Nikon’s 1 series gets tough with waterproof, shockproof, and freezeproof AW1

nikon announces rugged compact system camera the 1 aw1 2

Check out our review of the Nikon 1 AW1 digital camera.

If you’ve traveled to exotic locations, you probably encountered this dilemma: You want to bring with you a better camera, but you’re worried about exposing it to the elements and damaging it. You could bring a rugged point-and-shoot, but you want better image quality than what these compacts can offer. If you face this conundrum, Nikon has a new solution in the Nikon 1 AW1 compact system camera (CSC) – what it refers to as the “world’s first waterproof, shockproof interchangeable lens camera.” The AW1 will go on sale in October as a one- ($800) or two-lens ($1,000) kit (the lenses are also rugged), available in black, silver, or white.

The AW1 channels back to Nikon’s old Nikonos 35mm underwater cameras that launched in 1963 and ended production in 2001. The Nikonos were highly popular for underwater photography. In fact, the Nikonos is the successor to the Calypso, which was developed and used by Jacques Cousteau. But the AW1 goes beyond just being water friendly.

AW1-1

How tough is this camera? The AW1 is waterproof down to 49 feet, can be dropped from 6.6 feet, and can withstand freezing temperatures down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit. The only thing it isn’t is dustproof and fireproof, but for all intents and purposes it’s pretty rugged. Every part of the camera is completely sealed, including the area around the flash.

Specs wise, the AW1’s interior guts and performance are nearly identical to the current Nikon 1 J3: a 14.2-megapixel CX-format CMOS sensor (with no optical low-pass filter), EXPEED 3A image processor, hybrid autofocus system with a 73-point AF array to lock onto moving objects, ISO range of 160 to 6,400, continuous shooting up to 15 frames per second (60fps is focus is locked), and Full HD 1080 video recording up to 60i and 30p (plus, two slo-mo modes at 400fps and 1200fps). Like nearly all Nikon cameras, the AW1 doesn’t have Wi-Fi built in. But it supports the WU-1b adapter for wireless transfers and uploads, as well as remote operation from an iOS or Android device.

Besides the rugged attributes and body styling, there are features unique to this camera. The AW1 has something Nikon calls Action Control, which lets you make adjustments just by swinging it in the air or underwater – without having to drill through any menus or button pushing. After you dive into the water with the AW1, an Underwater mode auto selects the appropriate settings based on the activity: standard, scuba, or close-up. There’s also Underwater White Balance for correct coloring, and Underwater Distortion Control to correct image distortion caused by the water. Other “outdoorsy” features include a virtual horizon, altimeter depth gauge, and GPS.

AW1-7

As a landlubber, the AW1 works with all of Nikon’s Nikkor 1 lenses and F-mount Nikkor lenses via an adapter, but you won’t be able to use this combination in a fully rugged manner. For the times you want to get a little adventurous, Nikon made two rugged lenses to complement the AW1: the 1 Nikkor AW 11-27.5mm f/3.5-5.6 and 1 Nikkor AW 10mm f/2.8 lenses, both waterproof, shockproof, and freezeproof down to the same specs as the AW1. The faster f/2.8 lens lets you create a soft background, but, obviously, you can’t swap lenses while underwater. Note that the rugged lenses are not supported by other 1-series cameras.

AW1-6

We had a very brief opportunity with a prototype of the camera recently. We didn’t take it into the water, up the mountain, or anything like that, but even though Nikon says the AW1 is lightweight, there seems to be a greater heft than the J3 and the construction also feels more substantial. The J3 has rounded corners, while the AW1 looks more blockish. Whereas the back of the J3 is minimal and clean, the AW1 has more buttons and controls – probably because you want to spend less time fussing over settings when underwater. Textured surfaces on the lens barrel and front give your hands and fingers a more secured grip, especially when under water. Otherwise, the camera operates and feels like any Nikon 1-series model. Read our review of the J3 to get an idea of how the AW1 will perform.

