Filming in the Wadi Rum Desert, Jordan

What’s in my pack: A seriously rugged camera

Filming in the Wadi Rum Desert, Jordan

Filming in the Wadi Rum Desert, Jordan, with Columbia Sportswear

I play hard, get dirty, wet, and spend full days outside in below freezing temps – usually with a camera in hand. Photography is an important part of my life, but I have no patience for a camera that slows me down or takes crappy images. I need a rugged camera that also takes killer photos.

I’ve found a few solutions that work well depending on the situation the GoPro HERO 3+ and the Nikon 1 AW1.

I use the GoPro when I need my hands free or want its characteristic wide-angle look, and the Nikon1 AW1 the rest of the time. I’ll cover both in separate posts, but today I’m going to focus on the Nikon.

While I really dig the compact size, versatility, and wide angle of the GoPro, I opt for the greater creative control of the AW1 more often. Each camera shines in it’s own way.

When I need high quality shots in a harsh environment I grab the AW1, which is why I call it my pack camera.

Nikon 1 AW1 Features I like:

  • Waterproof to 49 feet
  • Shockproof to 6.6 feet
  • Freeze proof to 14˚F
  • Interchangeable lenses
Shooting with the Nikon AW1, in the ruins of Jerash, Jordan - The Active Explorer

Shooting with Nikon AW1 in the ruins of Jerash, Jordan – Photo by M Going, Columbia Sportswear

From landscapes to fast-moving action, I know I can capture the shot. I enjoy being able to control the shutter speed, aperture and ISO as needed, or to attain a more creative look.

This camera draws attention because it doesn’t look rugged. No bulky cases or bumper pads. Depending on which lens I’m using, it fits in my coat pocket. I was jumping into the Gulf of Aqaba with the camera and got some panicked looks from my friends who feared I’d simply forgotten it was around my neck.

Images are the key however. If a camera can take a beating, but doesn’t deliver tack-sharp, beautiful, images, I won’t carry the thing. The Nikon 1 AW1 does both, and that’s how it earned a place in my pack. From still shots to video, I’m covered without having to baby it. That’s my kind of gear.

Here are a few of my favorite images from the Nikon 1 AW1:

Comments 5

  1. Hi Erika,
    That looks like a great camera. I use a small point and shoot while caving. I can talk about that another time. I like being able to switch from stills to video with one button. Can take stills while shooting video at the same time. It does great except the auto focus sometimes get confused in the dark.
    How does this Nikon do for video???

    1. Hi Allen,

      The Nikon can also shoot stills while taking video. I’ve only used the video function a little so far, but plan to change that this year because it shoots in HD. I used to carry a rugged point and shoot, but was disappointed with the quality, this one is a big step up.

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