This is the first time I’ve done a review of a product on my website so here goes. The reason I’m doing this is that most of these underwater camera reviews have a few pictures and most of them are actually above water pictures or they will stick the camera in a glass of water and show you. I wanted to write this from the aspect of actually using it on a real vacation.
Before I actually start the review I want to give a little bit of a back story. Last year my wife and I took a vacation to Maui without our kids. Before we went, I borrowed a Canon underwater camera from one of my coworkers. It was great having a camera that I could use anywhere, especially underwater. It was my first time snorkeling and it was amazing. Being able to take some photos and video of what I was seeing was a unique thing to be able to do. There was however one thing I didn’t realize about this type of camera, even a tiny piece of sand that gets in any of the openings, in this case the battery door, has the potential of causing a leak and ruining the camera. This is exactly what happened to me. I opened the camera up on the beach one day and the next day when I jumped in the water the screen shorted out and the camera was dead.
Fast forward a year. We decided to go back to Maui but this time with our kids. I knew I wanted an underwater camera again but didn’t want to borrow one from someone so we decided to purchase our own. After doing a lot of research I decided to buy the Olympus Stylus TG-2 iHS. I chose this camera because as a professional photographer it had some cool features, like the option to add a wide angle lens and a telephoto lens. I got it and started using it and I thought the picture quality of it was terrible so I returned it. The picture quality was like a point and shoot from 10 years ago.
I started looking for another camera and settled on the Nikon COOLPIX AW110. As a professional photographer I’m used to image quality where you can see every detail in the picture. This camera was much better than the Olympus one but still not what I’m used to. This isn’t to say that I wouldn’t recommend this camera to someone, I absolutely would. It has a lot of great features like GPS (so you can easily see exactly where you took your pictures), HD video recording, panoramic (which is a real nice feature while in a place like Maui). One of the coolest features it has is built in WIFI. Initially I thought I would be able to connect the camera to WIFI and put my Facebook username and password in the camera and be able to upload my pictures but that’s not what it is at all. It turns out that when you turn WIFI on it actually turns your camera into a hotspot. Then on my iPhone or iPad it would show up as a WIFI connection and I would connect to it. After I was connected I would open up the free Nikon app and I could see and download all the pictures on my cameras card or you can actually use it to take pictures. When you are in picture mode you can see what your camera sees and click the camera to take a photo. It’s really nice because you can easily get the pictures off the camera without a computer and upload them to Facebook. A couple of notes, which are not unique to this camera, whenever you have GPS on it will chew through your batteries very quickly. Because of this I would recommend doing what I did and buy a few extra batteries that are charged and ready to go. I bought this Wasabi Power Battery (2-pack) and Charger and they worked well. I didn’t notice a difference in how long the charge lasted as compared to the Nikon version but they are much cheaper and comes with a different type charger. The charger that comes with the camera is strange to me. I actually has about a 6 foot cord that you plug into the actual charger. I prefer the ones that are smaller and the whole thing plugs into the wall. The other thing that is a must on this type of camera is a strap that floats. The strap that comes with this camera is a standard point-and-shoot strap. If you took the camera in the water and accidentally let go of the strap it would sink and if you are in the deep ocean you may never see it again. I bought this Chums Camera Float and tested it a few times and it keeps this camera floating at the top of the water. Now down to the important thing. Below are some sample pictures that I took on our trip.
Overall, the camera was great. There are a couple of other similar cameras out there that I wish i was able to compare this too but as far as features, this was the best I could find. One of the things I didn’t mention is this camera can go deeper than any of the other cameras I could find, 59FT! So if you are a scuba diver this should work for you too. The standard right now seems to be 33ft for most camera’s in this class with a few allowing you to go a little deeper.