Nikon has expanded its 1-series line-up with the AW1, a fully waterproof, interchangeable-lens camera. Michael Topham finds out just how tough it is. Read the Nikon 1 AW1 review...

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Nikon 1 AW1

AWB Colour:
LCD viewfinder:
Dynamic Range:


Nikon 1 AW1 review


Price as reviewed:


Nikon 1 AW1 review – Metering and dynamic range


The AW1 produces bright images straight out of the camera, which do not suffer from underexposure. If anything, the camera overexposes just a little and, on occasions when I was shooting towards the light or when scenes had some particularly bright highlights, I dialled in -0.3EV or -0.7EV to guarantee highlight detail wasn’t lost. To help preserve extra detail in the shadows of high-contrast scenes, Active D-Lighting can be switched on from inside the shooting menu.

With the effect of Active D-Lighting being less dramatic than other manufacturers’ dynamic range optimisers, it is safe to leave it turned on if you’d like a subtle improvement to detail recorded in the shadows.

Image: Shooting towards the light can cause shadows to appear unnaturally dark, but the AW1’s Active D-Lighting mode has helped preserve detail in the foreground area of this image and delivered a broader tonal range

Dynamic range

As to be expected, the dynamic-range performance of the AW1 is similar to that of the J3, and there were times in bright lighting conditions when I inspected the histogram on the rear display only to find that highlight clipping was occurring. While Active D-Lighting increases the tonal detail in the shadows, I found it less effective at preserving detail in the brightest highlights. To save the highlights blowing out in high-contrast scenes, the backlighting creative mode was frequently put to use and the best results were created when it was combined with the HDR mode.

  1. 1. Nikon 1 AW1 at a glance:
  2. 2. Nikon 1 AW1 review - Build and handling
  3. 3. Nikon 1 AW1 review - Metering and dynamic range
  4. 4. Nikon 1 AW1 review - Autofocus
  5. 5. Nikon 1 AW1 review - Resolution, noise and sensitivity
  6. 6. Nikon 1 AW1 review - White balance and colour
  7. 7. Nikon 1 AW1 review - Viewfinder, live view, LCD and video
  8. 8. Nikon 1 AW1 review - Our verdict
  9. 9. Hands-on review
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