About Nikon 1 Mirrorless Camera System

September 28, 2011

The Nikon 1 (one) is Nikon’s brand new Mirrorless camera lineup which are compatible with 1 Nikkor interchangeable lenses. Nikon is very proud of this new system and hope that many amateur photographers will adopt this system.  In the current lineup you can find two brand new MILC cameras, the  Nikon 1 V1 and J1. Both cameras utilize a newly developed sensor that Nikon refers to it as CX. The new sensor is 13.2 x 8.8 mm large (2.7x focal length multiplier). Some people might find it quite odd that Nikon has decided to use a sensor that is much smaller than APS-C, even smaller than the Micro Four Thirds.

The Nikon 1 grabbed a lot of attention in the media, due to the fact that we are looking at new cameras from the second largest digital camera manufacturer in the world, Nikon. The company also announced four 1 Nikkor interchangeable lenses ti fit the new 1 mount, which includes 1 10-30mm, 30-110mm, 10mm and 10-100mm lenses. The first three comes with a wide variety of colors to match the camera color variations.

Nikon 1 mirrorless cameras are designed to be very compact and lightweight. However, the question remains whether there was a need to develop a camera system that has a sensor smaller than the micro four thirds. After all, even the a conventional point-and-shoot compact camera is about the size of a Olympus PEN camera. Does Nikon want to develop ultra-compact interchangeable lens cameras? and what about the lenses, you won’t be able to fit those cameras in your pocket anyway. There are a lot of questions that were raised by many people on forums posts. In this article I want to answer a few of them.


How the Nikon 1 logo looks like?

Here’s the official logo of Nikon1:

Nikon 1 logo

The Nikon 1 Logo

When will Nikon release the new Nikon 1 V1 and J1 cameras (availability)?

Nikon suppose to release the V1 and J1 on 20th October 2011.


Where can I find the Nikon 1 official press release information?

You can find more information about the Nikon 1 system on the Nikon press release section on nikon.com.


How the J1 and V1 cameras look like?

Here are two images, one of the Nikon 1 J1 and the other of the V1 (more advanced model)

Nikon V1 and J1 mirrorless cameras

Nikon V1 (left) and J1 (right) mirrorless cameras

What’s so unique about Nikon 1 cameras compared to Micro Four Thirds?

Nikon 1 cameras and Micro Four Thirds are both mirrorless interchangeable lens compact cameras (ILC in short). However, Nikon 1 digital cameras utilize a CX sensor which is much smaller than the Micro Four Thirds. In fact, it has a 2.7x focal length multiplier compared to 2x on the M43. That means that Nikon could produce smaller telephoto-zoom interchangeable lenses due to the higher magnification factor. Just look at the Canon SX40HS lens, it’s a 24-840 mm (equivalent) lens, but it’s very small because Canon used a very small sensor, much smaller than the CX one.

In practice, Nikon can also reduce that costs of the camera and lenses too, but it doesn’t necessarily means that Nikon would do that. In fact, it might do the opposite, by adding more advanced features that will even push the price up, but you’ll get a more features camera. Let’s look at the V1 for example. The cameras features a 921K-dot LCD display, 1/16,000 sec electronic shutter and 1/4000 sec mechanical shutter, up to 60 fps continuous burst (using the electronic shutter), hybrid AF (phase detection / contrast detection AF),  1080p videos, stereo mini-pin jack for connecting external mic, etc.

We can see a lot of new advanced technologies that were first introduced with the new system. If Nikon was opted for a larger sensor, we might not see those features built-in those new cameras. I wouldn’t judge the new lineup so soon. I think that many surprises are waiting for us in the near future.


How is the Nikon 1 camera’s image quality in high ISO compared to Micro Four Thirds and APS-C?

