Update: My J1 review is available here
It’s been a long time since I’ve reviewed anything on my blog, but I’ve been playing with a Nikon J1 and am going to try to get reviews up for the J1 and 3 lenses: the 1 Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 pancake, the 10–30mm f/3.5–5.6 VR, and the 30–110mm f/3.8–5.6 VR.
Nikon J1 with 10mm pancake and iPhone 4S
The J1 is a tiny camera, perfect for when you need to save space while mountain unicycling from Canada to Mexico. By itself, the body is close in size to an iPhone 4/4S, but 3 times thicker. It feels significantly smaller than the Micro 4/3s cameras I’ve used, especially when taking the size of lenses into account. Even the Canon G12 is bigger than the J1 despite the Canon’s much smaller sensor.
Nikon J1 with 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6
What I’m trying to get at here, is that Nikon found a hole in the market, planted a flag, and claimed this newfound territory in their own name. There has been a large gap in sensor size between the very high end point and shoots, and the existing mirrorless market which has quickly become incredibly competitive. Excepting Canon, most of the industry has weighed in, from Micro 4/3, Sony NEX, and Pentax’s tiny Q, to Fuji’s runaway success with the X100 foreshadowing their future interchangeable lens system. Unlike the X100 and some Micro 4/3 cameras, though, Nikon has gone with a very modern design, eschewing classic styling. It looks sleek, is extremely responsive, and has one of the best menu systems I’ve seen on a camera, but some old-style dials would certainly help.
Nikon J1 Back
The mode selection dial on the back is basically useless. All it’s good for is changing from still images to video, and that could have been done by using the video button on top. To me, it seems like engineering wanted to put PSAM there, but marketing wouldn’t have it as it might displace the prominence of their baffling motion snapshot mode.
It isn’t as bad as that sounds, though. The menus make changing PSAM modes only slightly more annoying than if they were on that dial, and manual is surprisingly easy to control. The switch on top controls shutter speed, and the spinning dial on the back controls aperture. A third control for ISO would make me incredibly happy.
Hayden Planetarium 10mm f/2.8 pancake, @f/2.8, iso 100, 1/160s
I think Nikon has a winner in the 1 system, especially if future versions put more focus on manual control. I’ll have more details on controls and image quality in my J1 review, so stay tuned!
35mm Equivalencies for Lens Focal LengthsThe CX sensor format used by the 1 system has a 2.7x crop ratio. Below are some conversions to 35mm focal lengths:
10mm -> 27mm
30mm -> 81mm
110mm -> 297mm
I’ve updated my Focal Length Calculator to show the Nikon 1 crop.