Tuesday, 30 April 2013

No Ordinary Cycling Magazine

When I was at 'Look Mum No Hands!' on Sunday after the short but useful Nocturne Recce, Bob a veteran of all manner of cycling events and a person with a good eye for interesting cycling items, put a copy of 'The Ride' into my hands.

Quickly flicking through the pages I could see some gorgeous photography and articles that I knew would enjoy. I took a photo of the front cover at act as an aid memoir for when I got home.






When I got home a quick search of the internet revealed that there was a website for 'The Ride Journal' which among other things listed where you could purchase a copy.

'The Ride' started in 2008. The idea was to create a journal of personal stories about all sorts of bicycles and riders, from all across the world. The profits from the sale of the 'The Ride' are donated to various charities, so pretty good so far.

From my very quick glance I could see that it was something of great quality and I wished I had bought a copy. A further search on their website revealed that you could actually download the first four copies for free.

I have now done this and have been hooked on reading the articles and viewing the many photographs ever since. In fact it has become bedtime reading. It is quite simply a brilliant read and I will be placing an order for the next copy. Even in this age of technology there is still something quite exciting about reading this sort of journal and experiencing that fresh paper smell, so I won't be downloading again and will buy a physical copy.

Occasionally I get the odd cycling magazine but I have to say they are somewhat repetitive. In the four copies of 'The Ride' I downloaded that certainly isn't the case. There is a huge amount of originality and variety in the articles.

You might want to download the free past issues (while they are still available) and see what you think. If you have any interest in cycling I am sure you that you won't be disappointed!

The Ride Journal Website

Monday, 29 April 2013

IG Nocturne Recce

Yesterday I joined Mark, David and Bob for a short few laps around the circuit of the IG London Nocturne. All of us have entered and fingers crossed we hope to get in and enjoy the excitement of full on racing.

After going on the London to Brighton Mark and I should really have known better, as should David who had spend yesterday in France with his Brompton and Bob who had worked late, than to get up early and partake in this but it seemed like a good idea.

The IG London Nocturne is held at Smithfield Market in June and it is a great day out for participants and spectators alike.

We did a couple of warm up laps and then went to roughly where the start line is located. We rode three for three laps and trying to negotiate taxis, clabbers (unbelievably just leaving said club), traffic and red lights proved a challenge to say the least.

Of course the real thing will be traffic free and the only other thing to worry about is other riders. Despite this it was still a very useful as well as fun.

After this we left Smithfield and went to the brilliant bike shop/restaurant/cafe that is, 'Look Mum No Hands!' It hadn't opened by the time we arrived but the kind manager let us take out bikes into the courtyard.




While in the courtyard we had to wait for the staff to get themselves ready for the rush that would surely start as soon as it opened properly we started to take the odd picture of our bikes. I think Mark suggested that we arrange the bikes into the famous Brompton logo of folded, parked and ready for action.







Not satisfied with this Bob placed his bike on one of the wall antler bike hooks for an arty wall shot.




Standing back we were mightily impressed at the finished results.




'Look Mum No Hands!' is a brilliant little shop and the food was excellent. If you are passing that way you might want to check them out or buy a coffee and chill for a few minutes watching the world go by. It is located at 49, Old Street, London, EC1V 9HX. You can check their website out by clicking here.



You can click on the link below to view the ride data and maps for the limited time we were out for on the Nocturne circuit.
Smithfield Market Ride Data and Maps

Sunday, 28 April 2013

London to Brighton on a Brompton

This ride is one I have been been looking forward to for weeks. It is also a ride that filled me with an excited sense of trepidation. It also fulfilled a long term ambition to cycle the London to Brighton.

At work, Friday was very busy and I literally didn't stop all day. This was a good thing but despite being kept occupied the thought of London to Brighton popped in and out of my mind.

When I got home I prepared both of my Orange Brompton bikes but decided upon my new Titanium. Getting everything ready I headed off to Trafalgar Square to meet my fellow Bromptonians iCrazyBee and Mark W. We greeted each other, exchanged nervous glances and made our way to the meet up point of the main ride, Hyde Park Corner.


Standing at the top of Trafalgar Square

Surprisingly quiet for this time of night.

