Nikon 1 V3 vs J4 vs J3 Mirrorless Comparison

July 15, 2014

Nikon 1 V3, J3 and J4 side by side on a dark background

In this article I will compare the Nikon 1 V3 versus the J4 and J3 cameras.  All the three cameras are Nikon Compact System Cameras / mirrorless.  The V3 sits at the most advanced among the three and also the most expensive, followed by the J4 which replaces the J3 and costs around $200 more than its predecessor, the J3. There are ambivalent opinions regarding Nikon 1 system, and I will also talk about that for those of you who are still not sure about buying into the Nikon 1 system, and talk about its cons and pros as we go along. This is in interesting comparison for those of you who are triggered to buy one of this cameras.

Nikon 1 System and Pricing

The Nikon 1 camera system was announced in 21 September 2011 with the introduction of three cameras in the series, the Nikon 1 V1, J1 and J2 and since then Nikon added the S1, S2, V2, V3, AW1, and J3 models. Nikon also introduce the 1 Nikkor lenses and a dedicated mount for these specific range of mirrorless cameras. As of the time of writing, Nikon has 13 1 Nikkor lenses to choose from, including fast primes and zoom lenses with various focal length range to choose from. This included the 32mm f/1.2 prime lens and the 1 Nikkor VR 10-100mm f/4-5.6 PD Zoom movie-oriented lens. Some of those lenses are also being offered in various colors, like the VR 10-30mm Kit lens which is available in four different colors, including black, white, gray and red, and the 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 which is available in 10 different colors!

So no doubt that Nikon is committed to this system, unlike Canon for example, which seems to show less commitment to its EOS M series. However, worth mentioning that the Nikon 1 system does suffer from fierce competition in the mirrorless market, mainly from the Micro Four Thirds, Fujifilm X series and Sony Alpha series. Nikon was negatively criticized for going with a 1″ CX sensor instead of a larger sensor to match or be closer to the sensor used in competitive models, as larger sensors, in most part, result in better image quality and offer more control over the depth of field.

Sensor size comparison: APS-C, 1-inch and Micro Four Thirds

Sensor size comparison: APS-C, 1-inch and Micro Four Thirds

People who are concerned about image noise at high ISO and want to get more prominent blurred background (also depends on the lens being used),  most of them might opt to buy a different camera than what the Nikon 1 system has to offer. Nikon engineered its cameras to take advantages of the fact that it uses a smaller sensor and brought some features that you won’t find on most if not all the competitive cameras, including a waterproof and shockproof Nikon 1 AW1 with sensing functions including depth and GPS/GLONASS, altitude and more.  Cameras that are relatively small and lightweight, 60 fps (with fixed focus) burst speed with the Nikon 1 V3, etc.

I will get to talk about those unique features later on in the overview and the comparison section, but what you need to know is that those cameras do offer some unique and advanced functions that make them, in some ways, stand apart from the competition.

Let’s take a look at the prices for those three cameras:

  • Nikon 1 V3: ~$970 (body only), ~$1200 with the 10-30mm PD-Zoom kit lens
  • Nikon 1 J4: ~$600 with the 10-30mm PD-Zoom kit lens
  • Nikon 1 J3: ~$400 with the 10-30mm PD-Zoom kit lens

* approximate prices via as of the time of writing (visit for latest prices)

As you can see, the Nikon 1 V3 is the most expensive camera, double the price of the J4, with the J4 being $200 more expensive than its predecessor, the J3 for the camera wit kit lens offer. If you opt to buy the V3, you should carefully examine its features and see whether or not it worth it for your particular shooting style. Maybe you’ll be more than happy shooting with the J4 instead and you can spend the rest of the money to buy more/better lenses instead, something to keep in mind when deciding between two cameras, one that is significantly more expensive than the other camera you are comparing to.
OK, now that you are a bit more familiar with the Nikon 1 system and know about the prices, let’s move on talking about the Nikon 1 V3, and after that I will compare it to the two other cameras, the J4 and J3.

Nikon 1 V3

Nikon 1 V3 cameraThe Nikon 1 V3 is Nikon 1 flagship camera and the most expensive camera in the lineup. It was designed from the ground up to satisfy the demands of advanced/enthusiast photographers who are willing to spend more for an advanced photographic equipment in order to get the job done and match their type of shooting style, whether as a hobby or for professional work.
The Nikon 1 V3 is slightly larger than the J3 and J4, but you shouldn’t care about that too much, as non of those cameras are pocketable, and you’ll be carrying those camera in a small camera bag anyways, so the camera size shouldn’t be the main concern here, although some people prefer a smaller camera, even if the difference is not significant. you might as well prefer the V3 larger size that offers better handling and improved ergonomics and allow Nikon to add more dials and controls that offer fast access to frequently used camera function and are more evenly spread across the camera, so you won’t unintentionally push a specific button.

