|UPDATE. Both the J1 and V1 are now supported in View NX2 2.3, Adobe Camera RAW and DNG Coverter 6.6, and the new Lightroom 4. Click on the links to download.|
On September 21, 2011, Nikon launched the Nikon One mirror-less camera system, consisting of two cameras - named J1 and V1 - plus four lenses: 10 mm (27) mm, 10-30 (27-81) mm, 10-100 (27-270) mm and 30-110 (81-297) mm.
The main difference between the J1 - with its built-in flash - and the V1, is that the latter has a built-in accessory shoe, which turns it into an interesting system camera.
The V1 is compatible with the ML-L3 IR wireless remote control, already known from Nikon's entry- and mid-level DSLR line, while the accessory shoe accommodates and powers either the SB-N5 dedicated flash, the ME-1 stereo microphone - launched in April of 2011 - or its very own external GPS device, the GPN-100.
Both cameras are built around a new 10,1 Mp. CMOS sensor, developed by Nikon and baptized CX. It has a size of 8,8 x 13,2 mm - a bit larger than a quarter of a DX sensor - and a crop factor of approximately 2,7x.
Many DSLR users have expressed their disappointment about this "small" sensor size, however, it is good to keep in mind that this is two point five times larger than the largest among the pinky-nail sized chips used in P&S cameras.
Take the 1/1.7" CCD used in the Coolpix P7100, for example, which measures a measly 5,7 x 7,6 mm, or the the 2/3" CMOS in the Nikon P100, which is only 4,5 x 6 mm.
In other words: so small that they fit more than amply on the tip of a cigarette.
As such, the CX format fits in snugly between the Coolpixes and APS-C DSLR, apparently aiming at users who do not want to complicate life with a DSLR, but want better than P&S performance in a compact and – in the case of the V1 – versatile camera system.
The V1, coupled with the 10-30 mm f/3.5-5.6 VR standard lens (27-81 mm. equivalent), weighs in at 409 gr., less than, for example, the 24-85 mm f/2.8-4D Nikkor alone, which comes in at well over half a kilo.
Coupled with the 10 mm f/2.8 "pancake" lens, the V1 weighs a mere 371 gr. and easily fits into a jacket pocket, measuring 113 x 76 x 65 mm (WxHxD, lens included).
With their larger sensor, combined with 12-bits compressed NEF (RAW) format, one would definitely expect these cameras to turn out higher quality images in comparison with top of the line P&Ss.
The first sample images popping up around the Web appear to confirm this; with good lighting, the V1 is virtually clean at 800 ISO and images at 6400 ISO are still usable, even though, as usual, very noisy in low light.
Keep in mind that all cameras, even P&Ss, perform much better at high ISOs when light is more abundant or when a flash is used.
Speaking of which, the SB-N5 dedicated iTLL flash is a pleasant surprise. Its GN is about 20/66 (m/ft. @ 100 ISO) and the built-in LED is capable of 6 seconds of continuous lighting while the flash-head tilts and rotates for bounce flash: 90º up and 180º left and right.
The V1 syncs at 1/250 sec. (mechanical shutter) or 1/60 sec. (electronic shutter) and allows for full-blown flash control: ± 3 EV compensation, front curtain, fill-in, rear curtain, anti-red-eye and slow sync.
Even though many a DSRL user would have preferred them on a dedicated program dial, the standard exposure programs – P, S, A and M – are still available in the menus.
Nikon's choice here seems consistent with their chosen target group, and for those who want to go beyond the automated modes, it is good to know that PSAM is at least somewhere to be found...
Speed is another factor worth mentioning in relation to the V1. Standard 5 fps. (frames per second) with the mechanical shutter and 10, 30 or 60 fps. maximum with the electronic shutter at full resolution makes the V1 the fastest camera on the planet, right now.
The electronic shutter also allows for shutter speeds as fast as 1/16.000, while the mechanical shutter is no slouch either, with a minimum shutter speed of 1/4.000 (1/3 EV steps).
Although the camera does not have bulb, for most users the maximum exposure time of 30 seconds ought to be more than sufficient.
Which leads us to AF speed. For this camera, Nikon has developed a new, hybrid AF system, which combines the advantages of phase detect- and contrast detect AF to achieve what some testers call “blistering fast” auto focus.
AF modes are the well known single- and continuous AF (AF-S, AF-C) and auto AF or AF-A – first introduced with the entry level “Baby Nikons” – which chooses automatically between the two.
