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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Long Term Review: Nikon AW130

In January, we took the AW130 on a trip to Florida that produced decent pictures, but didn't wow us. We've since had the camera on a major diving/snorkeling trip in the BVI, and have many more pictures to check against.

Overall the pictures are excellent, frequently producing images in good light that made me go "wow!" The fact that the camera is shock-proof and waterproof meant that we were willing to clip it onto the BCDs or even to the wrist band of my Vivoactive HR and take it snorkeling and diving in places where it might get knocked up a bit.
You have to set your expectations correctly with this camera. Give it poor or dim lighting, and it's going to provide muddy, brownish pictures that no amount of tweaking in lightroom will improve. To make things worse, it does not shoot RAW files, and so you're going to have a lot of trouble making even simple adjustments. Don't expect to do much more than the JPG that comes right out of the camera.
The videos are surprisingly good, with my video of a Stingray feeding providing great detail and relatively good sound, even when zoomed in.

Is there room for improvement for the Nikon AW130? Yes. The distortion could be corrected better. The camera could shoot RAW files. I'd be more comfortable diving with it if the depth rating was closer to 130 feet than 100 feet. But as it is, for a diving/snorkeling/cycle touring camera, it checks all the boxes. If you didn't plan to dive with it the Olympus TG-3 is probably better, but for now if you dive/snorkel/swim with the camera there's nothing else that comes close to the AW130 for the depth rating. For the price, the other cameras in this category cannot beat it either.


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