We arrive there shortly after 23:20 and already there were lots of riders. Most were roadies and I have to say they were universally a very friendly bunch - much more so than some of their cousins at Richmond Park.

Hyde Park Corner

One of their number had a Specialized bike that he said was about 5kg. He said it was just over this as he had his tool kit, Garmin GPS and lights still attached to the bike. When I picked it up I was rendered speechless! The weight was beyond belief to the extent it felt wrong, as if I were lifting a cardboard cutout. He explained all the carbon elements - including £2,000 carbon wheels - and that he had further modifications to make the weight approach 4.5 kg!

After a safety talk by the organiser and main man, Simon we headed off bang on midnight. It was was the point of no return and excitedly I switched on all my lights bar my new 'Hope Night 1' LED light which I was saving for when we reached the outskirts of London where street lighting would not be around.





The ride was incredibly well organised and every so often we stopped and waited for slower riders or those who had missed traffic lights. No one was left behind. The 'Tail End Charlie's' did a brilliant job at making sure everyone knew where to go at junctions and ensuring the back riders where safely on route.




For a few days before the ride I had deliberated on what to wear and pack. I didn't want to carry a great deal and wanted to be as minimalistic as possible. As far a clothing was concerned I opted for:


  • 2 x Helly Hansen base layer tops
  • DHB cycling top
  • Altura windproof
  • Endura water repellant shorts
  • Altura cycling tights.
  • Pearl Izumi Pro Barrier lite jacket (stowed in the rear pocket).
  • Head neoprene gloves
This all worked pretty well and despite the chill in the air I was comfortable for the duration. In the saddle bag (Carradice Roll Bag) I had a couple of inner tubes, basic tools, snacks and water.

After a few miles the streetlights got fewer and far between and only present at larger junctions. It was then the I switched on the 'Hope Vision 1.' It worked incredibly well!! The light was very bright and wanting to get 6 hours out of it I opted for the setting down from the brightest. This was easily brighter and more powerful than any of the bicycle lights I have ever owned. It was nothing short of brilliant and I am glade I bought it!!





The pace was brisk and Mark and I found ourselves keeping up with the top third of the riders. Our London Classic ride helped us on the many hills we encountered, some of which were quite severe! Mark and I found that when we got to a hill we could claim the scalps of many of the roadies - the smaller wheels of the Brompton helping us in the ascent.

Our little Brompton bikes were doing us proud and I suspect some on the ride underestimated our ability to keep up. A few riders were kind enough to comment, 'you don't half go on those!' It's nice to do your bit for Brompton.

Mark and I continued to keep a good pace and our fellow Bromptonian iCrazyBee maintained a steady but confident pace further back.

At approaching 25 miles (I think) we entered a location referred to as the 'Badlands.' I cannot tell you if this is its real name or part of some cycling folklore of old. What I can tell you it that it was a road through a forrest, that became a dirt track getting gradually narrower and narrower. It would have been terrifying to cycle this on ones own or even with a couple of companions but the assembled mass of cyclists with thousands of combines lumen light power made it an interesting experience.


The approach to the Badlands!!!

Some thirty miles in shortly after 3:00 a.m. we reached the home to the 1st Burstow Scouts. This was the halfway point and upon entering the welcome was friendly. Lined up were sandwiches of all description and a multitude of cakes - all homemade. The bread and butter pudding beckoned me and I selected a near family sized portion and a cup of coffee. For several minutes I was silent, deep in thought at the joy of consuming a doorstop of bread and butter pudding  that was...pretty fine!


It tasted as good as it looks!

There was a great deal of chatting going on and a few of our number decided to get forty winks. One of the people we sat next commented to Mark, 'did you see those crazy people on the Brompton's?' Mark politely and with some pride informed him that he was one of those crazy people.


Forty winks

With our refreshments over we ventured outside for the final half of the journey, another 30 or so miles. Coming from the heat and comfort of the Scout Hut, we felt a chill so decided to put on our various lightweight waterproof/windproof jackets. They worked well at insulating us from the nip that was in the air.




As we rode along with dawn approaching we heard the dawn chorus in all its glory as a multitude of birds almost sang as we glided past. The moon - almost full - which had helped to illuminate our entire journey looked stunning against a near cobalt blue of the dawn sky.





