Before using the Nikon 1 AW1 waterproof camera under water, it is important that you attach a 1 NIKKOR waterproof lens onto the camera. [At the time of writing this article, there are two waterproof 1 NIKKOR lenses, a 10mm and an 11.5-27.5mm lens.]
If you’ve been using the AW1 with a non-waterproof lens, or if you had the body cap on the camera, you’ll just need to inspect the O-ring before attaching the waterproof lens. Make sure there is no dirt or foreign matter on the O-ring; check that it is correctly positioned and it is not nicked or cracked. Also check the O-ring seal area of the lens to make sure there is no dust, dirt or foreign matter adhered to it. If so, clean it off.
Aligning the mounting mark on the body with the lens, carefully place the lens over the O-ring and press it into position, and then rotate the lens until it stops.
For use underwater, it is recommended that you remove the camera strap that came with the AW1 and instead use a third-party floating strap. Make sure that the battery is fully charged and inserted into the camera, and that a blank media card has also been placed in the card slot. Be careful as you’re closing the battery chamber door and the media card slot door to make sure that no foreign matter is adhering to the watertight channels. Clean any dirt with a blower or cotton swab. Make sure the latches and security locks are fully closed.
As a final check, immerse the camera with its waterproof lens attached in a sink or basin of water to make sure that you don’t see leaks. Turn the camera on and test the zoom ring and camera controls. Air may escape from the pressure-equalization vent and microphone and speaker covers, and that’s normal.
If however, you see air escaping from the lens mount or the connector and battery-chamber/media card slot covers, immediately remove the camera from the water and dry it thoroughly. Check to see that the O-ring and connector and battery chamber/media card slot covers are properly sealed. If you find the camera to be leaking during normal use, consult a Nikon-authorized service center.
If the camera passes the water submersion test, you’re ready to take it shooting under the sea or in a pool.
Nikon recommends cleaning the AW1 within 60 minutes of underwater use. Immerse the camera in fresh water, with its waterproof 1 NIKKOR lens attached to remove salt or other foreign matter. Leave the camera/lens submerged in a basin for about 10 minutes. Press the flash pop-up button, rotate the zoom ring if you’ve got that lens attached and operate the camera’s controls while in fresh water.
Wipe the camera dry. Using a soft, dry cloth, dry the camera and lens barrel.
Let the camera with lens still attached fully dry in a shady spot.
After confirming that no more water remains on the exterior of the Nikon 1 AW1 and its attached waterproof lens, slowly open the connector and battery chamber/media card slot covers and remove any water, sand or other foreign matter using a soft, dry cloth.
After you’ve confirmed that the lens and camera are dry, detach the lens and gently wipe the lens O-ring seal with a soft, dry cloth to remove any foreign matter. There may still be water between the camera and lens, so keep the camera flat and remove the lens slowly and carefully.
Using the soft, dry cloth, carefully clean the lens.
Proper care and maintenance of the Nikon 1 AW1’s O-ring is important to keep the waterproof integrity of the camera and attached waterproof 1 NIKKOR lens.
When performing routine checks and lubrication of the O-ring, you can remove it from the camera body either using your fingers or an optional O-ring remover. While holding the camera securely, lightly stretch the O-ring by sliding your fingers along either side and remove it from the camera.
Check the O-ring for nicks or cracks, and thoroughly wash it in fresh water, drying it thoroughly.
Do not use benzene, thinner, alcohol, soap, neutral detergents, or other cleaning products, as these could damage or weaken the O-ring!
Check the O-ring guide for foreign matter and use a blower or cotton swab to clean off any dirt. Be sure to remove any threads left behind from the cotton swab.
To grease the O-ring, use the silicon grease that came with the Nikon 1 AW1 or with the optional WP-G1000 silicon grease. Place a bead of the silicon grease in a plastic bag and use your fingers to spread the grease around inside the bag.
Do not use the lubricant that is used for COOLPIX or NIKONOS underwater camera’s O-rings!
Then insert the O-ring in the bag and massage the bag to fully coat the O-ring. This prevents wear on the O-ring and makes it easier to attach and remove the waterproof lenses from the Nikon 1 AW1.
After making sure that the O-ring and the guide are free of foreign matter, place the O-ring so that it runs evenly at the same level, all the way around the O-ring guide. The O-ring should not be overly stretched, nor should it protrude from the camera body.
Using the AW1 with a non-waterproof 1 NIKKOR lens
The Nikon 1 AW1 is a waterproof camera, when used with its waterproof lenses. You can also use the Nikon 1 AW1 with non-waterproof 1 NIKKOR lenses with the caveat that the camera will not be waterproof with a regular lens attached.
To use the Nikon 1 AW1 with a regular, non-waterproof 1 NIKKOR lens, you will have to protect the O-ring on the camera with the supplied O-ring protector.
The O-ring protector is supplied with the camera and should be kept on the body cap of the AW1 when it is not being used.