on 18 December 2012
I'll start by explaining the missing star. In almost every respect this is a five star camera, in my opinion. But the flash will only sync to 1/60th of a second. If that means nothing to you or you never use flash, buy this camera. I'll get back to this one negative at the end.
This is what I like:
1. Small enough (I bought the 10mm 2.8 kit) to fit in my jacket pocket: I wanted a camera to have with me all the time. I've tried micro 4/3 but they always feel like Hobson's choice, all the draw backs of a DSLR, none of the pluses of a compact.
2. Silent. I shoot street all the time. I find in a candid situation my DSLR's mirror clack was a deal breaker.
3. Handles noise sensibly. Up to ISO 400 noise is virtually not an issue. At 800 and 1600 The noise has a pleasant film like character, that favours sharpness over aggressive noise reduction.
4. There's some chance to exploit shallow depth of field. If you exploit your situation, ie your subject is close to, with a background isolated by some distance, the bokeh is quite nice. This is a 1" sensor and just can't do what a DSLR can in this area, but I've been surprised by how well the camera performs in this area, I'd expected performance more in line with a compact.
5. The Speed. Put simply it's blazing. In good light the auto focus locks instantaneously, then the camera will fill the buffer at 60 frames per second. This is changing the nature of my photographs.
6. The lenses. Right now there aren't many, but they're starting by offering the focal lengths you'd want, and they're really sharp. Very sharp indeed. The next lens I buy will be the 18.5mm f1.8, a 50mm equivalent.
I bought this camera after having read all the bad reviews out there, largely as my interest was sparked after the release of the Sony RX1, as it has the same dimension sensor. That and I kept on seeing great files from people using it. So I knew what I was getting into, and it did seem to tick a lot of my boxes.
The thing that really worried me was the lack of manual control. But Nikon seem to have really thought about the implementation of how the camera works. Set in manual mode the dial on the four way controls aperture, the toggle that zooms in play-back, shutter speed. I can change settings, shooting manually without having to look at the camera. The menu remembers where you were, so left on ISO, it's as quick in operation as a dedicated ISO button. Of course having to open the menu for A/S/P/M is a bump in speed, but a small one. The menu is compact and well thought out, better than almost all I've tried. Before using this I was using a Panasonic M4/3 camera, even with a touch screen, a plethora of external controls and dedicated buttons, I'm still spending far less time lost in messy menus
A couple of things I'm less keen on, none of these detract, just niggles: No Auto ISO 100-1600, you need to manually select 1600. Why no accessory port? I chose this over the V1 due to size... that doesn't mean I wouldn't like to use the external flash now and then. And worst of these gripes for me, I can't turn off auto review. I find that grates, I hate auto review, I like to set up then keep the flow going and avoid chimping whenever possible, the review disappears with the next half click, but still I find I miss shots because of it.
And so back to that missing star. The only time I use flash is at social events. I'm sure lots of people are the same. Well isn't that exactly when you want to freeze the action? Kids at a wedding, frenetic freak-outs at a party? Not a t 1/60 of a second you don't. My girlfriend uses a mid-ninties mid-range compact, that'll sync faster than this... How is that OK?
So... I'm over a month in now, I thought long and hard before buying and have (unusually for me) no buyers remorse. I look forward to seeing where this system goes, I think it'll be here for a while.
on 15 December 2011
I already own Nikon D700 and D3 with pro lens, but I have always wanted the portability and quality which you cannot get always. It's not always convenient to carry big weighty kit at small family functions or a quick snap moment.
When Nikon announced this new 'revolutionary' camera I was waiting in anticipation. The reviews has been mixed and when you go to any store, the sales people are not always up to speed with the camera. The highlight stats which are the obvious ones stand out such as the super fast shutter 60fps and the worlds fastest auto focus.
The most obvious thing you will notice is the lack of buttons like you get with other interchangeable lens cameras and also the weight. The build quality is first class and feels more like a Leica than a £500 camera. It feels more solid and sturdy than most DSLR's at this price bracket. All the buttons have a reassuring feel and quality to it.
