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Nikon AW100 vs Panasonic TS4

Updated on August 22, 2013

Two Compact Waterproof Cameras Square Off

So you've been thinking about buying a waterproof camera and you've narrowed it down to the Nikon AW100 vs the Panasonic TS4. Which one should you buy?

In a competition between these two cameras, it's a tough choice because both have winning features and thousands of happy fans. So how do you choose the best? This page can help you decide which one is right for you.

Below you'll find a side-by-side comparison of features, sample photos and videos taken from each camera and a personal review of the pros and cons of both models so you can chose the best underwater camera for you.

(Photos by Lisa Howard)

When I was looking for rugged waterproof cameras, the Nikon AW100 immediately caught my eye. After all, Nikon is one of the top camera manufacturers in the world (with 12.6% of the total camera market share in 2010), and it's the camera brand preferred by many professional photographers. That alone made me put Nikon on the top of my short list.

But as a scuba diver who started diving in the 1980s when film cameras were still in vogue, I had another reason to favor the Nikon. For years, Nikon was THE name in underwater cameras. Their Nikonos series of cameras set the standard in underwater photography from the 1960s until digital cameras led to the end of their production in 2001. So when Nikon announced the AW100, it was like Lance Armstrong or Magic Johnson announcing their return to competitive sports.

However, while Nikon had been out of the game, other competitors had moved in, and Panasonic was one who was doing very well. They jumped into the "tough" camera market with the DMC-TS1 in 2009, a compact camera that was waterproof to 10 feet, and then continued to improve it. By the third generation, the Panasonic TS3 was making some serious waves in the rugged camera category. It was the most popular camera in Amazon's Underwater Cameras category for much of 2011 and hundreds of happy customers gave it a 4- out of 5-star rating. Consumers loved this camera!

Then along came the Nikon AW100 in late 2011 to steal the thunder from Panasonic's game. Panasonic fought back with the TS4 in early 2012, and now customers looking for the best all-around waterproof camera with GPS often narrow it down to these two - the Nikon AW100 vs the Panasonic TS4.

Take a quick look at the chart below to see how they compare and then read the full reviews below.

Nikon Coolpix AW100

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS4

16 MP

12.1 MP

1/2-in CMOS sensor

1/2.33-in CCD sensor

3-in 460k dot LCD

2.7-in 230k dot LCD

5x optical zoom

4.6x optical zoom

28mm wide angle

28mm wide angle

Size: 4.4 x 2.6 x 0.9 in.

Size: 4.07 x 2.52 x 1.04 in.

Waterproof to 33 ft

Waterproof to 40 ft

Shockproof to 5ft

Shockproof to 6.6 ft

Freezeproof to 14 degrees F

Freezeproof to 14 degrees F

1080p HD video

1080p HD video

GPS and compass

GPS, compass, altimeter, barometer

Battery life: 250 shots

Battery life: 310 shots

ISO to 3200

ISO to 3200

Auto mode

Auto or manual mode


Photos provided by Amazon

If you're looking for a rugged camera, there are a lot of things to love about the Nikon AW100. It's waterproof to 33 feet, shockproof to falls from 5 feet, freezeproof to 14 degrees Fahrenheit and dustproof. And at less than an inch thick, it can easily slide into a pocket, making it a perfect lightweight traveling companion. It can also shoot full 108p HD video with one-touch ease, and has a built-in GPS to geotag your images.

It shares many of its features with the TS4. Both have four-way rugged design, geotagging, continous shooting, sweep panorama, and a host of preset shooting modies, including dedicated underwater modes for good color reproduction. Going down the list of features, you might think there's not a whole lot to differentiate the two cameras unless you really want to go 7 feet deeper underwater or you plan on dropping your camera from a greater height (in which case you better choose the TS4!).

But what sets the Nikon AW100 apart from its competitor is its design and image quality. The AW100 has a 16 MP CMOS sensor and 5x Zoom-NIKKOR ED glass lens that perform well both above and below water. In my experience, the images on this camera are sharper and clearer than those of the TS4. Both cameras take great photos, but the Nikon has a slightly larger sensor (1/2inch) than the Panasonic, giving it an edge in quality.

