The perfect fishing camera ?
No, this isn’t the perfect fishing camera because there really isn’t such a thing, however the Nikon AW-1 is the best by a mile in it’s class of compact waterproof cameras and an absolute cracker of a casual clicker besides. Being waterproof to 15 metres you’re covered if you fall in the drink or choose to shoot in the drink and it’s also tough enough to survive a short drop if you’re on the drink.
Shockproof ? I assume that means it’s ok for snapping ugly fishing buddies or being dropped in anger. Other specs include an excellent 14 megapixel CMOS sensor capable of HD video and a built in GPS with compass, depth metre and altimeter.
Besides all those bells and whistles, the real joy of this beautifully made little wonder is you can change lenses. At the moment in water & shock proof models, there is only the standard 11-27 (30-70 ish in the old money) zoom and a fixed length, compact 10mm (28mm) wide angle.
As a part of the larger Nikon 1 series, there’s 9 other non waterproof lenses available for the AW-1 including the very unique 32 f1.2 portrait lenses and some longer zooms for sports or wildlife shots. Given the popularity of the 1 system there’s always the chance more lenses are on the way as well.
So what’s it like to use ?
In short, it’s a very very good compact system camera with enough control in the menu system to keep serious shutter bugs happy and also a range of full & semi auto settings for simpler use and everything should make sense if you’ve used a digital camera.
The auto focus is excellent for a compact camera and in the face detect mode it worked well chasing the children around the yard or pool. The built in little pop-up flash also impressed and I understand there’s a more powerful accessory flash coming that will work underwater as well.
The AW1 is not cheap for a compact at near $750 for the kit, but it’s bombproof and has great image quality and many options to make a complete camera system. The fact that it will also easily fit in one of your vest pockets and survive the ride should it get rough, also sets it apart.
To put the price into context, back in the film days the Nikonos (Nikons awesome pro underwater system) equivalent would have set you back ten times the money and thirty times the weight and likely not have better image quality.
In my mind that makes the Aw-1 a bargain.