Today Nikon has announced a new camera lineup called the “Nikon 1 System“. A new range of interchangeable lens compact cameras with the new Nikon-1 mount and four matched lenses. Currently, Nikon introduced two new mirrorless cameras, the Nikon 1 J1 and V1. Both are highly-sophisticated mirrorless cameras as the V1 represents the most advanced model for the enthusiast photographer.
We’ve been waiting for Nikon to present it’s Mirrorless camera lineup for quite sometime, although some news has been leaked out recently, so it’s not a big surprise, but a welcomed one for sure. In this post I want to introduce the two new camera models, the J1 and the V1 so you’ll know what type of cameras you are looking at.
The Nikon 1 J1 is the more basic camera of the two, but in no way I mean much less advanced. In fact, this camera is both stylish, but packed with a wide arsenal of features that will make other mirrorless owners envy.
First things first, with the new Nikon 1 lineup Nikon has developed a brand new CX-format High-Speed AF CMOS sensor that was designed especially for those two cameras. The Nikon 1 J1 camera has a 10.1-megapixel (Effective) resolution with the sensor size of 13.2mm x 8.8 mm (2.7x focal length multiplier, don’t forget that when looking at lenses).
So the first thing we notice is that the sensor is smaller than the Micro Four Thirds, and much smaller than the APS-C, like the one found on Sony NEX mirrorless cameras (ie. Sony NEx5N and NEX-7). Right now I can’t tell if it’s a good thing or not, but we all know that the size of the sensor is very important. My guess is that Nikon wanted to keep the size of the lenses and the cameras as small as possible. I assume that Nikon believe that this is the main selling point for those cameras, so APS-C was out of the question.
With the Nikon 1 J1 you can capture photos at ISO sensitivity ranging from 100-3200. There is an option to climb up to ISO6400 in ‘Hi’ mode.
New EXPEED 3
With the announcement of the Nikon 1 (One) system, the company also introduced a new image processor called EXPEED 3. This is the latest image processor. It’s a dual-core processor that was intended to increase performance, allow better NR capabilities (both for still and videos), and has a lower power consumption. This what’s makes the J1 works like a beast and allows it to present such revolutionary features (Some of them seen first time on a mirrorless camera), including the super-fast phase-detection AF.
Hybrid AF System
According to Nikon, the J1 (and the V1 as well) features the world’s fastest autofocus system (*tested with specific 1 Nikkor lens and specific camera settings). The Nikon 1 JS features a new phase-detection called “focal plane detection AF” that works amazingly fast to deliver top notch AF performance that enthusiast photographer eager to take advantage of.
Having said that, the camera also features contrast-detection AF, and as you figure it out, that’s why it is called Hybrid. The camera scans the scene and select the best AF mechanism to work with that can result in the fastest and most accurate results.
10 fps Burst (up to 60fps!)
I must admit that when I’ve heard about the Sony NEX-7’s 10fps burst speed I was quite jealous. Now Sony NEX-7 is not the only mirrorless who spoils us with that speed, the J1 and the V1 both offer a fast 10fps continuous shooting speed and with full-time AF during that sequenced shots. You thought this is it, well..absolutely not! – The 1 Nikon J1 mirrorless camera can capture photos at a blazing speed of 60 fps, but with AF locked and using Electronic (Hi) shutter.
“AF locked” means that the camera locks the focus on the first frame, so it doesn’t need to auto focus on every frame, which accelerates that burst six times faster! – This is the fastest continuous shooting speed rate for in any interchangeable lens camera to date. Certainly a feature that will attract many fast-action shooters – just WOW!
Full HD Movie Recording
I expected Nikon not to skip this one. The J1 can capture beautiful Full HD movies at 1080p30 and 1080i60 as well. As I’ve written earlier, the EXPEED 3 image processor applies noise reduction to videos as well. That means that you’ll get a clean video, especially when shooting at high-ISO sensitivity levels and in low-light. That means that instead of viewing low-light scenes with a lot of noise in dark areas, you’ll get deeper black and more crisp and clean video file.
More than that, the Nikon 1 J1 is capable of shooting videos in super-slow motion, including 60/400 and up to 1200 frames per second. Another features is the ability to capture stills while shooting videos. Just press the shutter button while you shoot the videos and the J1 will capture high-resolution images as film.
The J1 features a built-in stereo microphone for recording videos with stereo sound. You can also adjust the sensitivity of the mic.
The Nikon 1 V1 is the enthusiast model of the two mirrorless cameras. It features the same great features that can be found on the Nikon 1 J1, but adds more advanced functions for the demanding photographer.
The back LCD of the V1 has a higher resolution compared to the J1’s 460,000-dots. I expected Nikon to use a high-resolution LCD in its higher-end models. The Nikon P300 high-end compact has it, so why not the high-end mirrorless. Both are 3-inch displays.
The next difference between the Nikon 1 J1 and the V1 is that the V1 features a built-in EVF with 1.44m dots (SVGA). In comparison, the Sony NEx-7 mirrorless camera has a 2.35m dots (XGA) OLED EVF, so Nikon doesn’t have the best EVF right now. I’m still interested to hear how the EVF looks in real life from people who test it themselves. The V1 can automatically switch the LCD screen off when it detects that the EVF is being used (great for saving battery life).
Accessory-Shoe (Attach an External Flash)
The J1 has a pop-up flash (the V1 doesn’t) but the Nikon 1 V1 has an accessory shoe where you can attach an external flash, a Projector, LCD finder and other accessories that will be designed to work with the accessory port.
