First Impression – Nikon 1 J1 and V1

We have just returned from the South African launch of the Nikon 1 series and got to go hands on with the new J1 and V1. Nikon claim this is the most important announcement they have made in 14 years when they first announced their entry to digital cameras, but is it all they hope it to be? Read on for our first impressions.

The System

Nikon 1 is a new system with a new mount and a whole new experience in some way to what Nikon is accustomed to. I take my hat off to a brand like this that has stuck to the same formula for all intents and purposes, for over 50 years, in fact since the day they launched the Nikon F mount.

The Nikon 1 range of cameras sport a new size sensor – CX is the Nikon term for it. Larger than a compact camera but smaller than the current smallest changeable lens sensor – Four Thirds – the crop factor on the Nikon 1 is 2.7x and in many ways it enters uncharted territory. When I first heard that this was the sensor size I was anticipating a smaller camera than I found at the launch, but that is not a bad thing, a camera that is too small can be a problem for extended shooting.

My other concern was in image quality from the smaller sensor and while we did not get take home pictures from the cameras, what we saw was surprising good. Sharp and free of visible noise on the camera’s LCD screen.

The V1

While the V1 feels like a bit of a chuncky cameras, the build quality is far more welcome than a smaller body would have been. One advantage of the V1 over it’s smaller sibling – the J1 – is the inclusion of an electronic viewfinder which is surprisingly good. While I wont say it is equal to Sony’s latest OLED EVF in the new A77, the V1 is definitely better than the Sony A33 which has the same resolution viewfinder so hats off to Nikon on that one.

The accessory shoe on the V1 is another plus point and it looks really good with the newly launched SB-N5 Speedlight flash on top. We await the chance to try it out in the real world soon.

The J1

The baby in the range is and feels a lot smaller than the bigger V1. Well made and easy to carry, I cannot help but wonder is perhaps this camera is short changed by the absence of the accessory shoe however the built in flash will likely make up for that for most people.

Features and Lenses

To wrap up, the features on the Nikon 1 cameras need to be experienced to be truly understood and appreciated, it is just difficult to explain. What we can say is they work and from the brief hands on we had, they seem to work really well.

The lens range is also good and the 10-100mm with power zoom will be great for videographers from what we could see – again we look forward to putting it to the test.

Perhaps Greg summed it up best on the way home from the launch Ï want one”. It certainly is very good.

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