Nikon 1 S1 review

Nikon's simplest CSC put to the test

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Nikon enjoyed great commercial success with the Nikon 1 J1 and 1 J2. Since the Nikon 1 J3 has seen some high-end improvements made to it (such as the inclusion of a mode dial and higher resolution screen), it seems Nikon is still keen to have an entry-level cheaper model in its lineup.

The Nikon 1 S1 has the simplest specifications of any of the Nikon 1 cameras, including the lowest resolution sensor and lowest resolution LCD screen. That said, it's still not quite the smallest, with that honour being taken by the 1 J3.

What we have here is something that the average smartphone or compact camera user can pick up and start using straight away without having to follow complicated instructions, for £479.99/US$499.95.

The fact that it is capable of shooting in fully manual modes and has interchangeable lenses should enable this kind of user to explore photography further if they want to down the line.

However, Nikon has made some slightly strange decisions in the handling of the Nikon 1 S1, specifically in terms of not being able to shoot raw and JPEG files together. It's got the potential for an inexperienced user to accidentally shoot in raw format and be baffled by the resulting files.

It's also a shame that Nikon has chosen once again not to incorporate a touchscreen. Although it probably does help to keep the cost of the Nikon 1 S1 down, those smartphone users stepping up for the first time would no doubt appreciate being able to navigate through menus and image previews with a touch-sensitive device.

Putting that aside, image quality - especially in favourable conditions - is very good. The bundled 11-27.5mm kit lens is also a decent performer, though compact camera users may desire a longer zoom ratio.

We liked

Buying Guide
Best Nikon camera
Best Nikon cameras

The best thing about the Nikon 1 S1 is its (JPEG) image quality, which is arguably the most important thing. Photographs from it are bright, colourful and vibrant without being over the top. Despite its small size and relatively low resolution, it's also capable of producing plenty of fine detail.

We disliked

Although this camera is aimed primarily at beginners, anybody with a desire to make changes to settings will find the Nikon 1 S1 ever so slightly frustrating. A touchscreen would have elevated this up from an average or basic compact system camera to something with a bit more appeal.

Final verdict

Despite the fact that it's small, the Nikon 1 S1's image quality is excellent and certainly worthy of consideration for first time CSC owners. If you're an existing Nikon user, you might want to think about this either as a backup for a DSLR or a companion to a smaller compact camera.

However, despite its relatively cheap price, we can't help but think that there are other cameras on the market that also serve the beginner market at this point but are easier to use, feature larger sensors and have a better (proprietary) lens range. Take a look at the excellent Olympus PEN Mini, for example, or the Sony NEX-3N.

It will be interesting to see if Nikon's commercial success with the J series also translates to the S series.

Tech Specs

Product TypeMirrorless Camera with Lens
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Green CompliantYes
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Effective Camera Resolution10.1 Megapixel
Wide AngleYes
Product Family1
HD Movie ModeYes
Memory Card SupportedSecure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card, Secure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC)
Optical Zoom2.5x, 2.5x (Lens 1) - 3.6x (Lens 2)
Digital ZoomNo
Brand NameNikon
FeaturesTime Lapse Function, Self-timer, Face Detection, Live View, Continuous Shooting Mode
Screen Size7.6 cm (3")
Video FormatsMOV, MPEG-4
Weight (Approximate)197 g
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityRoHS, WEEE
Image Sensor Size13.20 mm x 8.80 mm
Maximum Image Resolution3872 x 2592
Display Screen TypeLCD
Height60.5 mm
Width102 mm
Depth29.7 mm
Product Series1
Focal Length11 mm to 27.50 mm (Lens 1) - 30 mm to 110 mm (Lens 2)
Image FormatsRAW, JPEG
Focus ModesManual, Auto
ManufacturerNikon Corporation
Product ModelS1
Product Name1 S1 Mirrorless Camera
Exposure Control
  • Manual
  • Programmed AE
  • Shutter-priority AE
  • Aperture-priority AE
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberVVA191K007
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

When the decisive moment strikes, you need to be ready. But what if your "carry-anywhere" camera isn't up to the job?

The Nikon 1 S1 interchangeable lens system camera is always ready to spring into action; it's as convenient and easy to use as a compact camera, but much faster and significantly more powerful, with better image quality.

It boasts an astonishingly fast autofocus system, built-in auto pop-up flash, and intuitive digital controls. And with second-generation features like Best Moment Capture, Live Image Control, and Motion Snapshot, you'll always be ready to shoot high-quality photos and movies.

The S1's sophisticated features are refreshingly simple to use, giving you great results with less effort and ensuring that you never miss a moment.

Small enough to take with you everywhere, with a beautiful, minimal design that you won't want to leave at home, this is the ideal camera system for people who want to capture decisive moments with high-resolution images and Full HD movies.

Package Contents
  • 1 S1 Mirrorless Camera
  • 1 NIKKOR 11-27.5mm f/3.5-5.6
  • 1 NIKKOR VR 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6
  • BF-N1000 Body Cap
  • EN-EL20 Rechargeable Li-ion battery (with terminal cover)
  • MH-27 Battery Charger
  • AN-N1000 Strap
  • UC-E19 USB Cable
  • User's Manual
  • Reference Manual CD
  • Software CD-ROM
Limited Warranty1 Year