Record Screens & Menus

For the most part, the AW110 keeps things simple. Its iAuto (or, intelligent auto) mode is named Easy Auto mode, and is indicated by the small heart next to camera icon. Regular Auto mode does without the heart.

At left is the altimeter, displayed in meters. This is on by default, but you can turn it off in the menus. On the right side of the screen, below the anti-shake warning is a motion detection indicator (this, too, can be turned off). Also displayed are the movie setting, movie duration remaining on the SD card, image size, and number of images left on the memory card at the current image size.

You have to like automatic modes to enjoy the AW110. There is no Manual mode, nor even a Program mode or other semi-manual modes such as aperture- and shutter-priority. In fact, you have to use the regular Auto mode to manually adjust the white balance or ISO, for example.

Functions available only in Auto mode:
  • White balance
  • Continuous shooting: Single, continuous high, continuous low, pre-shooting cache, best shot selector, continuous H:120fps, continuous H: 60fps, multi-shot 16
  • ISO sensitivity: Auto, fixed range (ISO 125-400 or ISO 125-800), 125, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200
  • Auto focus are a mode: Face priority, auto, manual, center, subject tracking
  • Autofocus mode: Single AF, full-time AF
  • Quick effects

After you press the shutter button halfway, most camera setting info disappears and one or more AF boxes turn green, depending on the auto focus mode selected.

Pressing the shooting mode (or Scene) button on the back panel brings up a five-item menu displayed vertically on the left side of the screen. The top selection is Easy Auto mode, followed by the scene modes. There are 20 to choose from. Most of them are the usual suspects, though the most noteworthy, perhaps, is the underwater mode, since the camera is sealed to withstand pressure up to 60 feet deep.

Scene modes menu:

  • Portrait
  • Landscape
  • Sports
  • Night portrait
  • Party/indoor
  • Beach
  • Snow
  • Sunset
  • Dusk/dawn
  • Night landscape
  • Close-up
  • Food
  • Museum
  • Fireworks show
  • Black and white copy
  • Backlighting
  • Easy panorama
  • Pet portrait
  • 3D photography
  • Underwater

This camera doesn't offer a wealth of filters and creative treatments, but what you will find is the Special Effects menu. It offers six choices, a basic assortment of creative options. The one area where Nikon pulled out the stops is the selective color feature - one color remains in the photo while everything else turns black-and-white. You get 12 colors to choose from.

Special Effects menu:
  • Soft
  • Nostalgic sepia
  • High-contrast monochrome
  • High key
  • Low key
  • Selective color (12 choices)
I liked that when using Selective Color, the LCD shows a vertical menu of tiny color swatches so you can change the color on the fly while shooting, without having to revisit the menu every time.

Below this, the last two options in the shooting menu are Smart Portrait and Auto mode. Auto mode offers the most manual control, allowing you to manually set the white balance, ISO, and burst mode, for example.

Speaking of burst mode, you have to dive into the shooting menu to select it - and you can't use it in any mode other than Auto.

If you like to tweak your photos right after you've taken them, you will like the Quick Effects feature. By default, after each shot taken in Auto mode, the camera asks you if you'd like to apply an effect (you can turn this off in the menus). All of these same effects can be applied later in playback mode.

Once pressing OK to choose an effect, you land on the first of four pages, offering you a total of 24 selections. Getting to your preferred effect can take a bit of button work, however. There is no way to page up or down through this menu, nor to even navigate up/down. You have to use the left/right buttons to crawl horizontally through the choices.

Quick Effects menu:
  • Painting
  • High key
  • Toy camera effect
  • Low key
  • Soft
  • Fisheye
  • Cross screen
  • Miniature effect
  • High-contrast monochrome
  • Sepia
  • Cyanotype
  • Selective color (12 choices)
  • Fog removal

The flash menu is launched by pressing upward on the four-way control. This is the full flash menu if you are shooting in Auto mode, a Special Effects mode, or Smart Portrait mode. Some scene modes (such as party/indoor) also offer the full flash menu, while others (such as landscape) do not.

