In September, Nikon held events worldwide to present their new camera system. They call it Nikon 1. These are a new series of compact interchangeable lens cameras. Now, if you are thinking doesn’t everyone have a camera like that? Yep! Pretty much, Canon is the sole one out of this group, but I’m sure its on the way.
One big part from Nikon is this is a mirror-less camera system, which is what we wanted. But we wanted it on a FULL DSLR camera! This shocked many Nikon users and followers that it was a digital compact. But none the less we wanted to test out this camera and see if it can beat the much talked about Sony NEX 3, and NEX 5. Great micro 4/3 camera with a full size sensor which means much better low light performance.
The camera was designed by the folks at Coolpix, which worries us. The aluminum body gives it a very sturdy and well built product, but it looks cheap. Until you pop on a 30mm-110mm lens, then people know you’re talking business. The cheapest looking part on the camera is the built in pop up flash. Which looks like Wall-e, but it actually makes the camera kind of cool in an essence. The screen is a very nice addition, clarity is key. And Nikon have clarity. Now being such a small camera, the problem comes up with holding it. DSLR’s have big bodies so they can be held securely and properly. The J1, doesn’t have either of those. Unless you get the bigger lens, where you have a place to put your hand on, it’s kind of hard using two fingers to hold and zoom at the same time. Make use of the provided strap if you will not be using a tripod. It can save you from a 700 dollar disaster.
Colors, oh colors. There are many too chose from, now that gives it away. This is not a professional camera, but we’ll talk about that later in the review. You can pick from Red, Pink, Silver, Black, and White, which is my personal favorite. The one I have is white and I dig it. Apple users, you’ll dig the white one too.
Nikon is using a 1/2 inch CMOS sensor, not a full SLR sensor to capture photos and videos. It also captures photos at a 10.2 Megapixel resolution. Now this is good for how freakin’ small this is, but in image quality you can tell. This won’t replace a 5D, or 7D. But the surprise is, this camera will get almost exactly the same image quality as my Rebel Cameras, which are a bit more expensive. Low-light, uhh… Let’s just keep it at not the best. That’s where the having the bigger sensor kicks in. But for the size of that little sensor it has a kick. And the image quality if you have the right settings, your results will be outstanding. It’s the that kind of image where someone will ask you did you take that? You will respond, yeah. Then they will be speechless at how good it looks. IF YOU USE MANUAL SETTINGS!
Since this is a camera, it needs to be able to take photos. The Nikon J1 takes a full 10.2 megapixel still photo which looks absolutely phenomenal. The image has great detail and little to no noise (grain) whatsoever. That’s if you tweak with the ISO and other manual exposure and aperture settings. Which are stuck in the menu of the camera. If left on auto, you will still get great photos, but if you’re serious about image quality, you might need to brush up with some camera knowledge before you go all manual.
Not only can the J1 take stills, it can also take full 1080P video at 60 frames per second. It’s interlaced, but who cares? The J1 takes better quality video than most Rebel cameras, and blows the HD camcorders out of the water. It just looks great. Smooth video, with very nice details. Best video I’ve seen in this price range. That includes you T3i!
The most popular set that is sold with the J1 is the 10mm-30mm lens. Which is great if you want wide angle videos, or landscape time photos and videos. But zoom? What zoom? I guess it’s better that the smaller pancake lens which offers the widest angle but the least zoom. But if you want an all around good lens, the third lens announced is the 30mm-110mm lens. It offers a still pretty wide angle at the wide bit, then it goes all the way to 110mm in the telephoto bit. These are all in 35mm increments. Now all of these lenses range from $229-$249, which isn’t bad. Most DSLR lenses start around 300 bucks and can go in the thousands. And hey, Nikkor Glass is some good stuff.
This is the part where we are most disliked the Nikon J1. The battery life is around 240 full resolution photos. Which is dreadful. That’s what compact design does to your battery, shrinks it to nothing. If you’re taking this on trips, make sure to buy a spare battery.. Or two……
Who’s this camera for?
The market Nikon is targeting isn’t professional. The Nikon One is a camera that will replace your HD camcorder and digital point and shoot. Now if competes with Rebel SLR’s, but the big disadvantage is the size of the sensor which shows in low light performance of the Nikon 1. This is for the family mainly, and this will be a great camera to have with you at conventions, vacations, etc. For the professionals looking for a mirror-less solution for your DSLR, you have to wait a bit longer. Now this camera will be a great second friend to your Pro SLR camera when the battery is dead. The market is there.
The Nikon J1 is a great camera, it has it’s faults, but there is no ‘perfect’ camera yet.. YET… But the Nikon J1 will be a great friend for years to come, with it’s dual core processing power, great new CMOS sensor, and the interchangeable lenses. The Nikon J1 retails for $649.99 with the 10mm-30mm lens, but on Amazon (link below) will be a bit cheaper, and you have other packages with other lenses. (If you’re into video shooting, you’ll probably need the telephoto lens, 30mm-110mm) Just some advice to get the widest and tightest zoom.
To Wrap it all up
The Nikon J1, is an amazing digital camera. It whips the Sony NEX 3 & 5 on video quality, but is on par on image quality. Having that big SLR sensor under the NEX body is a huge advantage in low light and to capture the best depth-of-field. It’s a bit pricy, and it’s bigger sister the V1 is almost touch the grand range. But for these cameras are, they will replace all of your cameras and camcorders at home for a good 3-5 years. Unless they start using a super 2000×1000 something resolution. Which isn’t ready yet by the way! It’s a great buy. Also, peek at Amazon for some Black Friday deals and Cyber Monday deals on the J1 and V1.