Dec. 2, 2011 -- Nikon's new Coolpix AW100 is not just for any amateur photographer, it's for the photographer who is also an amateur mountain biker, amateur snowboarder, or amateur bungee jumper. Boasting that it's waterproof, freeze proof, and shockproof (all to a point) the camera's tag line is "Born to be extreme."
Tested in the untamed wilds of a New York office, the camera seems designed to be used outdoors, which also meant that a few of its more "rugged" features fell flat when inside.
The 'Extreme' Features:
One of the camera's highlighted features is its GPS function, which allows users to track on a map precisely where they took their last picture. It seems like a great idea for photos taken on a hiking trip or getaway vacation, but it's less important if most of your photography involves the family around the fireplace. What's more, the GPS could never get a strong enough signal to give the exact coordinates of a photo taken inside.
After a more successful GPS run, you can upload the photos and use Google Earth or Nikon's own NX2 to track your vacation memories from above.
In addition to the GPS, there's also a more antiquated device if you lose your way: a compass.
While the compass and GPS tracking are not particularly useful to most city dwellers, the Action Button will be helpful to anyone living in a cold climate. Nikon boasts that with the Action Button you can use the camera easily, even when "treading water in a river." Realistically the Action Button will let users navigate the menu even in gloves or mittens. After setting up the button on the side of the camera, you can simply shake the camera to navigate a secondary camera menu rather than pressing a bunch of tiny buttons while your fingers freeze.
The Basic Features:
At 16 megapixels, the Coolpix AW100 can capture every moment of your outdoor adventures in sharp detail.
The ISO of the camera goes up to 3200, which means even at night you can get some great shots of a camping trip.
The video function is incredibly easy to use. Instead of having to switch settings, it simply requires pressing a different button on the back of the camera rather than the primary shutter button. The camera is able to shoot in 1080 HD, a format also used in many SLR cameras, and allows users to play back video in slow motion or high speed.
List price: $379, though it can be had for $299 or less online.
There are a few fine-print details about the camera's durability. It is shockproof as long as it's not dropped from more than 5 feet, it's freezeproof down to 14 degrees fahrenheit and it's waterproof down to a depth of 33 feet.
Sounds tough. But Nikon warns users not to "shock" the camera while underwater as the CoolPix AW100 can't handle too many extremes at once.