Approaching the sign for Ditchling Beacon being only a mile away certainly concentrated ones mind. Ditchling Beacon is the third-highest point on the South Downs. The only road access to the summit is via the steep and narrow Underhill Lane directly at the foot of the Beacon, adjacent to the car park. It was here that people readied themselves for what was to come. The road travels its steep ascent with several tight bends, rising from 90 metres above sea level to the summit at 248 metres in about a mile.








At the car park several riders jettisoned all items they could throw away that would add to their weight - mainly water in water bottles. Mark and I felt that it would be better to get going and decided that we wouldn't wait around getting cold for iCrazyBee.

For about two thirds of the ascent I was able to keep up with Mark. The road seemed never ending and the point came where I put a foot down and got off. Mark stoically continued. I started to walk but then thought better of it, walked back to roughly where I had got off and cycled the rest of the way up to the summit, albeit incredibly slowly! Perhaps next time I will make it all the way up without a foot down?! It was easily the most demanding ascent I have ever attempted and I can now appreciate its fearsome reputation.

Mark was definitely King of the Hill and I should also point out that he ascended on a 54 tooth chainring! Mine is the standard 50 tooth, making it easier to pedal on hills so hat off to Mark for another great ascent of all things hilly!!









The views from the summit were beautiful. The sun was out and the sky was punctuated by wispy white cloud. We waited about 30 minutes and saw iCrazyBee coming. I was rather proud of my riding partner and friend iCrazybee. He has had a few moments in the preceding weeks where his confidence has been knocked. He might not have been the fastest and he might have walked up a few of the hills but he did the London to Brighton with confidence. I hope that this achievement gives him more self belief to tackle more rides like these!









We started the ride as a trio of Bromptonians and we made the rest of the journey into Brighton as a trio. The journey was almost downhill all the way. As we glided past the back of Ditchling Beacon broken, one of the roadies shouted out 'go, go Power Rangers' perhaps because of the bright colours of our bikes.

The sight of sea brought that all familiar excitement of summer holidays by the seaside and we pressed on for the Madeira Cafe where we had a mean fried breakfast.




With breakfast over we headed to the seafront to get some pictures of our bikes in Brighton. Unfortunately the pier opened too late for us to stay around as we had a train back to London to catch but we did take a few pictures of it and the famous Royal Pavilion.




The Royal Pavilion 

Our train back to London left on time at 10:19 a.m. and by 11:10 a.m. we were back in London. We said our goodbyes and I decided to cycle the 5 or so miles back to where I had parked my car. As I cycled through Hyde Park I thought to myself these people don't know I have just finished cycling from London to Brighton.

This was a great ride! I really enjoyed it and would love to repeat it. There is something about night riding and riding in a large group that is hard to beat. As I write this I don't really feel any worse for wear other than tired eyes from wearing contact lenses too long.

I would like to think that we were all good ambassadors for Brompton. I suspect we might have changed a few riders perceptions of the best small wheeled bike. I certainly think that with Mark and I able to maintain a very brisk pace and be in the top third of riders for much of it, we might have?

Many thanks to Simon the organiser of this ride, the volunteers at the Scout Hut for preparing some lovely refreshments and opening up in the small hours. Thanks also to to the Madeira Cafe for a good/speedy breakfast and last but not least many thanks to my two fellow Bromptonians iCrazyBee and Mark for some excellent company.

You can click on the link below for the ride data and maps recorded by the Garmin 810.
London to Brighton Overnight Ride Data and Maps










Thursday, 25 April 2013

Packable Lightweight Waterproof / Winpdroof

I have been using my Altura Night Vision waterproof quite happily all through the worst of a British winter. It is an excellent jacket but with summer on its way (hopefully) I have sought out something lighter and altogether more user friendly in terms of the bulk it takes up.

After much research I decided upon a Pearl Izumi Pro Barrier Lite. It was my intention to get the white, almost transparent version but I couldn't steal myself enough to get anything other than the orange version.






The first thing that struck me when I got the small package containing the jacket was how light it seemed. Was the jacket even inside? I knew beforehand that the jacket had a claimed weight of just 73g but actually picking up 73g of jacket felt rather strange. It is incredibly lightweight! The material is similar perhaps to that of a parachute. It does feel quite strong despite its micro thinness.

Features:

Full length zip with a zip garage. This can be used for venting.