The other feature that clearly sets the Nikon above the Panasonic is the locking mechanism on the door. A waterproof camera is only as good as the door that keeps the water out, and Nikon is the winner here. The twist-and-push button that locks the battery/memory card door would be virtually impossible to open accidentally , and it shuts with an audible "click" that lets you know the lock is engaged. Of the half dozen different compact waterproof cameras I've used, the Nikon AW100 has the best locking mechanism of them all.

On the downside, users might be disappointed to know that there's no manual or program mode on the AW100. It's all auto, all the time. This is great for the point-and-shoot crowd, but advanced users will have to rely on auto or a multitude of preset scene modes to capture their images.

The Nikon Coolpix AW100 is an excellent waterproof camera for anyone wanting to take photos in the pool, lake or ocean, but it's not for those who want a camera they can manually control.

Nikon COOLPIX AW100 16 MP CMOS Waterproof Digital Camera with GPS and Full HD 1080p Video (Black)
Nikon COOLPIX AW100 16 MP CMOS Waterproof Digital Camera with GPS and Full HD 1080p Video (Black)

Product highlights:

- Waterproof to a depth of 33 feet

- Shockproof to falls from 5 feet

- 16 MP BSI CMOS sensor

- 3-inch high resolution LCD

- One-touch 1080p HD recording

- Integrated GPS for geotagging

 

Sample Photos from the Nikon AW100 - Click an image to see it larger

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Nikon AW100 is good for photos both above and below the water.The 5x zoom NIKKOR lens help you get closer to the action.Photos from the AW100 are clear and sharp even when underwater.The Nikon AW100 has two continous shooting modes that will allow you to capture action shots.It's great fun in the pool!
The Nikon AW100 is good for photos both above and below the water.
The Nikon AW100 is good for photos both above and below the water.
The 5x zoom NIKKOR lens help you get closer to the action.
The 5x zoom NIKKOR lens help you get closer to the action.
Photos from the AW100 are clear and sharp even when underwater.
Photos from the AW100 are clear and sharp even when underwater.
The Nikon AW100 has two continous shooting modes that will allow you to capture action shots.
The Nikon AW100 has two continous shooting modes that will allow you to capture action shots.
It's great fun in the pool!
It's great fun in the pool!

Images from the Nikon AW100 are sharp and clear.

Nikon AW100 Underwater Video - See it in action!

Here's a video shot underwater with the Nikon Coolpix AW100.

Like the NIkon AW100, the Panasonic TS4 offers plenty of features to make it a great choice in underwater digital cameras. My favorite feature on this camera is the color mode setting. The images from the TS4 are a bit softer than those of the Nikon, but color in the photos from this camera really come alive when you choose the "Happy" color setting in auto or "Vivid" color setting in program or manual mode. If you're someone who spends a lot of time adjusting color saturation in editing software, this is a great feature that can really make images come alive with color without any post-editing.

The Panasonic also excels at creative controls. In addition to full auto mode, the TS4 offers both program and manual mode, giving users more options in creating great photos. Creative types will also enjoy the 3-D imaging and miniature effect offered in this camera, as well as the option to create both horizontal and vertical sweep panoramic images. (The Nikon only supports horizontal panoramas.)

Other things to love about this camera are the rugged durability (its waterproof and shockproof ratings are better than those of the Nikon) and the GPS. The GPS is fast, accurate and easy to use, and I prefer the way the Panasonic displays GPS information over the way the Nikon displays it. With the TS4, you never have to wonder where you are. When I was at the Golden Gate Bridge, the camera didn't just give me the geo coordinates or tell me I was at the Golden Gate Bridge - it also told me I was standing at the southbound end of the bridge. That's pretty smart!

There's really only one thing I don't like about this camera, and it's a big one. I hate the design of the battery/memory card door. The door is opened and closed by a two-step process that requires you to slide down one lever before opening another. Sounds pretty secure, right? The problem is that the first lever slides down TOO easily. I once reached into my pocket to discover the door had popped open, and another time I was underwater when I discovered the first lever had been pushed down, displaying the red warning that tells you one of the locks isn't engaged. The door didn't actually open in the pool, and the camera is still working great, but this my major complaint with the TS4. Doors that leak (or might leak) is a common complaint among waterproof camera owners, and it requires constant vigilance. But there's no doubt the door design of the Nikon is superior to the Panasonic.

