We shoot a specially designed chart in carefully controlled conditions and the resulting images are analysed using the DXO Analyzer software to give noise and dynamic range measurements at every sensitivity (ISO) setting.
Like the Nikon 1 V1, the Nikon J1 uses a smaller sensor than APS-C or Micro Four Thirds cameras. This means that the J1's 10.1 million effective photosites (pixels) are likely to be smaller, which could be a challenge for image quality.
JPEG signal to noise ratio
Our lab tests indicate that the J1 produces JPEG images that have a low signal to noise ratio in comparison with images from the Olympus PEN E-PL3 and Sony NEX-C3. They are closer to the JPEGs from the Pentax Q, but even this camera - which has a much smaller sensor than the J1 - has a better signal to noise ratio at higher sensitivity settings.
A high signal to noise ratio (SNR) generally indicates a cleaner and better quality image.
Raw signal to noise ratio
The difference in the signal to noise ratio of the of the J1's raw files (after conversion to TIFF) and the Pentax Q's is much less than the JPEG files. From ISO 800 up, the J1 beats the Q, proving some benefit from the larger sensor. The raw files can't match the results from the Olympus PEN E-PL3 or Sony NEX-C3 though.
For a full explanation of what our resolution charts mean, and how to read them please click here to read the full article.
JPEG dynamic range
Raw dynamic range
This chart indicates that the Nikon J1's raws compares well against the Olympus PEN E-PL3, Sony NEX C-3 and Pentax Q, with the best results from a sensitivity of ISO 1600. This test shows that the Nikon J1 is capable of capturing a good amount of shadow and highlight detail.
For a full explanation of our noise and dynamic range tests, please click here to read the full article.