After using this camera for a couple of months and using it in situations where I would have pulled the big Nikons, I am delighted with the results. Tricky low light situations are handled brilliantly. Indoor photos are clear, well balanced and if fill-in flash required, the balance of the picture is superb. No over powering flash or darkened backdrop. Night shots are easily handled without tripod. The Auto ISO adjusts the sensitivity with shutter speed, and the continuous shutter and you get a sharp handheld night shot. I used this for the Christmas lights on the streets. Easy Peezy!
The sensor size 10MP is more than you will need. Sensor crop at 2.7 sounds like you may have issues with noise, but I hve used the camera in the dark and poorly lit indoor situations with high ISO (>800) and the noise is not very noticeable unless you zoom to the pixel - but even low cost (<£1000) DSLR suffer from this. If you want low noise in tricky situations then the pro Nikon's are made to handle these.
I also like using my camera for capturing sports events or club photos. Until now, I had to rely on my SLR. Now I can use the Nikon J1. The speed of the shutter is quite remarkable. You can easily capture action without the pro kit.
I am also impressed with the white balance. The tricky white balance is a nightmare with most cameras even with my pro Nikon kit. I have noticed the White balance is very good even at auto. Post production software like Lightroom or Elements can easily adjust to the correct white balance, the Nikon data allows this easy accurate correction. I have compared this to my Pro Nikons and the J1 certainly matches these. I have used a variety of cameras and very few have surprised me or impressed like the Nikon J1.
The colours are incredible. There are choices within the camera setting to increase the vibrancy of the colours or have a more neutral balance. Another great function is the Active D Light. This adjusts the image and improves the overall balance of the light of the image. Both these functions are off the pro kit.
Regarding the function and operation. I can see why now Nikon have decided to take away all the functional button. They have made a camera very simple to use - like a point and shoot, but delivering pro level quality without the photographers input on settings. Some people may find this dumbed down photography, but if you want simple point and shoot and results then this delivers in abundance. If you need to and want to take more control, then you can access all the PASM modes via simple menu. All the functions are there very quickly. Metering, WB, Shoot Mode, Focus Mode, etc.
I bought the 10mm 2.8 lens with this camera - its fast and sharp.
I have not mentioned video yet - yes it is HD and full HD - it tracks, focuses and you can get zoom video lens with focus. What more can I say? I am more of a photographer than a videographer, but it does what it says.
The killer part for me, is the ability to use all my F Mount Nikon lenses with an optional adapter. What is truly unbelievable is, i do not lose any F stops by using an adapter. Therefore I can now use my 70-200mm f2.8 lens, with the converter I now get 189-540mm f2.8 lens!!! If I paid for a 500mm f2.8 lens it would cost me over £6000. I can now use this during my F1 days and use the super fast shutter speed to get some incredible images. Even wildlife photographers will be delights. Turn off the shutter sound and leave to electronic, you can be a sniper!
Lastly - Why J1 and V1? I too was undecided and confused. There is very little between the two. Personally the J1 fits my bill and V1 is too expensive for the extra (but small) functions for me. The EVF, Hot show (you will need additional flash) sharper screen, mechanical shutter - i think thats it. Also I think the V1 was designed for the additional accessories for video functions (boom mic).
Make sure you buy a decent fast high capacity SD card and a nice cover for the camera. It is too beautiful to ruin.
All I have to say, yes, it is expensive mirrorless camera, but it is excellent and I am delighted. Best camera I have bought in ages !!
on 5 February 2012
I have both a Nikon DSLR and a Nikon P7100 and enjoy both and I wondered where a J1 would sit for me in my photography, as the camera seems to cross over both of those camera types. In the end I feel that depending on what sort of things you shoot and how compact you want to go (and financial situation), it could replace none, one or both, it really is a personal thing, as all photography is.
I got the two lens kit. The lenses are very sharp edge to edge and the implementation of vibration reduction is the best that I have seen on any system. There is a lovely depth of colour and vibrance to the shots. JPEG and RAW output seem quite similar in prints, though I prefer RAW and the supplied software will convert it nicely. Auto White Balance is really accurate though typical of all digitals, indoor under artificial light is best taken out of auto white balance.
