The Ultimate Nikon Keymission 170 Review!

Our regular readers will be aware that we have been covering an absolute ton of action camera-based content over the last few weeks and today is no different. It seems that the more content that we publish that is based around various action cameras, the more people we see reaching out about others. Now, although they are a few years old now, we have noticed a number of people reaching out for advice on the Nikon Keymission range of cameras over the last month or so, particularly the Nikon Keymission 170.

Due to this, we have decided to dedicate today’s article to our ultimate Nikon Keymission 170 review to try and help any of our readers who are considering purchasing this action camera. Now, this may be a little surprising to our readers due to the Keymission series being part of the Nikon range but we would not recommend that you actually purchase the Nikon Keymission 170 as it just falls short in so many areas while also being overpriced for what you are actually getting in our opinion.

At the time of writing, depending on the retailer, you can get either a GoPro Hero 5 Black or a refurbished GoPro Hero 6 Black for around the same price as the Nikon Keymission 170 and both of them absolutely blow it out of the water making much better additions to your camera accessories in our opinion. The Keymission 170 has a controversial reputation at best amongst the community whereas both of the GoPros have managed to earn and maintain the excellent reputation that you would expect from a GoPro action camera.

Although both the Hero 5 and Hero 6 are also a few years old at the time of writing with the GoPro Hero 8 Black being the current flagship of the GoPro range, they are still much better options than the Nikon Keymission 170. We just wanted to make this point as early in the article as possible rather than have our readers waste their time getting to the end only to be told not to purchase the featured camera and to go with a compeating unit.

Anyway, with all that out of the way, we will still be going over our full Nikon Keymission 170 review for any of our readers who want to know why we feel the way we do about the camera as well as to back up why we feel that you should be going with a GoPro over the Keymission 170.

Performance And Functionality

Nikon KeyMission 170
Although in our opinion, the Nikon Keymission 170 falls short of what you would expect for its price tag in multiple areas, its performance and functionality is the main area that we have issues with. Although the Keymission 170 is marketed as being a 4k action camera, it is actually 4k UHD meaning that it has a lower resolution than a native or even digitally upscaled 4k action camera.

The actual resolution of 4k video footage is 4096 x 2160 whereas the Keymission 170 only comes in at 3840 x 2160 meeting the standards for UHD (ultra high definition). On top of this, if you do choose to capture you video footage with the Keymission 170 in its “4k video setting” it can rapidly deplete the cameras battery life in as little as only thirty minutes! A refurbished GoPro Hero 6 Black blows this out the water with ease making it the obvious option if you are wanting the best possible video image quality at this price point in the market.

The Nikon Keymission 170 also supports 1080p at 120 frames per second, 60 frames per second, and 30 frames per second as well as 720P at 240 frames per second too. Realistically, if you do choose to go with the Keymission 170 you will likley be capturing the majority of your video footage in 1080P at 60 frames per second but even then the cameras battery life falls short of what the GoPros are able to provide.

One thing that we do like about the Keymission 170 is that it offers four times slow-motion footage in the 1080p resolution at the 120 frames setting allowing you to capture some solid slow-motion video if needed. It also supports eight times slow motion in the 720p setting at 240 frames allowing you to capture the action of your extreme sport of choice in super slow motion with great image quality. If you are more on the vlogging or social media influencer side of things then the slow-motion can be used to capture some great slow-motion b-roll for you to help improve your content.

The clips above offer some decent realistic examples of the level of image quality that the Nikon Keymission 170 is able to provide for you during use in a number of action sports. Although its image quality is solid as you can see, the refurbished GoPro Hero 6 Black not only matches it but also beats it in multiple areas while also having better battery life as well as better still photograph resolutions too.

The Keymission 170 does have some pretty decent electronic image stabilization technology built-in as standard, especially when you factor in that the camera is a few years old now and definatley showing its age against the more modern action cameras on the market. That said though, the Nikon electronic image stabilization does not work when capturing your video footage in its 4K UHD video setting resulting in some very shaky video footage.

On top of this, due to Nikon using their own form factor and dimensions for the camera rather than just mimicking the GoPro form factor like many of the compeating brands on the market, it is an absolute nightmare to find a gimbal stabilizer that will allow you to mount the Nikon Keymission 170 to it. This means that if you are planning to capture your video footage in 4k UHD with the camera, you are going to be stuck with the poor image stabilization without any real workaround.

The camera does have a solid stereo microphone built-in that does an excellent job of accurately capturing the audio track of your adventures. Unfortunately for Nikon though, the majority of action camera users out there are focused on the video and photographic performance of the camera and the Keymission 170 definatley falls short in both of these areas.

The camera comes with an 8MP camera sensor as standard that again falls short of what we would expect from an action camera at this price point even back when the Keymission 170 was initially released. This just pushes a refurbished GoPro Hero 6 Black even further out ahead of the Keymission 170. Although the f/2.8 aperture on the Nikon action camera is nice to have and does provide some great low light performance, in our opinion, it is just too little too late.

