Nikon is taking mirrorless cameras to new depths, 15m below the surface to be precise. Today, Nikon extended their 1 system with the world’s first waterproof interchangeable lens cameras which is the first shockproof one as well. The new Nikon 1 AW1 is also the second freezeproof mirrorless on the market. This new model launches Nikon into an entirely new market which is previously covered with its Nikonos waterproof film-SLR system.
The Nikon 1 AW1 is built around a 14 megapixels high-speed CMOS sensor with hybrid Phase-Detect and Contrast-Detect autofocus. It uses an all-electronic shutter capable of 1/16000s shutter-speeds and an ISO range of 160 to 6400. Being a mirrorless without a mechanical shutter, it has no moving parts, not even a dust-reduction system, which allows it to be shockproof to falls from a height of up to 2 meters.
As with weather-sealed cameras, the AW1 is waterproof only when using a compatible waterproof lens. Two such lenses were unveiled simultaneously: the AW 10mm F/2.8 and the AW 11-27.5mm F/3.5-5.6. Another moving part which is absent from the camera and these two new lenses is a stabilization mechanism, instead relying on the camera’s ISO range to reach an appropriate shutter-speed. While these new lenses are Nikon 1 mount lenses, they are not compatible with non water-proof models because of their seal which is designed to cover the lens mount from the outside. The AW1 though is compatible with all 1-mount lenses for use above water.
The 2.7X crop CMOS sensor used in the Nikon 1 AW1 is sensibly the same one used in the Nikon 1 J3 reviewed here. This should let it significantly exceed the performance of any other current waterproof digital camera. The AW1 is the first Nikon mirrorless of offer a GPS and WiFi as well. The GPS is complemented by an altimeter, manomter and compass.
The Nikon 1 AW1 is expected to ship next month of $799 UD or $849 CDN with the 11-27.5mm lens. A dual-lens kit with the 10mm F/2.8 lens will be available for $999 USD or $1049 CDN as well.