on 27 October 2012
The J2 is a modest update to the Nikon 1 J1, improving the resolution of the LCD screen and making the creative modes more accessible by adding them to the control dial rather than purely through menus. I guess "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" has applied here, as the J1 was a success.
The camera body is small, metal and feels as high quality as you would expect from Nikon. However, I have largish hands and long fingers and struggled to hold it comfortably. There is no handgrip or protrusion on the front of the body and just a small area next to the rear control dial for your thumb. I have a Sony NEX-7 and find that reasonably comfortable to hold one-handed; because the Nikon is smaller still, I was continually worried that it might slip from my hand. My wife has smaller hands and found it more suitable. It's not a huge issue but something to bear in mind.
The 10-30mm lens retracts into itself via a locking button, and must be released before the camera can be used. The unlocking mechanism also usefully switches on the camera so there is no two-step fumbling when that once-in-a-lifetime scene appears. With lens attached the camera will fit into a coat pocket but is still slightly bulkier than a compact with fully retractable zoom. Talking fully-retractable, there is a small pop-up flash built-in and, since there is no hot shoe, usefully has a range of flash functions from anti-red eye to fill-in.
The rear control dial allows the camera to be left in fully-auto mode (green symbol) or switched to other modes, some of which have various sub-modes. For example the Creative mode lets you choose from a particular type of image (such as Night Portrait, Soft or panorama) or select the more advanced Aperture or Shutter priorities and Manual. The latter are not especially intuitive with the controls assigned to them but I guess if you're a more advanced user and the J2 is the only camera you have when some amazing light occurs it might be useful.
In Smart Photo Selector mode, the camera takes a number of shots before you press the shutter completely down so if your timing is slightly off when photographing people or action there is still a chance of getting the shot. The camera auto-selects what it thinks is the best image and 4 'candidates' for best image. However note that the flash cannot be used in this mode so parties will either need to be outside or in good light indoors.
The camera can shoot full-HD videos at normal speed or at lower resolution in slow motion. In HD mode it is also possible to capture still frames while recording, though this will be at 16:9 movie ratio. The image stabilisation is very effective while recording video and I was able to capture some good footage while hand-holding the camera.
My first impressions of image quality were a little disappointing as there seemed to be some smearing of detail. However the default setting is for JPEG normal, which means that the camera applies a fair amount of compression. I set this to Fine and images were much sharper; this may impact the frames per second as files will be larger but I didn't notice any difference in practice. There is also the option for RAW and RAW+JPEG, which will allow finer control over results. In fact, this was useful as I found that the white balance was fooled on a couple of occasions. This afternoon the sun was out and the leaves on the trees were a beautiful golden brown. I was disappointed that the camera white balance overrode this and gave the trees a green cast. I switched to shooting in RAW so that I could correct this later but I wonder how many users of this camera would be using RAW and post-processing their images. SLR owners using the J2 as a second camera probably would (I would) but my wife will be using this going forward and she isn't interested in PP, she wants good quality straight from the camera. At around £500 this isn't cheap for a point and shoot.
The auto-focus is very fast and accurate, much more so than my NEX-7. Taking pictures indoors late in the afternoon, the J2 was still snapping into focus long after the Sony's AF had given up and gone to bed. Images at low ISO were sharp and detailed, and bumping up the ISO indoors wasn't a disaster either. There is a smearing of detail rather than overt noise but given the tiny size of the sensor results were quite impressive. However even when the flash was enabled indoors the camera did have the tendency to keep the ISO raised which was a little disappointing. One thing worth mentioning is that if you zoom right in on the LCD, fine detail does appear to be soft but downloaded and viewed on a computer screen and printed at standard sizes it's not as noticeable.
Overall, there is obviously a market for this camera as the J1 was a hit for Nikon but I'm not sure who it appeals to. As a second camera for an SLR user, yes it's small and pocketable but using it in aperture or shutter priority is not as easy as, say, on the NEX-7. More likely to appeal to Nikon SLR users is that you can fit the SLR quality Nikon lenses through an optional adaptor.
It's also pretty expensive for its standard configuration as a point & shoot. However, it is very well made and the main selling point is the speed of the shutter, allowing images to be captured before you fully depress the shutter thus increasing the chances of capturing facial expressions and actions that often go missing. For parents that, plus the decent video capture functionality, may be the most important aspects for you and there is no doubt that it can capture sharp and colourful images.