Another feature that we feel is lacking is that the Keymission 170 is fixed at the 170-degree field of view. Now, we know that this is kind of a given due to its name but even sub-fifty dollar action cameras like the Campark Act 74 have been offering a variable action camera lens covering the 170°, 140°, 110°, and 70° fields of view just causing the Keymission 170 to drop even more points against compeating cameras.

One area where the Nikon action camera performs particularly poorly against the competition is when it comes to its maximum battery life. As we touched on earlier in the article, the Keymission 170 only provides around thirty minutes worth of battery when capturing UHD 4k video footage, this is around half of what we would expect from a digitally upscaled 4k action camera released back when the Keymission 170 was and less than a third of what we would expect from a native 4k video camera!

When it comes to the 1080p video resolution on the Keymission 170 you can only expect around an hour of power coming in at around half of what we would expect from a sub-one hundred dollar action camera, never mind a camera that currently costs almost double that and cost almost four times that back when initially released. On top of this, unlike the vast majority other action camera brands, Nikon only provides you with one battery with the Keymission 170 meaning you have to purchase your spare at additional cost to you.

When you take all of this into account, it is very easy to see how the Nikon Keymission 170 has managed to earn so many other negative reviews from the community from action camera users who fell foul to purchasing the Keymission 170 and decided to post their own review to try and prevent anyone else from making the mistake. We really can’t stress enough that you should be considering a refurbished GoPro Hero 6 Black

User Interface And Control System

Nikon KeyMission 170
The Keymission 170 comes with a smaller LCD panel screen that we would expect coming in at 1.5 inches rather than the traditional 2 inches. Although this does not have much of a negative effect on being able to see the replays of your content via the camera, it can make using the user interface a total pain, especially when you are trying to tweak settings and the text on the menu is so small and hard to read.

The actual navigation menu itself is pretty decent in all fairness to Nikon and it is very easy to use and navigate through. It’s just when you actually get to settings that you want to tweak, it can be a pain to read the text and see what you are actually changing due to the smaller LCD screen on the camera. If you are more of an advanced action camera user who will be tweaking their camera settings on a regular basis then this is a massive disadvantage for the Keymission 170.

The GoPro system on the GoPro Hero 6 Black is just as easy to navigate but its larger screen allows you to quickly and easily tweak the settings of the camera accurately and get back to your action sport of choice without having to waste any time. We hope that it is starting to become obvious why we said we would not recommend the Nikon Keymission 170 to our readers back at the start of the article.

Another niggly little thing that seems to be annoying a large number of people is that the auto turn offsetting on the Nikon Keymission 170 can’t be turned off or changed. This means after sitting idle for two minutes the camera powers down to try and save you battery life. This is a total pain as the camera does not register its timelapse mode with over a two-minute capture as being active so the camera will power down and stop your time-lapse.

Build Quality And Design

Nikon KeyMission 170
As we mentioned earlier in the article, Nikon has decided to go with its own unique design with its own dimensions for the Nikon Keymission 170 that has actually ended up doing it more harm than good. This is a very common mistake in the action camera market and a large number of brands have done it before simply matching the GoPro dimensions and form factor.

With the GoPro action camera range and other, cheap GoPro alternatives essentially mimicking their form factor, the third-party companies who make action camera accessories only cater to cameras that fir the standard GoPro dimensions. As we mentioned earlier, this makes sourcing a gimbal stabilizer for the Keymission 170 pretty much impossible as well as a number of commonly used mounts for a number of popular action sports. With so many other brands have made this mistake in the past and learned from it, we really did think that Nikon would just match the standard action camera form factor right out the gate but for some reason, they never.

The Keymission 170 is also heavier than we would expect from a camera of its age coming in at just over 0.2 pounds. That said though, in the grand scheme of things this will likley not be noticed by any of our readers and the lack of an available gimbal stabilizer for the camera means that there are no payload limits the camera has to stick to anyway.

Although we have not experienced this next issue ourselves, we have seen multiple people report that the advertised safe working temperature range of the Nikon Keymission 170 is wrong. Multiple people have reported that once the camera gets below the 28-degree mark it starts to give various error messages while also rapidly depleting its already short battery life. This makes it a waste of time for any winter sports enthusiast and just keeps on scoring points for a refurbished GoPro Hero 6 Black.

One thing that we do like about the build quality of the Nikon Keymission 170 is that it is waterproof down to a depth of 33 feet right out of the box without you having to house it in a waterproof case. It is just a shame that the camera is let down in so many other ways to make this great little feature essentially useless at this stage.

Our Verdict

That concludes our Nikon Keymission 170 review and as you can probably tell, we would not recommend the action camera to our readers as we feel it is a total waste of money and that there are much better options out there. As we said back at the start of the article, both the GoPro Hero 5 Black and refurbished GoPro Hero 6 Black are currently going for similar price points to the Nikon Keymission 170 while blowing it out of the water in pretty much every single way possible.

We would highly recommend that our readers go with either of the GoPro options over the Nikon Keymission 170 and if you are still not convinced, we would recommend that you spend a few minutes skimming over some of these independent reviews of the camera. A large number of action camera users who have purchased the Nikon Keymission 170 are being brutally honest in their reviews and should be able to help convince you to avoid this action camera at all costs.