In general and it’s true for all digital cameras, a larger sensor would result in a better image quality. The reason for that is the size of the light detectors/collectors on the sensor. The larger those photo-diodes, the better the IQ will be. That also includes better dynamic range, color accuracy and lower noise. We can see that as new technologies emerges, the image quality of those small sensor increases. Still, I’ve compared sample images of both Micro Four Thirds, Sony NEX (APS-C) and Full Frame DSLR cameras. I’ve notices that even in the Micro Four Thirds latest generation cameras, M43 cameras just cant beat Sony NEX in terms of image quality in high ISO. So I can just assume that Nikon will have tough time competing against M43 and APS-C (ie. Sony NEX, Samsung NX) cameras. However, maybe Nikon has new technologies that we aren’t aware of, but I am very skeptical about it.


How good are 1 Nikkor lenses in terms of their optical performance?

As a Nikon DSLR owner, I must admit that I admire the performance of Nikkor lenses. Nikon is among my favorite lens maker. I don’t mean anything negative about the other vendors, but certainly I expect Nikon to produce some very exotic and advanced lenses that might include technologies that we’ve never seen before. Take the 1 Nikkor VR 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 PD-Zoom lens. This interchangeable lens is optimized for video recording. It has a motorized zooming mechanism and voice-coil for quiet focusing, VRII for reducing camera shake and 7 rounded diaphragm blades for smoother Bokeh. It’s a unique lens and certainly a lens that was optimized to perfectly match the performance of the cameras themselves.

I believe that we’ll some some very unique lenses, that are both affordable, fast and compact compared to the competition. That’s where the size of the sensor can help achieving all of those three. In terms of optical performance, we still need to wait and see what lab-test reviews have to say about those lenses. I have a good feeling that Nikon won’t disappoint.


What’s the thing with the lens colors, is Nikon gone crazy?

I think that Nikon has made the right choice releasing the cameras and lenses in a wide variety of colors. Considering the targeted market segment, It can just help the company sell more cameras, especially in the Asian market where there is a wide demand of cameras with different colors. I know that by just looking at what Pentax did with their DSLR cameras and what other companies are doing with their compact point-and-shoot cameras. Nikon 1 cameras are targeted for both previous point-and-shoot owners, family photographers and advanced amateurs. For some of them, the look of the camera is not less important than the features. So I can just assume that it’s a good choice in terms of marketing. Olympus has done it, Sony has done it, so why not Nikon.


Does Nikon has a pancake slim lens in the 1 Nikkor lens lineup?

Yes, Nikon introduced the 1 Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 lens ($249.95 MSRP). It’s a wide-angle (27mm equiv.) lens suitable for landscape, group shot and low-light photography.  It has a fast f/2.8 aperture but it’s a prime lens, so it won’t zoom. There is a wider demand of ultra compact and portable lenses, especially for fast lenses. When people buy a compact camera, they want the lens to be compact as well. After all, what’s the advantage of having a compact camera if the lens is bulky and heavy. In fact, that’s where Nikon can take advantage of its small sensor size (compared to the competition) and produce smaller and lighter interchangeable lenses. This can certainly attract more customers, but we still need to wait for new lenses to surface up.


What ‘RF’ Stands for?

RF stands for ‘Rear Focusing’. The 10mm lens utilize this feature. It means that with Rear focusing, all lens elements are divided into groups, and only the rear lens group is moving when focusing. This result in faster and smoother AF operation which matches the high AF performance and also optimized for video recording.


Why Nikon 1 cameras don’t come with lens-shift image stabilization?

From my understanding, many companies didn’t implement a lens-shift IS to keep the size of the camera as small as possible.  I think that even if all other companies had a sensor-shift IS, Nikon wouldn’t want to follow this trend because it might conflict with its current entry-level DSLR lineup (although I’m not 100% sure why, maybe you can enlighten me about that).


What Accessories are available for Nikon 1 V1 and J1 digital cameras?

