Nikon 1 AW1 Construction
Nikon 1 AW1 Construction
This page originally appeared as the Preview for the Nikon 1 AW1. Skip to Usability if you already read this.
The Nikon 1 AW1 is the world's first waterproof or rugged interchangeable lens camera. This is an impressive feat of engineering which required rethinking nearly every component of the camera and lenses. The AW1 when fitted with a waterproof lens is submersible to depth of 15 meters for up to 60 minutes and shockproof to drops of 2 meters. In this preview we take a close look at how this was achieved and what impact it has on the AW1.
The Nikon 1 AW1 is a mirrorless digital camera using a 1" CMOS sensor with 2.7X and featuring an adapted Nikon 1 mount. It readily accepts all Nikon 1 lenses. Special waterproof lenses designed for the AW1 are not compatible with other 1-series cameras though.
The water-tight seal is provided by an O-ring surrounding the mount which protrudes from the camera. To complete the seal, lenses have a protrusion which covers completely the rubber ring when installed on the camera. Since other Nikon 1 series mirrorless have their mount flush with the front of the camera, waterproof lenses will simply not fit.
Despite the ruggedness of this camera, the water-tight seal is rather delicate. There cannot be any gaps around the mount. This means that any particle, such as a grain of sand, can potentially compromise the seal. For this possibility to be minimized, Nikon put a lot of thought into accessories, including body and lens caps. The Nikon 1 AW1 comes with a special body-cap which is designed to protect the O-ring while being tight enough to avoid foreign particles from entering.
AW1 lenses come with a specially designed rear-cap to avoid the same issues. After all, it would be easy for a particle to fall from the rear of the lens onto the O-ring which would threaten the seal. This is probably the only dust-proof lens cap around.
The newly designed lens cap must fit with the unique shape of the AW lenses. As seen on the picture below, the lens the mount bayonet and contacts are noticeable recessed.
The Nikon 1 AW1 is also shockproof which requires additional considerations. In particular, the AW1 is unique in that it has no moving parts. There is no traditional mechanical-shutter and this camera relies on an electronic one like the J3. This gives it an extremely quick maximum shutter-speed of 1/16000s but a flash sync-speed of only 1/60s, the slowest among any digital camera.
Another moving part which is missing compared to nearly all other modern interchangeable lens camera is a dust-reduction system. Cameras usually move the sensor or low-pass filter at very fast speeds to shake dust off. This would be very hard to ruggedize, so Nikon removed it.
The minimize the impact of dust, the Nikon 1 AW1 is equipped with a fixed dust-shield which is an extra layer of glass in front of the sensor. By keeping a relatively large gap between the sensor and dust-shield, dust should appear minimal as it would not be able to completely block entire pixels.
Nor the AW1, nor its waterproof and shockproof lenses, offer any form of image stabilization. To have image-stabilization, one must use non-waterproof lenses which is OK but may mean you would buy lenses covering the same focal-lens in both shockproof and stabilized versions.
Lenses for the AW1 are equally shockproof. They are mostly made of metal except for a rubber edge to absorb impact along the lens rim. The front and rear glass elements are obviously recessed to avoid breaking. A thread allows the use of 40.5mm filters but there is no provision for a bayonet-type lens-hood.
The battery compact and connector doors are covered with rubber on the inside to form a tight seal. To avoid accidentally opening either of these doors, the AW1 features a double-locking mechanism on each.
Care must be taken before using the Nikon 1 AW1 underwater. All seals have to be checked for particles and wear. Nikon provides silicon grease to keep the O-ring flexible and improve the seal. The rubber ring is also replaceable and it is recommended to do so once it shows some wear.
Nikon AW1 Facts
Mirrorless digital camera
|14 Megapixels Mirrorless||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 Battery|
|3" LCD 920K Pixels||Secure Digital Extended Capacity|
Nikon D5 XQD Review
Nikon flagship professional DSLR with 20 megapixels Full-Frame CMOS sensor. All-new 153-point Phase-Detect AF sensitive to -4 EV. ISO 50 to unprecedented 3,276,800! 12 FPS Drive for 200 JPEGs or 180 RAW. First Nikon DSLR with 4K Ultra HD video.
Olympus Professional Lens Roundup
Roundup of Olympus Professional and Premium lenses: M.Zuiko 7-14mm F/2.8 PRO, M.Zuiko 12-40mm F/2.8 PRO, M.Zuiko 40-150mm F/2.8 PRO, M.Zuiko 12mm F/2, M.Zuiko 60mm F/2.8 Macro.
Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II Review
Olympus second generation base OM-D with an anti-alias-filter-free 16 MP Four-Thirds CMOS sensor mounted on a 5-axis in-body stabilization system. Speedy 8.5 FPS drive, full HD @ 60 FPS and a wealth of features in a compact and lightweight body. Offers a 2.4 MP 0.45" EVF with 0.62X magnification and 100% coverage, plus dual control-dials and a highly customizable interface.
Fuji X-Pro2 Review
Fuji flagship XF-mount mirrorless with 24 MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS III sensor. 273-Point AF with 169 Phase-Detect points. 8 FPS Drive, 1080p video. Dual control-dials, direct dials and a hybrid viewfinder in a weather-sealed freezeproof body.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS100 Review
The only premium travel-zoom! 20 megapixels 1" high-speed CMOS sensor paired with a stabilized 25-250mm F/2.8-5.9 optical zoom. 50 FPS Drive, 4K Ultra-HD video, 1/16000-60s Hybrid Shutter, Post-Shot Focus, 4K Live-Cropping, Time-Lapse Video and more. Dual control-dials plus a built-in EVF with Eye-Start sensor.
Canon EOS Rebel T6s Review
Newly designed Rebel with dual control-dials and top status LCD. 24 MP APS-C sensor, Hybrid AF III with 19 all-cross points and on-sensor Phase-Detect AF. 5 FPS Drive and full 1080p HD video capture.
Canon Powershot G3 X Review
Ultra-zoom with a 25X optical zoom lens and large 20 MP 1" CMOS sensor in a weather-sealed body with dual control-dials, a lens ring and efficient controls. Captures full 1080p HD video at 60 FPS with internal or external stereo sound.
Best Digital Cameras of 2015
The best new digital cameras of 2015. Plus, find out which ones of 2014 still lead their category. Compact, Premium Cameras, Ultra-Zooms, Mirrorless and DSLR are all covered.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 Review
16 megapixels Micro Four-Thirds mirrorless. 2.4 MP 0.5" EVF with Eye-Start sensor plus dual control-dials. 4K Ultra-HD video, 8 FPS continuous-drive, hybrid shutter with 1/16000-60s shutter-speeds, ISO 100-25600 and Contrast-Detect DFD autofocus system sensitive to -4 EV.
Nikkor AF-S 200-500mm F/5.6E ED VR Review
Nikon constant-aperture super-telephoto zoom with 200-500mm range and the latest Vibration-Reduction effective to 4.5 stops. Built-in super-sonic AF in a sturdy weatherproof body.