Nikon 1 System First Impressions

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.

Comments

Total comments: 255
123
Henry M. Hertz
By Henry M. Hertz (Sep 21, 2011)

shoot enough pictures at least one will be good.
how sad is that.. how really sad.

and now the camera does even the judging of your photographs for your.
at least that way we could get rid of the trillions of ugly and unsharp pictures on flickr and facebook.... or maybe not.

now sony only has to produce a roboter who takes the pictures he thinks are interesting.... so you can spend all your time posting them on your facebook or flickr site.

what a great future. :)

1 upvote
AnandaSim
By AnandaSim (Sep 21, 2011)

Their adcopy in their brochure says the camera chooses which shot is spectacular. LOL. Give the guy/girl who wrote that max marks for creativity and a cam!

In actual fact, this is just an evolution of BSS found on my Nikon 775 point and shoot circa 2000. For times when light is dim, low shutter speed, if you shoot a blazed of frames, one of them will have the least motion blur or the least chance of eyes closed or the moving subject out of frame. It's nothing to do with artistic control, it's just trying to get a desperate shot.

1 upvote
TonGolem
By TonGolem (Sep 21, 2011)

you forget that not everybody does photography passionately. some just want nice memories in the form of pixels. nothing's wrong with that.

0 upvotes
iunius
By iunius (Sep 22, 2011)

AnandaSim gets the idea. It's an old idea that is useful in some situations.

What's new here is that it can be finished collecting it's 20 frames while slower cameras would still be busy with shutter lag.

0 upvotes
Marcello Zini
By Marcello Zini (Sep 21, 2011)

I would definitely bet on the success of the plan, given the specs and the targeted audience. The point is, I was hoping to extend my nikon system with an extremely compact body to eventually screw my Nikon lenses and sb600 on just as many m4/3 users happily do by keeping an Oly pen as an extra body in addition to a dslr. It lools like we may have to forget about it, then :-/

1 upvote
roblarosa
By roblarosa (Sep 21, 2011)

There is an adapter that will let you use your dslr lenses on this system. http://imaging.nikon.com/lineup/acil/accessories/mount_adapter_ft1/

0 upvotes
TonGolem
By TonGolem (Sep 21, 2011)

there is an adapter, but the system might not be "worthy" of proper nikon glas. the nex 5n with the updated d7000 sensor might be more the one to go for.

0 upvotes
Marcello Zini
By Marcello Zini (Sep 22, 2011)

uhmm not enough for me. I like taking shots indoor bouncing the light of a manual flash on top of the Pana LX3 but it's not dslr level, lots of details but not as much dynamic range; besides, no ttl flash. I wanted a D7000 sensor and a Nikon hot shoe in a small body, otherwise I may as well get a Sony I guess

0 upvotes
Ken Aisin
By Ken Aisin (Sep 21, 2011)

"it also incorporates a 'Hybrid' autofocus system that employs both Phase and Contrast Detection focus methods. The result is, according to Nikon, the fastest autofocus of any camera the company has ever made - including its professional flagship DSLR, the D3S."

This means Nikon has the capability to build DX and FX mirrorless cameras with hybrid AF system that can autofocus faster than D3s, but Nikon somehow chose a sensor with 2.7x crop factor. Interesting........

1 upvote
rhlpetrus
By rhlpetrus (Sep 21, 2011)

That's is the main news re this system IMO. I think we will see APS-C ML system in 2 years at most.

1 upvote
dylanbarnhart
By dylanbarnhart (Sep 21, 2011)

Three reasons why this new AF system can be faster than the flagship D3s:
. Smaller sensor has larger depth of field. So the AF doesn't need to work as hard.
. Smaller sensor allows smaller lens elements, which can be moved quicker.
. The new EXPEED 3 processor is super fast. No doubt it will be used on many other Nikon cameras.

3 upvotes
commiebiker
By commiebiker (Sep 21, 2011)

yes, I'm very interested in the implications of the auto focus system, processor speed, 60fps, and motion capture. Gives me high hopes that we will be seeing some cool things when the big boy cameras arive

0 upvotes
G Davidson
By G Davidson (Sep 22, 2011)

I think seeing this as the end of the road may be wrong. It makes for a small, consumer-driven mirrorless solution. DX and even full-frame mirrorless will probably come next, with their bigger lenses. It remains to be seen how small CX can actually get.

0 upvotes
Vladik
By Vladik (Sep 21, 2011)

Looks more like Chinese junk, 5 dalla camera :)))

1 upvote
Henry M. Hertz
By Henry M. Hertz (Sep 21, 2011)

all i read is nikon PR... not a hands on preview.

one thing i like to know is ... can this hybrid AF incorporated int DSLR designs?

or let me ask the other way... will we see such a sensor technology in the next nikon dslr models?

2 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (Sep 22, 2011)

Even if it can, fast CDAF requires lenses that have been designed for CDAF. They require small, light lens elements, which is probably part of the reason why Nikon chose this sensor format.

0 upvotes
MichaelKJ
By MichaelKJ (Sep 21, 2011)

IMO this represents Nikon's initial move into the mirrorless future. It currently doesn't make sense to bring out a competitor to its DSLRs because they continue to be very profitable. However, I think it is likely that much of the technology developed for these cameras can be ported into a DSLR replacement when Nikon feels that it makes sense financially.

1 upvote
sacundim
By sacundim (Sep 21, 2011)

"It currently doesn't make sense to bring out a competitor to its DSLRs because they continue to be very profitable."

That's an example of grossly misguided common wisdom. They should release the best possible product. If it cannibalizes the sales of your other product, well, be happy that it wasn't a competitor who did it!

