With the announcement of the Nikon 1 series of cameras, Nikon had stepped into a segment of cameras they had not ventured in before, the compact system camera range of cameras. This segment had been dominated by the likes of Olympus, Panasonic and a small handful of other manufacturers who were looking to change the game as far as photography is concerned. So when Nikon introduced their 1 series of interchangeable lens cameras, the brand did not just unveil one model, but instead released two compact system cameras, the Nikon 1 V1 and the Nikon 1 J1. We had recently reviewed the V1, and now we take a look at the J1, the more budget friendly option. Here is a look at how it did.

Additional lens can be bought with the main unit

Additional lens can be bought with the main unit

Design and Build Quality
The Nikon 1 V1, the superior model amongst the two, had kept up the retro design that is popular with these type of cameras. However, as opposed to the V1, the J1 adopts a rather chic modern design in comparison. This modern styling is not really associated with these kind of cameras but having it is a very refreshing look and hence it manages to distinguish itself from the others. The V1 is available in only two colours but with this model, Nikon have unleashed a range of colours that can appeal to different audiences. The camera is available in traditional camera colours such as black, silver and red and also in funky options such as white and baby pink. These cameras really stand out and can really appeal to the audience because of its looks. All the J1 cameras have a glossy front while the back has a black finish making it one classy camera.

The V1 is the bigger brother not only because it is costlier in comparison but also because it is larger as well. The J1 loses the electronic viewfinder which is found on the V1 and in the process, makes it a lot slimmer. Where the J1 loses the EVF, it gains a flash, something that was not found on the V1. While one needed to attach an external flash on the V1, the J1 comes with a pop up flash that is housed nicely within the body of the camera itself. The J1 is a lot slimmer overall as compared to the J1 and it measures roughly the size of a bar of soap without the lens. This is roughly the size of most other standard compact cameras available in the market. Though the camera is quite small when attached to a lens, it is by no means pocketable. However, if one would like to carry it around, then they can easily do so by attaching the neck strap or the lanyard that comes as part of the packaging contents. If one is still not satisfied with the portability options, then Nikon does bundle a carry bag along with the camera as well. The camera is pretty lightweight as well in comparison to other compact system cameras. However, the weight does change a lot depending on the lens used with the camera.

10-30mm lens attached to the body

10-30mm lens attached to the body

The Nikon 1 J1 has a black back and the layout of the controls are similar to that of the V1. The only difference here is the camera does not feature the EVF, otherwise one would have difficulty telling the difference between the two options when viewed from the rear. The resolution of the display of the V1 is not that impressive as it features a 4,20,000 dot screen as compared to the 9,60,000 dot resolution found on the V1. If one is worried about the difference in image quality on screen, then they need not worry too much as the display offers decent quality. The buttons at the back are made well and one would expect it to be the case as this is an expensive camera and more importantly so coming from a brand as reputed as Nikon. The flash that is located on the top is spring loaded and the build quality of it is good as well. One can deploy the flash by pressing the toggle switch at the back above the display.

The side of the camera features a bay which houses the connectivity options such as HDMI and USB. The battery bay located underneath the camera houses the memory card slot as well. The flap of the bay is built well and it comes with a locking mechanism allowing one to be assured that the battery will not slip out by accident.

The flash deployed

The flash deployed

One can purchase lens to match the body of the camera. There are lens available in different colour options thus giving it a modern look. The build quality of the lens is really good and it feels sturdy too.

Features
Feature-wise, the Nikon 1 V1 and J1 are identical. There is absolutely no difference between the internals of the cameras. Whichever way you look at it, the Nikon 1 J1 appears the cost friendlier option as it comes loaded with a flash and most of the specs found on the V1. If one does not mind the loss of an EVF and a display that is not as crisp as the V1, then one is getting a good value for money product here as well as gaining a flash.

10mm pancake lens featured here

10mm pancake lens featured here

Nikon has not overpopulated their proprietary CMOS sensor which is found here by adding a lot of pixels in but rather have just employed a pixel count of 10MP. Like the V1, the Nikon J1 uses a CX format sensor measuring at 13.2 x 8.8mm which is a lot smaller than the Nikon DX format sensor which measures at 23.6 x 15.7mm. Though the sensor size is larger than those found on standard compact cameras and the Pentax Q series, it is smaller in comparison to the micro four thirds system cameras and the APS-C size found on the Sony and Samsung range of mirrorless cameras. The advantage Nikon has over here is that by using a 10MP sensor, they are not cramming the lens and hence the chances of image noise is sufficiently reduced. In the Nikon 1 range of cameras, Nikon uses a hybrid AF system which makes use of both the phase detection and the contrast detection system. By using a combination of both, one can expect their shots to be autofocus quicker as well as be accurate. The maximum resolution which the camera can capture images is 3872 x 2592 pixels, making it more than enough for those wanting to step up from a standard compact camera to a more advanced model.