I had a nice little Fuji F200 and a Pentax k-r DSL and a Samsung camcorder and never quite knew which to take. So I did quite a bit of research into small cameras with larger sensors. I quickly realized that the laws of physics mean that the small bodied cameras with big APS sensors require SLR-sized lenses too - and none of them will take my Pentax lenses anyway. So those seem pointless. Micro four thirds looked like a good compromise but they seem expensive, especially extra lenses. My brother was on the same mission and in the end went for a Sony RX100: 1" sensor, very expensive but pocketable. I wanted almost that sort of portability but more variety of lenses.
The Nikon 1 range looked interesting but pricey. Then after the J3 came out I found the red J2 with twin zoom lenses on offer at a very attractive price (well under £400) at amazon and went for it. The real clincher was the 27-300mm zoom coverage of the two kit lenses plus the availability of the fast F1.8 50mm prime lens (that can wait for my birthday). I've now taken my first 100 shots, mostly with no flash in very poor light, and am very impressed. Portability is great. The camera comes with a body cap and both lenses have caps both ends. That means I can get body and both lenses into a slim leather shoulder bag, all separate. Attaching and changing lenses is very quick indeed and I haven't found it as much of an issue as I though having to change lenses around the 80mm boundary. But it would still be more sensible to have some overlap between the wide and long zoom lenses. I've shot mostly in aperture priority mode and that works pretty well. It's a bit odd having to dive into the menu system for something as basic as ISO settings but it seems to remember where you last went so it's not too much bother. It's then pretty easy to adjust aperture with the little up/down lever and the 3" screen is very clear. In low light I tend to set the exact ISO I want then vary the aperture, making sure the shutter speed is usable. But today I took a lot of shots at a party in a pub with the ISO on auto 100-3200. That worked OK-ish but I did find it would push the shutter speed down to 1/15" rather than go for a higher ISO - eg it would happily inflict 1/15" on me at ISO 1400, not knowing I was shooting people waving their arms about. So I've concluded that you really do need to specify the exact ISO you want in dark situations. These cameras are all basically guessing blind in any sort of auto mode. I've found noise OK at ISO 3200 and even the emergency "Hi 1" ISO makes some pretty dim shots do-able without flash, albeit with quite a bit of speckly noise when you zoom in.
I have also used the camera in bright light and like the colours - not oversaturated. I can also get a good degree of bokeh (shallow depth of field, background out of focus) with the kit lenses at max. aperture. The F1.8 lens will offer a far shallower depth of field again. I have not tried video yet but was impressed enough by what I've read that I've already given my quite new camcorder to my daughter. And finally, just about everyone who's seen my new J2 thinks it looks good. They're even more impressed when they feel how heavy it is and how good the results are from such a small camera, especially the no flash low light ones.
An update after a walk round Kew Gardens on a delightful, sunny evening: I'd put the J2 on RAW capture mode earlier and didn't notice, so I got a few rather lovely shots of magnolias, blossom etc in the J2's NEF RAW format. Faststone Viewer can preview them fine but I found that the necessary plugin for Photoshop Elements is not available for PE v7 or 8. So how to process them? I've set my Pentax SLR to output DNG RAW format, which PE7 handles very well. I found and downloaded the free Adobe DNG converter which does a good job of batch converting any NEFs it finds in the folder you specify to DNG. So I soon had some lovely shots processed and posted to flickr. Slightly messy but rating unchanged at 5/5.
I am an experienced amateur photographer who also uses a
Nikon D300 and various lenses as well as a Canon G9 Powershot.
The first thing that struck me about the Nikon 1 J2 was the build quality, excellent, and the best I have used in the compact class.
It looks and feels like a mini D-SLR and has style as well as quality of construction.
I usually prefer to shoot RAW images with my D300 rather than in- camera processed JPEG's. RAW allows for much greater post shooting adjustments and corrections without loss of image quality.
The J2 allows for shooting in RAW, JPEG or both simultaneously.
If you use Aperture or Capture NX you will need a new plug in to process the NEF files.
Nikon has some new software, which is supplied on disc along with detailed manuals, also on another disc.
Next, the $64,000 question, taking pictures.
The J2 is easy to use with a wide range of options and intuitive software.
The J2 takes brilliant pictures with really good low light capability.
The lens quality is typically Nikon, superb. You can enlarge your shots to jumbo size and the detail is pin sharp.
The flash extends out of the top of the camera body and is tiny but quite powerful.
There are the usual shooting modes, Programmed, Aperture and Shutter Priority and Manual. There is a plethora of creative options and a Movie function as well.
Now I only use a camera like this to shoot still pictures, I have a separate movie camera for video purposes. Therefore I have not tried the movie option, besides in my case 95% of my photography is still images. I would think given the quality of this camera movies would probably be quite good but I would still recommend buying a purpose made video camera, horses for courses etc.