Nikon V1 vs J1 – Specs Comparison
In order to better understand the differences between the1 Nikon J1 and V1, let’s look at a specs comparison table.[table "5" not found /]
As you can see from the above Nikon 1 V1 versus J1 specs comparison table, there are some differences between the two cameras (obviously).
The most important ones are probably the higher resolution LCD, EVF, shutter speeds, accessory port, 3.5mm jack and better battery life of the Nikon 1 V1 model.
In general, both cameras are not just evolutionary, but revolutionary in some ways. The 60 fps burst at full-resolution is certainly a features that looks like a dream more than reality.
1 Nikkor Lenses
Interchangeable lenses are a part of every Mirrorless ILC camera. With the announcement of the V1 and J1, Nikon introduced a line of new, which were specially engineered for the Nikon 1 mount.
As for the time writing this article, Nikon introduced four 1 Nikkor lenses:
- 10mm f/2.8 – 27mm equiv. A thin wide-angle pancake lens which is optimized for movie recording. It includes a metal lens mount, aspherical lens, STM (stepping motor) for super-quiet AF, aperture ring and available in various colors to fit your camera color.
- VR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 – 27-81mm equiv. A Compact 3x zoom lens with Nikon’s VR II image stabilization. STM, aspherical lens elements, retractable lens mechanism, aperture ring and also comes in various colors. This is probably the most recommended lens for beginners and chosen to serve as a Kit lens for the J1 kit and V1 kit.
- VR 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 – 81-297mm equiv. A telephoto-zoom (3.7x) lens with Nikon’s VR II image stabilization, STM, Retractable lens mechanism, aperture ring, Bayonet hood included.
- VR 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 PD-Zoom – 27-270mm equiv. This lens optimized for movie making, but makes a great walk-around lens for still too. Features a 1-x power-drive (PD) zoom lens, excellent optics (including HRI, three aspherical and two ED glass elements). VRII image stabilization, Voice Coil motors (VCM) for very quiet focusing and its also retractable. A great lens for videographers!
By the way, you can use your current Nikkor F-mount lenses with the Nikon 1 digital camera by using the Mount Adapter FT1 from Nikon.
Speedlight SB-N5 Flash
Nikon also introduced the Nikon Speedlight SB-N5 external flash for the Nikon 1 V1 camera. This is a small flash with bounce flash and LED light for Motion Snapshot and Smart Photo selector. The bounce can be rotated 90 degrees up and 180 degrees left or right. The flash shooting distance ranges from 0.6 to 20 meters.
More information on 1 Nikkor lenses can be found on Nikon’s website.
Image Quality (Sample Image Analysis)
At the end of the day, many photographers will want to know how the Nikon 1 V1 and J1 perform in terms of image quality (video quality too). I’ve came across a few sample images taken with both cameras. Luckily Nikon was kind enough to include a test photo taken in ISO800 (J1) but all other samples taken at ISO 100.
Here is my initial observation impressions:
- V1 / 1 NIKKOR VR 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 lens / ISO 100 (Image of a woman in the desert)
The colors are just brilliant. I had to give it to Nikon. The sharpness is very good and the Bokeh (background blue) is very pleasing. However, even in ISO100 I am pretty sure that there is a noise in there (look at the sand and the sky)
- J1 / 1 NIKKOR VR 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 lens / ISO 800 (Man in a library)
I was less pleased with that image, although the sharpness is very good. MAybe it’s not the best image to analyze the image quality.
- V1 / NIKKOR VR 10-30 mm f/3.5-5.6 / ISO 100 (Beach photo)
The beach image clearly shows the noise in ISO100 (look at the sky area). Some purple fringing in the high-contrast area in the water. This image didn’t impress me.
It’s very early to judge the camera, but from what I viewed on Nikon’s website, I see many people complaining about the fact that Nikon has decided to go with a relatively small sensor, which is smaller than the Micro Four Thirds. Indeed, Mirrorless is about compactness, but enthusiast photographers might find the Sony NEX as a better alternative when it comes to image quality (see Sony NEX-5N high-ISO performance).
We can take comfort that Nikon hasn’t chosen to make ILC camera like the Pentax Q.
I am a bit frustrated that Nikon didn’t opt to use a larger sensor (ie. ASP-C). I can just imagine how the image quality would be, especially with Nikkor excellent optics.
Both the Nikon 1 J1 and V1 are Nikon’s mirrorless cameras featuring innovative, advanced specs and unique features (“always the best shot”, “motion snapshot” , Hybrid AF, 60fps burst at full-res, movie NR, etc.) Nikon 1 mirrorless are meant to revolutionize the mirrorless industry.
By the way, it seems that many companies start using the number 1 since Google has announced its Google+1 button and Google 1 social network. Anyways, whatever the name is, Nikon 1 mirrorless cameras look very interesting on paper, including the new 1 Nikkor lenses.
One thing that people might not like is that Nikon has chosen to go with a relatively smaller size sensor instead of an APS-C. We’ve already seen the image quality coming from the Sony NEX-5N mirrorless camera.
No doubt that this is an important step that Nikon had to do in one day. Now that Nikon introduced its mirrorless camera lineup, it’s Canon’s turn to show its muscles.
I’m very interested to know what you think about Nikon 1 cameras and lenses, please share you opinion by commenting below.
Nikon J1 + 10-30mm Kit = $649.95 (suggested retail price)
Nikon V1 + 10-30mm Kit = $899.95 (suggest retail price)
Both cameras will be available starting October 20, 2011 in the US.
Press release: nikon.com