First Impressions: Nikon AW1

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon AW1 first impressions product photos (1 of 7)ISO 4001-60 sec at f - 2.8

Nikon’s AW1 is the first interchangeable lens mirrorless camera with waterproofing–and it can go down to 49 feet without any fuss. The camera, though pictured here with the special casing, is actually not this kindergarten-styled color of orange. Part of Nikon’s family of 1 series cameras, this model and the special AW lenses are different due to the way they are designed to protect against shockproofing, weather, water and more.

At Photo Plus Expo 2013, we got a chance to play with the new camera.

Tech Specs

Specs taken from the B&H Photo listing

  • 14.2MP CX-Format CMOS Sensor
  • EXPEED 3A Image Processing Engine
  • Water, Shock, Dust & Freezeproof Design
  • 3.0″ 921k-Dot LCD Monitor
  • Full HD 1080i Video Recording at 60 fps
  • Action Control and Sensing Functions
  • Advanced Hybrid AF System
  • Built-In GPS/GLONASS & WU-1b Compatible

Ergonomics

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon AW1 first impressions product photos (2 of 7)ISO 4001-60 sec at f - 2.8

 

The Nikon AW1 is a camera that is targeted at the outdoors types and with that in mind, there isn’t a lot of control on the camera vs other mirrorless offerings. With that said, the front is very minimal.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon AW1 first impressions product photos (3 of 7)ISO 4001-60 sec at f - 2.8

 

The top of the camera has a couple of controls that are key to the functionality such as shutter release, record video button, on/off button, pop-up flash and symbol for GPS. The buttons feel very soft to the touch but still quite comfortable. If you’re under water and using the camera, you might want a bit more of a tactile confirmation that the buttons were pressed.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon AW1 first impressions product photos (5 of 7)ISO 4001-60 sec at f - 2.8

 

The camera also has a pop-up flash that has some weather sealing and will even work under water.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon AW1 first impressions product photos (4 of 7)ISO 4001-60 sec at f - 2.8

 

The back of the Nikon AW1 has a giant LCD screen on the back along with the majority of its controls. The back contains buttons like playback, trash, display, drive, exposure, menu and more. These are all very basic, and most users of this camera might also be shooting in auto anyway. To get out of auto, you’ll need to enter the creative modes.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon AW1 first impressions product photos (6 of 7)ISO 4001-60 sec at f - 2.8

 

The side of the AW1 has a double locking feature to ensure that it doesn’t flip open while underwater. This fully weather seals the camera.

Build Quality

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon AW1 first impressions product photos (7 of 7)ISO 4001-60 sec at f - 2.8

 

Given that this is a weathersealed camera that can also go into the deep darks of the water, it is built quite solidly. We had nary a complaint about it.

Autofocus

We found the autofocusing to be quite fast on the AW1 as it always has been throughout the series.

Ease of Use

If you’re shooting with the camera in full auto, you shouldn’t have any real issues with the use. However, if you want to get into the more manual modes, things start to get a bit hairy. The lack of real dials reminds us a bit of the older Olympus EPL1–which we really hated.

Image Quality

Unfortunately, we couldn’t stick a card in the camera because we were holding a pre-production unit. However, we’re told that review units will be sent out soon.

First Impressions

The AW1 could surely be one of the best sellers this holiday season for the adventurer types. It has a lot going for it, and we’re positive that the image quality is also top notch for the 1 inch sensor size. We’ll try to take it out for our own adventures when we get one in for review.

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