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)
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 Sony Bravia 2017 TVs: Full, in-depth review
- 2 Garmin Fenix 5 fitness tracker smartwatch review
- 3 LG 2017 OLED TV range full review: W7 Signature Wallpaper, G7, E7 and C7 UHD TVs
- 4 Tag Heuer Connected Smartwatch and Android Wear 2 review
- 5 Moto G5 Plus phone: full, in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- Boom: SanDisk just dropped the world's largest SD card
- Camera app makers tap into RAW power with iOS, and look forward to dual lenses
- 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
PCW Evaluation Team
The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.
Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
- Ring Video Doorbell review
- Alcatel A3 XL phone: Full, in-depth review
- Sony X9300E 2017 TV: Full, in-depth review
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- TPNetwork & System SpecialistNSW
- FTSharePoint DevelopersOther
- FTSAP HANA Data Modelling ConsultantsACT
- TPTest AnalystSA
- FTProject Coordinator - Digital Applications (IT)Other
- CCTechnical Business AnalystNSW
- CCProcess Specialist - TelcoVIC
- CCBusiness AnalystNSW
- TPTechnical Business AnalystQLD
- FTBusiness Systems Analyst - SharepointOther
- FTDevops EngineerVIC
- CCSenior Automation Test AnalystQLD
- FTBI BA Consultant l Microstrategy, Business ObjectsNSW
- CCSalesforce ArchitectVIC
- CCSecurity Incident Analyst - Splunk - TelcoVIC
- CCVMware EngineerNSW
- TPDigital ArchitectNSW
- FTWintel Infrastructure EngineerACT
- FTBig Data ArchitectOther
- FTSolution Architect (Office 365 Specialist)SA
- CCSenior Big Data EngineerVIC
- FTSenior .NET DeveloperOther
- FTHealthcare Integration Support/ Junior DBA - Brisbane BasedQLD
- FTSolution Architect - CloudQLD
- FTIT Field Services Manager -NationalOther