If you like to follow the blogs like Nikon Rumors for possible info on the new tech/models Nikon might/will be releasing, you might have noticed one that they posted a couple weeks ago about a “Serious underwater compact camera”. Not much else as far as info, but enough to catch my eye. Underwater photography isn’t my forte, but I have been on the lookout for something that I could take snorkling/diving when summer comes around. Although with the weather in Cape Town, ‘summer’ seems like a distant cousin right now. Be that as it may, taking some great underwater photos on my next trip below the waves is high on my agenda.
Enter Nikon’s new 1-series AW1. This is being hailed as the first digital waterproof/shockproof ILC (interchangeable lens camera) on the market. An O-ring that has a normal bayonet lens fitting (like our SLR’s) is what seals the lens & body when you decide to take it under the waves. It is rated to 49 feet, which in el-normal language to us South African’s is 15m. A depth way below what your average snorkel might take you (unless you’re a buddying freestyle diver in the making). Regular SCUBA dives might border on 15m depending on location & visibility, but overall, a decent enough depth to take photos at.
The kit comes with a 11-27.5mm f3.5-5.6 lens which offers a nice range for underwater & general wide angle shooting. Don’t discard the use for landscapes just because it can go swimming with the AW1. It is also dust-proof, shock-proof, kid-proof, grandma-proof. The 2nd lens release (in the same durable style of the AW1 & 11-27mm) is a 10mm f2.8 lens, for those who like it super wide & want the added wide aperture benefits in low light. If you are an existing 1-series Nikon owner however, never fear, your regular 1-series lenses will still fit on the AW1 thanks to a little adapter. However going swimming with regular 1-series lenses is not recommended… of course.
Under the hood, the AW1 is almost the same as the J3. The CX-format sensor pushes out 14.2 megapixels, which you can crank up to ISO6400, throw in 1080p full-HD video with pop-up flash unit (that can be used underwater too) and you have the main specs. The AW1 however comes with loads of extra McGyver style toys like altimeter, GPS, compass, depth gauge and an accelerometer-powered option for switching camera modes one-handed, should your other hand be, err, occupied.
The USA retail price is set at roughly $800 (AW1 + 11-27mm lens) and the 10mm f2.8 at an extra $200. Local pricing is still unknown, but I’m sure we’ll all know soon enough after the first shipments take place next month. Follow Nikon South Africa on twitter, facebook & also watch the Orms website as they generally one of the first stores to get stock. Hopefully I’ll get my hands on one to review more in-depth when they land in SA. Follow me on twitter to stay tuned.