So, why would you want the AW1 when you can get an underwater housing for the J3? Price and flexibility. The underwater housing for the J3 costs $750, which is nearly the price of the AW1 with a lens. Yes, it goes down to 130 feet, but unless you’re going deep-sea diving, it’s an expensive add-on. Plus, you won’t get the other rugged features and specialty modes of the AW1. Unfortunately the rugged lens options are limited to two right now.

Accessories for the AW1 include a skin for extra protection and grip, an underwater Speedlight, and a filter attachment to protect against condensation. Both the Speedlight and filter will arrive in 2014.

AW1-8Click here for more images.

Photography

Nikon will bring eye-detection autofocus to the Z6 and Z7 in May

An upcoming firmware update will bring Eye AF to the Nikon Z6 and Z7 -- along with improved autofocus performance in low light. The update will also give the cameras support for the CFexpress format.
Mobile

The best Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus cases to keep your titanic phone safe

The new Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus is a gorgeous device, with one of the best dual-lens cameras we've ever seen. Keep your titanic device safe and scratch-free with the best Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus cases.
Photography

From DSLRs to mirrorless, these are the best cameras you can buy right now

From entry-level models to full-frame flagships, many cameras take great photos and video. The best digital cameras, however, push the industry forward with innovative sensors and improved usability, among other things. Here are our…
Photography

Nikon brings a classic workhorse lens to the Z series with new 24-70mm f/2.8 S

The Nikon Z series finally has a bright zoom available without an adapter. The Nikkor Z 24-70mm F/2.8 S offers new coatings and more customizable controls in a smaller, lighter body than the comparable F-mount lens.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world will take your breath away

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Photography

Using A.I., Lightroom can now boost the resolution of RAW photos

Need to eek a bit more resolution out of a RAW file? Adobe Lightroom and Camera Raw can help with a new feature called Detail Enhance. The tool uses A.I. in the demosaicing process to enhance details and reduce artifacts.
Product Review

Canon democratizes full-frame with the EOS RP, but keep your expectations low

At just $1,300, the RP is Canon's least expensive full-frame camera yet, but it was born into a world of high-end, high-cost lenses where it doesn't yet feel at home.
Photography

Tight on space? Here’s how to transfer photos from an iPhone to a computer

Never lose any of your cherished selfies or family vacation photos from your iPhone again by learning how to transfer photos from your iPhone to a computer, whether you want to use a cable or wireless transfer.
Photography

Corel VideoStudio adds tools for customizing color in simple video edits

VideoStudio is Corel's more consumer-oriented video editor but the software recently gained advanced color correction tools. The update adds custom transitions, along with speeding up performance, and adding new shortcuts.
Computing

500px reveals almost 15 million users are caught up in security breach

Almost 15 million members of portfolio website 500px have been caught up in a security breach. The hack occurred in 2018 but was only discovered last week. Users are being told to change their 500px password as soon as possible.
Photography

Olympus packs an enormous zoom ability in its latest interchangeable lens

The Olympus Digital ED M.Zuiko 12-200mm F/3.5-6.3 has the widest zoom range of any interchangeable lens with a 16.6x zoom. The lens, which covers a 24-400mm equivalent, is also weather sealed.
Photography

Fujifilm’s X-T30 is a semi-pro, feature-rich camera that’s affordable to boot

Fujifilm's newest mirrorless camera delivers the premium features of the X-T3 without the premium price, giving aspiring enthusiasts a lower-cost option that can still match the image quality of Fuji's flagship.
Photography

Fujifilm XP140 squeezes more durability, low-light ability into a waterproof cam

Fujifilm's waterproof compact can now head even further underwater. The Fujifilm XP140 features several upgrades, including a more durable body, a wider ISO range for low light, and expanded auto modes.
Photography

From f/1.2 primes to the mysterious DS, here are Canon’s upcoming RF lenses

Canon's EOS R mirrorless series will gain six new lenses this year. Canon just shared a list of six lenses under development, including four zooms and two prime lenses. One has a mysterious new feature called Defocus Smoothing.