Flash menu:
  • Auto
  • Auto with red-eye reduction
  • Off
  • Fill flash
  • Slow sync

Though pressing leftward on the four-way control brings up self-timer options (2 seconds and 10 seconds), it does not bring up continuous shooting. You must navigate the shooting menu to choose a burst mode. If you go to the menu in any mode other than Auto, you may be surprised that continuous shooting is nowhere to be found.

This is how the menu looks in Auto mode, with all adjustable settings displayed. In many other modes, the only adjustable parameter is image mode, which adjusts the resolution of the file, shown here at full resolution of 16 megapixels. There are just seven items in the shooting menu.

Shooting menu:
  • Image mode: 16M (low compression), 16M, 8M, 4M, 2M, VGA, 16:9 12M (4608x2592)
  • White balance: Auto, preset manual, daylight, incandescent, fluorescent, cloudy, flash
  • Continuous shooting: Single, continuous high, continuous low, pre-shooting cache, continuous 120fps, continuous 60fps, best shot selector, multi-shot 16
  • ISO sensitivity: Auto, fixed range auto, 125, 200, 400, 800, 1600
  • AF area mode: Face priority, auto, manual, center, subject tracking
  • Auto focus mod: AF-S single, AF-F full-time
  • Quick effects: On, off

There are five AF area modes available in the shooting menu. Considering that this camera is rated to go underwater deep enough for scuba diving, it would be very handy if the subject tracking AF were lightning-quick in order to track skittish marine life. But in my testing (all done on dry land) it worked moderately well, but was a little sluggish and sometimes unresponsive to my subject's slow movements, causing the AF box to turn red.

Auto focus area mode menu:
  • Face priority
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Center
  • Subject tracking

The built-in GPS allows you to record location data with your photos and movies. You can log altitude and water depth as well.

Pressing the map button on the side of the camera launches a map using your current location. You can set the map to display more or less detail, and to include points of interest.

In addition, there is a compass display.

The setup menu is where you set up your time/date info and global settings such as image review and LCD brightness. Here you also turn on or off features such as AF illumination lamp, vibration reduction, and the blink warning feature.

Also within the setup menu is the ability to turn Eye-Fi upload on/off, as well as the Wi-Fi options. Here, you set up the camera on your Wi-Fi network, select encryption, enter your password, enter the SSID, DHCP server IP address, etc.

Nikon_AW110-movie record.jpg
The camera records movies at 30fps in 1080p at two bit rates: 15 Mbps and 12 Mbps. Movie quality is high considering the small size of the lens, and that the lens does not telescope beyond the camera body. Details are not as razor-sharp as you'll see from some other 1080p footage, but in most cases it looks quite good.

During video recording the auto focus does an adequate job of tracking moving subjects, though it's not lightning-quick. In my testing, the camera routinely lagged a little behind the subject when its distance from the camera changed, or I was zooming the lens in or out. But in most cases the swimming of the auto focus was not beyond reasonable.

The least-attractive aspect of the AW110's video quality is artifacts that show up in low light: details and edges acquire a softening effect that resembles a Gaussian blur or looking through obscure glass. This same effect is also noticeable in still images taken in low light or indoor lighting without flash. Most likely this is a result of noise reduction and/or the anti-shake processing.

Also, you'll likely need to change the auto focus mode. That's because the default is AF-S, or single AF, which won't track a moving subject or adjust when you zoom. I don't know about you, but my videos tend to be of moving subjects (after all, video captures moving action). After recording a handful of videos that went routinely out of focus, I switched the AF mode to full-time.

Movie menu:
  • Movie options: 1080/30p, 720/30p, iFrame (540/30p), 480/30p, high speed 240/8X, high speed 480/4X, high speed 720/2X, high speed 1080/0.5X
  • Open with high speed footage: On or off
  • Autofocus mode: AF-S (single AF) or AF-F (full-time AF)
  • Movie light: On or off
  • Wind noise reduction: On or off

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