Expert Review of Nikon 1 J1 Mirrorless 10-30 mm
Accompanied with the new “CX” format sensor, the new Nikon 1 system has created a massive uproar in the atmosphere surrounding the camera world. Measuring 13.2x8.8mm with a 2.7x field-reduction factor, the CX format is smaller than APS-C and Micro Four Thirds sensors, but comfortably larger than those in point-and-shoot cameras or the Pentax Q system. Nikon has launched this new system in two of its latest launches, the Nikon 1 V1 and Nikon 1 J1. The 10.1 Megapixel sensor in Nikon 1 J1, claimed by Nikon to be the World's fastest, carries with it a hybrid AF system which can easily switch from contrast based to phase detection technologies, allowing it to quickly and continuously autofocus for both stills and Full HD video. In addition both models boast supremely quick continuous shooting, at 10fps with autofocus, or a massive 60fps with the focus locked at the first frame. Shutterbugs can take high resolution stills while filming HD video or choose from one of the fun shooting modes which capture short video clips with every image, or grab a bunch of shots before automatically choosing the best ones. The high speed of Nikon 1 system along with these capabilities, makes Nikon a strong contender and a good choice for the photographers all around. It promises to gie you your best shot and let you take happy clear memories home.
Design and Build Quality
Nikon 1 J1 is smaller and lighter than Nikon 1 V1, measuring 106mm x 61mm x 29.8mm and weighing 277g with battery and card but no lens. These dimesnsions make Nikon 1 J1 a bit smaller than the smallest Olympus and Panasonic ILCs. But this difference is not so big and turns out to be more of an disappointment as a smaller sensor does not translate into smaller bodies. It's also worth noting that neither of the Nikon 1 cameras features the built-in stabilisation of the Olympus PEN ILCs, nor the tilting screens of several rivals. Both Nikon 1 cameras share fairly featureless flat-fronts, but while Nikon 1 J1's front surface is completely smooth and devoid of any grip beyond the inscribed 'Nikon' and raised '1', Nikon 1 V1 doe shave a small ridge which provides a good support for your right middle finger, without spoiling the aesthetic. Both models have small rubber pads on the rear surface for your thumb, it being wider in V1. Overall the ridge on the front, coupled with the matt finish make the V1 easier and more comfortable to hold than Nikon 1 J1.
Focus and Face Detection
If there is one feature which outshines all the others, it is autofocus of Nikon 1 J1 with Nikon making bold claims that it's the fastest in the world. We have of course heard similar claims from other manufacturers recently, but the way the Nikon 1 system goes about autofocusing is different from almost any other camera to date. The 10.1 Megapixel CX-sensor in Nikon 1 J1 boasts a hybrid AF system, offering both contrast-based and phase-detection AF systems, the latter actually built-into the sensor itself at the focal plane. In use both cameras automatically switch between phase and contrast-based AF depending on the subject, with the former allowing them to quickly track action even while filming video.
Lens and Image Stabilization
Nikon launched Nikon 1 J1 with four new lenses designed for the Nikon 1 mount. The standard kit zoom is the Nikkor VR 10-30mm f3.5-5.6, which gives an an equivalent focal length of 27-81mm with built-in optical vibration reduction. Weighing 115g, it retracts to a reasonably portable 42mm long by 58mm in diameter. Twin lens kits also include the Nikkor VR 30-110mm f3.8-5.6 telephoto zoom, which takes over where the 10-30mm left-off, with an equivalent range of 81-297mm, and again built-in optical vibration reduction. Like the 10-30mm, it's retractable design which measures 60mm in diameter, folds down to 61mm in length, and weighs 180g. These features seem similar to those of its rival and do not make Nikon seem promising. It is tge telephoto zoom that's considerably smaller than those on rival systems and makes Nikon 1 system look good. Yes, the Nikon 30-110mm does seem to be same in size to the Sony 18-55mm standard kit zoom. Coupled with the 10-30mm, it's a highly portable twin lens kit to carry around making its use comfortable.
Screen and Menus
Both, the Nikon 1 V1 and Nikon 1 J1 are equipped with 3 in 1 panels, with some interesting differences. In terms of specifications Nikon 1 V1 is more detailed with 921k dots compared to 460k on the J1. This can be attributed to the screens on each model which actually have a slightly different shape: 4:3 on the V1 and 3:2 on the J1. This implies the native 3:2 shaped images of the Nikon 1 system fill the screen of the J1, but are displayed with a thin black border at the bottom of the V1 screen. Nikon 1 V1 uses this 'wasted' strip to display shooting information with the benefit of keeping the image cleaner , whereas the J1 super-imposes these details over the image.
Both the Nikon cameras work on Lithium Ion batteries with the SD card slots in compartments on their undersides, but the batteries are quite different. Nikon J1 uses the EN-EL20 pack, rated at 1020mAh, a dissapointing news; whereas the V1 uses the considerably chunkier EN-EL15, rated at 1900mAh. The Nikon J1 lacks in the battery life with Nikon V1 having almost the double life span when compared. This allows you to shoot 400 images or 120 minutes of HD movie footage per charge compared to 230 shots or 70 minutes of HD video on the J1.
Nikon 1 J1 have their HD Movie mode set to 1080/60i (59.94 fields actual) which encodes at a rate of 24Mbit/s and can record clips up to 20 minutes long. This can be changed easily from the user friendly menu to 1080/30p (29.97fps actual), which also encodes at 24Mbit/s for clips up to 20 minutes long, or 720/60p (59.94fps actual) which encodes at 16Mbit/s for clips up to 29 minutes long.
The 10.1 Megapixel sensor in Nikon 1 J1 carries with it a hybrid AF system which can easily switch from contrast based to phase detection technologies. These allow it to quickly and continuously autofocus for both stills and Full HD video. The sensor seems to be the pride of Nikon
Generally good build quality
Easy to use
Fun Motion Snapshot mode
Good image quality
Sensor is smaller than most other CSCs
Exposure changed via menu
Flimsy multi control dial
Image quality can't match Micro Four Thirds cameras