Body design and features

In this section we're not aiming to provide an exhaustive view of the camera's design (we'll do that in our upcoming preview), but instead highlight some design elements that aren't obvious from simply looking at pictures of the cameras.

Camera body elements

The mode dial makes clear the cameras' intended audience. Instead of the range of exposure modes familiar to SLR users, it has four positions for Motion Snapshot, Smart Photo Selector, Still and Movie modes.
Most settings are changed using a standard rear dial / 4-way controller. The options on here are much the same between the J1 (shown here) and the V1, except that the latter replaces flash mode with focus mode.
Both cameras feature a rocker-lever on the shoulder. While it's only marked as a zoom control in playback, it has other functions too - for example it's used to change aperture in A and M modes. The 'F' button beside it brings a context-sensitive menu containing what the camera considers to be the most relevant options. Sadly, though, this isn't customizable in any way - you get what you're given.
The tripod mount is positioned centrally to the lens, close to the battery and SD card compartment.
The J1 model, which is the simpler of the two, has a built-in flash that pops up on a stalk. It's released manually using a slider on the back of the camera.
The V1, meanwhile, uses compact Speedlight that slides into the camera's accessory port. Uniquely, its head both tilts and swivels, meaning you can use bounced flash techniques in both portrait and landscape formats - a really nice touch. The unit also has a built-in LED light for video work.
Here's the flash unit itself, showing the contacts on its slide-in connector shoe. It draws its power from the camera, so doesn't use a separate battery.
This is the V1's accessory port, with the contacts clearly visible. It's normally hidden by a slide-on plastic cover. The accessory port is compatible with a range of other accessories, including a GPS unit. At launch Nikon was also showing a range of other concept products, including an add-on LCD panel for video and an LED ringlight for Macro work.

Nikon 1 Lens System

The Nikon 1 system uses an all-new lens mount, which the company has unsurprisingly decided to call the 'Nikon 1 mount'. Communication between the lens and camera body is fully electronic. In this picture you can see the J1's protective glass screen in front of the sensor which prevents dust ingress.

Mr Suzuki says that the system does include software correction of distortion, to give the best balance of image quality and system portability. But, he says: 'these lenses do not require much correction.'

All of the zoom lenses retract to more-compact forms for carrying. From left to right, the 10-30mm, 30-100mm, and 10-100mm. Here are the same lenses, extended to their shortest focal lengths for use. The 10-100mm is motorized, extending when you turn the camera on and retracting when you turn the camera off (you can't do this manually). It zooms and focuses fully internally.
The 10-100mm's zoom is controlled by a rocker switch on the side of the barrel. Its operation is proportional (push it a little and the lens zooms slowly, push it fully and the lens zooms quickly), allowing fine control over composition. The 10-30 and 30-100mm zooms, meanwhile, have locking buttons on the zoom ring to prevent you from retracting them accidentally. Unlocking the lens will also switch the camera on if the power has been turned off.

Summary

The philosophy behind the 1 system is clearly to deliver the goods without concerning the user about the process used along the way, for both stills and movies. And, crucially, to do so in a package sufficiently small that it won't get left at home all the time. As such, it's clear that it isn't a camera aimed at this site's core readership.

If it turns out to be capable of producing good results where existing cameras can often fail - school sports, for example - then it could easily turn out to be the long sought-after 'family camera' for users who want memorable pictures but have no interest in learning the technical minutiae of camera operation.