Nikon is taking it to the next level with the Nikon 1 AW1, an underwater digital camera that will be especially attractive to divers and lovers of the outdoor. On September 2011 Nikon entered the mirrorless interchangeable lens camera race, announcing the Nikon 1 series. With its J1 and V1 cameras Nikon made inroads into this relatively new market of compact cameras with interchangeable lenses. Now, with the 1 AW1, Nikon promises to jump way ahead of other competitors.
The Nikon 1 AW1 camera will be available with two dedicated lenses, the 1 NIKKOR AW 10mm f/2.8 (comparable to a 27mm lens on a 35mm system) and the 1 NIKKOR AW 11-27.5mm f/3.5 -5.6 (comparable to a 30-75mm lens on a 35mm system), all of which will be waterproof to a depth of 49 feet, rugged enough to withstand a drop from a height of 6 feet and will continue to function at temperatures as low as 14º F. With rubber seals between the front and rear body covers, an O-ring on the lens mount, and stainless steel on the front surface of the camera to increase strength and prevent rust, it sure looks like the Nikon 1 AW1 will be ready for anything.
This camera will also be able to use all other 1 NIKKOR lenses currently available, but not underwater obviously, and F-mount NIKKOR lenses with the FT1 mount adapter.
Sensor and focusing
The Nikon 1 AW1 is built around the same 1-inch 14.2 megapixel CX-format CMOS image sensor found on the original J1 and V1 cameras. In size this sensor falls somewhere between the tiny ones used on typical point and shoot cameras and the larger ones commonly found on four thirds cameras manufactured by other companies, such as the Olympus PEN and Panasonic Lumix cameras. Still, Nikon's sensor was designed to compare favorably with larger sensors, and in that respect it delivers. An ISO range of 160-6400 is somewhat low for today's standards, but with the built-in flash shooting in low light shouldn't be a problem.
This camera also currently has the fastest high-speed continuous shooting rate of approximately 15 fps with AF tracking, and an astounding 60 fps when focus is locked.
The Nikon 1 series cameras are known for having an excellent focusing system, and the 1 AW1 will be no exception. With 73-point phase-detection AF and 135-point contrast-detect AF this camera should have no problems focusing in any kind of environment.
For outdoorsmen and divers
For outdoor enthusiasts the camera will offer a built-in electronic compass, altimeter, depth gauge, virtual horizon display and location data functions that can be used to create logs tracking depth or position. A Control Lock function prevents accidental button operation when gloves are worn. An Outdoor Display option ramps up the screen contrast and sets brightness to high which preserves monitor visibility under glaring outdoor conditions.
The camera has the same White Balance settings commonly found in any digital camera, but also has an Underwater mode which automatically corrects the blue or green cast that frequently occurs with underwater shooting.
For those wanting to shoot their own Cousteau-style underwater documentaries the camera offers full HD 1080p video.
At $799 the Nikon 1 AW1 is an underwater digital camera that offers a lot of bang for the buck. It's set to be released on October 10, 2013 but is currently on pre-order at Amazon.