In the past, underwater photography usually meant using one of two types of gadgets: a waterproof camera that sacrificed image quality due to size, or placing an interchangeable lens camera in unwieldy, bulky, waterproofing housing.
Both choices are not exactly ideal or convenient for ocean-loving photographers, which is probably the reason why Nikon decided to create the world's first waterproof interchangeable lens camera to work submerged underwater up to 50 feet, the Nikon 1 AW1, that fuses function with innovation. Housed in a compact, non-slip rubber-grip, reinforced stainless steel body, the AW1 can survive a fall from 6.5 feet; great for especially clumsy folk like me.
The AW1 has a 14.2-megapixel CMOS sensor, ISO 120-6400, and a high-speed continuous shooting rate of about 15 fps on autofocus and 60 fps full resolution photos on locked. Nature-loving photographers will also appreciate the addition of a built-in GPS, compass, virtual horizon display, altimeter and depth-gauge. The camera display screen can be optimized for use in bright outdoor settings, so you no longer need to hand-shade the screen and squint anymore. A built-in, manual and rotatable pop-up flash that supports i-TTL flash control is also ready for underwater action.
The buttons on the camera are also more widely spaced and contain a control-lock function to prevent accidental button-pressing. This makes it easier to use in extreme environments, for example, when using bulky insulated gloves in the Swiss Alps or when taking pictures while maxing out on a motorcycle (certainly not recommended, but hey, to each his own).
Nikon's 1 AW1 begins shipping next month for $799.95 with one 11-27.5mm lens, or both lenses (11-27.5mm and 10mm) for $999.95. Color selection is straightforward with a choice of black, white or silver, but additional rubber skins can be had for $36.96 in black, khaki or orange.