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Nikon Coolpix AW120 Digital Camera Review
nikon20140708a.jpgDigital Camera Review by: Ashley Akers
As a young child the bedroom was the perfect place for activities. Wether it be colouring, puzzles, lego or crafts, one thing remains constant: space. You need space for activities. No space means a struggle to compete with the task at hand. It’s no different in the adult world, when your activities upgrade to that of rock climbing, surfing and mountain biking the fact still remains the same: You  need space. No longer confined to that of your bedroom, the world is not the issue, but your pockets may be. The Nikon Coolpix AW120 will fit into any pocket while you’re out and about without you even knowing it’s there.

Appearance and Functionality

The Nikon Coolpix AW120 is designed to be compact and easily portable. You can and will take this camera everywhere. The lens is internal, at the top corner, meaning it doesn’t protrude from the body. This allows the camera to be slipped into a pocket, much like a mobile phone but with the features and specifications of a digital camera.

The body is compact and minimal and feels as though it’s constructed to a high quality. When you begin to pick up and use this camera you’ll learn that this is true. It just works. It’s easy to pick up and use for any amateur or intermediate photographer. This Nikon will do it’s job with no hassles.  It includes a bunch of interesting effects such as selective colour and different filters.

nikon20140708b.jpgSports, leisure and holidays are definitely where the Coolpix AW120 excels. If you drop this camera while you’re out and about, never fear because it’s featured with a shock proof body up to a height of 2 meters. However, that’s not all, chuck this beauty underwater and you’ve got amazing underwater pictures up to a depth of 18 meters! These are the sort of features that make photography fun. They make photography able to happen anywhere and anytime.

Menus on the AW120 are slightly confusing to navigate and are ever so slightly lacking in customisable and manual settings. For most users this is certainly not an issue as the AW120 works so well. It’s ease of use far outsteps any other issues. You’ll be able to achieve high quality, accurate images without needing to touch a dial.

Image Quality / Lens Quality

All zooming on the AW120 takes place within the body of the camera. The zoom is quite good for a camera of this size and a lens that isn’t so large. It’ll push out to 120mm (Equivalent of a 35mm sensor) all the way from a wide angle of 24mm (35mm equivalent). This’ll allow you to capture a range of scenes: anything from family or functions and gatherings to extreme sports and recreation. At a high zoom the images retain their sharpness and you won’t loose any quality.

nikon20140708d.jpgFor the size of this lens the images turn out quite brilliantly. Potential retouching is best done on an EIZO monitor as it delivers a quality image. Your images will be sharp and you’ll find nice, natural skin tones. Primary colours are displayed vividly and saturated. Quality in such a compact camera appears to not be an issue.

The lens’ aperture is f/2.8 - 4.9 depending on the zoom on the Nikon Coolpix AW120. It won’t show you the shallowest depth of field but does it’s job well. Your images will deliver what you demand.

SanDisk SD cards were used to capture test image for low light environments due to their speed and reliability. You’ll only see minimal grain from ISO 800 up to ISO3200 which means your images will retain a lot of their sharpness and quality. ISO6400 makes the grain a lot more evident but still produces a usable image.
View street test images via our Facebook page

LCD / Viewfinder

Like getting a shiny new LCD TV, the LCD on the Coolpix AW120 will give you the same feeling inside. It’s large at 7.5cm and displays images accurately on the 921k-dot display. You can sit comfortably knowing that your images will ‘develop’ the same as displayed right there in front of you.

There’s no viewfinder on this camera but this is not needed. The AW120 feels more fast and easy to use without it. It’s not the type of guy to be hassled with putting your eye up to a tiny hole anyways and you won’t feel like you’ll need to at all on this camera.


Included in every digital camera nowadays is the video feature and it’s certainly not missed here. This is one situation, however, where you’ll feel like it fits perfectly. A compact camera you can take here, there and everywhere is exactly where you want your videos captured.

You’ll find the autofocus works well while in video mode however may not focus so close at 50cm. Full HD, 1080p video taken on this camera however won’t disappoint you. It remains crispy and clear just as any photograph would. It’s the perfect way to capture anything from action sports to family outings.

Audio is often where a video feature may show it’s ugly head on a stills camera. Due to the lack of a larger, higher quality external microphone, quality of this audio is usually tinny and dull. However on the AW120 the microphone does a good job. Audio has enough at the bass end retained and the quality is high. This proves to you yet again that this camera will do everything it sets out do to.



