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dave

Initial thoughts on the Nikon J1 and Nikon V1 mirrorless cameras.

Earlier today, Nikon announced their new mirrorless camera system, part of the new Nikon 1 system. It's designed to compete with other portable cameras with interchangeable lenses (e.g., Micro Four Thirds). The specs:
  • 10.1 megapixel CMOS sensors (new CX size: 13.2mm x 8.8mm) with 2.7x crop factor
  • 10 frame per second photo capture
  • Video recording: 1080/30p, 720/60p, and a 1200fps mode (that captures at roughly 320 x 240 pixels)
  • 3200 ISO maximum
  • 3-inch LCD
For all the hype leading up to this announcement, the specs are kind of mediocre in my opinion. It will be interesting to see what sort of images they can get out of this new sensor. Sadly, this particular sensor is much smaller than the normal APS-C sensors found in their lower range DSLRs (and Sony's comprable NEX cameras). It's also smaller than the sensors found in Micro Four Thirds cameras.

The 2.7x crop factor is insanely tight. Though they'll be selling some 10mm (27mm at the 35mm equivalent) lenses, which is roughly comparable to what you'd find on your average point and shoot. One of the most interesting things to me is the ability to eventually buy an adapter for the Nikon F mount. This means you can use any Nikkor lens with these cameras. Strap a AF-S NIKKOR 400mm f/2.8G ED VR to this? (See: gdgt.com­/nikon­/af­-s­-nikkor­/400mm­/f­-2­-8g­-ed­-vr/) Why not?! This would be equivalent to a 1080mm lens on a 35mm camera!

(Interestingly enough, I've seen Olympus reps do similar things with the E-P1 and huge Olympus telephoto lenses designed for DSLRs at previous gdgt live events.)

Overall, I'd love to get my hands on one and try it. But is it a true competitor and interesting alternative to a Micro Four Thirds camera? The jury is out on that one.

More info on Engadget: www.engadget.com­/2011­/09­/21­/nikon­-unveils­-v1­-and­-j...

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16 replies
jasondunn

I'm looking forward to seeing reviews of these cameras. They're not meant to be DSLRs in a smaller body - people who were expecting that don't understand the market. The fast AF will be a boon to shooters, casual or serious, and the camera with the pancake lens looks nice and small. The ability to slap on my Nikkor lenses will be fun, though I think when anyone goes down that route, they might as well grab their DSLR...
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roberto

I'm disappointed. The whole point of the micro four thirds system was to create a standard format across brands. Why develop a whole new proprietary one?
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jasondunn

Did you expect Nikon to do anything else? There's Canon and Nikon, then there's everybody else. What's the stat? Something like 75% all digital cameras - or maybe it's just DSLRs - are Canon or Nikon? Would I have preferred to see Nikon do a micro-four thirds system? Maybe. I'm sure they had this conversation, but ultimately going their own way made sense for them...I'm personally pretty excited by these two cameras, but I need to see the images before I can make any judgments about whether they'll be what I need in a camera. Nikon has gobs of experience in noise control, so even though the sensor is small I'm holding out some hope that the high ISO noise control will be decent.
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fourblades

Also note that Sony didn't comply to that idea and has their own type of lenses for the NEX series. I like the idea but I think many are not going to do that right away to differentiate themselves.
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Eddie

Personally I am disappointed. It is really the combination of everything that makes me feel that way though.
The small sensor could be okay, but the price kills it for me.
There are a bunch of gimmicks like that slow mo thing, neat, but not useful for me at all.
Also the depth of field is going to be suuuuper long because of the sensor size and focal lengths.

The IQ will probably be great at lower ISOs, which is fine, but I have no interest in the overall package.
2 like dislike
Eddie

I should append to this. I wasn't too high on m4/3 when it originally came out either, but now that it has some great lenses and you can find some of the older bodies for super cheap...I love them.

I could see the even smaller bodied j1/v1 going that route in a year or two. I do look forward to see what other lenses Nikon rolls out.
0 like dislike
stteve

The small sensor sounds like its quite problematic in low light. By most tests, does low light mean general indoor shooting?
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fourblades

I like the size of it but I'd want to see more sample shots and clips of it. It's always nice to get some specs higher and more powerful but this isn't their high end DSLR, just a portable camera with really nice extra features.
1 like dislike
Enosone

One of the most interesting things to me is the ability to eventually buy an adapter for the Nikon F mount. This means you can use any Nikkor lens with these cameras. Strap a AF-S NIKKOR 400mm f/2.8G ED VR to this? (See: gdgt.com­/nikon­/af­-s­-nikkor­/400mm­/f­-2­-8g­-ed­-vr/) Why not?! This would be equivalent to a 1080mm lens on a 35mm camera!

(Interestingly enough, I've seen Olympus reps do similar things with the E-P1 and huge Olympus telephoto lenses designed for DSLRs at previous gdgt live events.)


I've seen the same at the NYC gdgt live Event; what troubles me the most about Nikon's mirror-less cameras is that starting at $650 with a 10mm lens, you can get an Olympus E-PM1 and save $150 for either DSLR to Micro Four Thirds mount or more lenses. Same could be said about Panasonic's LUMIX GF-2; both are solid Micro Four Thirds cameras with enough lenses and support to boot.
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DanJ

Yea, this all looks pretty unimpressive to me. Sony really seems to be killing it with the NEX line. Better all around, both with at the low end and high end.
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sushicharron

these are actually very good looking devices. solid and awesome. it makes me feel different about mirror less digital cameras. love to get one of these!
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Eddie

May I ask...what, more specifically, makes you want to get one? The size? The aesthetics? The technical specs?
1 like dislike
sushicharron

the camera I had before I had a regular point and shoot, was a 35mm Canon I inherited from my uncle with a tele lens. Sweet set up. That was my first professional camera. Now, ever since digital photography became big and more convenient, I've been looking for a mid-range camera that had the portability of a point and shoot and capability of a reflex(mirror system) camera. So, micro four thirds cameras are in that sweet spot, and I'm my opinion, the Nikon J1 is beautiful piece of hardware and also in my opinion I think Nikon is a great manufacturer and the pics on all nikons I've seen are gorgeous!. So, the answer to your question is: all of the above.
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Eddie

Thanks, yeah the build does look pretty solid.
Nikon's image processing is also known to be quite good.

It will be interesting to see if this is the crowd Nikon draws in. Either way I love the mirrorless trend in general.
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realsoda

I was gonna buy a Sony NEX-C3 or 5N but I'm gonna wait until some hands-on impressions of these come out. Looks awesome! I hope it's worth the wait!
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jasondunn

Now that the camera is out...I'm disappointed. Looking at the sample images screams "Point and Shoot". The price point is all wrong. I'm likely going to get a Panasonic GX1. I really wanted Nikon to deliver the camera I was looking for, but for my needs, they didn't get it right.
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