Testing Nikon 1 AW-1 waterproof camera

– Nikon 1 AW-1
– Nikon 1 NIKKOR AW 11-27.5mm f/3.5-5.6

When I first time heard about this camera, I thought that’s amazing, Nikon finally went back to the old nikonos world where we had waterproof SLR camera. I actually already ordered one but then canceled it and decided to go to Olympus OM-D E-M1 and housing for that. The simple reason was that Nikon AW-1 is still focused more to the traditional consumer side.

The camera is only waterproof for 15 meters that is actually quite a lot, as there is a lot just next to surface.

I finally still got Nikon AW-1 to testing as our camera hobby club decided to get one. This weekend I finally had time to take it underwater with some light testing at the same time. I also took it to Helsinki Boat Exhibition to take some surface pictures also.

Boys playing volleyball
Boys playing volleyball while I’m shooting behing the net.

The most of anything that I love in this camera is that it’s always waterproof, you can even in exhibition suddenly take picture from the diver that was doing introduction dives at the affair.

Scuba diver at exhibition
This underwater picture would have not been possible without camera that is always waterproof

When I left from boat exhibition, I stayed outside for a while to shoot some street lights that I likes so much. It was raining lot but it was very nice to be sure that your camera can handle it. I managed to get some decent picture from the lights.

Street lights in Helsinki

So it comes back to the idea of having a camera that can handle almost any weather and situation that you come across. So lets get into underwater then, where I was today. The camera feels very nice underwater. I rigged it into Ikelite GoPro rig, mainly because I had it and you can open the battery and memory card door even the camera is still attached. Normal strait rig you can’t do it. Also it’s very nice rig. 🙂

Nikon AW-1 with Ikelite rig
Nikon AW-1 with Ikelite rig

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I tried several different kind of lights but more about the lights in next posts.

I shooted this strange looking fish at the pool, still don’t know the species…

Strange fish at the pool
Strange fish at the pool

I also tried macro shooting with the ring that one of the divers found from the bottom of pool. I used +10 close up filter in front of the camera lens. You can use 40.5mm filters directly but most likely you want to use step up rings to go like 55mm filters and there you will find pretty nice collection already. Also it would be then possible to use those same filters with GoPro cameras using something like BlueFix

Macro shot from ring
Macro shot from ring using +10 close up filter

Yes, that is really underwater picture. Same as this

Snorkel kit underwater
Snorkel kit underwater

You can see that I was using two light in the picture from shadows.

Lets go into more weaker sides.
Mostly because of the sensor size the camera just can’t handle low light situation so when comparing this camera to my mobile phone(Nokia Lumia 1020), my mobile phone actually wins. So the use case would be only underwater and harsh conditions as mobile phone is always with me anyway and it’s lot smaller. Second thing is the lenses. There is currently only two lenses that are also waterproof and even our hobby club did bought the two lens system. We still haven’t received the second one. There are rumors that Nikon have some problems on delivering the 1 NIKKOR AW 10mm f/2.8 to the customers, but I never think so much about the rumors. I will test the lens when I will have it, but I know already the it will not be wide enough as 10mm angle of view is equivalent to 27mm in 35mm sensor. You need more wider. If there would come something like 7,5mm or more wider, it would be better. You still can’t get more wider pictures than you can get micro four thirds cameras and of course full frame cameras.

Conclusion:
Nikon 1 AW-1 is very nice camera, that you can take with you on your holiday and get some nice pictures, even pictures that would not have been possible in other cameras, but it’s still not quite there yet. Main problems are the sensor size and lens selection. Good underwater lights and strobes will help you a lot and next I will be writing about them.

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