Elasticated hem and cuffs.

Reflective elements for low-light visibility.

Only 73g.

Takes up virtually no room as it is very packable and can be stowed in a rear pocket with ease.






This jacket isn't going to withstand a heavy thunderstorm but if I was out and about and it started to rain, I can see its uses. Similarly if I was out and the weather was on the chilly side, this jacket would act as a great little windproof.

Recently it was voted the best lightweight cycling jacket by a well thought of cycling magazine and from my first impressions I can see why. I had it with me yesterday evening when it started to rain and it did keep me dry and warm for the two miles left I had to cycle to get home. At between £49 - £69 it isn't cheap but for me it is already worth it for that unbelievable low weight.

Tomorrow night/ Saturday morning I am going on a night ride from London to Brighton. This jacket is definitely coming with me and I am pleased that I managed to get it in time. I suspect this jacket with be with me on many a ride to come!


Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Brompton Urban Challenge - I'm Going!

Brompton is an innovative company. Standing still and resting on their many laurels just doesn't seem to be their thing and they are always approaching things in different and interesting ways.

This ethos is evident in a new event they have created call the 'Urban Challenge' taking place in May.
The format will offer participants something a little different to a traditional cycling event; orienteering skill and ingenuity rather than speed, will define the winning teams. 

In the urban jungle of the UK capital, teams of Brompton owners will ride around the city completing some Brompton-based challenges (Brompton track stand anyone?) and picking up points along the way by photographing the bikes in different places and scenarios. 

Those not taking part will be able to watch it all unfold and keep up to date through Brompton’s social media channels as participants' photos are uploaded in real-time and grouped using the recently introduced hashtag, #BUCLDN.
 
Setting out from the bike shop, 'Look Mum No Hands' in Old Street, London, teams will navigate between set checkpoints to be announced on the day; members of the Brompton team will be present at each checkpoint to assign teams new challenges, help to send photos back to HQ and even offer a few clues and route tips. Some of the challenges include: taking your Brompton as high as possible and taking it on an unusual form of public transport. 

Once the challenges are completed, Bromptoneers will be welcomed back to Look Mum No Hands for a post-event reception and some top refreshments. The cafe will be turned into a gallery, showing off the best of the photos taken during the day and they'll be raffling off their favourite framed photographs to raise money for the Brompton charity of choice, Re-cycle.

It all sounds like great fun, so much so that I have signed up for it and am going! About a year ago I went on a Monopoly ride that had a few challenges along the way and that was brilliant. (Please see the link below for details on that adventure). 

I am sure that he Brompton Urban Challenge is going even better! There are several different manufactures of folding bicycles out there but I doubt whether for example Tern or Dahon would be able to get as many people wanting to turn out for an event like this. Brompton really do know how to organise a great event and I am really looking forward to this one! 

Please click on the link below to take you to my blog entry for the Monopoly ride about a year ago.
Small Wheels Monopoly Ride

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

190,000 Page Views.

Reached 190,000 page views not too long ago.

Many thanks to all my readers, browsers and everyone else in-between!



Sunday, 21 April 2013

New Followers

Hello to my new followers!!

Although I seem to have quite a few people reading my humble ramblings, I don't have that many followers.

Whoever you are and wherever you are, welcome! (Spread the word so I can get a few more).

Please feel free to leave a comment about anything I write about or if perhaps you want to ask me a question. I cannot promise to know the answer but I will try.


Epic Richmond Park Training Run

This morning the sun was already shining at the stupid o'clock time I rose and I was soon up, out and off to Richmond.

I arrived just before 08:00 and even at this time the Park was busy with all types of cyclists. I had arranged to meet my cycling partner iCrazyBee but he had a mare of a journey to Richmond due to lots of overland train disruptions. Seeing that he was going to take a while I decided to head out for a couple of laps.



A beautiful sunny morning


I felt pretty good and I aim was to try and get round with an average of 16mph. Unfortunately I was unable to do this as I got stuck behind traffic at the 3 and a half mile point and couldn't quite go as fast as I would have liked.

You can see my ride data and maps by clicking on the link below.