The V3 features a 1-inch CX-format 18.4MP image sensor and equipped with Nikon’s latest EXPEED 4A image processor to achieve its high performance and high-quality image. The V3 can shoot at 20 fps at full resolution with full autofocus, and can shoot at 60 fps with fixed focus (the focus is determined in the first frame and then locked in that position).

With such performance you also expect a speedy AF system, and the V3 enjoys a Hybrid AF system that uses 171 AF points for contrast detection and 105 AF points for the phase-detection and the camera can also shoot at maximum shutter speed of 1/16,000 sec. This allows the camera to focus very fast on fast-moving subject when it enters the frame, which makes the V3 an excellent choice for fast-action photography. Oh, and don’t worry too much about the shutter life, as the V3 features a very reliable shutter mechanism tested for 100,000 cycles, needed for a camera that can shoot at such a high burst speed.

*jump to 0:28 min to see the camera with the grip and EVF attached

At the back of the camera you have a 3.0″ 1037K-dots high-res tilting touchscreen display. One thing that you’ll notice that unlike some other flagship mirrorless cameras, the Nikon V3 lacks a built-in electronic viewfinder. That said, photographers have the option to attach the optional Nikon 1 DF-N1000 2359K-dot electronic viewfinder. I personally quite disappointed that the V3 doesn’t with a built-in EVF. I think that fast-action shooters would certainly preferred composing their shoot and following the subject with an EVF rather than the rear LCD, although a high-quality one nevertheless.

Among its other features are: command dials and sub command dial and convenient front and rear grip, virtual horizon, highlight display to emphasize areas of the image that are overexposed, 1080p60/30 Full HD video recording, as well as 720p120 and 288p400 fps slow motion recording, 4 sec. 24p movies, built-in pop-up flash with the option to attach an external flash via the proprietary accessory port, user-friendly and fun auto modes, remote shooting via the built-in Wi-Fi via a smart device (e.g. smartphone, tablet), take photos when filming videos, and optional grip (GR-N1010 grip) for extra stability when using long and heavy lenses, and more.

The 1 V3 wants to be the ultimate alternative to a DSLR, but was negatively criticized for its very high price, working with microSD cards instead of the standard SD cards, small sensor which is noisier than the competition and the fact that Nikon has chosen to go with relatively high resolution of 18.4MP (higher pixel density / smaller pixels), lack of built-in EVF and the optional grip blocks the battery compartment. Having said that, the camera is relatively compact, has very speedy AF, Nikon 1 has a decent range of lenses to choose from, very fast burst and a fantastic image quality overall.

Although the Nikon 1 V3 is not for everyone taste and shooting style, it doesn’t offer a very good range of features and performance in a compact camera body. The V3 is made from magnesium alloy that ensures durability when shooting outdoors. The V3 sells with the 10-30mm VR f/3.5-5.6 PD-Zoom kit lens, which offer an equivalent focal length range of 27-81mm, great for a walkaround lens. This lens is the first lens that uses an electronically controlled lens cover, so you don’t need to remove and attach a lens cap and it has 4-stop compensation lens-shift image stabilization too.

Here’s a video that explains the advanced features of the Nikon 1 V3 vs a DSLR, take a look..

The V3 was design to be super-fast and responsive so you never miss an important shot, and it also very enjoyable to use as well, whether for novice photographers and advanced photographers alike.

Now that you are familiar with the V3 key features and learned about its cons and pros, let’s see hot it compared to the J4 and J3, the entry-level and less expensive cameras.

V3 vs J4 and J3

Whether the V3 features worth its high price over its more basic models, you’ll be the one to decide. In order to fully understand the differences, you should go over the feature comparison table below, which will give you a very good understanding of the differences between those three cameras — Let’s begin.

Nikon 1 V3, J4 and J3 side by side size comparison

Nikon 1 V3, J4 and J3 side by side size comparison (via

Nikon 1 V3Nikon 1 J4Nikon 1 J3
Camera TypeMirrorless CameraMirrorless CameraMirrorless Camera
MountNikon 1 mountNikon 1 mountNikon 1 mount
AnnouncedMarch 13, 2014April 10, 2014January 8, 2013
Build QualityMagnesium alloyAluminum with magnesium alloyAluminum with magnesium alloy
The V3 has a better build quality with all magnesium alloy body and a prominent grip at the front and back that all in all offers improved durability and ergonomic design. Photographers will find the V3 to offer better handling when shooting with longer and heavier lenses. The optional grip also allows photographer with large hands to improve upon the default design..
Dimensions &
111 x 65 x 33 mm (4.37 x 2.56 x 1.3″)

381 g (0.84 lb / 13.44 oz)
100 x 60 x 29 mm (3.92 x 2.36 x 1.12″)

232 g (0.51 lb / 8.18 oz)
101 x 61 x 29 mm (3.98 x 2.4 x 1.14″)

201 g (0.44 lb / 7.09 oz)
The V3 is bigger and weights more than the J4 and J3.