Even with this flaw, the Panasonic is a great waterproof camera for anyone wanting some creative control over exposure settings or looking for features such as 3D images, but for those who want the absolute best quality in images, other cameras can outpace the TS4.

Panasonic Lumix TS4 12.1 TOUGH Waterproof Digital  Camera with 4.6x Optical Zoom (Blue)
Panasonic Lumix TS4 12.1 TOUGH Waterproof Digital Camera with 4.6x Optical Zoom (Blue)

Product highlights:

- Waterproof to depth of 40 feet

- Shockproof to falls of 6.6 feet

- 28mm wide angle Leica lens

- Full 1920 x1080p HD video

- 2.7inch LCD

- 3D images and miniature effect

 

The Panasonic TS4 has great color saturation.

Panasonic TS4 Underwater Video - See it in action

Here's a video shot with the Panasonic TS4 in Palau. Don't miss the rays that show up about 1:45 into the video!

Nikon Coolpix AW100 vs Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS4 - Which would you choose?

After reading this page, which would you choose: Nikon AW100 or Pansonic TS4?

See results
nikon aw100 comparison
nikon aw100 comparison

And the Winner Is...

I love both of these cameras, but...

If I had to recommend one of these two cameras to a friend looking for an underwater digital camera, I would choose the Nikon AW100. It's lightweight, compact, takes sharper photos, and is rugged enough for just about any occasion. But most importantly, it has the best card/battery door locking mechanism.

I love the TS4 and frequently carry it with me because I love the color saturation in photos from this camera, and I think it takes great photos above and below the water. But when it comes to the water, I can't overlook its major weakness - the door. I still use it in our swimming pool all the time, but I'm constantly checking the door to be sure it's closed.

So in the end, I have to recommend the returning champion - Nikon. They're back in the game again.

(Image from amazon)

You don't need to be a member of Squidoo to leave a comment, so please feel free to sign the guestbook and share your thoughts!

Which Would You Choose: Nikon AW100 or Panasonic TS4? - Please sign the guestbook!

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    • seodress profile image

      seodress 3 years ago

      Love these videos.

    • profile image

      prejithp 4 years ago

      Congrats on LOTD nd great lens.

    • IWS LM profile image

      IWS LM 5 years ago

      Thank you for informative lens!!

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 5 years ago

      Can't decide. Congrats on LOTD and a great lens. Featured on Blessed by Skiesgreen 2012-2 and also on Squidoo LOTD Lenses-2. Hugs

    • profile image

      julia007 5 years ago

      Both of them are very nice cameras!

    • profile image

      eabacagan 5 years ago

      I am eyeing NikonAW100 for months and this lens help me decide to finally get my hands on this amazing camera... Thanks a lot! Great lens!

    • profile image

      oakstreet 5 years ago

      Wow, great len on camera and I "Iike" it

    • vinodkpillai lm profile image

      vinodkpillai lm 5 years ago

      I've made up my mind - Nikon AW100. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Nice collection.

    • profile image

      mistersquidoo_here 5 years ago

      i like panasonic

    • LaurisB LM profile image

      LaurisB LM 5 years ago

      Thanks for this info. I'm trying to decide what my next camera will be.

    • profile image

      igorko 5 years ago

      nice lens and photos!

    • profile image

      NewUsedCarsSacramento 5 years ago

      great lens...I always prefer Nikon...

    • dancerene profile image

      dancerene 5 years ago

      Great review. Love those very clear underwater photos and video. Lovely!

    • Mandy Stradley profile image

      Mandy Stradley 5 years ago

      I prefer Nikon! Congrats on LotD!

    • profile image

      pdbrebbe 5 years ago

      Cool and great review !

    • royyap profile image

      royyap 5 years ago

      Great comparative review.

    • royyap profile image

      royyap 5 years ago

      Great comparative review.

    • profile image

      DMVAgent 5 years ago

      Nikon cameras are really great .. Lets choose the best, Nikon..

    • profile image

      kayla_harris 5 years ago

      Both the Nikon and Panasonic cameras are great!

