The Nikon AW series has been a competent and popular choice for rugged, weather-proof cameras for a while. The latest of this series – the AW130 is an evolution of it’s previous avatars where minor but important tweaks have been made to the AW120, so as to continue being among the front runners in this camera niche. Resembling its predecessors – the AW100, the AW110 and the AW120, the Nikon Coolpix AW 130 retains the rounded-yet-boxy design. But it does really pack a punch.
How? The small, textured hand-grip on the front plate of the camera, for starters. That was so needed to make sure the waterproof camera didn’t slip out of wet hands. The 16-megapixel camera is waterproof, shockproof with built-in NFC and Wi-Fi support, boasting a 3-inch display. To top that, it also offers an integrated GPS module and world map, and can be easily used with a smartphone or tablet over Wi-Fi.
What we liked: Compared to its competitor’s price, Nikon AW 130 is unquestionably less expensive and just as tough. Not only can it dive up to 100 feet below the sea, but it can also sustain cold down to 14˚F. You can drop it up to 7 feet or shoot from askew angles without the fear of slipping it thanks to the rubber grip (something the earlier cousins totally missed).
What we didn’t: The 921k-dot OLED is not the brightest even at its brightest max and that can make it difficult to use in direct sunlight.
Bragworthiness Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Detailed review: A waterproof camera does have it own limitations in terms of image quality, but the Nikon AW 130 does well enough to hold its repute. It still manages to give out radiant pictures with decent sharpness and Full HD videos. And its waterproof, shockproof and freeze proof attributes make it ideal not just for scuba diving trips but also skiing, snowboarding, biking, climbing, skating or hiking. It is your real adventure buddy. Light and easy to operate you don’t need a specialist to tag along for this one. Heck, this may be the ideal camera for kids to start getting into photography!
The 5x zoom lens is internally stacked which means that it does not protrude from the face while zooming in unlike a usual point and shoot. The 35mm film gives you a wide focal length ranging from 24mm to 120mm and it has a fairly good aperture for a fixed-mount compact camera lens. If you are looking for sharper images in the hand held mode and like playing with shutter speeds you will love the the lens-shift vibration reduction mechanism.
Blessed with a good battery life, one that lasts for a day in a single charge, the built-in GPS module records the exact latitude and longitude in the EXIF data of each image. Moreover, you can use it to set the camera’s clock, locate points of interest, create a log of your routes (even when you don’t take any pictures) and even double up as a built-in electronic compass. The GPS receiver does take a toll on the battery life, though.
While most of the basic features satisfy that of a classic point and shoot, the ‘Action Control’ mode in this one is a plus. It is basically a clever mode that makes the AW130 easier to use when wearing gloves or underwater. It allows you to control certain functions of the camera by moving it from front to back or tilting it up and down. You will need a little practice to master this one but once you do, it will be quite handy using it with wet hands.
Conclusion: A rugged camera that does a good job at capturing all your adventurous streaks, if you use the features to your advantage. Don’t set very high expectations if you are into landscape photography.
Competitors: You may like to explore the Olympus TG 4
Want to try it before you buy it? Rent it from Bragpacker.com for Rs.200/day. Be it a scuba diving trip, hiking in the rain or even a pool party, this camera can go where a mobile phone camera or a normal point and shoot wouldnt dare.