Nikon Coolpix AW100 rugged camera breaks cover

Nikon is to launch a new rugged camera to take on the Olympus Tough compact camera models and Panasonic FT3 on Wednesday 24 August - all according to a leaked press release. 

The news, which hasn’t yet been made official by Nikon, has slipped out after the company inadvertently put the press release announcing the new model - the Nikon Coolpix AW100 - on its website.

The release, which has since been pulled, details the new camera as sporting a “rugged body, a CMOS Sensor for Superior Image Quality and GPS Capability.”

“The waterproof, freeze proof and shockproof Coolpix AW100 is forged with features for adventure seekers who need amazing image quality and Full High Definition (HD) movie recording to keep pace with their active lifestyle,” states the press release.

It’s the first venture into the rugged arena for Nikon, but that doesn’t mean the company will have ditched any focus on picture quality. 

“With detailed engineering and advanced technology, the Coolpix AW100 is the rugged compact camera for the adventure enthusiast who never slows down and needs a camera that delivers amazing images and stunning Full HD movies without a second thought,” Lisa Osorio, general manager of Marketing at Nikon Inc is quoted in the release (LinkedIn has her as general manager for Latin America however). “The AW100 is as tough as the user that needs it, and it offers a sturdy exterior and advanced technology that enables users to capture life’s triumphant moments.”

The AW100 can be used underwater to a depth of 10m (33 feet), is shock resistant from a drop of 1.5m (5 feet) and weather resistant down to a frigid -10°C (14°F). The battery-chamber, SD card slot, mini HDMI connector and USB/audio video connector are securely covered to prevent intrusion from the elements. 

The AW100 features a 16-megapixel backside illuminated (BSI) CMOS sensor with Nikon’s Expeed C2TM image processing engine. 

The camera uses a high sensitivity mode to capture the action in low-light and also features a maximum ISO of 3200. A 5x Wide Angle Zoom-Nikkor ED glass lens (35mm equivalent of 28-140mm) is supported by Nikon’s Vibration Reduction (VR) tech and there is a 3-inch, LCD screen with Clear Color Display and anti-reflective coating so you can see what you are doing. 

The AW100 comes with GPS functionality for geotagging shots and also includes an e-compass, allowing the user to orientate via the LCD screen.

The Coolpix AW100 also features a new Action Control operation, which allows photographers to assign a function to a swinging motion to swiftly select specific settings such as scene mode by simply shaking the camera, avoiding the need to remove gloves in situations like skiing, diving or hiking. 

Additionally, the Coolpix AW100 includes Easy Auto Mode, In-Camera Red-Eye Fix, Face-Priority AF, Face Priority AE, Smile Mode, Blink Warning, Skin Softening and Pet Portrait mode. The Coolpix AW100 comes with the UE-E23, an attachable 40.5mm thread filter mount adapter.

If that's not enough to get you excited it comes with Full HD recording and a dedicated movie-record button, enabling one-touch recording on the fly. You will be able to shoot slow-motion movies at 60, 120 and 240 frames-per-second (fps) or capture fast motion movies at 15fps.

Update: Now officially, er, official, along with a whole host of other new Nikon snappers, the Nikon Coolpix AW100 will hit the UK on 8 September, with the price set at £329.99.

7 days living with.....a budget tough compact camera