Nikon 1 J1 10.1 MP HD Mirrorless Digital Camera Review

Since the Nikon 1 J1 was introduced on the market, there have been several reviews complaining about the perceived lack of quality of the CX Sensor it mounts, especially compared to its Sony counterpart, which uses an APS-C. Experts and enthusiasts expected something better, a D3 quality in a small compact camera. Unfortunately, the Nikon J1 doesn’t reach such result, but, like the Sony Alpha Nex Series, if you understand what you’re buying, you won’t be disappointed and you will take wonderful pictures.

Nikon 1 J1 10.1 MP

mirrorless cameraA positive aspect of the Nikon J1, compared to the V1, is the built-in flash. It contributes to reducing its size and the amount of accessories you have to carry with you. Unless you have special requirements from this side, the flash does a pretty good job.
The 10-30mm lens kit is also great to have, as it’s smaller than a 55mm and, compared to other brands, makes the Nikon J1 extremely portable. This is particularly good if you’re not a full time professional and you need to travel light. There’s a drawback, though: the 10mm pancake lens cannot zoom, hence, unless you can get closer to your subject, you won’t be able to capture the smallest details. If that is what you need, you can rely on the 30-110mm lens, which, as all Nikon lenses, provides great flexibility and excellent results. Besides, if you already have a Nikon DSLR camera, you will be able to use its lenses on the J1, by using an adapter. This is the same strategy adapted by Olympus with its Micro 4:3 standard, and it makes this camera even more interesting as you might save quite a bit of money by reusing the equipment you already bought.

Mirrorless Digital Camera Review

The Autofocus is great, and it does a wonderful job, especially in good light. The 3D Tracking implemented by Nikon on his D300 is included in the J1, and it has been greatly improved. The Subject Tracking mode is fast, responsive and accurate. Just lock on your subject, and the camera will keep
the focus on it. This is absolutely amazing if you often take pictures of moving subjects, and it will save you loads of missed shots.

Despite the complaints I mentioned earlier, picture quality is very good. Despite the relatively small sensor, the result is impressive. It has to be said that, at high ISO values, the noise starts to get visible, but saving the pictures in RAW format somewhat mitigates this issue. From my perspectice, I consider this a minor inconvenience, as I rarely save pictures in JPG format if I can use the RAW, as it allows me to get a better result in post-production. It really depends on what use you make of it.

The User Interface is good, and it tries its best to help you doing almost everything. In its default settings, the camera attempts to take care of most things on your behalf. However, if you choose to go into more details and start tweaking these automatic settings, you’ll definitely need to read the manual. This is nothing wrong per se, but, since the Nikon J1 is of professional quality, I would have expected it to implement a more user-friendly and straightforward interface, as professionals seldom rely on fully automatic settings. I got the impression that Nikon chose this desing to appeal a wider audience, but I don’t see many amateurs or hobbysts spending 600 USD on a camera.

One flaw that I found quite restrictive is the configuration of shutter settings when you use the high-speed capture mode: you can’t control can’t focus mode, ISO, metering, control aperture or tracking. The feature itself would be very interesting, but having it locked in such a preset mode greatly limitates its usefulness.

Another flaw, which perhaps could be solved by an update, is that the camera doesn’t seem to allow disabling the image preview after taking a picture. Also Mirrorless Camera Under $1000 check it for more help. This could be a minor inconvenience in some cases, but the camera can’t be used to take another picture until the preview is gone. In conditions where a fast action is required (e.g. sport events), this could mean missing a crucial shot. I find it weird that Nikon didn’t think about it, that’s why I’m thinking it could be a bug.

I haven’t used the Video functions much (I prefer use Video Cameras for that), however, at a glance, the result is somewhat comparable to the still pictures. I got the impression that, while filming, the camera requires more light to produce a good result. This is especially true when using high-speed videos. From the tests I made, you won’t be disappointed by the HD Video produced by the J1, but, due to the requirements in terms of light, I wouldn’t recommend to use it indoors without an appropriate external light source.

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