This can be positive or negative depends how you look at it. The V3 larger body will help to evenly stabilize the weight of heavy lenses and allow better holding of the camera for a steadier shot.

The V3 also feature more controls and dials that are well placed and offer fast access to frequently used camera settings, a feature that many enthusiast are looking for in an advanced camera.

The J4 and J3 are aimed for novice photographers, so they are design with simplicity in mind and have a plainer look with less button, not to intimidate newcomers who are making their first step into interchangeable lens camera photography, moving from shooting with a simple P&S camera, and the J4 and J3 are their first camera.

That said, this doesn't mean that the J3 and J4 won't satisfy advanced photographers.
Sensor18.4 MP (effective)
1-inch (13.2x8.8 mm)
CX CMOS sensor
Dust reduction mechanism

2.7x crop factor

2.52 microns pixel size
18.4 MP (effective)
1-inch (13.2x8.8 mm)
CX CMOS sensor
Dust reduction mechanism

2.7x crop factor

2.52 microns pixel size
14.2 MP (effective)
1-inch (13.2x8.8 mm)
CX CMOS sensor
Dust reduction mechanism

2.7x crop factor

2.86 microns pixel size
Both the V3 and the J4 share the same exact sensor and the same Expeed 4A image processor, and that means that the image quality coming from those two cameras should be the same, and looking in DxOMark, we can see that this is in fact the case.

The J3 on the other hand features an older generation Expeed 3A processor and an older generation processor. On the positive side, the J3 feature larger pixels due to its smaller resolution. In this next section I will talk about the high ISO performance differences between those three cameras.
ISO RangeISO 160 - 12800ISO 160 - 12800ISO 160 - 6400
High ISO PerformanceI was interested to see if the Nikon 1 V3 and J4 image quality is different, and if now, how well those two cameras perform compared to the J3.

Nikon 1 V3 vs J4 high ISO comparison: the Nikon 1 J4 image and V3 image are virtually the same in terms of quality. The J4 does look slightly less noisier at high ISO and sharper, but I assume that this is due to in-camera stronger NR and sharpening after analyzing various parts of the images via imaging resource comparometer tool.

That said, the high ISO performance is excellent up to ISO 1600 and even at ISO 3200 is still very usable for small prints and sharing online. So overall I am very impressed with what I've seen, considering that we are dealing with a 1" sensor and relatively small pixel -- good work Nikon.

This might be very good news to those who were afraid of a weak high ISO performance. At ISO 6400 noise is much more noticeable, and I wouldn't shoot at this ISO and above unless there wasn't any other option.

Conclusion: surprisingly good high ISO performance up to ISO 3200 for both cameras.

Nikon 1 V3 vs J3 high ISO comparison: OK, great, now let's see how the J3 performs compared to the V3/J4.

The V3/J4 certainly shows its strength here regardless of the smaller pixels. The new generation sensor and image processor allows the V3/J4 to outperform the J3 with less noisier image. It's very visible even at ISO 800, and at ISO 1600 you can see some pixel bleeding in the J3, and no doubt that Nikon improved the sensor design in the J4 and V3

The difference is around EV1.5 stops in my observation.

Conclusion: V3/J4 outperform the J3 with much better high ISO performance overall.

So those of you who are image noise freaks, don't worry. The J4 and V3 offer very good high ISO performance, surprisingly good considering the relatively small sensor.

That being said, it's still can't match the performance of a Micro Four Thirds sensor. I compared the V3 versus the Olympus PEN E-P5 Micro Four Thirds camera, and the E-P5 certainly outperformed the V3, by quite a large margin in fact. So do the math yourself, and you'll find that the V3/J4 have very good high ISO performance, but still can't match the Micro Four Thirds and certainly not the APS-C high ISO performance.

AF SystemHybrid AF (phase-detection / contrast-detection AF)

171 AF points contrast-detection

105 AF points phase-detection
Hybrid AF (phase-detection / contrast-detection AF)

171 AF points contrast-detection

105 AF points phase-detection
Hybrid AF (phase-detection / contrast-detection AF)

135 AF points contrast-detection

73 AF points phase-detection
Both the J4 and V3 share the same super-fast AF system, which have more AF points than the J3. All three cameras however feature Nikon's Hybrid AF system, so the offer fast and precise AF performance for both stills and video recording.