Ride Data and maps for my Solo Lap




The deer are used to cyclists


I stopped for some water and to take off a layer and went out for another circuit as iCrazyBee was about 30 minutes away. A bit annoyed with myself as I didn't press record on the Garmin 810 which meant that I didn't record the ride data. I still didn't manage to reach my goal of 16mph but by the time I had done a circuit I was averaging 15.8mph so I was close.






After a short wait iCrazyBee arrived with his updated bike - now sporting 6 x gears rather than the original 3. We headed off and although the pace was slower than before I learnt a great deal. I quite like hills for some reason? Normally my plan of attack is to approach them at speed and then go hell for leather up, changing gear as and when needed. It normally works well for me. Seeing that iCrazyBee was still getting used to the 6 x gears and two gear shifters I slowed the pace down a little. To my surprise I found that I used less energy and found it easier. Definitely something to try again. I also found that with the slower pace ascending the big hill I was more relaxed in my riding position.

We rode 2 x laps and you can see the ride data and maps by clicking on the link below.

Ride Data and Maps 2 x laps with iCrazyBee






After a short rest we set out on one final lap - my 5th and iCrazyBee's third. I have not completed as many laps of Richmond Park and iCrazyBee has not previously done more than one. It was a dramatic improvement. The 6 x gears helped of course but my riding partner is improving all the time. For the first lap I said that he was a little like Luke Skywalker in the Empire Strikes Back when trying to lift the X-wing out of the swamp - it cannot be done. Well two laps more and it can. A really great training run for my partner in crime who is developing all the time as am I.

You can click on the link for the ride data and maps for our last lap.


It was a good mornings riding and I must have ridden over 33 miles. The top speed was recorded at 30.1mph but it could have been much more. I may like the hills but I am less confident on the descents and when I get too fast I usually feather the brakes. As for iCrazyBee it is the opposite. I can barely keep up when going down a hill!

Packing light was a must this morning as I wanted to practice for Friday night/Saturday morning when I  cycle London to Brighton. One piece of kit I saw in abundance today being worn by my roadie cousins was a very, very lightweight waterproof. This acts as a wind barrier if cold but provides some waterproofing in rain. The one I am after packs down into virtually nothing and weighs only 73 grams. I might have to look in to getting one of these for Friday or some point in the future.

I felt pretty fresh after these rides and could have done more. I think my only prep next week is to take a slightly longer route on the way home from work - that's about it. I will of course have get some early nights, eat lots of pasta a couple of days before and drink lots of water all this week. 

I have written that Richmond Park is not my favourite of cycling locations but on day like today it was the best location I could have gone to!

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Time Increase the Effort!

With so many big rides planned in the next few weeks I have decided the time has come to up my training.

Over the past few months I have kept the momentum going to the extent that I felt fine after London to Cambridge to the extent that I was able to complete the demanding London Classic the very next day. In fact to get revenge on having to walk up two of the hills I repeated the London Classic route for a second time - and got up all of the hills!

So a bit like studying for exams I have done a great deal of the prep but now have to keep things going rather than cram at the last possible minute. There is still much to do however.

Next Friday night I will be doing the classic London to Brighton and yes you read right, it will be through the night. I don't really hold too much fear for this ride, even though it means tackling the dreaded Ditchling Beacon! (Just put 'cycling up Ditchling Beacon' into YouTube and you'll get the idea).

Tomorrow morning I hope to be up bright and early and off to Richmond Park. I have written about this location many times. It is by no means my favourite destination but it is demanding and will provide a good training run.

I will take my Titanium Orange Brompton with me tomorrow and travel as light as I possibly can. This is going to be a vital consideration for London to Brighton as well as many of the other rides I have planned.

The Titanium Orange Brompton is working out to be quite brilliant and I love it. For me personally it was worth the premium price.  It has a slightly different rear cog set up 16T / 12T cogs rather than the usual 16T / 13T cogs. This reduction of one tooth in the cog wheel does make a difference - slightly higher top speed but slightly more effort needed to get up hills. I go from loving it to thinking I will change back to 16T / 13T.

It will also allow me to test out the Garmin 810 on loan from Garmin UK. So far I love it. Tomorrow I am going to test out the live tracking. With this I can email anyone with an iPhone or Android and they can then watch my progress in realtime on a map. Amazing stuff.

Anyway, just have to go and check the bike and lay out what I am going to wear and take with me.


