Waterproof compact camera – Nikon Coolpix AW 120 Review

You ask, we answer! It is a frequently asked question what type of camera do we use, so we decided to write the review of our waterproof compact. We are not professional photographers, do not have professional cameras, simple love capture underwater moments. We have normal, mid range cameras, products what are available and easy-to-use for everybody, for similar people who would like to take some holiday photos under the surface as well.

We hope our review will be useful and help you to make a good decision if you plan to buy a new waterproof compact camera to capture your snorkeling moments.

Advantages of a waterproof compact

The weight is important by traveling, that is the main reason why we think a compact camera could be a good partner if you are on holiday. Although the big, professional cameras make the perfect photos, the compacts developed a lot in the last years and there are very good models with great image quality at affordable prices. If you decide to buy a waterproof compact camera, you will have an all-in-one partner, it does not matter you will use it on the surface or underwater, your camera will be always ready to shot.

The waterproof compact cameras are also shock- freeze- and dustproof, are more durable than the normal compacts. They have many different programmed modes (sunrise, sunset, landscape, document, night, underwater etc…) which can help you to set up your camera to the actual conditions.

Nikon Coolpix AW 120

An important factor is by choosing a waterproof compact is that how deep can you go with it. If you also freedive (or wanna use your camera for diving as well) the basic and chepeast models are not enough for you because they are waterproof up to 3-5 m (10-30 ft) The better ones can be waterproof up to 30 m (100 ft).Our waterproof compact is the Nikon Coolpix AW120 model. This is a a mid range product, not the cheapest and not the most expensive one. When we bought it we wanted a reliable waterproof compact camera which is easy-to-use but has proper image quality. We think this camera is perfect if you are a hobby snorkeller and would like to capture your underwater adventures, or if you don’t want to take big camera with you when travelling abroad.Nikon AW 120 Waterproof compact

The Nikon Aw 120 is a rugged, all-weather compact outdoor camera, waterproof to 18 m (59ft), freezeproof, dustproof and shockproof up to 2 m (6,5 ft).

The AW120 is not the latest model in this series, a newer one, the AW 130 is also available on the market. There are not big differences between the two models, the main features, sensors and modes are the same. The two main changes that the AW130 is waterproof up to 30m (100 ft) and has timelapse function. So we can say, these two waterproof compacts are nearly the same, according to the test result as well. If you check our photos and vdeos taken with our AW120, you can expect similar image quality from the Coolpix AW130.

Main technical datas of the Nikow Coolpix AW 120 waterproof compact :

  • 16MP – 1/2.3″ CMOS Sensor
  • ISO 125 – 6400
  • 24–120 mm F2.8 – F4.9 Zoom Lens
  • Optical zoom 5x
  • Digital zoom 4x
  • Built-in Wireless
  • Built-in GPS
  • Optical Image Stabilization
  • Focus range:Wide: 19.69″ (50cm) – Telephoto: 19.69″ (50cm) – Macro: 0.39″ (1.0cm)
  • Exposure metering : Center-weighted, Matrix, Spot
  • Exposure modes : Auto, Programmed Auto
  • White balance modes : Auto, Cloudy, Daylight, Flash, Fluorescent, Incandescent, Preset manual
  • Self-timer: 2s, 10s
  • TTL Auto flash with monitor preflashes
  • 3″ Fixed Type Screen
  • 7 fps continuous shooting
  • 1920 x 1080 video resolution
  • 240 fps High-Speed Video
  • 1050 mAh rechargable Lithium-Ion battery
  • 213g. 110 x 66 x 26 mm

The shooting modes are the following : Auto, Back Light, Black and White Copy, Close up, Dusk/Dawn, Easy Auto, Fireworks, Landscape, Food, Museum, Night landscape, Night Portrait, Easy Panorama, Party/Indoor, Pet portrait, Portrait, Snow, Sports, Sunset, Underwater, Beach, Scene

(Yes, we mostly use the uderwater mode! We think it would be a big advantage for underwater addicts more programmed underwater shooting modes like UW Snap ,UW Macro or Wide)

The programmed modes help you to make good photos dependig on the actual weather and light conditions, but you may use the camera in “half auto” mode when you can set up the white balance, ISO, AF mode and AF area mode.

The built-in flash works good, we think underwater (where the lack of light is a common problem) the pictures taken with flash are birght and clear. You wil need to make always test shots which flash mode is the best, for example the normal flash is not good if the sea bottom is sandy and sand parts are floating everywhere, because the light will shine on every grains, it is like shooting with flash in snowfall :), the slow flash could be a better option in situation like this)

You must open the side door for charging or connecting the camera to your computer (but it is the same by . Before closing this door, make sure that the o-ring on this door is not damaged and clean!

Always clean this part with a cleaning brush, otherwise tiny parts like sand or salt may stay on the o-ring and the water can leak in and damage the camera.

Here you can check the video quality of the Nikon AW120 waterproof compact (all videos were taken in 1080/30p, are original, there is no filter on them).

In total we are satisfied with the Nikon Coolpix AW120, we haven’t regret to buy this waterproof camera. All the underwater photos and videos were taken while snorkeling (not diving). We wanted to share our personal experience with the Nikon AW120, so maybe this is not a full professional review, but we hope you enjoyed it and like our images.

Anett Szaszi

Anett fell in love with the ocean immediately when she put her head underwater in the Red Sea back in 2010. Discovering megacities is not her style but getting lost in tiny coastal villages, capturing the beauty of the sea while snorkeling. Wherever she goes, she takes her mask, fins and underwater camera with her. She has a big interest in exploring the world’s last hidden underwater paradises and marine conservation. She hopes to inspire people to protect our oceans by sharing her underwater stories. Find her photos on @anett.szaszi Instagram too!

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