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Hands on with the Nikon 1: J1 & V1

by Gevon Servo on 11/02/2011

At Photo Plus Expo, I had the chance to quickly play with Nikon’s new mirrorless cameras. To tell you the truth, I did not want to do this at first. When the Nikon 1 series was announced, these little scamps made my heart sink a little. These cameras are Nikon to the core and there is a certain heritage there that I did not think was being lived up to. These cameras, to me, fell between Nikon’s top of the line point and shoots and the DX cameras like the D3100 and D5100. But you know what? I was wrong. You should not judge a book by its cover. While I am not the biggest fan for the Nikon 1 J1 the V1 is much better than I thought it would be.

Features

Type of camera -Digital camera with interchangeable lenses

Lens mount -Nikon 1 mount

Effective angle of view -Approx. 2.7 x lens focal length (35 mm format equivalent); Nikon CX format

Effective pixels -10.1 million

Image sensor -13.2 mm x 8.8 mm CMOS sensor

Dust-reduction system

Image sensor cleaning

Still images (still image and Smart Photo Selector modes, aspect ratio 3 : 2)

  • 3,872 x 2,592
  • 2,896 x 1,944
  • 1,936 x 1,296

Still images (movie mode, aspect ratio 16 : 9)

  • 3,840 x 2,160 (1080/60i)
  • 1,920 x 1,080 (1080/30p)
  • 1,280 x 720 (720/60p)

Still images (Motion Snapshot mode, aspect ratio 16 : 9)

  • 3,840 x 2,160

File format

  • NEF (RAW): 12-bit, compressed
  • JPEG: JPEG-Baseline compliant with fine (approx. 1 : 4), normal (approx. 1 : 8), or basic (approx. 1 : 16)compression
  • NEF (RAW) + JPEG: Single photograph recorded in both NEF (RAW) and JPEG formats

Picture Control system

Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait, Landscape; selected Picture Control can be modified; storage for custom Picture Controls

Media -SD (Secure Digital), SDHC, and SDXC memory cards

File system- DCF (Design Rule for Camera File System) 2.0, DPOF (Digital Print Order Format), Exif (Exchangeable Image File Format for Digital Still Cameras) 2.3, PictBridge

J1

  • Features a built-in flash …more
  • Full HD MOVIE 1080/60i …more
  • Smart Photo Selector mode ensures you will never miss those decisive moments …more
  • Slow Motion Movie 400fps(640×240)/1,200fps(320×120) …more
  • An optional mount adapter allows Nikon 1 cameras to be used with F mount NIKKOR lenses …more
  • The camera is available in five colors, and color-coordinated lenses are bundled with the camera in lens kits
  • The top face has a total of only three buttons, while the rear face features a simple mode dial …more
  • LCD monitor with crystal clear resolution. 3-inch LCD monitor with protection glass and a wide viewing angle.(approx. 460k-dot) …more
  • Easy-to-use movie editing software …more

V1

  • High-resolution, high-contrast electronic viewfinder …more
  • Full HD MOVIE 1080/60i …more
  • Smart Photo Selector mode ensures you’ll never miss those decisive moments …more
  • An optional mount adapter allows Nikon 1 cameras to be used with F mount NIKKOR lenses …more
  • Slow Motion Movie 400fps(640×240)/1,200fps(320×120) …more
  • Available in very iconic color represents design philosophy, solid black and white.
  • The top face has a total of only three buttons, while the rear face features a simple mode dial …more
  • LCD monitor with crystal clear resolution. 3-inch LCD monitor with protection glass and a wide viewing angle.(approx. 920k-dot) …more
  • Short motion Creator, Easy-to-use movie editing software …more

 Handling

The Nikon 1 series are small cameras; light but with a well constructed feeling. The J1 is small to me and with my big hands a little awkward feeling especially with a small lens on. This does not make the camera bad, just not for me.

The V1 is slightly bigger which makes it more comfortable. The viewfinder is placed nicely and is lit lightly. The controls were different enough for me to be slightly lost at first, but easy enough to figure out quickly. I wish, even if smaller, the V1 could have dials like the D3100.

Shutter of the V1

Something I found interesting on the V1 was the shutter speed. I liked it. It had two modes mechanical and electronic. The electronic shutter is what gives it speeds but the mechanical gives it the ability to use a flash as 1/250th of a second while the electronic only allows for 1/60th of a second.  Continuous shooting is very fast  though and interesting to use, very quite too.

Camera F Mount

Behind glass and not available for testing, the Nikons 1 V1’s mount for F lenses is not too big and will allow for interesting use with lenses like the Nikon 40mm 2.8 macro . “The FT1 Mount Adapter allows you to use certain legacy F Mount NIKKOR lenses (those designed for use with Nikon D-SLR/SLR cameras) on the Nikon 1 V1. The Mount Adapter is attached to the Nikon 1 V1 and the F Mount NIKKOR lens then attached to the adapter. The FT1 will add an angle of view of 2.7 times that of the F Mount NIKKOR lens’ focal length” Nikon.

Menus and Screen

The menus are updated and different from what I’m used to with Nikon. The interface is more akin to a point and shoot but with a lot more features.   The Screen was extremely bright and sharp.  It was nice. I could not scroll with it though it the way I wanted to though. There was a buzz around the camera at Photo plus and I did not want to be rude.

Who are These Cameras For?

Well, I agree with the Nikon rep when he says it’s not for pros. This camera is great for those wanted to moves from point and shoots to more serious photography. I think women and teenagers would like the Nikon 1 J1. With the color availability, it is a very fashionable item which takes great pictures. The V1 is a gateway camera also but this is a camera which, I think is nicely poised for travel photography and the enthusiast photographer. Its size makes it easy to carry while offering enough features to make it fun.

 In the End…

When I think about the Nikon 1 series, I wish someone would have played the Nostalgia card. I wish they would of used and old body design like the Nikon FM. That camera was the start of something new at Nikon when it came out and the Nikon 1 series is the start of something new today. There is great potential here. The handling and performance of these cameras are nice.

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