All in all the Nikon Coolpix AW120 is a well fitting addition to your pocket. When digital cameras turn big, turn to the AW120. It’s compact design while retaining a high quality of image is the reason it excels. It’ll keep you going for years with it’s features, effects and resistance to life. After all life is what you’ll be shooting with the Coolpix AW120. Life is what needs to be captured.


Camera House Click Through
SanDisk Click Through
EIZO Click Through


Appearance rating 4 stars
Functionality rating 3 stars
Image quality
3 stars
Video quality
3 stars
Lens quality
3 stars
LCD screen 3 stars
Value for money 4 stars
Street Price - Body
$399 (AUD)
Effective Pixels 16.0 megapixels
Sensor Type
1/2.3-in. type CMOS; approx. 16.79 million total pixels
Image Sizes 5 Sizes / 3 Aspect
Lens Internal NIKKOR lens with 5x optical zoom
Lens Mount
Resolution Settings - Stills 16M (High) [4608 x 3456(fine)] 16M [4608 x 3456] 8M [3264 x 2448] 4M [2272 x 1704] 2M [1600 x 1200] VGA [640 x 480] 16:9 12M [4608 x 2592] 1:1 [3456 x 3456]
Resolution Settings - Video 1080/30p (default setting): 1920 x 1080 (High)/16:9, 1080/25p (default setting): 1920 x 1080 (High)/16:9, 1080/60i: 1920 x 1080/16:9, 1080/50i: 1920 x 1080/16:9, 720/30p: 1280 x 720/16:9, 720/25p: 1280 x 720/16:9, iFrame 720/30p: 1280 x 720/16:9, iFrame 720/25p: 1280 x 720/16:9, 480/30p: 640 x 480/4:3, 480/25p: 640 x 480/4:3, HS 240/8x: 320 x 240/4:3, HS 480/4x: 640 x 480/4:3, HS 720/2x: 1280 x 720/16:9, HS 1080/0.5x: 1920 x 1080/16:9
Face Detection Face-priority AF
Manual Focus No
Auto Focus Yes
Aperture Priority Electronically-controlled preset aperture (-1 AV) and ND filter (-2 AV) selections
Shutter Speeds Mechanical and CMOS electronic shutter, 1/1500-1 s 1/4000 s (maximum speed during high-speed continuous shooting) 4 s (Fireworks show scene mode)
Shutter Priority No
ISO 125-1600 ISO 3200, 6400 (available when using Auto mode)
Monitor 7.5 cm (3-in.), approx. 921k-dot, OLED monitor with anti-reflection coating and 5-level brightness adjustment
Viewfinder No
Flash TTL auto flash with monitor preflashes
Hot Shoe No
White Balance
Auto, Cloudy, Daylight, Flash, Fluorescent, Incandescent, White Balance Preset
Self Timer 10s and 2s
Stills Format/s
Video Format/s MOV (video: H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, Audio: LPCM stereo)
Video Recording Time/s n/a
Storage Type - External SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card
Storage Type - Internal
Internal memory (approx. 329 MB)
Connectivity Hi-Speed USB equivalent, MTP, PTP, HDMI from Auto, 480p, 720p, and 1080i Micro-USB connector HDMI micro connector (Type D) (HDMI output), IEEE 802.11b/g/n (standard wireless LAN protocol) ARIB STD-T66 (standard for low power data communications systems)
Power Source AC Adapter EH-62F
Battery Options Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL12
Battery Life 350 shots when using EN-EL12
Dimensions 110.1 mm (W) x 66.0mm (H) x 25.8mm (D)
Weight 213 g (7.5 oz) (including battery and SD memory card)






About Nikon


The history of Nikon dates back to 1917 when three of Japan's leading optical manufacturers merged to form a fully integrated optical company. By the end of the century Nikon would have accumulated an immense poll of know-how and experience to become a world leader in not only optics and imaging but also industrial equipment and health and medicine sector.

Today Nikon designs, develops, manufactures and markets a gamut of optical, photographic and optoelectronic products globally. You will find them at work in virtually every corner of the earth. If it has something to do with light, Nikon has something to do with it.

The driving force behind Nikon is technology. Not only in manufacturing and assembling the finest lenses or most comprehensive photography system in the world, but also in making the glass itself. That is why Nikon products have gained worldwide customer satisfaction, and even professional recognition worldwide.

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