Nikon AW1 Review – Waterproof Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera
| by JP Danko | blurMEDIA Photography | Toronto Commercial Underwater Photographer |
So this morning my natural light underwater photography tips article came out at DIYPhotography.net (click here to check it out), then this afternoon I see that Nikon has just released the Nikon AW1 Waterproof Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera.
Talk about timing huh!
I am totally stoked about this camera!
Waterproof Camera Housings vs. Waterproof Cameras
There is already a good selection of waterproof point and shoot underwater cameras on the market – but a point and shoot is not suitable for underwater commercial photography.
Until now, that leaves professional underwater photographers with a DSLR inside a waterproof camera housing.
The thing I hate about underwater camera housings is that it is damn near impossible to change camera settings once the camera is sealed inside.
A native waterproof camera like the Nikon AW1 Waterproof Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera does not have that problem – all the controls are right there and accessible.
Underwater camera housings are also very expensive.
At a price point under $1000 the Nikon AW1 already costs less than most underwater camera housings!
Another huge problem with a DSLR inside a waterproof camera housing is seeing through the viewfinder to frame shots.
As a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, the Nikon AW1 does not even have a viewfinder – and without an underwater housing in the way, it should be much easier to see the view screen to compose shots underwater.
Nikon AW1 Sensor Format
The Nikon AW1 underwater camera uses a Nikon CX format sensor.
On paper, this is a big disappointment as the CX sensor is only marginally larger than point and shoot sensors, which should mean higher noise, poorer low light capabilities and generally lower image quality than the approximately four times larger APS-C sized sensors used in other mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras, like the Sony NEX series or Fuji’s X series.
Underwater Lenses for the Nikon AW1
Nikon is releasing the AW1 Underwater Camera with two dedicated underwater lenses.
There is a 10mm f 2.8 underwater lens (27mm equivalent) or a 11-27.5mm f/3.5-5.6 underwater lens (30-74mm equivalent).
With the first lens, Nikon hit the nail on the head – by far my favorite lens for underwater photography is a Canon 28mm f2.8.
Dive Depth for the Nikon AW1
The Nikon AW1 is only rated to be waterproof down to a depth of 50 ft (15m), which is an obvious restriction to scuba divers.
But that depth is more than adequate for underwater lifestyle photography.
In fact, as an underwater commercial photographer, I rarely go down more than 10 ft, maybe 30 ft maximum – and there are many reasons why I usually try to stick as close to the surface as possible (read my article “Natural Light Underwater Photography Tips” at DIYphotography.net for more details).
More Information on the Nikon AW1 Waterproof Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera
Check out the official Nikon announcement here.
Read the Nikon AW1 First Impressions Review from DPReview here.
Would You Buy This Camera?
Would you buy this camera to use underwater? What do you think of the real world performance of the Nikon CX format sensor? Is a maximum dive depth of 50 ft a restriction to you?
Leave a comment below!