Nikon has announced its first interchangeable lens camera (ILC), available in two variants called the J1 and V1. Here are our first impressions of the new Nikon 1 series.
The Nikon 1 V1 will be available as a twin zoom kit for AU$1399, while the Nikon 1 J1 will be available for AU$899 with a 10mm f/2.8 lens, or as a twin zoom kit for AU$1099. Both cameras will be available from October 20 in black and white. Pink, red and silver units will be released in 2012.
Nikon's first mirrorless interchangeable lens camera sits in the middle between the company's Coolpix compact range and the Nikon SLR range. Available in Stormtrooper white as well as a more conservative black finish, this is the V1 pictured above. The V denotes the model with an electronic viewfinder. Nikon dubs this as an A-CIL camera — or advanced camera with interchangeable lens.
Inside there's a 10.1-megapixel CMOS sensor. It's the CX format (2.7x crop factor), which is a new size for Nikon and sits below the DX and FX sizes you may already be familiar with from the SLR range. It's physically smaller than those found on other ILC models on the market such as Micro Four Thirds cameras from Panasonic and Olympus, and APS-C sensors from Samsung and Sony.
Both the V1 and J1 (which we'll see on the next slide) were both designed from the ground up — no reused parts here! According to Nikon, the 1 cameras have been in development for four years. The reason for choosing the CX format sensor? Apparently, a larger sensor would make for a heavier and less portable camera. For Nikon it also creates a new segment within its range rather than eating into its existing SLR or compact range.
At the back the controls are intentionally simplified, designed to make it easy to use for all photographers. The Nikon 1 cameras can also take still images at full 10.1-megapixel resolution at 60 frames per second (fixed focus). As you can see on the screen, these cameras have two shutters, electronic and manual.
The V1 includes an electronic viewfinder at 1.4 million dots.
The baby of the pair, the J1 sports this very cute pop-up flash. It's quite a bit smaller than the V1 and has a brushed finish, though the internals are pretty much the same. The J1 also misses out on the electronic viewfinder and accessory port. Both cameras can shoot RAW images, have an ISO range of 100-6400 and the Expeed 3 image processor, which promises speedy results as well as the ability to capture full resolution images while filming video. They also boast both contrast and phase detection autofocus.
Controls at the rear resemble those found on the V1. This camera will come in a range of colours: white, black, red, silver and hot pink. Even more interesting is that each camera will come with a kit lens that matches its body colour. Like all ILC cameras, the Nikon 1 bodies can shoot 1080i video at 60fps.
Here's the J1 without its lens attached, showing the size of the sensor. It's worth noting that image stabilisation (Nikon calls this Vibration Reduction) is built into each lens rather than the body. There is also a mount adapter available that lets older Nikon lenses such as AF-S variants mount on the V1 or J1.
The Nikon 1 cameras use a new lens mount, not surprisingly named the 1 mount. The range launches with four lenses: the 10-30mm, which is equivalent to a 3x zoom; 30-110mm telephoto; 10mm prime; 10-100mm, which is specifically designed for video shooters. In the photo above, renowned fashion photographer Christian Blanchard puts the 30-110mm lens through its paces.
Nikon says there are many more lenses from macro to telephoto in the works for future years.
Here is the 10-100mm lens mounted on the V1. It has a zoom rocker rather than a lens ring to let it zoom smoothly for video shooting.
Nikon chose to launch the V1 and J1 with a range of stations for photographers to get some interesting images, including these Capoeira dancers. Apart from being able to take 60 frames a second, the Nikon 1 cameras can also do super-slow motion video and have a mode called smart photo selector. This mode takes 20 images with a single press of the shutter and the camera picks the best five based on things like facial expressions, composition and focus. The final shot is then composed and presented on the camera. Like magic!
In the pool, a family sits and relaxes for the afternoon. Nice work if you can get it.
Controls at the top of the camera are very simple. Just a power, shutter and video record button available. There's no mode dial that might be expected like on other ILC cameras here.
This is the accessory port found on the V1, where you can mount options like the GPS unit and mini speedlite that will be available at launch. Nikon's existing external stereo mic can also be mounted here, as there is an external mic port available for use on the side of the camera.
Here's a sample image taken on the Nikon 1 — the cameras at the launch were mostly preproduction.