It wasn’t that long ago that handheld “point and shoot” digital cameras such as the Nikon Coolpix AW130 looked to be the future of amateur photography. These film-less cameras gave users the instant gratification of knowing immediately that they got the best possible photo. Then along came cell phones with their ever-improving cameras, and models such as the Nikon Coolpix AW130 fell off the radar. Today, though, there is widespread recognition that digital cameras still offer advantages in shooting in low-light, with advanced zoom, in recording action and nailing portraits.

The Nikon Coolpix AW130 could be just the choice for you. We dug into the camera’s profile, looking at its strengths and weaknesses and considering feedback from people who have used the camera. Here’s what we found out:

The Nikon Coolpix AW130: A Review

The first thing you might notice when shopping for the Nikon Coolpix AW130 is its availability in a couple of stylish colors, including bright yellow and light blue. But in addition to that, this camera is lightweight and portable and offers plenty of substance for your snap-shooting habits. Let’s go through the major features

Nikon Coolpix AW130 Shock & Waterproof GPS Digital Camera (Orange) -...

Camera resolution

The Nikon Coolpix AW130 captures images at a maximum measurement of 16 million picture elements, also known as 16 megapixels. (A picture element is the smallest part of a digital photo -- in essence, the tiny dots that make up the image.)  At 16 megapixels, users of the Nikon Coolpix AW130 can capture images that can translate into photographic prints as large as 20-by-30 inches and above, according to ImprovePhotography.com.

Like many digital cameras, though, you do have choices when it comes to image resolution. You can adjust your resolution settings in the camera’s menu. As a rule of thumb, the lower the image size, the more images you can record on your memory card. You’re not stuck with the largest image size, however. The Nikon Coolpix AW130 will let you dial it down to resolutions as low as VGA - nice enough to look sharp on a computer screen.

Battery performance

A universal pain point across consumer electronics is how much use you can get out of your device before the battery dies. The answer is, of course: It depends. In general, Nikon says you can take roughly 370 pictures using its rechargeable Lithium-ion EN-EL12 battery. That figure will go up or down, Nikon says, based on variables such as how long you wait between pictures and how long you display camera menus or review photos.

Zoom lens

The ability to get close to the subject of your photo is key to a good experience with a camera. The Nikon AW130 offers a tradition 5X optical zoom through its NIKKOR glass lens. If that’s still not quite enough, then the camera also offers a 5x digital zoom that Nikon calls the Dynamic Fine Zoom. The digital zoom takes your camera twice as far.

Display

The Nikon AW130 offers a 3-inch wide-angle OLED display screen. The advantages of OLED speak for themselves. Not only do these organic light-emitting diode screens consume less power, but they’ll also let you view images at a wider angle and see brighter, more realistic colors.

Special features

Engineers can’t resist the opportunity to include certain “gee-whiz” features in their devices. In this case, the Nikon AW130 comes with embedded GPS and GLONASS position locating technology. That means you no longer have to test your memory to figure out where you were when you took a picture. That information embeds in the image files that you upload to your computer. You can then overlay that information on a map to see exactly where you were when you took that delightful picture of the kids.

Though digital cameras are often viewed as conduits to still images, they also generally also come with video capabilities, and the AW130 is no different. This camera offers high-definition video in 1080p with stereo sound. As with still images, users can move the image resolution up and down depending on their particular use case. This camera is also waterproof, allowing you to take it with you when swimming or SCUBA diving.

Customer Reviews: What Do Users Say

nikon coolpix aw130 camera lens

Photographers who have used the Nikon AW130 give high ratings. The camera averaged 4 stars out of 5 from about 375 reviews at Amazon.com. One very experienced photographer went through a process of winnowing down the available cameras for choosing the Nikon model. This reviewer praised the tough waterproof design, its large screen, high resolution, and other advanced features. Not everyone was as happy with their purchases. A second, advanced photographer found the camera to have poor battery life and very touchy controls.

How much does it cost

Depending on the condition of the camera and the site you use to shop, you can purchase the Nikon AW130 for anywhere between $190 and $400.

Alternatives to the Nikon Coolpix AW130

Woman in the seashore uses nikon coolpix aw130 camera to capture sunset

Because the photography market has been in flux, consumers have plenty of choices when it comes to their digital cameras. So we took a look at a few comparable models that could give the Nikon Coolpix AW-130 a run for its money.

How we reviewed the alternatives

To pick out our competitors, we reviewed some articles that ranked the best point and shoot cameras. The most important variable: Finding cameras from about the same year as the Nikon Coolpix AW130, which was 2015. Technology cycles move so quickly today that it would not make sense to put this camera up against newer models. To size up the field, we reviewed articles from that time frame from Digital Photography Review, Imaging-Resource.com, and Digital Camera HQ. These are the models that kept popping up: the Olympus TG-4, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS50, and the Sony RX100 IV.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 IV 20.1 MP Digital Still Camera with Vct...
  • World's first1 201 MP 1" Exmor RS stacked back illuminated CMOS, High resolution 4K movie recording with direct pixel...
  • Operating temperature:Approx. 0-40°C (32-104°F).Super-speed Anti-Distortion Shutter at max 1/32000 sec up to 16fps,...
  • Retractable XGA OLED Tru-Finer viewfinder and Sharp 3" multi-angle LCD, Simple connectivity to smartphones via Wi-Fi and...