I won't go into the creative options, pretty much all digital cameras have them, sepia, black & white, landscape and portrait modes etc and it's easy to look them up in the technical specs or on the web if they are of particular interest to you.
Cons; I have several cons. This is a small camera which when fitted with the 30-110mm lens is a little top heavy, this is probably, partly due to the afore-mentioned build quality.
No power zoom is another consideration, on bigger units such as my D300 with any telephoto lens, these fit more snugly into your hand and I find are easier to hold. Manual zoom is easy, but on small compact models I find power operated zooming helpful, but on the J2 you have to adjust manually, perfectly doable but fiddlier than I would like.
I am not sure that the maximum 110mm Zoom range is enough
to justify the purchase, I feel that a more powerful zoom option is required or else I think a conventional compact with a decent zoom and power operation would probably be my choice.
The lack of an optical viewfinder is also an issue for me but you can manage with the screen okay, although I wish the screen angle could be adjusted.
I also wonder why Nikon couldn't fit a hot-shoe for better flash or video light options.
The J2 is trying to be a really compact D-SLR but with the limited range of lenses etc, I would either buy a full size D-SLR or a great compact.
Reservations aside, this camera does take beautiful pictures in all conditions, and is especially good in poor light, and it has great style and looks, do I like it?, yes I do, would I buy it?, probably not for me unless at the very least Nikon increase the range of lenses available. You pays your money, and you takes your choice.
on 13 May 2014
Got this for a fantastic price as a lightning deal. I'm basing my review on that really low price.
Why I like it:
1" Sensor, better than any phone sensor and larger than a point & shoot compact. An APC-C sensor is wasted on me as I don't make massive prints or need low light capabilities and the larger dynamic range etc.
Excellent build quality in both body and lenses.
Comfortable in hand and compact size. People don't feel uncomfortable around a smaller colourful camera. DSLRs can be intimidating.
Silent electronic shutter
Fast enough auto focus with contrast and phase detection
Matching lens hood in the box
Great image quality
The LCD screen is very good. Unfortunately it doesn't pull out or tilt, but it doesn't lag at all. It's soooo smooth. I have tried other cameras where the LCD screen lags and this is just fantastic.
I don't know if this sounds strange but I prefer the image size/shape that this camera produces rather than micro four thirds that has more of a squared shape.
What disappoints me:
No wifi, need to buy an eye-fi card
Also I read that changing the vibration reduction/image stabilization to 'Normal' will prevent blurred images, because strangely it's set to 'active' by default when it should be on Normal.
Update: I've now bought the 18.5mm lens and taken over 1000 photos. I absolutely love this camera. My 30-110mm lens is sharper than my 10-30mm kit lens and the 18.5mm is probably the best lens. I couldn't live without the 30-110mm, it's brilliant for photos of animals on day trips. I've been having a lot of fun with the J2 and in a year or 2 i'll upgrade to the J4 when it's cheap enough.
on 22 February 2015
Being given a bridge camera reawakened my desire for more picture taking control. Whilst great the bridge camera wasn't a good fit for my hands, I have worked out that Nikon's are designed for someone with my size hands. This fits without having the expense or weight of a DSLR. It handles really well for me. Yes it is very pink - pink was much cheaper and is probably unstealable/resalable to roughly 50% of the population. Excellent saying 'A good horse can't be the wrong colour'. It has all the features that I want. It is important to look at the online/downloadabe manual as the print one is fairly basic.
