Nikon Coolpix AW120 review: Tough and then some
Plenty tough, just mind the night time noise
- Excellent tough credentials
- Wi-Fi direct
- GPS maps
- Great day time photos
- Night time photos suffer from image noise
- Not the smartest auto mode
- No slow motion recording
Price$ 399.00 (AUD)
Best Deals (Selling at 1 store)
- Coolpix A300 Digital Camera 196.00
The styling of the AW120 is on the subtle side. From afar it looks like an ordinary compact camera, which means you can take it white-water rafting and then to a wedding.
Look closer and a couple of traits stand out. There’s a vault-like door on its right charged with protecting the SD card, a 1050 milliamp-hour battery, the microUSB charging port and a micro-HDMI port. The waterproof door requires the pressing of a button and the rotating of a latch before it can be opened. It clicks in place when closed just like the ‘tick, tick, tick’ of a safe.
On the back are the usual buttons found on any compact camera. They rest adjacent to a 3in OLED display that plays back photos legibly, even when you’re under direct sunlight.
The final distinct design trait are two buttons that can be found on the AW120’s left side. The top button launches HERE maps, which works with an in-built GPS receiver to geotag photos and pin points of interest. The second button enables one hand use by allowing you to alternate between five modes by simply shaking the camera.
There are other signs of smarts on this tough cam, including the ability to send photos to your smartphone by creating a Wi-Fi direct connection. The tech also makes it possible to remotely control the Nikon AW120, although you will have to download the application first from either Apple or Google’s app store.Read more: BlackBerry Passport review: A smartphone going nowhere
These technologies nestle in a camera body that can be drowned in water 18 metres deep for an hour, withstand temperatures of -10 degrees celsius and drops of 2 metres.
Good Gear Guide dunked the Nikon camera into water a few times over our review period. Every time it emerged fine, whether it rested idle in a fish tank, took on water from a waterfall or tolerated the rain.
One time we dunked the Nikon AW120 in water and then placed it in the freezer for an hour. After cleaning frost from the lens, the toughcam stayed true to its name by immediately working.
Photos captured with the AW120 measure 16 megapixels in size. Nikon has fitted the cam with a 1/2.3in CMOS sensor, an ISO ranging from ISO 125 to ISO 6400 and 5x optical zoom.
The AW120 joined us on a seven hour hike, which involved traversing cliff edges and scaling rocks beneath waterfalls, at the Blue Mountains in New South Wales. Most of the photos captured by the camera retained the vibrant colours that made the sights picturesque. We particularly liked the subtle hues in the sky and the tones present in clouds.
The large 16 megapixel resolution came in handy as it helped hide some of the image noise. Photos will appear without flaw on most screens, but viewing them at native resolution reveals a great deal of image noise. Take photos at night and it only gets worse.Read more: Sony Xperia Z3 Compact review: A flagship at 4.6-inches
Familiarising yourself with Nikon’s camera interface doesn’t take long. This is a good thing because the auto mode isn’t the most intuitive. The AW120 requires Macro mode to be selected before close photos are snapped. Once done though, the compact camera can practically touch subjects while keeping them in focus.
Disappointing us was the panorama mode. There’s no way to manually stop a panoramic shot without dancing in circles. The resulting photos will either need cropping or will need to be deleted.
Sample photosRead more: Samsung delays Galaxy Note 4 and Note Edge launch in Australia
Videos recorded with the AW120 max at a resolution of 1920x1080 at 30 frames per second. We feel action cameras should offer some slow-motion recording and the AW120 is at a disadvantage for not supporting videos with a higher frame rate.
Nikon’s Coolpix AW120 is a tough, connected and a proficient shooter -- provided the lighting is right. Situations with complex lighting will require some tinkering with the modes, but in the AW120’s defence, it will continue to chug along well after most of its rivals have failed.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 2016 Ford Mustang EcoBoost review
- 2 Review: TCL C1 series 4K TV
- 3 Sony 75-inch UHD TV (X9400C) review: Sony and Android are a winning duo
- 4 LG 55EG960T OLED UHD TV
- 5 Panasonic Viera UHD TV review: good hardware, fragmented software
Best Deals on Good Gear Guide
Latest News Articles
- Google Camera 3.2 lets you snap pictures while recording video
- CES 2016: Top 10 trends
- Sony α7S II aimed film-makers and low light photographers
- Canon goes big on resolution with 250-megapixel sensor
- Hey, Saturn, take a selfie! World's biggest digital camera will photograph the universe
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- FTTechnical Services ManagerACT
- CCIT Desktop Support- Travelling in NSW requiredNSW
- CCProject ManagerNSW
- FTIT Support Analyst (Renewal Contract)Asia
- CCContract Analyst Programmer (JAVA/SQL) 160617/AP/623Asia
- FTVoice ArchitectNSW
- CCTelecommunications Operations Support officerACT
- CCContract Analyst Programmer (JAVA/SQL) 160629/AP/793Asia
- FTStorage ConsultantACT
- CCProgram Controls ManagerACT
- CCBusiness Analyst, InsuranceNSW
- CCOrganisational Change ManagerVIC
- CCContract Systems Analyst (Linux/MySQL/Oracle) 160630/SA/254Asia
- CCContract Analyst Programmer (J2EE/JAVA/SQL) 160621/AP/082Asia
- CCSharepoint Developer | Air Force project | NV1 clearanceNSW
- CCCobol ProgrammerACT
- CCAgile Business AnalystNSW
- CCProject Manager - IT SecurityNSW
- FTSolution Architect - Data/ InformationVIC
- FTNV2 Defence Project Manager | Canberra | Major exciting White Paper projectsACT
- CCContract Analyst Programmer (HTML/SQL/PHP) 160628/AP/113Asia
- CCTechnical Content ProducerVIC
- FTSAP Solution Architect- Data Migration to SAP HR, payrollNSW
- CCUX DesignersQLD
- FTTechnical Consultant - ServerSA