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 5 years ago from USA

      Really well done. Both cameras seem great.

    • marlies vaz nunes profile image

      Marlies Vaz Nunes 5 years ago from Amsterdam, the Netherlands

      Very informative lens! congratulations on LoTD and blessed.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

      June Parker 5 years ago from New York

      Had to come back. *Squid Angel Blessed* and added to "My Squid Angel Blessings for 2012" in the "Computers & Electronics » Digital Cameras" neighborhood.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

      June Parker 5 years ago from New York

      Thanks so much for the review. I have been looking at cameras as I will be needing a new one soon and this really helped. I think I will take your advice for the Nikon AW100.

    • profile image

      DebMartin 5 years ago

      Thanks for helping me decide. The Nikon it is. d

    • profile image

      cyberwizzard 5 years ago

      A tough choice indeed but I'll have to go with Nikon. Nicely done!

    • PhotographicStu profile image

      PhotographicStu 5 years ago

      Yes I like the Nikon AW100 this is a great lens, Thank You

    • weakbond profile image

      Nnadi bonaventure Chima 5 years ago from Johanesburg

      you made it easy to make a choice

    • weakbond profile image

      Nnadi bonaventure Chima 5 years ago from Johanesburg

      Good lens ,you made it easier for me to make a choice between the two

    • bwet profile image

      bwet 5 years ago

      the nikon is the winner for me!

    • Dusty2 LM profile image

      Dusty2 LM 5 years ago

      Good job with the lens and the comparison between the two cameras. Thank You.

    • profile image

      BarbaraSellers 5 years ago

      I would go with the Nikon AW100. Thank you for doing this. As a professional photojournalist for an Army newspaper, I always used a Nikon camera and I always loved all of my Nikon cameras. The most difficult thing I had to do when I retired was return my Nikon. But now I have another one.

    • Heidi Vincent profile image

      Heidi Vincent 5 years ago from GRENADA

      Congratulations on winning the Lens of The Day (LOTD)!!!

    • hartworks lm profile image

      hartworks lm 5 years ago

      Makes me want to get in some water.. with the Nikon.

    • ClassyGals profile image

      Cynthia Davis 5 years ago from Pittsburgh

      I'd pick the Nikon camera since it takes sharper pictures. Nice comparison.

    • sssc150 profile image

      sssc150 5 years ago

      Wonderful job. Congratulations on being Lens of the Day!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Nikon, of course. Nice lens, congratulations on getting LoTD!

    • CoolGamesOnline1 profile image

      CoolGamesOnline1 5 years ago

      informative lens, thanks for sharing :))

    • RawBill1 profile image

      Bill 5 years ago from Gold Coast, Australia

      Great comparison. Both cameras take an awesome photo from the looks of them. I would choose the Nikon just because I already own a Nikon D3100 and love it. Congrats on LOTD. Well done. :-)

    • profile image

      ekhealy 5 years ago

      I am in the market for a new camera and this helped a lot!

    • profile image

      Pete Schultz 5 years ago

      congrqats on LOTD, I learned some new things reading this, and I trust your judgement and reasoning in advocatine the Nikon camera....which I would prefer from p[ast Nikon experience at any rate. Nicely done.

    • profile image

      Pete Schultz 5 years ago

      congrqats on LOTD, I learned some new things reading this, and I trust your judgement and reasoning in advocatine the Nikon camera....which I would prefer from p[ast Nikon experience at any rate. Nicely done.

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 5 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD! informative lens, thanks for sharing.

    • NightMagic profile image

      NightMagic 5 years ago

      Good job for getting LOTD. I have the Nikon and love it.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Congratulations on a well deserved LOTD

    • lbrummer profile image

      Loraine Brummer 5 years ago from Hartington, Nebraska

      Congrats on LOTD. Very interesting and informative article.

    • profile image

      mhiweb 5 years ago

      Superb Lens...Very Informative...Congrats for LOTD

    • profile image

      soaringsis 5 years ago

      Great lens and info. Congratulation on your LotD and purple star.

    • CoeGurl profile image

      CoeGurl 5 years ago from USA

      Awesome information! This really helps to make a choice between the two cameras.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 5 years ago

      I'm happy with my Nikon Coolpix, though mine is not a waterproof camera. Excellent review of these two models ... congrats on LOTD!

