Nikon 1 AW1 review

January 14, 2014

Overall Rating:


Nikon 1 AW1

  • Autofocus:
  • Noise/resolution:
  • Metering:
  • Features:
  • AWB Colour:
  • LCD viewfinder:
  • Dynamic Range:
  • Build/Handling:



Price as Reviewed:


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...

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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.

  • External mic: No
  • Video: 1080 60i/30p HD MOV H.264
  • White Balance: Auto, 7 presets (with fine-tuning), manual
  • Built-in Flash: Yes (GN 5m @ ISO 100, GN 6.3m @ ISO 160)
  • Shutter Type: Electronic shutter
  • Memory Card: SD, SDHC, SDXC
  • Viewfinder Type: N/A
  • Output Size: 4608 x 3072 pixels
  • LCD: 3in, 921,000-dot LCD
  • White Balance Bracket: No
  • AF Points: 135 areas, 73 areas with phase support
  • Sensor: 14.2-million-effective-pixel, CX-format (13.2 x 8.8mm) CMOS sensor
  • Max Flash Sync: 1/60sec
  • Exposure Modes: PASM, automatic scene selection, auto, scene modes, smart photo selector, motion snapshot, movie
  • Weight: 356g (with battery and card)
  • Power: Rechargeable Li-Ion EN-EL20
  • File Format: JPEG, 12-bit NEF (raw)
  • Shutter Speeds: 30-1/16,000sec + bulb up to 2mins
  • Drive Mode: Single, 5fps and 15fps with continuous AF, 30fps, 60fps, self-timer 2secs, 5secs or 10secs
  • Colour Space: Adobe RGB, sRGB
  • Dimensions: 113.3 x 71.5 x 37.5mm
  • Metering System: TTL: matrix, centreweighted, spot
  • Connectivity / Interface: USB, HDMI (type C)
  • Compression: 3-stage JPEG
  • RRP: £749.99 with 11-27.5mm kit lens
  • Exposure Comp: ±3EV
  • Lens Mount: Nikon 1
  • Focusing Modes: Single, auto, subject tracking, manual
  • ISO: 160-6400
  • DoF Preview: No
  • Tested as: Waterproof CSC

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