The software automatically adjusts noise (unlike say Lightroom which the user has control over, though I actually found the results in relation to noise reduction similar in both products) The software can be sluggish when you zoom in to something (I am using a dual core laptop - just pre Core i) to work on but once there for post processing it runs fine.
battery usage seems slightly on the heavy side, I have bought a spare - but then I always do with every camera I buy. It cost £40 which seems cheaper than some other brands for an original. I have the camera set to continuous auto focus (default setting), which is probably why I find the battery usage higher than average.
The camera is famed for its auto focus speed and it is very fast in good light and poor light it seems to around the speed of any other mirrorless that I have used, which is still good. It uses the new Expeed 3 processor which is clearly a step forward and I look forward to seeing what this can do for other models.
The camera can be used as a simple point and shoot, the auto systems are VERY good. But there is also full manual capability and some new tricks for more creative photography. For example it can take a still, but as soon as you press the shutter half way it also takes a second of movie and then concludes with the still, so on playback, you get a bit of movie followed by the still. It is very clever but I think needs to evolve by taking a slightly longer piece of movie - imagine the footballer powers his leg back, takes the shot and then just as he makes contact with the ball, you get the still with 3 - 5 seconds of movie before the still, that is the kind of story that I think would be useful but at this time the 1 second movie bit is too short to turn the still into a meaninful story like that - but very clever none the less. I tried it out on our bird feeder. Two Goldfinch landed on a branch I have attached to the feeder. I was waiting for one to move hoping to catch the flight to the actual feeder - instead, they both took off and did that bonding thing where one tries to feed the other in mid air, just a lucky and very nice moment to capture as movie plus still.
The image quality of the camera is fantastic, clear, vibrant. sharp and colourful, it is really impressive what the relatively small sensor does. The sensor size is resulting in a x2.7 crop, so depth of field is deeper, this means that like many compacts, you will get distractions in the background in a way that a DSLR can in some situations avoid.
There is an adaptor (about £220) that allows some of your DSLR Nikon lenses to be used and retain auto focus - the advantage of this for me would be to turn my 70 - 300mm VR into a super zoom (that x2.7 crop) and I could use some of the movie tricks in my wildlife photography.
Frames per second can be blistering ( upto 60!) using an electronic shutter and there is also a mode that takes 20 shots in the blink of an eye, keeps the sharpest 5 and then lets you select the one you want to keep.
The auto modes are very good and can determine the kind of scene you are shooting with remarkably accurate results, though I tend to use the PSAM modes. the camera does have some characteristics that you need to learn to get best use from it. for example, it tends to default to a low shutter speed (1/30), since you hold the camera out in front of you, you need to think about holding technique to avoid camera shake blur. I prefer to shoot is 'S' mode and just knock the shutter speed up a tad.
The ISO range is VERY good and usable. Users may want to set the camera to Auto 100 - 3200 and this is fine for general shots, but be aware that if you deploy the flash, for some reason it will use the highest ISO that you allow and will tend to over expose. I prefer to fix the camera at ISO 100 or 200 generally and specifically for flash shots - which at that setting are REALLY lovely and warm. On a poor light day, I set the ISO to auto 100 - 800.
The LCD is nice and sharp - beware though that if you make an EV adjustment, you need to press OK to make the changes visible in the LCD. Likewise if you under or over expose the shots in the manual modes the LCD does not show it - but it does display the words LO or HI at the bottom of the screen, so that you know you are wrongly exposed.
The camera seems to protect highlights. I did some swans yesterday and all the details was very clear without any blown highlights - the background water had gone dark in comparison and that was fully recoverable in PP to give a very pleasing result.
The bigger lens (30 - 130 or 300mm equivalent) is amazingly compact. Both lenses have VR and the cam and both lenses sit very nicely in a small camera bag, making this a very good travel companion. In movie mode, the camera automatically adjusts focus.