With the J4 and V3 having more AF points, this gives them an edge when shooting fast-moving subjects, as the AF points are better spread across the frame, allowing more accurate tracking performance.
Tilting LCD
Fixed LCD
Fixed LCD
Not touchscreen
A big difference here. The V3 and J4 both have a high resolution touchscreen, while the J3 lacks both.

The V3 however is better due to its tilting mechanism, while the J4 is fixed in place. The tilting mechanism becomes very useful when shooting low and high angle shots (Above the head or below the waistline) and when shooting videos when you are changing the shooting angles more frequently.
Eye-Level Viewfinderoptional

DF-N1000 Electronic Viewfinder
Shutter Speed30 - 1/1600030 - 1/1600030 - 1/16000
Built-in FlashYes, pop-up flashYes, pop-up flashYes, pop-up flash
External FlashYes, via the accessory shoeNoNo
Flash X Sync Speed1/250 sec1/60 sec1/60 sec
Burst Speedup to 60 fps (with fixed focus in first frame)up to 60 fps (with fixed focus in first frame)up to 60 fps (with fixed focus in first frame)
Video Recording1080p60

Slow-motion videos:

Stereo sound

Slow-motion videos:

Stereo sound

Slow-motion videos:

Stereo sound
The V3 and J4 offer 60p video recording as well as more frame rate option wit hhigher resolution 1200 fps slow mo. We can expect also better video quality due to the improved sensor design, and better low light performance as we seen in stills, which also reflects on the low-light performance of the videos.
Some see the microSD as a disadvantages, because some speeds and capacities are not being offered in microSD, and SD latest capacities and speeds are first being offered in SD cards.
WirelessBuilt-in Wi-FiBuilt-in Wi-FiOptional (WU-1b mobile adapter)
Remote ControlWirelessNoYes (optional ML-L3)
Battery Life (CIPA)310 shots300 shots220 shots
With the V3 is easy to share your photos when binding your mobile phone or tablet with your V3 camera, and you can also remote control your camera with a dedicated app installed on your mobile device.
Audio Input3.5mmN/AN/A
Optional GripYesNoNo
Motion SnapshotYesYesYes
Virtual HorizonYesYesNo
Highlight displayYesNoNo

Let’s continue on with some sample videos before we move to the conclusion section..

Nikon 1 V3 sample video – 1200fps high speed video:

now a Full HD 60p Nikon 1 V3 video sample:

Nikon 1 J4 1080p60 sample video (indoors)

Nikon 1 J3 Full HD video test:




Both the Nikon 1 V3 and Nikon 1 J4 shows their strength in the high ISO test and no doubt are better suited for low-light photography than the J3.  If you don’t find the extra V3 features useful, you can buy the J4 for a fraction of a price and enjoy the same image quality and AF performance. The V3 has its advantages over the J4 without a doubt, it has better build quality and better ergonomics, an optional EVF and official grip you can attach to the camera,  it has a tilting display, an option to attach an external flash, 3.5mm mic input, faster flash sync speed, both mechanical and electronic shutter (compared to only electronic on the J4),  more buttons and dial for quick access and change of frequently used camera settings and more built-in software based features (e.g. best moment capture, virtual horizon, creative palette, etc.).

You need to ask yourself whether those extra feature actually worth paying twice as much for the V3, some will agree, others won’t. It really boils down to your personal needs. I personally find that V3 too expensive for what it has to offer overall, but again, this is my personal opinion based on my specific needs.

The J3 is the cheapest of the three and certainly lacks some useful features that the J4 has, including better high ISO performance and higher resolution capture, higher maximum ISO, more advanced Hybrid AF with more AF points, slightly higher res LCD and touch-sensitive display, 60p video recording in Full HD as well as 720p120 slow-mo, built-in Wi-Fi, better battery life and more software-based functionality. In my opinion, the J4 is a good upgrade path from the J3, mainly due to its wireless connectivity, touchscreen, 1080p60 and battery life. I think that if you already sure to get either the J3 or the J4, I think that you should get the J4, as it offers a good range of extra useful feature and its more future proof.

The V3 is an excellent camera in my opinion, if it wasn’t for its high price, I would highly recommend it to everyone looking for a super fast and responsive mirrorless cameras, and personally really enjoy shooting with the 1 Nikkor lenses. If you don’t mind the high price, the V3 is certainly a very good option, but I recommend also checking the competition and read my Nikon 1 V3 vs Sony a6000 vs Nikon D7100 comparison.

If you are a novice photographer moving from point-and-shoot camera or only shot with a mobile phone camera, I recommend going with the Nikon 1 J4, you’ll love shooting with this camera and enjoy its responsiveness and high-quality images.

I hope that you enjoy reading this comparison and find it useful. If you do, please don’t forget to share it with others and LIKE it. You can also subscribed to outer Facebook page to be among those who are notified when we first publish a new article. Thanks!

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