mode does enable you to get REAL close to your subject.

Macro

Macro (100% Crop)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg

Flash

The available flash settings are Fill-flash, Slow-syc, Auto, Auto with red-eye reduction and Off. These pictures of a white ceiling were taken at a distance of approximately 1.5 metres.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (24mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (24mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Flash Off - Telephoto (120mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (120mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

The built-in flash didn't produce much of a red-eye effect.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)
flash_on.jpg flash_on1.jpg
   

Red Eye Reduction

Red Eye Reduction (100% Crop)

flash_redeye.jpg flash_redeye1.jpg

Vibration Reduction

The camera features Nikon's proprietary Vibration Reduction system, which does an excellent job. The following pair of crops are taken from two photos taken at a shutter speed of 1/13th of a second at the 120mm equivalent zoom setting.

Anti Shake Off (100% Crop)

Anti Shake On (100% Crop)
antishake1.jpg antishake1a.jpg

Night

The Coolpix AW130 has a night landscape scene mode for taking photos at night, with Hand-held and Tripod options. In hand-held night landscape mode, the camera takes several photographs in quick succession, and combines them into a single image. If the Tripod option is selected, the AW130 will take one image with a slow shutter speed. The following photo was taken at a shutter speed of 1s and a sensitivity setting of ISO 800.

Night Night (100% Crop)
night1.jpg night1a.jpg

HDR

When the Backlighting option is selected, you can turn on HDR (High Dynamic Range) exposure blending to minimise detail loss in the highlights and shadows alike.

HDR Off

HDR On
hdr_off.jpg hdr_on.jpg

Post-Capture D-lighting

If you forgot to turn on HDR (or photographed a subject that doesn't lend itself well to HDR exposure blending), you can still apply post-capture D-lighting to your image to lift the shadows. The examples below demonstrate the effect.

D-lighting Off

D-lighting On
dlight_off.jpg dlight_on.jpg

Special Effects

The Nikon Coolpix AW130 has 8 so-called Special Effect Modes including Soft, Nostalgic Sepia, High-Contrast Monochrome, Selective Colour, Pop, Cross-Process, Toy Camera Effect 1 and Toy Camera Effect 2.

Soft

Nostalgic Sepia
effects_01.jpg effects_02.jpg
   

High-contrast Monochrome

Selective Colour

effects_03.jpg effects_04.jpg
   

Pop

Cross Process

effects_05.jpg effects_06.jpg
   

Toy Camera 1

Toy Camera 2

effects_07.jpg effects_08.jpg

Quick Effects

In addition to the afore-mentioned Special Effects Modes, there are seven quick effects available, including Painting, Photo illustration, Soft portrait, Portrait (colour+B&W), Fish-eye, Cross process and Miniature effect.

Painting

Photo Illustration
quick_effects_01.jpg quick_effects_02.jpg
   

Soft Portrait

Portrait
quick_effects_03.jpg quick_effects_04.jpg
   

Fish-eye

Cross Process
quick_effects_05.jpg quick_effects_06.jpg
   

Miniature

 
quick_effects_07.jpg  

Slow-Motion Video

The Nikon AW130 can capture 480p videos at up to 120fps for slow-motion playback.

Time-Lapse Movie

The camera can automatically take up to 300 frames at a specified interval to create 1080p time-lapse videos, which are then played back at 30fps.

Easy Panorama

The Nikon AW130 has an Easy Panorama mode that allows you to take panoramic images simply by sweeping the camera from left to right or vice versa. There are two options available, Normal and Wide.

panorama.jpg