It is surprising that this model is dearer than the P7100 yet has nowhere near the same level of controls on the body. everything is in menu's. You quickly get used to this, but I think enthusiasts would like to have seen one or two programable functions on the body for things like quick access to ISO. But the menu button remembers that last setting you visited, so you can 'park' the menu in say ISO and then when you press menu you effectively get instant access to that setting.
It also lacks the arty filters that come with the P7100 and it seems that Nikon did not want this system to tread too much on the toes of either its P7100 or DSLRs - they have suceeded because it can be hard to choose which systems to keep or sell.
Overall this is a very nice portable camera that puts fun into photography. both serious and none serious users will be able to get very nice images from the camera and it will often leave the house with you. It has a metal body, so is surprisingly weighty but it is simply nice to own and use.
Finally, I had to choose between the dearer V1 or the J1, the former is £250 dearer plus another £130 for the flash unit. I really would have preferred an EFV but I felt that the price difference could not be justified for me, especially as i have invested in other kit. The V1 LCD has higher resolution but frankly the J1's is very good anyway. The sensor and processor are the same in both cameras, so image quality is the same. So I chose the J1. I think if the V1 had had more controls on the body, the decision might have been tougher but as it is, I am quite happy with the J1.
Only time will tell whether I start to use this more than either or both the P7100 and DSLR, I don't want 3 systems and financially one needs to go to fund my J1. From a compact point of view, the J1 needs a bigger bag than the P7100 and it has less instant access to controls and there is some lens chaning involved, but image and feature wise it really knocks the spots off the P7100. From a DSLR point of view, the advantages of the DSLR will be that generally it has a ton of ready accessable controls on the body (rather than in a menu) making sport and wildlife easier to capture and it is the king of getting a shallow depth of field and thereby isolating the subject. Also image quality is ultimately better on the larger DSLR sensor - (but you cannot fail to be impressed by the J1 image, which for many will be more than adequate and a lot of the time you would need to pixel peep to see those differences), so if those things are essential to your shooting, then it cannot replace a DSLR but for other users I think it can.
Also, speaking as a DSLR user, one of the nice things about this system is the fact that it is not a DSLR - its simplicity, excellent results, state of the art features and slim lines just make it a pleasure to use.
I can't really find much to fault with the camera, I think you could buy this and own it for a long time before worrying about what the next 'best thing' is, bottom line is it takes lovely pictures and makes photography a lot of fun. I do think that you are better buying the two lens kit from the outset, as you will simply get more photographic opportunities with the camera and it is a lot cheaper than buying the second lens later.
EDIT - 7th Feb 2012, yesterday, Nikon released new firmware that deals with flash over exposure.
on 11 July 2013
Okay, I am not going to list the spec - they are already here - but I am just going to go through the way I use the camera.
Firstly for stills photography I wanted something that was easy to use so I can flip between very short and very long depth of field. If you get one of the big lens you can easily achieve that on this camera. The effect is startling and is very, very close to DSLR territory. You have the ability to go with aperture or shutter speed priority. I wish there was a turn wheel for this so you have to dig through the menus to change this setting. It is a bit of a pain but I mainly use it in AP mode anyway so it hasn't been an issue for me. You can turn it completely manual but there are just not enough buttons to make it either quick or intuitive so I would recommend using the autofocus - which is excellent. The quality of shots that I have got (in RAW) are amazing and I have found that my iMac detects the pictures very, very quickly - maybe that is a Nikon thing. My Canon takes an age.
Secondly I wanted something to use as a point-and-shoot. Again, you kind of have to go through the settings to turn it back to full auto (which is a pain) or you can use Smart Photo + which takes a bunch of pictures quickly. It's okay but it slows the camera down a lot and sometimes I just want to go to full auto and take a picture.
Finally, movies. I wanted something to use as a secondary motion camera and the J1 takes surprisingly great HD movies. It does super slow motion and all that kind of stuff (which is actually pretty good) but the actual HD1080 movies you get out of this camera are very, very good indeed. The lens you have does make a difference but I found the quality of video that I got was high, not too grainy and with a pretty even colour balance (though a bit vivid for my tastes). The downside with this camera are that you cannot use an external audio device (as the internal mics are useless).
