Review Of Nikon 1 J1: Mirrorless Marvel

Nikon has entered in the mirror less line of camera which is also called “Compact System Camera” with the Nikon 1 V1. The Nikon 1 J1 is the lower end version of it. Mirror less cameras offer better image quality over the traditional compact cameras and interchangeable lens system, which like dSLRs, come in several configuration, better AF system them compact cameras and of course they are really expensive with the market evolving just recently, but this does not stop people who are enthusiastic about this new technology from buying it.

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While V1 is more enthusiast friendly, J1 is consumer friendly.

1 system from Nikon features a new 10 MP sensor in a new CX format which is smaller than micro third and APS – C but bigger than the traditional compact camera and of course is smaller than the full frame dSLR, the basic philosophy is to ease of use with great experience with a nice design

So this has enable Nikon to claim the smallest possible camera from them with bigger than inch of sensor (the bigger the sensor the better the image). According to Nikon they have worked this nice looking camera from bottom up.

System is basically made for the people who like to have some really nice photographs without being bothered about the “Photography stuff”.

 Specifications:

Sensor : 10.1MP, 13.2 mm x 8.8 mm CMOS sensor, Nikon CX format

Effective Angle of View: Approx. 2.7 x lens focal length (35 mm format equivalent);

Focus System: Hybrid AF, (mix of contrast detect and phase detect), AF assist Illuminator.

AF Area: Single-point (135 points), Auto-area (41 points), Subject tracking

Continuous Shooting: Electronic shutter (Hi) 60fps, 30fps and 10fps at full resolution

Mechanical: Up to 5fps depending upon the modes.

Video: 1080/60i video, slow motion

Storage: SD/SDHC/SDXC compatible

Battery: Li-ion Rechargeable Battery (EN-EL20), offer 300 shots at max.

Body Material: Aluminium alloy

Flash Range: Approx. 5/16 m/ft @ ISO 100

LCD Monitor: 3”, 461K dots

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Sensor and Lens System:

The sensor is at 1” bigger than the compact cameras but is smaller than four thirds and dSLR’s APS-C, which isin fact smaller then what other competitor is offering in their mirror less cameras except Pentax Q. Also this results in 2.7X multiplier in the focal length. So a 10-30 mm lens is practically a 27 – 81 mm.

For the System 1, Nikon has created the new format which is called as CX format and lenses for the format is designated by 1 NIKKOR. Small sensor means small lenses and light weight optics, which in turn means faster focusing time as motor has to do less work. But the catch is it offer less depth of field as the effective focal length is multiplied by the factor of 2.7; but on the other hand it also offer faster focus speeds.

Nikon offer four lenses for J1 they are : 10 mm pancake lens, 10-30mm F3.5-5.6 VR, 30-110mm F3.8-5.6 VR, 10-100mm F4.5-5.6 PD-Zoom. All of the lenses have to be unlocked before they can be used, this is done by pressing unlock button and twisting the barrel. In normal state they are locked so that they can be easily be stored.

 Body:

clip_image004Body is sleek and stylish, with rounded edges and aluminum surface, which is certainly eye catcher when put in between the compact cameras. It is Available in 5 different colors but lacks the two very important features which are now a days common in every compact camera i.e articulated LCD and touch screen capability.

Body feels solid and premium to hold, a finger grip in front of the camera feels good which makes the camera can be handled with one hand. Rear menu controls are sized in the way that it can be operated with single hand.

The combination with the 10-30 mm kit is good and somewhat less bulky than 10-100 mm kit. The camera comes with the default 10 mm pancake lens kit or both 10 mm and 10-30 mm kit.

It has a L shaped pop-up flash at the edge of the camera that rises about 3.5cm from the lens. Flash rating is 5m at ISO 100.

Buttons are flushed in the body to minimize the damage in case of accidental fall. On the Top plate there are three buttons; Power on, Shutter release and Movie Record. At the bottom, a integrated control dial sits with four dedicated buttons.

 Battery :

Battery pack is EN-EL20 battery with a CIPA rating of approximately 230 still images; which in fact is disappointing but in case of day light without flash photography it can go as far as around 400 shots per recharge.

 Performance:

System is fast, with a responsive 1.2 sec start up, focus is in less than second in good light condition, which is really awesome provided the camera size. Under low light condition the auto focus may tip over 1 second which is average in cameras now days. No shutter lag was noticeable in the shots as well.

A shot to shot time was coming around 1.5 sec which is again average when no flash was used and this was elongated to around 2 seconds when flash was used.

In low light conditions the system uses the its own brain hence number varies, as it chooses the phase detection, focus is less than second but in case of contrast detection it is more than a second.

With its electronic shutter, the J1 is capable of delivering the whopping 60 fps but is incapable of focusing while it is capturing the shots at that speed. There are reduced speed of 10 and 30 fps with electronic shutter. With buffer plays a great role in it and also the card speed as well you will need a class UHS – 1 Card to achieve that kind of speed (even then it is highly improbable you will get that). Further to note in JPEG + RAW mode you may actually never get that advertised speed as the enormous amount of data need to be transferred which always struck up in data pipeline with is around 600 megabits/sec in as given by Nikon in specs but may never be achieved practically. At most 19 shots can be recorded at JPEG

There is also regular continuous drive with mechanical shutter as well which can deliver 5 and 10 fps and with continuous focus in the case.

Camera is basically meant to used in automatic mode, where a lots of parameters is decided by the system for the optimal photo graphs but you can get to the core setting and play around a bit if you like.

 Conclusion

From a point and shoot perspective the camera is fun to be with. With the awesome fast photographic speed (theoretical: 60fps) and really fast Autofocus and ready to printed images with excellent color reproduction and low noise. Also Smart Photo Selector can be real valuable as most of the time it gets really nice pictures. Good AF tracking at 10fps is something with normal compact camera can’t do. But on the other hand camera does not have any in camera filter effects which can take away all the fun of the compact camera owners.

At the end the price is really steep, in comparison of the other Mirror less camera offered by the competitor. But it is nice investment none the less for the experience.

Price: Price is variable depending upon the kit selected; it is INR 23000 approximately for 10-30 and 30-110 included.