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CNET First Look
Nikon 1 J1The entry-level model in Nikon's interchangeable-lens series debut, the Nikon 1 J1, firmly targets point-and-shoot upgraders with its feature set, but the implementation is a mixed bag and the price is a bit steep for that crowd.
-Hi, I'm Lori Grunin, senior editor for CNET and this is the Nikon 1J1, the entry level model in Nikon's debut of its interchangeable lens series. The J1 firmly targets point-and-shoot upgraders with its feature set, but the implementation is a mixed bag and the price is a bet steep for that crowd. It kind of looks like an overgrown point-and-shoot with rounded sides and a rather featureless front view. Well, I wouldn't get the parts to call the glossy body slippery. There's nothing to grip on the front. On top of the small power button, a large flat shutter and movie record button as well as a small popup flash than one of my coworkers like into the an old fashioned mail box flag. The back is quite busy looking given how few direct access controls it has. A small partially filled model takes you into motion snapshot, smart photo selector, standard still options and movie mode. Most of the settings are in the menu system. The menus themselves are relatively short and don't come more a couples deep. So, really, it didn't bother me too much, but for camera targeted at novice and point-and-shoot upgraders, I think this model can get somewhat confusing. For instance, Nikon surface electronic shutter as a first option for its high speed continuous shooting mode. I think that will confusion some people. Nikon's adapted the collapsible lens architecture that's become common for IOC and the initial lens offerings are pretty compact, but to achieve that, Nikon gets in the manual focus ray. Instead, you have to use the awkward and emphasized dial and screen scale from point-and-shoots. On the upside, there a time lapse mode, which few cameras offer. Nikon introduces a few novelty modes as well. Motion snap shot records a still image and a 60 frame per second to 1 second video clip, which is then saves and plays back slow motion that would be really cool if you could do more than 1 second. Smart photo selectors are point-and-shoot staple with first 20 shots and then saves the best file as determined by the camera. I really don't think the camera deciding which shots to toss and which to keep. In its electronic shutter mode, you can shoot 10, 30, or 60 frames per second of full revolution, but for a limited burst. I always find the burst point too short to be useful in these types of mode, but at least the camera doesn't get bugged down saving the file. So, you can burst again pretty quickly. However, the camera doesn't have exposure bracketing, a feature that Nikon dropped from its entry level is large as well. Nor are there any special effects, which is really odd given how hot these features all these days and there's no option for an EVF. Ultimately, the photo qualities are good and occasionally excellent. The noise profile is just okay though at least JPEG where you probably don't wanna shoot higher than ISO 400. In other respects, notably lens sharpness, exposure and metering and color, the J1 delivers consistently and accurately. The video quality is also quite good. Sharp and saturated, and the other focus system works exceptionally well, quickly, quietly, and accurately when shooting video. Stereo microphone performs pretty well also and there are few sound level options plus a wind filter. The performance of the J1 was a top call. On one hand, it's got the least shot with any camera in its class. That's a fast [unk], but then it slows down on sequential shots, which can slow down your overall shooting experience a bit. The center point auto focus as well as fast, and it's 5 frame per second and standard burst mode is also very good and the camera allows you to start another burst quickly rather than pausing while it saves to the card. Other aspects of performance down a little. In the automatic auto focus, it selects the focus points quickly but inconsistently. For any given scene, it will do 2 different sets of points each time you free focus plus the battery life is kind of short. The LCD is typical. It's a little reflective and bright sound light, but otherwise fine. J1 is a good camera, but there's nothing here that screens out [unk] compared to compared to similar competitor. It's on the expense of side for a point and shoot upgraders and there are some drawbacks for the more advance shooter including having to commit to a completely new lens mount that years behind micro four thirds. I'm Lori Grunin and this is the Nikon 1J1.