With the announcement of the Nikon 1 system, Nikon introduced a few accessories that are compatible with the new system, including a Nikon ME-1 external stereo microphone, GPS device (GP-N100 for Nikon 1 V1) and Nikon 1 Speedlight flash. You can also find the ML-L3 wireless remote control (infrared) that works with the V1 and J1, BS-N1000 shoe cover for the Nikon one V1, EP-5B power supply connector, FT1 mount adapter,  leather body covers and cases, etc.

I look at those cameras and it kind of remind me what’s going on with mobile phones and their accessories. Those cameras have a fashion statement as well, so we can expect to see more accessories that extend the usability and some that just makes the camera look better.


What is Motion Snapshot (MSS) on Nikon 1 cameras?

For more information read the article: what is Motion Snapshot?


What colors are available for each model (V1 & J1)?

Nikon J1 is available in five difference colors: White, Red, Black, Pink and Silver.
Nikon V1 is avaialbel in White and Black colors.

How much will the J1 and V1 cost*?

Nikon 1 V1 10-30mm kit – Price: £829.99 / €962.00
Nikon 1 V1 10mm Kit – Price: £879.99 / €1020.00
Nikon V1 10-30mm & 30-110mm Twin Kit – Price: £979.99 / €1136.00

Nikon J1 10-30mm kit – Price: £549.99 / €638.00
Nikon J1 10mm kit – Price: £599.99 / €696.00
Nikon J1 10-30mm & 30-110mm kit – Price: £699.99 / €812.00
Nikon J1 10-30mm & 30-110mm kit Pink Special kit – Price: £749.99 / €870.00

* Suggested retails price. Actual prices are set by dealers and are subject to change at any time.


What are the key features on Nikon 1 cameras?

The key features are:

  • Hybrid AF (phase-detect and contrast detect AF)
  • Electronic and Mechanical shutter (on the V1)
  • First ti implement a focal place phase detection AF
  • Up to 60 frames per second continuous shooting speed (with focus locked on the first frame) – World’s fastest
  • 73 AF points – Largest number of AF points with any interchangeable lens camera (Among interchangeable lens digital cameras available as of September 21, 2011)
  • Motion Snapshot feature
  • Bright 1440k-dot (SVGA) electronic viewfinder with 100% field-of-view
  • Support Raw format (NEF)
  • Active D-Lighting
  • Dust reduction function (vibrating on V1, optical on J1)
  • EXPEED 3 image processor


What’s the difference between the V1 and J1?

You can find more about the differences between the J1 and V1 in this article: J1 vs V1.


What lenses are available for in the Nikkor 1 lineup?

As for the day writing this page, these are the available Nikkor 1 interchangeable lenses for the 1 Nikon mount:

  • 1 Nikkor VR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6
  • 1 Nikkor VR 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6
  • 1 Nikkor 10mm f/2.8
  • 1 Nikkor VR 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 PD-Zoom

More information can be found on nikonusa.com.


Where can I find the Nikon 1 system introduction video?

Here’s the Nikon 1 System video introduction (English) from YouTube


Where can I find sample images taken with the Nikon V1 and J1 mirrorless cameras?

You can find some sample images on Nikon.com: Nikon J1 sample images, Nikon V1 sample images.
Where can I find sample videos (test movies) taken with the Nikon 1 V1?

Here’s a sample video taken with the V1 mirrorless camera.

From where can I buy the Nikon 1 V1 or Nikon J1 cameras from?

You can order the Nikon V1 from here: Amazon, B&H Photo.
You can buy the Nikon J1 from here: Amazon, B&H Photo.


*Products, brand names and service names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies.
*This is an unofficial Q&A section and not affiliate with Nikon in any way

This section will be updated frequently. If you have questions, please comment below. Thanks.


More Reviews and Articles

Related posts:

  1. Pentax Q Mirrorless Camera – Risky or Genius Move?
  2. New Nikon Mirrorless ILC cameras on their way
  3. Mirrorless Cameras
  4. Samsung Announced NX200 Premium and Stylish Mirrorless