If you’re on the hunt for a new action camera, you’ve probably realized that there are a ton of great option for you. Many of the industry leaders, particularly GoPro, have gone for a “one size fits all” approach by releasing a singular model that is designed to do it all. Nikon has decided to shake up the industry a little bit by releasing their cameras in a tiered manner. The KeyMission 170 fall smack-dab in the middle of this range. Offering the perfect balance of features and affordability, the KeyMission 170 just might be your next action cam.
The all-black Nikon KeyMission 170 takes the more common shape of handheld action cameras on the market today, similar to that of the GoPro line. It comes in a rectangular shape with an off-centered wide-angle lens. The camera measures 2.7″ x 1.9″ x 1.7″ and weighs in at 4.8 ounces. This includes the weight of the battery, a memory card and lens protector. The display on the rear of the camera is a 345,000-dot TFT LCD 1.5″ monitor. The monitor reflects 97% coverage of your actual picture when in shooting mode – good to keep in mind that the picture or video you can see through the display when shooting will be somewhat cropped. When in playback mode, display coverage is 99% so a captured picture or video is almost true to the picture or footage you’ve taken.
The lens of the KeyMission 170 is a 2.4mm wide-angle Nikkor lens with a maximum aperture of f/2.8. As per its name, the KeyMission 170 grants a 170-degree field of a view. The 8.3 megapixel RGB CMOS sensor produces clear, crisp images that measure a maximum resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. The KeyMission 170 includes one rechargeable EN-EL 12 lithium-ion battery, and also a micro USB and micro HDMI cable(s). Storage is possible using MicroSD, SDHC or SDXC memory cards. A built-in mic provides clear stereo sound to compliment your videos.
The included EN-EL 12 lithium ion battery provides about 60 minutes of filming video. This amount of time does not include having WiFi or Bluetooth turned on, or being connected to a smartphone via the SnapBridge app, so the battery life will definitely take a hit when using either of those. It takes about three hours to fully charge the battery. Additionally, the ability to physically remove the battery is a great feature. As opposed to the smaller, more affordable KeyMission 80 which has a non-removable battery, the 170 allows you supplement your gear with a replacement battery. Perfect for the times when you are filming large amounts of footage and unable to recharge for long periods of time.
The KeyMission 170 shoots 4K ultra HD video and produces beautifully sharp and clear videos and still photos. When set to NTSC, video quality varies from 1920×1080 at 60 FPS to 3840×2160 at 30 FPS, depending on your settings. When set to PAL, quality varies from 1920×1080 at 50 FPS to 3840×2160 at 25 FPS. High-speed video mode allows two quality options: 1080 at 4x speed or 720 at 8x. Still images are well contrasted and sized at 3840×2160. Due to the nature of the ultra-wide lens, there’s some fisheye distortion effect with photos and videos. However, this allows you to get every second of action without ever finding yourself out of frame.
Besides shooting high-quality video and still pictures, the KeyMission 170 has some great alternative shooting modes including Slow-Motion, Loop Recording and Time-lapse. Shooting in slow motion is a great feature, and a great way to add some style and flair to your videos. Loop Recording allows you to set a time loop interval and continuously record smaller video clips, so you never miss the perfect moment. Last but not least, Time-lapse mode is great for creating beautiful time-lapses of your adventures, even squeezing an entire day into one smaller time-lapse.
Nikon claims that the KeyMission 170 is dustproof, waterproof, shockproof, and freezeproof, all with no additional housing, which is extremely impressive for a handheld action cam. The camera is shockproof to a drop of 6′, and the well-made housing is highly resistant to dirt and dust. Although it will survive a drop from 6 feet, it may not be unscathed. Dropping the camera will inevitably cause some nicks or scratches.
It’s also freezeproof to 14 degrees F. So if you’re skiing or doing any other winter sports with the camera out of a pocket or your hand, the KeyMission 170 may not continue recording at temperatures any colder. Even with no housing, the KeyMission 170 is waterproof down to 33-feet, for up to 60 minutes. Any longer than 60 minutes could cause leaks and interfere with the internal workings of the camera, so it’s best to be safe and stay under that duration. If you want more underwater time, you may want to opt to purchase the WP-AA1 Waterproof Housing which is available separately. With it, the waterproof rating is upgraded to 131′, which may make it the perfect camera for snorkeling or scuba-diving.
The KeyMission 170 is WiFi capable, which allows you to connect your iPhone, Android or other smartphone directly, all you need is to first download the Nikon SnapBridge app to your device. Connecting to your designated device is quick, and the app is easy to navigate. While using the app, you can automatically upload directly to your phone, so you can edit and share your photos easily and quickly during your adventures. You can also use your connected device as a live-view monitor, or remote control. Pictures uploaded will also include date, time and GPS metadata, which is great for documenting your experiences. The KeyMission 170 also has Bluetooth capabilities, which allows you to perform the same functions but with an easier burden on your battery life. The speed of uploading will be a bit slower, however.
The included remote control is the Nikon ML-L6 remote, which allows you to remotely start and stop recording video or capture photos. It has an included CR2032 battery and a USB cable for charging. The buttons are a comfortable size and are easily usable even while wearing gloves. The remote also allows you to tag highlights from your videos using Highlight Tagging to create a quick and easy highlight reel of your action videos.
Nikon has included the same Optical Vibration Reduction (VR) technology in their entire KeyMission camera lineup that they include in their high quality SLR zoom lenses. The VR is a great feature, and allows your still photos to stay in focus during the action. The camera captures its own positional and special movements, records them and then uses them to counteract any vibrations or shaking that occurs during recording. Videos are noticeably smoother as the VR decreases much of the noise vibrations, which is especially great when filming from the hand or when the camera is secured to a mount. Unfortunately, the VR does not work quite as well when shooting at 4K UHD, as the 1080p resolution allows the camera to crop and compensate for movement.
Nikon’s recommended KeyMission accessory pack includes a KeyMission tripod, extension arm, a rechargeable EN-EL 12 lithium-ion battery (the same battery included with the camera for use as a backup) and the KeyMission System case. The standard 1/4″ socket for the above listed accessories is also included with the camera. Additional adhesive and suctions mounts, helmet and wrist straps and chest harness, are also available seperately that’ll allow you to mount the camera on a helmet, skis, surfboard, or whatever adventure gear you’re using.
The KeyMission 170 is an incredibly well made camera for an attractive price point. If the KeyMission 80 isn’t quite powerful enough for you, the KeyMission 170 has just about anything most consumers could want. Having a camera that’s fully waterproof, dust-proof and shockproof without the use of a case is an awesome thing, with external cases only adding to the security of the action cam.
The Nikkor 170 degree wide-angle lens produces high quality videos, and still photos that are truly remarkable to look at. The alternate capture modes like Slow-motion and time-lapse keeps your content fresh and make your final video cuts look almost professional. Additionally, the rear LCD is large and bright, allowing you to review your videos and pictures accurately, and easily change modes and settings.
The removable battery is a great feature, allowing you to carry an extra with you for those longer days. It’s also a great companion for scuba-diving with its underwater case rated to an incredible depth of 131′. With all the great accessories and mounts available, the KeyMission 170 will likely be a perfect camera for capturing all your adventures, in any season, in all environments.