Before we get into any narratives on Krabi, let me first address the burning question in the room: how did I get this instagram photo, would I recommend the camera, and is this the beginning of another Instagrammer’s Guide To post?
The only way to answer the above seems to be to run an unbiased and unprofessional (read: non hardcore, user viewpoint) review of the camera based on my experience with it. For the past month or so, I’ve been carrying the Nikon AW120 around in my various handbags, using it interchangeably with my iPhone camera for instagram. You can, as usual, track the photos taken with it via the hashtag #jemmafornikon on IG. It’s tiny, much lighter than my DSLR, and very, very convenient. Here’s why:
GREAT THINGS ABOUT THE AW120
Waterproof, coldproof (to -10deg) and shockproof for a 2m drop, which is more than my height, so that’s perfect.
>Under $500 for a camera? That’s pretty rare.
It’s made for instagram.
Read: WIFI enabled. I’ve been beaming photos straight from the camera to my phone via a Nikon photo app, which has been extremely useful all over Korea, Krabi, and Singapore when I’d rather have a 16mp picture to edit over an iphone-quality one.
It comes in a cute camo design.
Need I say more?
However, having all these functions is great, but not crucial. Meaning, it’s fun to have a wifi enabled, army print camera, but is it really necessary when you already have a perfectly serviceable iPhone to take photos with? I dont know. On the other hand, when I flew to Krabi last week, the hardy little camera suddenly became indispensable.
Beach holidays are always a toss up between beautiful pictures and risky situations. Very few places inspire similar feelings of utter relaxation, but at the same time you’re always finding yourself in precarious situations while trying to capture the perfect beach shot. I’ve had friends lose phones to sudden monster crashing waves while trying to capture pictures, and have long lamented not being able to take great photos while snorkeling in the gorgeous cave pools of Ponza. The fact is, most times you just cant risk bringing your thousand dollar DSLR near a body of water, and the few times I’ve brought my iPhone out to sea for the pictures I was hyperventilating the whole time. Is this what the Nikon is then? The pictorial parallel for what you search for in every relationship: Security.
I felt like I spent most of my time in Krabi dripping in a swimsuit. The AW120 came in incredibly handy – most days I just slung the camera around my neck and went swimming or snorkeling happily, without worrying that it’d bump into something (it’s shockproof anyway) or that it’d get wet (that’s the whole point). The clarity of the pictures depend on the murkiness of the water body – pool pictures turned out sharp, sea pictures were less so but still pretty clear:
I imagine, though, that in Singapore waters the pictures would just be a blur of sea green. Still, the camera’s best features really come out when you take a proper summer vacay.
On our second afternoon in Krabi, we took a boat out to the Phi Phi islands and went snorkeling in waters that were famous for brazen fish – the minute we dropped into the water, they came swarming over us. And this time, I have pictorial proof:
It’s not so much that I captured so many priceless moments with the camera (seriously, I must have about a thousand pictures of.. fish). It’s also that we could take photos in the water, not necessarily underwater, that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to capture. Selfie in the water anyone?
Out of the water, the photos taken by the AW120 are serviceable, to say the least. It runs with a wide-angle f/2.8 NIKKOR lens, which means great landscape or group shots, and you can switch it up to Macro mode for crisp pictures with a minimum focusing distance of 1cm. Here are some of the pictures I took with the camera while out of the water, subject to basic editing in Lightroom as I do all my pictures:
The picture quality is vibrant enough for a compact camera, much better than others of the same price range. I’m comparing this not just against my vague memory of my first camera, but across the many compact cameras I handled in Krabi. You can’t really holiday in a tourist destination without people constantly coming up to you and asking you to take a picture for them, especially if they see you snapping away.
On a whole, I’d say that it’s a good camera. It won’t replace my DSLR – I feel like I’ll always be a DSLR girl – but it works well as a stand in on days I don’t want to lug it around and when I’m traveling to highly elemental places. It’s got a great price point, and the battery life is pretty decent. The wifi is also a huge plus point, especially in this day and age of instant updates and connectivity.
THE BOTTOMLINE: GET IT IF YOU
– don’t need incredibly professional (read: DSLR) photos and rather not compromise your shoulder blades for pure megapixels.
– are looking for a casual camera that works better than the average.
– are clumsy. I knocked the camera against a couple of hard surfaces accidentally and carried it around in my bag without a case (sorry, Nikon SG!) and it’s still hunky dory.
It’s a perfect family camera, and in the same way teenage girls go for flip screen selfie cameras, this is one that you should get if you’re the outdoors-y type who also likes to instagram.
All pictures in this post taken with the Nikon AW120, except those of the AW120, which are taken with the Canon 500D. Full list of specs here.
Thank you for the love, Nikon SG!