Nikon J4 review

Small, sleek and fully loaded - Nikon's newest J range camera is a pared-down version of the V3

Nikon 1 J4

The J4 is a good mid-range compact system camera that will probably have particular appeal to those who are already used to Nikon systems.

It's easy to use for the most part, while the addition of a touchscreen makes things like setting the autofocus point a breeze. The quick menu is a good way to access everyday settings as the main menu is a little confusing at times.

Images are of a good quality, but they aren't as good as those you get from compact system cameras with a larger sensor – especially when examining at 100%. How often you're likely to be doing that depends on the type of user you are, and arguably the user for this camera is very unlikely to do that at all.

Other aspects of image quality, such as white balance, metering and noise control are also good. The removal of the anti-aliasing filter means that the camera is capable of resolving more detail than its predecessors, but again it's not quite so good as cameras that feature much larger sensors, such as Micro Four Thirds or APS-C.

If you want something with a bit more flexibility, including more dials and the option to attach a viewfinder (or other accessories), then you'll want to take a look at the V3. Although that doesn't have a viewfinder as with previous V models, at least there is one available to purchase separately.

The lens range for the Nikon 1 series is growing, but it's still not as wide-ranging as those available for the Micro Four Thirds range, or the Sony E mount range. More are available than for the Samsung and Fujifilm though, and the benefit of having such a small sensor is that lenses are also small, making this a much more compact overall system than most of its rivals.

You can also use your existing F mount lenses if you have them with an additional mount – although bear in mind that any that you add will have a 2.7x crop factor applied to them, and will make the camera a little cumbersome to use.

First introduced on the V3, the new collapsible kit lens is much easier to use than the previous button twist version – there's no more messing around waiting to use the camera, it's just ready to go as soon as you switch it on. It also makes the overall body much sleeker when it's not in use.

We liked

The touchscreen is great to use, and really speeds up the process of setting autofocus point and navigating through various settings via the function menu. It doesn't tilt, which is a shame, but then again you're getting a pared-down version of the V3 here, so it's to be expected.

We disliked

It seems a bit of an odd choice to not make use of the mode dial to include the semi-automatic and manual shooting modes. My guess is that Nikon is trying to make it appear more simplistic to beginner users so that they're not put off by what they might think is a 'complicated' camera – but for those who do want to use these shooting modes, it's a bit of a cumbersome way to go about it.

Verdict

While the J4 isn't exactly going to win any awards for being the most exciting introduction of 2014, it's a decently performing camera. And if you're a Nikon fan (even better if you're a Nikon 1 fan) this is an appealing prospect. Take a look at the V3 if you're after something with a few more dials and direct control though. And if you're not brand loyal, take a look at some of the other small compact system cameras on the market – most notably the Panasonic GM1.