on 21 April 2013
Other people on this forum have written full technical reviews of this product. I shall confine my review to the observations of a fairly experienced amateur. To begin with: why did I buy it? The reason was that at first I considered the Nikon1 V1, because it was offered at a good price on Amazon.co.uk. However, after some consideration, I decided not to go for that, because, although it has an eye-level view finder, which I prefer, it does not have a built in flash, which is what I wanted. Furthermore, the V1 does not have a standard hot-shoe. It has a Nikon dedicated one, which means that you have to buy a Nikon dedicated flash gun for which they want £146.85 which I consider expensive for a tiny flashgun about one inch wide. So I rejected the V1, and went for the J2 instead. The J2 is beautifully made, and a pleasure to handle. It feels solid to the touch, and well put together. It looks very smart in white. I have only seen pictures of it in the other colours available, so I can only say that black, orange, and pink would probably not be to my taste. At first I experimented in automatic mode, on the wide-angle lens, and produced perfectly satisfactory results with flash, and excellent ones outdoors without. The 10Mbbimages are very sharp, and produce an excellent range of colours on my iPhoto programme on my iMac. I then put on the telephoto zoom, and it was here that I noticed that the longer focus lens tends to overbalance the camera, and makes it difficult to hold still whilst viewing the screen on the back at arms length for view-finding. Also, being new to Nikon products, I found that it was counter-intuitive to attach a lens by turning it anti-clockwise, and detach it the opposite way. But I have got used to it by now. It was at this point that I regretted the lack of an eye-level viewfinder, because, with that, one would hold the camera against one's face by the far end of the lens, and would not feel that it was overbalancing. I solved the problem by buying the Photo Plus handle, which screws into the tripod bush at the bottom of the camera. At about £7 it was money well spent. Another problem I experienced was that the rear screen view finder was very difficult to see in bright sunlight. I frequently had to aim the camera in the general direction of the subject and select a wide angle focal length, then crop and straighten up the images in iPhoto. Fortunately, with about 10MB to play with, there are still a lot of pixels left to make a sharp image when cropped, straightened, and magnified. The telephoto lens produces sharp images when the camera is held still as suggested above. I then selected Creative mode, and experimented with Panorama - works well with practice - Night Landscape, and Night Portrait, both of which seemed to me to be gimmicky, but worked well as described. The back lighting compensation effect is useful if you don't want to mess about with the flash or exposure compensation. And I have to say that I have not yet experimented with the PSAM facility or the manual mode which I don't think are appropriate for this type of camera. I haven't used the video mode yet, and am unlikely to do so, as I have a separate camcorder. However, despite my criticisms, and despite not having tried out all the features, I am very pleased with the photos I have produced so far. I would like to have a DSLR with some of the features which this little camera has. I shall use this as a sort of pocket camera for parties, etc, where serious photography is not required. Purchasers might wish to consider buying the Photo Plus handle, a Dorr Lens Cap Keeper in white if they have bought this camera in white, and a Nikon CF-EU06 System bag which just about holds all of the bits and pieces when you go out and about. Also, if you want a spare battery, you don't have to get the Nikon branded one. You can get one from an independent manufacturer for a fraction of the price.
on 24 February 2014
I wanted a camera with interchangeable lenses that I did not have to take a suitcase with me and this is the camera. I have 3 lenses and I can take this in a small sling bag. It has more than enough features from automatic to total manual control to deal with most situations. The quality of pictures and movies is great, I would recommend this product.
on 1 June 2014
firstly: if there's a better lcd screen to be found on a camera I've yet to find/use it. it's troublesome outdoors in bright light but it's excellent otherwise. the build quality of the camera is also excellent. the body is a little slippery but this is remedied with a good grip or half-case. the picture quality is also excellent. it's not a (good) dslr beater but it comes close and is (I believe) excellent for 10mp. there is (disappointedly) not enough in the way of manual help/aids when manually focussing but that's not a real or valid criticism. the inclusion of the option to attach an evf would have resulted in a 5 star review and the camera (for me) is credited with a highly commendable 4 stars. quite why the j1 did not start life with the same features as the j2 is puzzling. it (the j2) makes the j1 (by and large) somewhat redundant .. especially when you consider the widely available good price that the j2 (with 1 or 2 lenses) is available for
on 23 October 2013
Much as I love my Canon 350D with its Sigma 18 to 200 mm lens it does take some lugging about, especially when out walking in the hills. I have been looking for a smaller camera which would take equally as good photos. The Nikon 1 J2 has proven to be that camera (especially as I got it for half price). The only downside I can see so far is the lack of a viewfinder. This was a deliberate choice for reasons of cost but the screen can be hard to see on a sunny day. Never mind, the quality of the photos compensates. In my view they are better because the camera is easier to hold still than the Canon and the lens is all you'd expect from a Nikkor.
on 2 August 2014
My daughter asked for a compact system camera for her birthday so that she wouldn't need to take her DSLR on holiday.
This one was on offer and following a speedy check of online reviews, I ordered it straight away. I did wonder if I'd done the right thing.
She was so pleased with it. It's much smaller and lighter than you'd think possible for such a spec. It's a good looking camera too, which isn't really important of course, but makes it great as a gift.
The quality of images is superb. Indoor low-lit scenes come out like daylight; landscapes are natural and properly focused and the wildlife pictures she was able to get are stunning. Particularly impressive were some pictures of macaques in water, with every hair, toenail and waterdrop captured in detail. It's not easy to get nice shots of these shy creatures, but this small and powerful camera helped.
She was also able to get great restaurant pics that showed every fascinating dish on the table, and some tricky shots of goods in shop windows. Often these sorts of scenes can be disappointing, but this camera came through brilliantly.
I can recommend.