Nikon 1 J1 Review

As you might have seen in my last post I got hold of a Nikon 1 J1. After a couple of days’ testing the camera, I can finally give you a clear and unprejudiced opinion.

There is only one chance for a first impression. At this point the Nikon 1 J1 scores quite good. I love the mat black look. There is something retro to the camera, which results in a perfect score: ten. So, the next step. I took the camera in my hands. I thought this camera would be a handy compact camera. But it feels like I’m lifting lead in the shape of a compact camera. This is caused by the separate objective which, in my opinion, is too heavy in comparison to the body. So whenever you want to take a picture you’ll have to freeze the camera with both hands. The positive side: you have to pay more attention holding the camera, when taking pictures. This will automatically lead to creating better pictures. And you’ll have less shaken and blurred pictures. On the other side, in my opinion, a compact camera should be easy to handle, quick in use, lightweight, … So at this point, the camera scores less.

After having taken pictures with the camera, you’ll notice the quality is impeccable. The 10.1 megapixel CMOS sensor delivers what it’s supposed to do. It has a fast, reliable auto-focus system. So no problems shooting pictures of moving subjects. The high-speed continuous shooting modes are also a very nice. In this way you’ll get that picture of what was going on right before or right after you pressed the shutter-release button. The one you just missed on previous occasions with another camera. And you can easily toggle between the 4 modes, Photo, Video, Motion Snapshot and Smart Photo Selector, with the dial wheel at the back of the camera.
But the dial wheel isn’t perfect, I missed “standard” modes to choose from. There is enough space left, so why not put P,A, S and M mode on it. And another thing I was missing at the back of the camera was an ISO button. Right now, you have to dig deep in the menu of the camera to choose between the four modes or to adjust your ISO. Not very handy.

The camera came with a Nikkor 10-30mm objective. I have already said it was quite heavy. But I didn’t speak of its performance yet. And there isn’t much to say about it. They did a good job with that lens. No complaints there.
But don’t let the numbers fool you. 10-30mm won’t give you the same result as a 10-30mm. on a full frame camera. Because of the smaller sensor, 13.2 mm × 8.8 mm, 10-30mm. equals 28-80mm on a full frame sensor camera.

So all in all, a good camera delivering high quality pictures and HD video. But when it comes down to it, the camera is neither one thing nor the other. It doesn’t have the versatility and broad range of possibilities of a DSLR. And it’s way too heavy (and big, due to the objective) to be a light, easy-to-use compact camera.

Thanks to Fabienne Lahaye and Michiel Sallaets at Hill & Knowlton for letting me test this camera.

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