Nikon 1 AW1 Review
The Nikon 1 AW1 is the first waterproof and shockproof interchangeable lens digital camera in the world. This mirrorless is based on the entry-level Nikon 1 J3 reviewed here. It shares the same ultra-fast 14 megapixels CMOS sensor with 3:2 aspect-ratio and 2.7X crop-factor.
As part of the Nikon 1 system of mirrorless cameras, the 1 AW1 uses the same all-electric lens-mount. It accepts any Nikon 1 lens but is only waterproof with specially designed lenses which are not compatible with other Nikon 1 cameras.
The high-speed sensor used on the AW1 features built-in Phase-Detect autofocus at 73 points and reads 135 points for Contrast-Detect autofocus. This lets it focus faster than most mirrorless cameras as long as there is sufficient light. This CMOS sensor can shoot continuously at full-resolution up to 60 FPS, when using single-shot AF, or 15 FPS with continuous AF. This is combined with an electronic-shutter which allows shutter-speeds up to 1/16000s.
The Nikon AW1 is relatively compact for a mirrorless camera yet larger than the J3, no doubt because of its waterproof and shockproof construction. Still, its body measures just 37mm thick, which is not much larger than rugged cameras with fixed lenses.
This detailed digital camera review takes a close look at the Nikon 1 AW1's features, ergonomics, usability, image quality, performance and video recording features.
Nikon 1 AW1 Major Features
- 14 Megapixels High-Speed CMOS sensor
- 2.7X Crop factor, 3:2 aspect-ratio
- Nikon 1 lens mount
- ISO range from 160 to 6400
- Auto ISO with 800, 3200 or 6400 maximum
- 1/16000One sixteenth thousandth of a second. Electronic shutter only. - 30s Shutter-Speed, plus Bulb mode
- Multi-Segment, Center-Weighed and Spot metering
- PASM exposure modes, with Program-Shift
- Exposure-Compensation: ±3 EV in 1/3 EV steps
- Automatic, 6 presetIncandescent, Fluorescent, Sunlight, Flash, Cloudy, Shade and custom white-balance.
- WB fine-tuning, 2 axis, 13 steps, except for Custom WB
- Customizable sharpness, contrast, brightness, saturation and hue
- Single-Shot, Continuous, Manual and Auto focus-drives
- 73-Point Phase-Detect autofocus system
- 135-Point Contrast-Detect autofocus
- 60 FPS Continuous drive with AF-S
- 15 FPS Drive with AF-C
- Self-Timer: 2s, 5s or 10s delay
- AF-Assist lamp
- Built-in flash
- Waterproof to 15 meters for up to 60 minutes
- Shockproof to 2 meter drops
- Freezeproof to -10C
- 3” LCD with 920K Pixels
- Single-Axis Digital Level
- 1920x1080 @ 30 FPS 1080p HD video
- 1280x720 @ 60 FPS 720p HD video
- 640x240 @ 400 FPS High-Speed video
- 320x120 @ 1200 FPS High-Speed video
- 1920x1080 @ 60 FPS Motion-Snapshot
- Internal stereo microphone
- JPEG and RAW modes
- Optional Optical Distortion correction
- Optional High-ISO noise reduction
- Optional Long-Exposure noise-reduction
- Optional Adaptive D-Lighting
- Sensor Dust-Shield
- Built-in GPS
- Digital Compass
- Altitude and depth meters
- Lithium-ion battery
- SDXC Memory slot
Capability - What can it do?
This entry-level mirrorless digital camera distinguishes itself by being submersible to depths of 15 meters for up to one hour. It is freezeproof to -10C and shockproof to drops from 2 meters. The makes it usable in extreme environments better than any digital camera on the market.
Its Nikon 1 lens-mount accepts a growing number of lenses, including the two waterproof and shockproof ones launched at the same time as the AW1. Using one of these lenses is required to benefit from its waterproof and shockproof operation. Other lenses are available with focal-lengths between 6.7 and 110mm, equivalent to 18 - 297mm which covers the vast majority of photographic subjects.
Due to its shockproof construction, this camera and its shockproof lenses do not offer any form of stabilization. For aquatic use, this is not a problem considering low shutter-speeds are not practical because it is difficult to be completely still underwater.
Like all mirrorless cameras, the Nikon 1 AW1 offers full manual-controls, including custom white-balance with fine-tuning, spot metering and manual focus. The covers the essentials of creative photography, making the 1 AW1 suitable to capture most scenes. It does have few external controls though, so changing settings is slower than usual.
The exceptionally fast sensor of this camera records full-resolution images at up to 60 FPS with focus locked on the first frame or 15 FPS with continuous autofocus. In either case, these numbers are class-leading and allow the AW1 to capture action at its height. The sensor also captures 1080p HD video at 30 FPS or 720p at 60 FPS with low-resolution modes offering either 400 or 1200 FPS. Stereo sound is recording along with normal-speed video.
The Nikon 1 AW1 features a high number of sensors. A GPS records the camera's position, a digital compass measures orientation, a digital-level for tilt, an altimeter records altitude and a depth-meter records depth. The AW1 can be taken anywhere and has the data to prove it!
This mirrorless is equipped with a built-in flash but no hot-shoe. Framing is done exclusively with the 3" LCD as there is no built-in viewfinder, nor is it possible to add one.
Nikon AW1 Facts
Mirrorless digital camera
|14 Megapixels Mirrorless (SLD)||ISO 160-6400|
|Nikon 1 Mount|
Sensor-Size: 13 x 9mm
Actual size when viewed at 100 DPI
|Waterproof to 15m||Full manual controls, including Manual Focus|
|Weatherproof down to -10C||Custom white-balance with 2 axis fine-tuning|
|60 FPS Drive, 60 Images||Spot-Metering|
|1920x1080 @ 30 FPS Video Recording||Lithium-Ion|
|3" LCD 920K Pixels||Secure Digital Extended Capacity|
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