Nikon 1 System J1 Review

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Nikon 1 System J1 ReviewThe Nikon 1 system is Nikon’s first foray into the world of mirrorless cameras. They introduced two cameras back in September, the J1 and V1. I’ve been using the $650 J1 (price includes 10-30mm kit lens), the less expensive of the two Nikon 1 mirrorless cameras. Both the J1 and the V1 share the same 10-megapixel CX-format sensor, 3-inch LCD display, Expeed 3 processing, full HD video and a super fast maximum burst rate of 60 frames per second. The more expensive Nikon V1 has a beefier body, an electronic viewfinder, Nikon Creative Lighting System compatibility and a few other features the J1 doesn’t have.

Nikon’s new CX-format sensor is probably the most talked-about part of the Nikon 1 system cameras. It’s a new sensor format, smaller than the Four Thirds sensor in the Olympus and Panasonic Micro Four Thirds compact system cameras, and many people have been critical of the camera’s image quality. I think most photographers have missed the point of the Nikon 1 cameras, though. Image quality is always important but these cameras are really about speed. They have a ridiculously fast burst rate, crazy video frame rates and auto focus performance that rivals $5000 professional digital SLRs.

The most exciting part of the Nikon 1 cameras, in my opinion, is their new hybrid auto focus system, which combines DSLR phase detect AF with the contrast detect AF used on all other mirrorless cameras. Although the latest compact system cameras have been achieving incredible single shot auto focus performance their continuous auto focus is pretty poor. When the Nikon 1 system with hybrid auto focus was announced I hoped it would bring something new to the table. I was not disappointed. In fact, I feel totally comfortable saying the new Nikon J1 and V1 are groundbreaking cameras.

Introduction Camera Experience Image Quality Conclusion


Nikon 1 - J1 - Skier

Street Price:
J1 – $650 with 10-30mm kit lens
V1 – $900 with 10-30mm kit lens

    Nikon 1 System J1 Pros

  • Very small & light cameras and lenses
  • Great image stabilization
  • Revolutionary auto focus performance
  • Great movie mode continuous auto focus
  • Up to 30 frames-per-second full-resolution burst rate (with auto focus locked)
    Nikon 1 System J1 Cons

  • Controls and UI are awkward
  • Image quality not competitive with other compact system cameras
  • Small camera body is slippery and a bit hard to hold
  • Hard to pan smoothly without an eyelevel finder (J1)
  • Lens options are skimpy at the moment
Nikon 1 System J1 Studio Test Images
Nikon 1 System - J1 Studio Sample Photos
    ISO 100 Sample >>
    ISO 200 Sample >>
    ISO 400 Sample >>
    ISO 800 Sample >>
    ISO 1600 Sample >>
    ISO 3200 Sample >>
    ISO 6400 Sample >>
    All Digital Camera Studio Sample Photos >>

Nikon J1 Mirrorless Camera With 10mm f/2.8 Lens - Front & Back

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Nikon 1 System J1 Review Navigation
Introduction Camera Experience Image Quality Conclusion
Nikon J1 User Reviews Write A Nikon J1 Review Buy The Nikon D3X

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About the author: Photo-John

Photo-John, a.k.a. John Shafer, is the managing editor of and has been since the site launched back in 1999. He's an avid outdoor enthusiast and spends as much time as possible on his mountain bike, hiking or skiing in the mountains. He's been taking pictures for ever and ever, and never goes anywhere without a camera.

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  • Nigel Cummings says:

    I bought a V1 kit on a whim, fully expecting to use it only as a ‘snapshot’ camera as I thought the 10MPixel sensor would be a touch limiting- I am a Pro using D300s and D7000 DSLR bodies- but a thought occurred to me, its not that long ago that I was using D200 DSLRS for my ‘Pro’ work, so, would it be possible to get similar levels of quality from the V1 when used in a ‘Pro’ situation? The answer is yes, I carried a V1 along with me on several assignments as a ‘back up’ camer and quickly found I was appreciating its speed and more significantly compactness and lack of weight for capturing quality images. On the down side the current flash option for the V1 is a little weak (Nikon please note)- but the 1 series cameras are in my opinion, not to be discounted as ‘prosumer’ or ‘advanced amateur’s’ cameras – they really can deliver!
    Flippantly I guess, I tried a number of lenses on the V1 body via the F-Mount adapter option, from my collection of Nikon lenses. Whilst it looked a bit odd, the 18-200mm VR11 allowed me to grab some ‘tack sharp’ images whilst providing me with a colossal 48-540mm (equivalent) zoom range. My 60mm f2.8 Micro lens turned into a fast, ultra sharp 162mm optic too, whilst my 85mm f1.4 became a 230mm f1.4 which has proved to be a dream lens for stage and low light telephotography! Great Work Nikon! I’m looking forward to the next generation of your ‘Series 1 offerings’!

  • Photo-John says:

    Thanks for the great comments, Nigel! There are a lot of naysayers with the new Nikon mirrorless system, but as you can see in my review, I was very impressed with it. Please write a review for your V1 in our user reviews section! I think your review would be our first for the V1 and if it’s a good one I may make it a Featured User Review. I’d also love to see some pictures of your big Nikkors on the V1. Post some photos in our Nikon forum! Here’s a link to the Nikon V1 user review page:

    Thanks again for posting a comment and thanks in advance for your V1 review! :-)

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