Nikon 1 J1 review

Nikon's simplest mirrorless compact system camera

Nikon J1
Nikon's entry-level mirrorless camera is aimed at those stepping up from compact cameras

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Nikon j1

Nikon's announcement of its 1 system wasn't met with approval all round. Some Nikon users are disappointed by the company's decision to use a relatively small sensor, while others were hoping for something directed more squarely at enthusiast photographers.

Nevertheless it is a formula that seems to be working for Nikon as the J1 has had some impressive sales figures and has been the best-selling CSC in the UK at several points since its arrival.

While Nikon wants to stake a claim in the new compact camera system market, it doesn't want to damage its DSLR sales, and this goes some way to explaining its decision to develop a new lens mount and use a smaller than APS-C sized sensor.

Perhaps more than any other manufacturer, Nikon has succeeded in producing a camera that sits between its compact and DSLR cameras.

Experienced photographers may have been happier if Nikon had used a design a little closer to its most advanced compact model, the Coolpix P7100, with more direct control via buttons and dials and an articulating screen. Perhaps this will come in the future, but it would be intimidating to the intended Nikon J1 (and V1) market - those who want a step up from a compact camera without the complexity of an DSLR.

We liked

Nikon's minimalist design and the magnesium alloy body give the Nikon J1 a high-quality feel. Novice photographers will find that they soon become familiar with the control layout and menu arrangement and will enjoy the decent image quality.

We disliked

Exposure mode can only be changed via the menu, and although easy, changing the AF point requires a bit of button pressing – a touchscreen would make it much quicker.

Image quality is very good considering the sensor size, but it's not up to the standard from Micro Four Third and APS-C format cameras.

Final verdict

While the Nikon J1 is easy to get to grips with, a high-quality touchscreen would make its handling a little slicker and speed AF point selection. An articulated screen would make composing from unusual angles easier as well.

Image quality from the Nikon J1 is good, competing well with the average compact camera and approaching that of entry-level DSLRs.

In summary, the J1 provides a good introduction to interchangeable lens cameras, although it lacks some of the fun features such as in-camera filter effects seen on other offerings