Lastly, the battery is not the most long lasting as the LCD at the back is always on during operation so that kills it a bit. Oh, and buy a UV filter - cheap and makes a big difference to the shots and saves scratching your lens.
Overall, I have got some great shots and some pretty decent movies - the lens' are what makes this camera and is a great halfway house between DSLR and compact. But, you'll be fiddling around in the menus quite a bit.
I have now had my J1 kit for about a month and here are my findings:
The camera has a real quality feel to it when you hold it.
The lack of "grippy" panels on the camera and its straight lines however lead me to worry, perhaps needlessly, that it will slip out of my hands.
In comparison to my main digital SLR it turns on in an instant.
The camera produces very high quality and very detailed pictures.
The macro function (I photograph flowers a lot) is incredible
The sensor may only be 10M pixels, and Samsungs alternative to the J1 may have 20M pixels but the lack of noise at lower speeds is very impressive
The flash, which is very easy to turn on and off (unlike some compact cameras!) is good.
There is even a lens hood for sunny weather (obviously this is for overseas use)
All in all an expensive but good value for money camera, I wish it felt more firmly gripped in my hands, I would have expected at this price a high speed memory card to be included. I would have liked a case included as well for the price.
However image quality and usability makes up for this.
I have no hesitation in recommending this camera.
However come on Nikon, with a camera this expensive why have you not included the vital high speed memory card?
on 15 December 2011
I would like to begin this review by pointing out that I am a compact camera user. I have only dabbled with D-SLR cameras so I don't have enough knowledge to compare a compact system camera with a D-SLR. I am reviewing this from the perspective of a compact camera user who wants to upgrade to a slightly better camera.
The first thing I noticed about this camera is that it is very stylish. I also found it easy to use, although it will take time for me to learn about all the different options (I am sure I wasn't always making the best of the different settings when taking photos). If you are reasonably confident with technology you can pretty much start taking pictures without even referring to the instructions. There aren't many buttons on the camera as you control most things via the menu. I don't mind this, but some people may find this off-putting.
I was very happy with the photos the camera produced. I did feel that the camera settings helped me produce better pictures. I did try the camera out in a variety of settings, but probably didn't push it to the limit. Once I had got the hang of using the camera I did find that it was very fast and responsive.
One thing I particularly liked about this camera was the size. I have small hands and find many SLRs difficult to hold, but the J1 was perfect for me. It's not quite small enough to put in your pocket, but it will certainly fit in a small bag with no problem. It is quite heavy, but it is a very well made and sturdy camera.
I would certainly recommend this camera to anyone. It is not cheap so a potential buyer needs to consider whether a beginner's D-SLR would be more appropriate for their needs. I personally wanted a camera where I had a bit more control over the settings and the option to change lenses, but I still basically wanted a point and shoot. This camera therefore suits me perfectly.
PROFESSIONAL AND FUNCTIONAL. Pricey at in excess of £400.00 but exceptional quality and image quality is brilliant
too. Very very straightforward to use even for a novice like me. Step by step instructions - absolutely fabulous
flash - pops up in an instant - very neat - should be on everyone's wish list for Xmas - l am very very happy with it....
on 18 March 2012
I bought my Nikon 1 three weeks ago after 2 months trying to work out all the pro's and downsides of compacts, system/hybrids and SLR camera. Another issue was negative reviews. I am totally happy with my final choice the Nikon 1, believe me the build quality is fantastic, I read a review saying the front plastic panel was flimsy-not true!another saying pictures blurred-the camera was not on the right setting mate!
Great build and looks, perfect size to carry, clever lens folds in on itself, few controls and super easy, and get off basic still camera mode and this camera takes a clear shot everytime, its taken 10 in a second and chosen the best, just fantastic for moving children. For a family this camera is perfect.The low light performance is far better than a compact, the flash is a good built in design, popping up (unlike Sony's clip on)and this camera is smaller than other system/hybrid's. The picture quality is very good.Look a bit closer at tests and this camera took almost as detailed photos as leading system cameras with 16mp and took far superior 1080 video, seamless sequences because it takes more per second than almost anything and it processes better because its not loaded up with extra pixels.