Friday, 19 April 2013

My Orange Brompton Visits Posh London Hotel

I went to a work conference today. Although it involved a much longer journey than my usual commute, I decided that in order to maintain my unbroken 30 days of cycling I would take my Brompton with me.

Unable to take a change of clothing I was fully suited. Upon arriving outside the rather posh hotel that was hosting the conference I was attending, I folded my Brompton and carried it in. I knew that I would be seated for most of the day and was prepared to simply leave it folded under the table but reception had a different idea...

The very kind gentleman on reception told me where my conference was being held and commented that my Brompton was a particularly fine bicycle and that he was the proud owner of a black P6R. The conversation moved to the subject of what I was going to do with my Brompton for the day? I said that I was just going to keep it under my table. The receptionist simply said, "no" and asked me to follow him.

I followed him along some winding corridors and came to a half wall of metal lockers similar to those you might find at a swimming baths. He opened a locker put my Brompton / cycling helmet inside - which fitted perfectly - closed the door handed me a meaty looking key. Brilliant!

I would love to name the hotel but the receptionist told me that the lockers were for staff and not normally for customers. Brompton owners were an exception.

The conference was all the better for me knowing that my Brompton was safe and sound. The receptionist to my surprise was aware of my blog and is set to join the Brompton Club. Ivan, if you are reading this, you are a gentleman Sir!



Thursday, 18 April 2013

Hope Vision 2013 LED Light

Regular readers will already know that I have quite a lot of night rides coming up in the next weeks months. In fact the first big one is next Friday but more of that later.

To supplement the lights I already own, I acquired a Hope Vision 1 LED front light with Hope rechargeable battery pack about two weeks ago but haven't had time to post a review about it until now.

Taking the light out of its box almost immediately I could tell it was of immense quality. I would go as far as saying that my other lights are mere toys in comparison.






Hope is an English company producing some quite amazing cycling products in Barnoldswick. This particular light is the 2013 model which has a few improvements over the still excellent older model - Lumen output increased by 33% and there is now a low battery warning.






The Hope charger unit comes with four 2500mAh NiMH batteries that the recommended power for this light. You can buy the light on its own but buying it with the battery charger and batteries seems like a very good idea to me. The charger is the fast type and is therefore much, much faster than the trickle chargers.








The Hope Vision 1 is made out of solid aluminium and exudes quality and attention to detail. It has a high price tag for a battery light but believe me you are buying a premium product that will last. Fully waterproof it is very tough.






If using the light attached to handlebars as I will, the light is permanently attached to the handlebar mount via an allen bolt. Included in the box are a number of rubber spacers of different size to suit various bar diameters. It works very well and there seems little danger of the light slipping. (I wrapped a small strip of old inner tube around the handlebar and this seemed to provide a better fit).






Also included is a helmet mount and wrist lanyard. I am not sure that I will use these at the moment but it is nice to know that i have the option of doing so.






The Hope Vision 1 fits pretty well on the Brompton handlebars and looks pretty good. The all important light output is nothing short of astounding! Even when not on full power the light output is impressive. On full power the road ahead was illuminated like no other light I have used previously.





The Hope Vision 1 is a very impressive light and I like the fact that it is a home grown product. This is a brilliant light for general commuting use as it is so bight. You will definitely alert oncoming road users to your presence and in low lighting areas you will undoubtedly see 99% of off the potholes ahead.

I can't wait to give it a full test in the coming weeks when going on the many night rides I have planned and I suspect it will become a faithful companion for many years to come.

You can buy the Hope Vision 1 light on its own for around £85 upwards and the battery pack version for around £90 upwards.


Burn Times

Low - 24 hours
Med - 7 hours
High - 3 hours
Flash - 35 hours


Specs



Light Source: 1 x Cree LED
Light Output: 215 measured lumens, 300 generated lumens
Beam: 1 x spot (+/- 12 deg)
Mounting: handlebar, helmet mount or wrist lanyard
Battery: 4 x AA
Power levels: 3 and 1x flashing mode

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

The Nikon AW110 All Action Camera

I have mentioned the Nikon AW100 on this blog before and regular readers will know that my daughters have one of these cameras and that I have been borrowing it for many of my adventures.

