The J1’s physical dimensions cause it to look and handle like larger compact camera, save for the protruding lens which will prevent it from sliding into a trouser pocket – although a coat pocket should be easily large enough. Buy the twin lens bundle and you’ll have no problem putting the camera and lens into one pocket and the spare lens into the other.
Twin lens bundle with matching coloured optics
Unlike the majority of interchangeable lens compacts which use DSLR-sized APS-C or Micro Four Thirds format sensors, both Nikon 1 cameras are fitted with a new 10.1Mp 13.2 x 8.8mm sensor that falls about halfway between that of a compact and a DSLR. For the Nikon 1 range, the company has devised a range of diminutive lenses with a new smaller lens mount.
The selection of lenses is currently limited to just four, two of which were included in the review kit: the 10-30mm f/3.5-f/5.6 wide zoom and the 30-110mm f/3.8-f/5.6 telephoto zoom. Also available is a 10mm f/2.8 pancake prime and a 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 PD-Zoom aimed at shooting video.
The current CX optics range features three zooms and one prime 'pancake' lens
When compared to a full-frame sensor, the J1 is working with a 2.7x crop factor with the result that the a 10mm Nikon 1 lens offers an equivalent field of view to a 27mm lens in 35mm equivalent terms. At the telephoto end of the scale, the 110mm is equivalent to 297mm.
To give you an idea of the size and weight saving involved here. The Nikon 1 10-110mm zoom weighs 180g whereas a 55-200mm f/4-f/5.6 AF-S VR DX lens for its DSLRs weighs in at 335g and is about 50 per cent longer.
Also available in black
An FT1 mount adapter is soon to be released which will allow you to use any Nikon mount SLR lens on the J1, but until then the range of lenses available remains somewhat smaller than that of competing mirrorless camera systems. Fans of macro photography or fast lenses in the f/1.4 range will have to wait. However, for fashionistas the J1 is available in five colours ranging from a smart black to an ironic pink, but if you want your lenses to match the more interesting shades, you’ll need to buy them at the same time as the camera body.
Next page: Quality time
"the J1’s Smart Photo Selector mode is able to automatically analyse and compare twenty such shots, picking the best five for you based on facial expression, composition and focus."
That is just awful. Death of photography, anyone?
Thanks for the review
When I initially saw the J1, I was really thinking I shouldn't have bought my Oly XZ-1. After reading your review, I'm quite happy I did. I really don't know what this offers that the XZ-1 doesn't - interchangeable lens, but there aren't that many to choose from, and the 4x zoom range of the XZ-1s is pretty functional. And the quality is right there too. Except that I really can pocket the XZ-1, unlike the J1..and it has a working PASM dial.
So it pre-empts your shutter release, decides how many shots to take, and then decides which ones your going to keep.
I always knew these premium "point-and-shoots" were aimed squarely at the spray and pray crowd but this is really taking it to new levels, I wouldn't be surprised if the camera started demanding a photography credit next.
To name a few
I'd say the Micro 4/3 range from Panasonic and Olympus would be my number one choice. Sony's new range is also pretty good. Samsung and Pentax also have some offerings.
The micro 4/3 stuff has been around long enough for there to be a decent range of bodies and lenses, including third party offerings and there's a good second hand market. There are also two large manufacturers supporting it, so it won't be going anywhere any time soon. Sony is probably the next best to my mind, but because they've gone for a fancy large sensor (APS-C) the lenses are pretty big. The other two have okay devices, but they're small, closed systems which might simply not exist in a few years.
Samsung have the best system in this market segment, at least for my needs.
Their NX range has an APS-C sensor, the same size as a DSLR (except for full-frame models of course). This gives it an advantage over the m4/3 crowd in terms of image quality and DOF control, and puts it on a par with Sony's NEX range.
Most importantly, unlike Sony they have a great collection of high quality, wide aperture prime lenses, which are compact enough that you can actually slip the camera into a coat pocket with a lens attached. I carry my NX100 everywhere, whenever I can't be bothered to lug around a bag with my DSLR. Their new NX200 is even more desirable, but the NX100 is a real bargain right now.
Now if only Samsung's marketing department would work as hard as their technical department, and actually tell people that these cameras exist!