Nikon 1 J1 Review

It’s been a week now since I received my Nikon 1 J1 camera from Amazon and I think it’s about time to give it an evaluation.

First of all, the Nikon 1 may be an interchangeable lens camera, but it by no means is like a DSLR. While delivering higher quality than most point-and-shoots, the ease of setting control is much lower than with DSLRs.


Nikon 1 J1 next to it's Nikkor 1 10-30mm VR lens
Nikon 1 J1 next to it’s Nikkor 1 10-30mm VR lens

Now, some of the things I really like about the Nikon 1:

  1. Ability to change lenses (even though I only have one for now)
  2. HD video. The quality is very good.
  3. Quick autofocus
  4. Compact: I’ve been carrying this camera everywhere with me. So much more convenient to carry around than a DSLR
  5. Simple physical controls

Now, some things I don’t like with more explanation:

  1. First, when using the camera in manual mode, you have to access the menu to change the ISO, use the wheel to change aperture, and use the preview zoom switch to change shutter speed. After getting used to it, it’s not that bad, but still inconvenient.
  2. Because the lenses with the Nikon 1 are smaller than the standard Nikkor lenses, they do not capture as much light, making low-light performance a little more difficult. Of course, I have shaky hands so that makes it worse.
  3. Lack of scene options: Besides being able to choose between auto and PASM, you don’t have many options. No sport mode or macro mode. You have to rely on the camera to detect what kind of pictures you’re taking for you. I believe this is fixed in the later versions of the J1 (J2 and J3).
  4. Vibration reduction? My camera came with the Nikkor 1 10-30mm VR lens and its vibration reduction capabilities seem to be minimal. It does help me a little bit, but with videos, it doesn’t help as much as, say the 18-55mm VR AF lens that came with Ashley’s D3200.
  5. Lack of viewfinder: Not a huge deal, but after using my girlfriend’s Nikon D3200, it feels weird not using one.

Summary: The Nikon 1 J1 camera is a great camera for amateurs or professionals who want to have the lens flexibility of DSLRs, but with the compact size of point-and-shoots. While the camera settings may take a little bit of learning, most users should be able to do what they normally would do with their DSLR as long as they have the appropriate lenses. The sensor size is definitely smaller than on a DSLR, but noise is not too noticeable until getting over 800 ISO in dark conditions. I’m extremely satisfied with it’s daylight performance and am slowly learning how to improve my own low-light picture-taking. For being as small (actually smaller) than my previous point-and-shoot (Nikon Coolpix L100), it performs better and I like having the greater depth of field. I hope this review is helpful to some of you out there and if you have any questions about the camera just comment below!

Picture examples:


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