The camera also features a new AF-F full-time AF mode (for video recording) and Manual focus.
The V1 has four AF area modes: 41-point auto-AF, 135 selectable single points, subject tracking and face priority; in short, something that almost anybody would hope to find in a DSLR.
Meanwhile, Nikon's new Expeed-3 engine shines through in movie mode. The camera offers full HD 1920 x 1080 30p video recording with full-time auto focus (AF-F), 60i at the same resolution, 60p @ 1280 x 720, and two slow-motion modes of 400 fps @ 640x240 or a whopping 1200 fps @ 320x120.
The latter makes me look forward for more astonishing video recording numbers in the upcoming Nikon DSLRs...
The Nikkor One series includes four lenses: a fast, 10mm f/2.8 “pancake” fixed focal (27 mm equivalent), the 10-30mm (27-81mm) f/3.5-5.6 standard zoom lens, 10-100mm (27-270mm) f/4.5-5.6 motorized zoom and the 30-110mm (81-297mm) f/3.8-5.6.
Except for the pancake, all lenses include vibration reduction (VR), while the 10-100’s silent motorized zoom makes it particularly apt for video recording.
The only lens that appears to be missing from this line-up is an UWA (Ultra Wide Angle), but Nikon will likely launch a 6mm (16), 7mm (19) or 8mm (21.5) Nikkor One lens rather sooner than later.
Nikon has by now also introduced the Nikon One Mount/F-Mount FT1 adapter (± $250), which makes it possible to mount over 60 different FX and DX (motorized) AF-S lenses on these cameras.
Even though the FT1 is not entirely without restrictions, it could be particularly interesting for long-lens fans, because the 2,7x crop factor would turn a FX 300mm lens, for example, into a whopping 810 mm equivalent.
Lastly, Nikon has had the wisdom to include its top TFT-LCD 921K-dot 3" monitor in the V1, while the 12mm 1,44M-dot TTF electronic viewfinder includes diopter adjustment (-3 to +1 m) and eye proximity control, which turns it on when the user looks through it.
Other than that, the camera's features read like a standard DSLR wishlist: matrix, center-weighted and spot metering, AE-L/AF-L button, 100-3.200 standard ISO, 6.400 ISO (Hi), and HDMI-out.
Anybody who is planning to use the V1 in combination with either the SB-N5 flash, ME-1 microphone or GP-N100 GPS, might want to consider getting an extra EN-EL 15 battery, because all these devices are powered from the camera.
But consider the advantages: never ever have to worry about carrying extra AA batteries or the extra weight of battery loaded external devices. The SB-N5 weighs 70 grams, the GP-N100 only 21 (the same as a soul).
Thus, you can hit the road with a decent quality camera system that covers a focal range of 27 to 300 mm with two lenses, includes a microphone, a full blown flash, a GPS and two batteries with a total weight of only 901 grams.
For once you might leave the mule at home, and even carry a light-weight tripod without making life much harder.
In comparison, the D7000 body alone weighs in at 690 grams, without batteries, let alone a lens, battery pack or, worse, a tripod...
To sum this all up.
Yes, I can understand that Nikon DSRL owners are disappointed. And yes, the sensor of the V1 is only half the size of any Micro Four Thirds out there.
However, even though market share numbers per segment are extremely sketchy, Micro Four Thirds has never advanced beyond 10%, while total market share in units is a whole different ballgame than market share in dollars.
It may just be that Nikon made the right choice, positioning the Nikon One System precisely in between their top-of-the-line P&Ss and bottom-of-the-line DSLRs.
There must be a lot of users out there who do not want to complicate life with the perceived complexity of DSLR, which is precisely the weak point of Micro Four Thirds.
Even though only time will tell whether Nikon have invented a whole new market or a bummer, the mere thought of going on the road with a RAW capable, 27-300 mm camera system of under a kilo, simply gives me the goose bumps.
That is, until I read the price tags. $ 650 sounds more or less reasonable for the J1, but the V1 streets for close to a grand.
I believe that to be a bit of an uphill struggle, especially considering that you are supposed to shell out another $ 800 to come up to the afore mentioned 901 grams.
And then I have not even mentioned the 10-100 motorized zoom, which would gather Nikon almost the same amount, all by its lonely self.
Kinda tough,wouldn’t you agree?
DxO Mark. Nikon One J1 vs. Nikon P7000, vs. Canon Powershot G12.
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