The lovely people at Nikon UK,  sent me an updated version of their AW100, the AW110 to test out and review. The AW110 comes in Camouflage (as you can see below), Black, Blue and Orange.


What's in the box?


Built for action! (And families)!
The ruggedness is enhanced by the camouflaged livery!

The contents of the box


  • Nikon AW100 Camera
  • Nylon strap
  • Charger
  • Battery
  • Cleaning brush
  • Camera to USB lead
  • Leads to connect the camera to a TV
  • Filter adapter allowing you to attach a 40.5mm filter
  • User manuals
  • CD containing viewer software 


Tech Specs



  • 16 million pixel
  • CMOS Image Sensor
  • 5x optical zoom
  • Lens f/3.9 - 4.8
  • Vibration reduction - lens shift and electronic (for still pictures) / lens shift (for movies)
  • Motion Blur Detection (for still pictures)
  • Autofocus points - 9 area automatic / 99 area manual selection
  • 3.0 inch diagonal 614k-dot screen, OLED with 5 x levels of brightness adjustment
  • Full HD video at 1920 x 1080p / 3fps. (Various other qualities of recording variable too) 
  • 19 x different scene modes
  • 7 x in camera image editing options 
  • 7 x white balance settings in addition to full auto
  • Up to 8 x frames a second continuous shooting 
  • Operating Temperature - 10 to +40 degrees C for land use and 0 to 40 degrees C for underwater use
  • Shockproof and can survive a fall of 2.2m
  • Waterproof to a depth of 18m for up to 60 minutes




The Screen


The first thing I noticed when powering on the camera is that the screen is a big improvement. It is now an OLED 614K-dot which is clearer and brighter. It is pretty good in most lighting conditions and I really liked it. The 460K-dot screen on the AW100 is still very good but this updated version is better.



The improved AW110 screen


The AW100 screen




Size


As far as size goes it slightly larger here and there but we are talking millimetres so you would be hard pressed to be able to tell them apart.






AW100 on the left, AW110 on the right

AW100 on the left, AW110 on the right


Battery door and waterproof seals


I am really pleased that Nikon has decided to keep the locking mechanism which is possibly the best I have seen on any tough camera. You push the button, turn and open it up. Locking it, you hear a reassuring click.

The waterproof seal looks substantial and I know that they work really well at keeping the innards dry as my daughters cameras have been taken many a plunge in water and survived to tell the tale.


The excellent locking mechanism!


The layout on the AW100 was pretty good but Nikon have improved things further with a better zoom toggle. Rather than a left and right button on the old camera, it now has a smaller but easier to control up and down button. It works really well when wearing gloves too.



Redesigned back layout


Image Quality 


The image quality from the AW110 is extremely good. I have been very happy with the results I have obtained. The colours are vibrant and accurate and images sharp - typical Nikon. The great thing about this camera is that you can set it to auto mode and let the magic inside the Nikon AW110 do all the hard work for you. Nikon compact cameras are good at this. It is almost like being Luke Skywalker at the end of Episode IV when Obi Wan tells him to use the Force and turn off the computer. Luke does this and still gets the shot. 

With a camera like the AW110 being used often in almost hostile conditions the last thing you want to do is to start thinking about exposure compensation or white balance. I for one was happy to leave all of this to the camera  

The photos below were taken at the Tweed Run I attended on Saturday - straight out of the camera. I need to explain why I have chosen these particular photos. When I took these photos it had started to rain and the light had deteriorated. The only other people I saw with cameras were the pros using weather sealed DSLR's and lenses costing a few thousand pounds.  

In addition to this I was riding a bicycle, taking the photos with one hand and travelling at about 9 - 10 mph, trying to negotiate a very busy Parliament Square and not crashing into the other 300 or so riders, pedestrians and other road users. I think that if you take all this into account, these photos are excellent. 

The AW110 has a lens-shift vibration eduction system that helps to ensure that your photos and videos are steady - even if your hands aren't. it also has a clever motion detection which automatically selects a faster shutter speed and higher ISO helping to obtain sharper and clearer shots.









Macro Mode


The macro facility on this camera is nothing short of brilliant. It is quoted as being able to focus on something up to 1cm away but I found that I could get closer. It can be activated quite easily by its own dedicated button. You can also use the macro mode to create bokeh, where the background is thrown out of focus. This is certainly true of the first photo.

