Due to its smaller physical size, the J1’s image sensor has to work much harder than an APS-C or even a Micro Four Thirds example. This shows up especially when you venture into the higher ISO modes. While you can still get a usable image at ISO 3200 there’s greater loss of detail and colour than is observed when using a full-sized DSLR, as you can see from the comparison images taken with the J1, an Olympus E-P2 Micro Four Thirds compact and the D3100, Nikon’s entry-level DSLR – see ISO samples download.
No EVF option on the J1, so you're stuck with the screen
The smaller sensor also makes it trickier to achieve a shallow depth of field: To blur the background and make your subject pop out, you’ll need to get in pretty close and make use of the telephoto end of the zoom range, if possible. Faster lenses would help with this, but the CX sensor is at a definite disadvantage here.
The J1 is a unique camera with a target market that’s hard to pin down. Its high-build quality, interchangeable lenses and manual control functions lean towards the serious enthusiast. However, Nikon’s decision to hide away the tech tweaks in favour of party gimmicks like “Motion Shot” shuns more accomplished photographers in favour of more undemanding users who really won’t want to be bothering with what, to them, will seem pointlessly big and unnecessary lenses when there are capable superzoom compacts available.
Versatile yet simplified, so who is it for?
Thanks to its interchangeable lenses and fast processing, the J1 is capable of taking the kind of shots that simply aren’t possible on a regular compact camera. It’s extremely fast and very easy to use. The multipoint autofocus is extremely quick and accurate and other than in low-light situations, the camera generally produces very pleasing images, provided you don’t peep too closely at the individual pixels.
However, it’s priced at a level where only those who really care about photography would be willing to invest in such a camera system, yet its somewhat lacklustre image quality when compared to the competition, limited lens support and lack of dedicated control buttons serve only to put off such customers who would probably be better served with one of the many alternatives. ®
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Nikon 1 J1
"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.