    • anne mohanraj profile image

      anne mohanraj 5 years ago

      A very nice lens! Congratulations on LOTD!

    • Gabriel360 profile image

      Gabriel360 5 years ago

      Nikon is great! :D Very nice choice. :) Congrats on LotD! :D

    • profile image

      pawpaw911 5 years ago

      Very nicely done. Congrats on LOTD.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      Hard to choose between the two. Congrats on LOTD!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      My pet peeves are usually along the lines of mechanical systems that do what they are supposed to do, so I understand your preference. My main reason for the Nikon camera is the pixel density at 16 Megapixels; the Zoom superiority does not hurt either. Thanks for sharing and congrats.

    • simoza01 lm profile image

      simoza01 lm 5 years ago

      Very detailed comparison . Btw , congrats. on the lotd .

    • profile image

      faye durham 5 years ago

      Great review. Congrats on LOTD!

    • profile image

      Funkysi 5 years ago

      Reall great lens. Good work.

    • MayaIxchel profile image

      MayaIxchel 5 years ago

      Good timing on this lens, I was looking for a water safe camera! I have always been a Nikon fan, and that may play in to my choice. Thanks! Congrats on LOTD! Greetings from 'the land of eternal spring'!

    • GeorgiaLorthen profile image

      GeorgiaLorthen 5 years ago

      Good lens and great reviews

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 5 years ago

      Great comparison. Congratulations on getting the Lens of the Day.

    • nhotdeals profile image

      nhotdeals 5 years ago

      I enjoyed reading your lens. You gave great reviews

    • profile image

      chris1402 5 years ago

      I have had a Nikon FG for 30 years - still works great

    • banapple profile image

      banapple 5 years ago

      Congrats on LOTD! This lens certainly deserves it :)

    • MartieG profile image

      MartieG aka 'survivoryea' 5 years ago from Jersey Shore

      Just bought the Panasonic TS4 last week and it's been great - very nice comparison-----congratulations on well deserved LotD!

      ~~~~~Blessed~~~~~

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 5 years ago from USA

      Congratulations, this lens was selected as LotD today! You can read all about it at SquidooHQ: http://hq.squidoo.com/lotd/nikon-aw100-vs-panasoni...

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Congratulations on a well deserved purple star and lotD. You did an amazing job writing and laying out this lens. You must know html. Good job!

    • PaigSr profile image

      PaigSr 5 years ago from State of Confussion

      Growing up on a lake a water proof camera would have been great. My choice would be the Nikon. The Panasonic did have some better features but not enough to sway me in their direction. Thanks for the comparison.

    • alaiamax lm profile image

      alaiamax lm 5 years ago

      Wow this is an interesting lens. Congratulations on LOTD!

    • profile image

      ninalivre 5 years ago

      Congrats! on your lens. I sure could use of the them. Very splendid indeed.

    • curtmaxwall profile image

      curtmaxwall 5 years ago

      A Great review Lens...I loved it...and my choice also would be Nikon AW100...

    • profile image

      Modzed 5 years ago

      Love this lens.. :)

    • thememorybooksh1 profile image

      thememorybooksh1 5 years ago

      i would like to buy nikon aw100 after reading this lens, nice lens god bless.

    • Breakdown3133 profile image

      Breakdown3133 5 years ago

      By girlfriend has a waterproof camera and I was planning on getting one soon. I might just choose one of these!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      i also like Nikon cause it takes photos that are full of life. i have to get one next summer, i guess.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Nikon is the best.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Based on your excellent comparison and personal reviews, I'd go with the Nikon. Congratulations on your LotD honors.

    • OCDiscusFish profile image

      OCDiscusFish 5 years ago

      i love cameras~~!!!

    • rawwwwwws lm profile image

      rawwwwwws lm 5 years ago

      This is so cool! I am going to purchase one!!

    • LisaDH profile image
      Author

      LisaDH 5 years ago

      @Scarlettohairy: I'm a camera junkie. It's a bad habit. :-)

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 5 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      Wow, how nice to have 3 cameras (you had to have a third to take that intro shot!). Great reviews.