The photos below are of tiny flowers by the way and only have a diameter of about 1cm. I was able to get so close to them they look larger than they really are.








Ease of use

The AW110 when turned on is pretty quick and you are able to start taking photos almost instantly. In daylight I found that I could take one photo almost instantly after another with little in the way of lag or waiting around.

The menu system is intuitive and easy to use. There are many settings that you can customise such as white balance, focusing mode and scene mode but I tended to keep things on auto and was very pleased at the photos I obtained.

The look of the menus have been tweaked from the older AW100 and my nine year old daughter found no difficulty negotiating her way around them.


WiFi


A new feature on the AW110 is WiFi. You can download a free app if you have an iPhone/iPad or Android device. With this you can connect the camera to your phone. Very clever. 


The free Nikon App on my iPad

Pairing the AW110 to my iPad took seconds and worked really well. The phone creates its own WiFi network which the phone can securely link to. Once done I found the connection to be very stable and you didn't have the annoyance of it cutting out. 


Connecting the camera to my iPad


Controlling the camera from my iPad

A really good feature is the ability to control the camera and to be able to take a photograph from your phone or iPad.  In the picture below you can see the camera pointing at the box. The iPad has an image of the camera and the screen showing what the camera sees. 

It is really clever and I can think of lots of uses. Using it for underwater shots would be good as would awkward angles or stealth shots.


Taking a picture using the iPad to see what the camera is showing



Glove Mode


The AW110 doesn't have a touch screen but it does have a very clever alternative 'glove mode.' This is activated by the push of a button on the side of the camera. In doing so by tilting or shaking the camera back and forth you can cycle through basic functions such as playback mode and scene settings. It works surprisingly well and if it isn't for you, can be deactivated via the menu.



GPS 


With the GPS function you are able to record the exact locations of every photograph you take. You can share your locations of Google Earth, Google+, other social networking sites and even with the included Nikon View NX2 software. It does mean that the battery won't last quite as long but it is all clever stuff and a great feature to have and dip in to.


The GPS feature.


Video 

Video can be recorded in full 1080p HD at the touch of a dedicated button. The recorded sound quality is good and in stereo. You can also record in other video qualities. 

The short clip below was taken at the Tweed Run while I was on a bicycle and waiting to proceed. It was starting to rain and the light was not wonderful.







Battery life


Battery life is quoted at 250 shots with a charge time of approximately 2 and a half hours. I was able to get just over 300 shots before the battery died. My daughters older AW100 use the same battery and we were able to buy a spare for a few pounds as a backup for them.

Final thoughts


I have only been allowed to borrow the AW110 for two weeks but I will be very sorry to see it go. It has lots of features retained from the AW100 but the updated screen, button layout and the addition of WiFi makes this a worthy update.

I cannot tell you how useful it is to be able to link my iPhone or iPad to the camera and perform all manner of tasks. Yes you can take a picture with your phone and post it on FaceBook, Twitter or email it to someone but the camera on my iPhone is nowhere near as good as the AW110. In addition to this, there is no way I'd take my iPhone out of my pocket if it was raining or snowing.

For anyone active who wants a rugged, strong and waterproof camera the Nikon AW110 is the way I would go. Mainly directed at sporty/adventurous types, I would argue it is the perfect family camera. My daughters have the AW100 and they have been knocked about, dropped, thrown and submerged in all sorts of water and still going strong!

For me this is virtually the perfect camera. It is small enough to put in a pocket and almost forget that it is there. It can be used to take great photos and videos in the sort of conditions where cameras would  fear to tread and it is rugged enough to take the odd knock and drop.

If I were suggesting possible features for the next AW camera, as someone who takes lots of photographs having a dedicated aperture priority mode and a faster lens would be great but is this the sort of camera that needs these features? Probably not. As I have written, I was more than happy to leave the camera in auto mode.

The true test of whether something is good or not is how you feel when you have to give it back. I have very reluctantly had to give the AW110 back to Nikon and I will miss it and its go anywhere, do anything credentials.

 A really big thanks to Nikon UK for letting me borrow one of their cameras and especially to Lily.

You can buy the Nikon AW110 at good electronic / camera shops on the high street and online for anything between £280 - £340 and if you register it with Nikon you can get a two year guarantee.