Well I finally bought one of the new Nikon waterproof cameras, the AW1. It's a marked improvement over it's competitors.
Pros-It can shoot at faster fps than anything out there, the most useful speed being 5 fps for 20+ shots before the buffer fills. It can also shoot 60 fps but only for 20 shots so effectively for 1/3 second.
It's resolution and sharpness is better than my FT3. The FT3 is pretty remarkable in its own right but the Nikon clearly outdoes it. Colour jpegs are very good straight out of the camera but it also does RAW which is a major feature, so much more controllable.
Some people don't like the menu system but I find it very useable.
Well built and solid feeling. The hatch locking system is very positive.
Low ISO images are fairly noisy (luminance) but it translates more like grain than noise so it is still acceptable. The beauty is that as ISO goes up, noise is very well controlled, making 800 ISO a useful speed. There is a setting that allows an auto range from 160 to 800 ISO at the camera's option which would probably be ideal
on the water.
Size. It is a lump compared to your average waterproof compact but there has to be a tradeoff. It goes into my Rockpool GT front mini hatch without problem so I am happy but if you don't have a mini hatch it could be a pain.
Zoom range. Only zooms from an equivalent of 30mm to 75mm, a fairly narrow range but there is apparently a 10-100mm AW lens in the pipeline. That equates to 27mm-270mm.
No image stabilisation. Makes video more difficult.
So, a bit of a mixed bag, but if you are after the best quality still images possible on the water, as I am, then it is worth it. If you just want memories, the Panasonic FT series is probably still the best out there at a good price.
With a bit of luck,the other manufacturers will jump on the bandwagon and start to produce some terrific medium sized sensor waterproof cameras to compete with the Nikon. It can only get better
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