Nikon has not maintained its consistency in respect to the interface amongst their range of cameras. There are noticeable differences between the DSLR cameras, the standard compact options and the Nikon 1 range of cameras. Nikon, on their part have made the interface of the camera very simple to use and even if a person is using this camera for the first time it will be able to understand it within a matter of minutes. There is no real learning curve that comes with the camera but just a matter of playing around with it. However, a thing we did not like was that it did not feature a dedicated mode dial for modes like program auto, shutter priority, aperture priority and manual mode. One will need to go in the menu every time they wish to switch between these options. This is a bit of a cumbersome process. However, this camera has been basically designed for casual photographers looking to shoot images mainly with the auto mode as well as sometimes making use of the semi manual modes.

Slim profile of the camera

Slim profile of the camera

The camera features only an electronic shutter as compared to the mechanical and electronic shutter found on the Nikon 1 V1. So by featuring this sort of shutter, one can expect fast continuous shooting. When it comes to video recording, the camera shoots full HD 1080i videos at 60fps, full HD 1080p videos at 30fps and HD 720p clips at 60fps. A neat feature in the camera is that it records video in slow motion and these videos are recorded at a resolution of 640 x 240 at 400fps.

Another interesting  feature found here is the motion snapshot – one can capture a one second video and while reviewing the small video clip shot in this mode, a tone starts playing and it ends with a still image of the subject captured. Scene Selector Auto is another gimmick feature of this camera that can be put to good use. While in this mode, the camera can capture multiple images through continuous shooting and then it chooses the top five best images and saves them. This can come in handy during portraits, group photos and virtually any type of photography. If one own an older NIKKOR F mount lens and would like to attach it with this body, then they could make an aftermarket purchase of a FT1 lens adapter.

Performance
The performance of the camera was tested on a number of factors. To begin this bit, the camera is light and can be used with a single hand. The display helps in this handling of the camera as well as one does not need to look through any viewfinder, as is the case with the V1. However, we strongly advise using a strap with the device as it has a really glossy finish and there is no grip at the front whatsoever.

Outdoor shot

Outdoor shot

While capturing images outdoors, the camera's display handles sunlight really well and the images on screen did not appear washed out at all. With photographs captured during the day we observed that all colours appear accurate and there was minimum amount of colour fringing even when facing the sunlight directly. A lot of detail was visible throughout all the images captured. The focusing of this camera is really quick which is a great feature of this camera. During low light photography we observed that detail was present and image grain was a minimum as well. While using the camera for macro shots, we noticed that there was a significant amount of depth of field but there was some slight focusing issue. However, once in focus, the camera shot the images well.

ISO sensitivity test

ISO sensitivity test

ISO Sensitivity Test
The ISO on this camera ranges from 100 – 3200 and at ISO 100, the image quality was crisp and there was a lot of detail present in the shot. However, from ISO 800 onwards we observed that the noise levels began to rise. The sensor suppresses the noise levels well from ISO 100 – 400.

Aperture Priority Test
Bundled with the 10-30mm lens, the aperture ranges from F/ 3.5 to F/16. At the former Aperture priority we observed that the depth of field was visible.

Aperture priority test

Aperture priority test

Zoom Test
The lens does well in minimizing the amount of blur when the lens is fully extended. One can use this feature to capture images well without the fear of there being any blur in the images.

Zoom test using 10-30mm lens

Zoom test using 10-30mm lens


Performance Continued
While capturing videos we were pleased with the performance and we saw that the camera does well in recording videos in most lighting conditions. We quite liked video quality of the slow motion feature as well which can be neat for uploading creative videos on YouTube. The flash, though ugly looking, performs really well and can easily light up an area of 12 feet.

Close-up shot

Close-up shot

Nikon has added a smaller battery on the J1 in comparison to the V1 and the 1020mAh battery that comes along with it has been rated at approximately 230 shots

Paired with the 30-110mm lens

Paired with the 30-110mm lens

Verdict
The Nikon 1 J1 is available in India at a street price of INR29,050 for the model with the 10-30mm lens. The pink version, which comes with a 10-30mm lens and a 30-110mm lens is available for INR40,950 making it a special edition model. The Nikon 1 J1 is attractively priced in comparison to the V1 but the higher end model does offer a handful of added features. The style factor, attractive features and great performances definitely make the J1 a model worth considering. This camera is funky, stylish and chic and it is aptly designed as a camera meant for the entire family or even novice photographers interested in using a camera that will offer great quality shots throughout. However, it is priced a lot more than a standard compact camera. If one wants a camera solely for casual photography and is on a tight budget, then there are plenty of other standard compact cameras available in the market that can provide similar features although image quality will not be as good.

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