At the higher end of the range is the Sony RX100 IV, a feature-rich camera that will give you all the resolution you’ll ever need as snapshooter. The camera captures images at a maximum of 20 megapixels, about 25 percent higher than the Coolpix AW130. (Though pixels aren’t the only determining factor of the quality of pictures.)


Sony estimates that the camera’s battery, which is a rechargeable battery pack, will last for about 280 still images. The RX100 IV offers an optical zoom range of 3x, coupled with a 4x digital zoom (more when you’re in movie-mode.) Like the Nikon Coolpix AW130, the Sony model comes with a wide-angle OLED screen for easy screening of your images. Special features include the ability to upload images directly to a computer via onboard WiFi technology.


You can land the RX100 IV for anywhere between $369.99 (used) and $798 brand new.


Experts and amateur photographers appreciate the RX100 IV for its responsiveness in online reviews. The camera scores 4.1 stars out of 5 on Amazon.com. One enthusiastic reviewer raves about the camera's ability to capture photos in low light conditions and loved the 4K video mode. Another reviewer cautioned that potential buyers should keep in mind their intended use of the camera. The reviewer bought the Sony RX100 IV as a travel camera but realized it was not suited for that purpose.

Woman sitting on a bench while holding her nikon coolpix aw130 camera

If you’re more in the middle of the market for digital cameras, you might take a look at the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS50 as an alternative the Nikon Coolpix AW130. This camera offers a resolution of 12 megapixels, a bit less than its Nikon competitor. That’s still plenty of resolution to end up with good-looking 8x10 photos.


Battery life on the Panasonic camera is estimated at 300 pictures. Like Nikon, the camera uses a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery that comes in the box. Your experience may vary, depending on how much you capture video.


Panasonic opted for a more traditional liquid crystal display but with a large size of about 3 inches. The developers chose to leave out cool features such as embedded GPS. If you’re looking just to take some snazzy photos, this might be the camera for you.


Prices range from about $220 for a used model up to about $400 for new, depending on where you prefer to shop.


Amazon.com reviewers give the camera a rating of 4.4 stars out of 5. One user noted that the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS50 gives professional level features but in a small, lightweight, portable point-and-shoot. The majority of people who have used this camera are giving it rankings of four or five stars. Another purchaser was not happy with the camera's durability.

Woman in orange shirt uses a nikon coolpix aw130 camera

Olympus TG-5

Olympus TG-5 Waterproof Camera with 3-Inch LCD, Red and Camera Strap...
  • New 12MP Hi-Speed Image Sensor for improved low light performance and noise reduction
  • Underwater: compensation: -2 EV to +2 EV (in 1/3 EV steps). Bright F2.0 high-speed Lens. Video Recording format :...
  • Quick Release

Common across the lists we reviewed was the Olympus TG-4, which puts a premium on ruggedness. In fact, the company highlights a specification that you don’t normally see front and center: The camera, Olympus says, is “crushproof to 220 pounds of force.” (Hence the TG-4 designation, which translates to “tough.”) Throw in the fact that you can submerge the camera to 50 feet, and you truly have a device you can take with you anywhere.


The TG-4 is right in line with the Nikon Coolpix AW130 regarding megapixels, with 16. As a reminder, this means that you’ll be able to print pictures at 20-by-30 inches or even higher.


Battery life is a robust 380 shots using the included rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery. Users will be able to capitalize on an optical zoom of 4x. Need to go further? Then you can use the 4x digital zoom.


The display screen is a 3-inch diagonal liquid crystal display. Regarding special features, you’ll benefit from a sizeable onboard memory of 55 megabytes, an e-compass, an embedded GPS and built-in WiFi capabilities.


The TG-4 is available at various online sites for anywhere between $270 and $440.


The camera lands 4.1 stars out of 5 in reviews on Amazon.com. One reviewer loved the camera for how it performed underwater and in other outdoor shooting opportunities. The reviewer also loved the camera's microscope mode. On the flip side, a less-enthusiastic user felt unhappy with the TG-4 because it tended to fail mechanically underwater. The reviewer noted an experience where the battery compartment opened.

WHERE TO BUY

Woman in camouflage tshirt uses a nikon coolpix aw130 camera

Digital cameras have a robust trade online. You can pick up any of these cameras at the usual sites, such as Amazon.com and eBay or specialty photo sites or electronics stores such as B&H Photo and Video.

OUR VERDICT

Woman with curly hair and headband uses a nikon coolpix aw130 camera

We give the Nikon Coolpix AW130 a solid four stars. While it may not have the highest resolution of point-and-shoot cameras from this era, it has enough bells-and-whistles to warrant giving it a look. Don't forget that the Nikon Coolpix line is one of the most successful in the era of digital consumer photography. You probably shouldn’t use the AW130 like it’s the TG-4. But that’s OK since few of us are in temperatures below zero.

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