This is a great useful tool that is fun to use and handy-you are more likely to carry this about than an SLR and technical lenses are available.
Not the most pixels or biggest sensor if you buy on the hype but Nikon are honest. Other companies are cramming too many pixels and the camera's are no better than the last its a sales game, the Nikon has the right design to do the job. The Nikon 1 does get through its battery, because it takes so many photo's on fast setting and processors are working hard, but I just bought a cheap spare battery for £6. The standard 10-30 lens isn't a big zoom but its a trade-off as it goes to half the size and you can buy a bigger lens. My best tip (after 10 months use) is buy the camera 100% (the J1 is now cheaper) but with the 30-110 lens as the 10-30 lens is often not enough, the lenses are pricey.
Buy this with confidence.
Graham Robson@ Durham
on 28 October 2013
I have been accumulating a sizeable Pentax dSLR kit but the downside is that it is quite a bit to lug around. I found that I was missing photo opportunities because it was becoming a bit of a chore to carry so much gear. I had looked at a number of CSC options and finally took the leap with the Nikon because the price was so good at just under £200 including the 10-30mm lens.
Even in the case I can pop this camera into a casual jacket pocket and I have taken this with me quite a bit and enjoyed finding my way around it.
There are a number of points which have accumulated to knock a star off a maximum five - almost like a booking for persistent fouling. None of these affect the camera performance. My first niggle was how the camera arrived; the box was clearly one intended and marked as the J1 body with 10-30mm and 30-100mm lens, although I was only buying the single zoom option (I'm guessing the seller had decided selling the long zoom separately was a sound idea). The next niggle was lack of paper instructions - either a traditional handbook or a quick start booklet. The last gripe was - who sells a lens without a lens hood these days? apparently Nikon do.
Out and actually using the camera has been a nice experience. The 1080 video is decent looking and the focus continues to work during filming (note 30fps, no 25fps option). In stills, I like the control available, that said most of the time you can stick on the automatic settings and get nice results. The pop up flash seems to be far enough off the lens axis to avoid red eyes, As a keen film maker I appreciate the timelapse feature.
I had a look at the J2 and J3 before buying and would say unless the J2 price drops significantly there is no obvious advantage in buying the J2. I certainly don't miss those gimmicky filters that have appeared in later J incarnations - you can add these on in post and in better quality.
So the bottom line - is the camera any good? I would have to say the results I have gotten have been terrific and I can certainly recommend this little gem of a camera. I was at a birthday party with a friend using a smart phone which on paper dwarfed the J1's 10mp sensor but when you saw the end results the Nikon wiped the floor with the smartphone (I can never work out the logic that a £500 smartphone is better value than a camera because it contains a 'free' camera) proving that a modest sensor well implemented will deliver top results.
I still use my Pentax kit for serious and long telephoto work but for daily needs the Nikon J1 has taken over.
on 18 June 2013
A bit of background first - I have used a number of cameras, professional Nikon D3 series, a number of Micro Four Third cameras and Fuji XE1.
I bought a refurbished J1 from the Camera Centre (great service - looks new and in its original box) on Amazon as I wanted a 10mm to use on holiday. Buying the J1 with 10mm lens made more sense than just the lens on its own.
I found myself using the J1 and 10mm for about 90% of my shots and the V1 with 18.5mm lens for the rest. I mounted the 10-30 but found the twist to extend the lens counter-intuitive so took it off.
I left the camera in P mode and I used the menu to adjust the ISO as needed. The photos are brilliant form such a small sensor. There is noise but it is mostly luminance (or black dots) and isn't annoying.
The exposure from the camera is pretty much spot on. I did use the EV adjustment although that is odd to set and doesn't reset if you turn the camera off. Flash fill was good and well balanced.
The lens is pretty good into the sun even without a lens hood - the hood isn't as easy to source as the 18.5 one.
The screen is more difficult to see in bright sunlight but it's still usable.
All in all a great camera at a very reasonable price. Now all I need is the 6.7-13mm lens :-)