As an example of a company who knows not to think this way, Apple has repeatedly released products that cannibalize the sales of older ones: iPhone took a chunk of iPod sales; iPad and Macbook Air also cannibalize Macbook sales.

0 upvotes
Prime_Lens
By Prime_Lens (Sep 21, 2011)

It would only make sense, IF and only IF Nikon's V1 camera is the ONLY mirrorless camera system offering in the world, but it is not, so very very not.

Nikon is gambling big here.
Not only are they late in the game, they are playing against consumers desire.

I hope Canon can do better than Nikon.. I really hope.

0 upvotes
Lucas_
By Lucas_ (Sep 22, 2011)

...and while Nikon and Canon are somewhat "lost" in new ventures, Sony is swallowing the mirrorless market with the NEX cameras and and shaking the DSLR's with their SLTs!
Time will tell...

0 upvotes
goloby
By goloby (Sep 21, 2011)

I'm sure the sensor will focus fast, but there's no way the motor in those lenses will focus anywhere near as my d90 with the 50 1.8d, not to mention a D3x with some pro lenses, it's just marketing

0 upvotes
increments
By increments (Sep 21, 2011)

They're claiming their speeds are with kit lens.

0 upvotes
goloby
By goloby (Sep 21, 2011)

read carefully, the only word used is CAMERA, there's no mention of any lens

0 upvotes
Andy Westlake
By Andy Westlake (Sep 21, 2011)

The motors may be small, but the amount of glass they have to move is tiny. In reality AF is impressively fast - it's not all marketing.

3 upvotes
increments
By increments (Sep 21, 2011)

"The new advanced hybrid AF system is the world's fastest autofocus1"

"1: Based on performance with shooting using a standard zoom lens (10-30) at the maximum wide-angle position with AF-area mode set to Single-point (results based on Nikon test conditions)"

2 upvotes
micahmedia
By micahmedia (Sep 21, 2011)

1) tiny/light glass
2) tiny distances to move
3) a resolution which requires less precision than the d3x
4) depth of field is fairly large for an imaging area that size

Which all helps for speedy focusing...on paper. Time will tell! It's wholly possible (in theory at least) that their claims are true though.

Will they have glass 1.4 or faster? More compact lenses than what's shown? Higher resolution? Will AF-S lenses autofocus with it?

1 upvote
bugbait
By bugbait (Sep 21, 2011)

OK, I appreciate the article because the Nikon's rational for the system makes more sense now. Middle of the road product and services, although slight profit margins can mean the difference in having the cash reserves to survive in rough patches of years and or decades.

I am late in my decision process but if I was not I would be expending too much time on following this system. I am going to dismiss this offering entirely and that is fine as it is not for folks like me.

I was leaning toward them for a while. But if they don't have the Canon color accuracy nor an exclusive in quality at an interesting price point; this kind of roll out is frankly a bit irritating.

Nikon know their bottom line, but they are certainly moving further and further away from me.

I suspected this was brought forward as a hurry to beat a Canon announcement. With pros taking such a cool view, Canon could cancel those effort, no hurry now.

Anyhow that is what I am taking away from this.
bugbait

0 upvotes
sean000
By sean000 (Sep 21, 2011)

They better release a normal-ish prime fast, because a lot of people buying something like this want to be able to photograph their kids in available light. That is something Panasonic understood when they released the 20mm f/1.7. Nikon needs to release a 15mm or 18mm f/1.8 or faster lens.

To me the big advantage of the smaller sensor should be the possibility of very compact fast zooms. But I guess I'm not in their target market :-p

0 upvotes
Joesiv
By Joesiv (Sep 21, 2011)

With all this new sensor/AF/Video tech, I have high hopes for the next generation of Nikon DSLRs!

D800 here we come?!

1 upvote
david70
By david70 (Sep 21, 2011)

The 60 frames per second and the best shot selection is genius. Just like the face recognition, this will change the way most people take pictures, and truly merges video and still images in a way the old fashioned photographers have not thought of yet.

Like someone else said, stand aside, the future is coming through!

0 upvotes
Peter Sills
By Peter Sills (Sep 21, 2011)

I think what people are overlooking is that Nikon will now have to struggle to gain market-share against Micro 4/3 and Sony (who is winning in Japan at least). Had Nikon embraced M4/3 it could have owned the entire marketplace. It could have had a better camera and lenses and been selling them over a much wider base of cameras. Also, supporting M4/3 would have dealt a body-blow to Sony as they would be off all on their own.

In an effort to own everything and not cannibalize their DSLR sales, Nikon has marginalized their own efforts.

1 upvote
rhlpetrus
By rhlpetrus (Sep 21, 2011)

Why would tehy want to deal a blow at Sony? They sahre technology in sensor technology.

1 upvote
rocklobster
By rocklobster (Sep 21, 2011)

Peter, you hit the nail right on the head. M4/3 is the ideal lens/sensor size compromise for OK low light, bokeh, etc especially with the fast Panasonic 20mm F1.7. Despite slower AF and burst mode (do you really need it?) the E-PM1/PL3 (has IBIS) with that lens is still hard to beat.

1 upvote
Mike Ronesia
By Mike Ronesia (Sep 22, 2011)

Panny's new 25mm f1.4 focuses much faster then the old 20mm f1.7. They have both been given very good reviews and despite the bigger senor they are no bigger then these Nikon lenses for the smaller sensor??? I expected little lenses with this sensor.

2 upvotes
Anton Marcu
By Anton Marcu (Sep 21, 2011)

this entire theory/business model is predicated on the existence of this whole untapped market of compact users who want to migrate up to interchangeable lenses and high-end performance... I would have thought most compact users would migrate to the newer iteration of the previous compact cam they had not to an entirely different paradigm-shifting class of camera.

Nikon will have an equally tough road ahead convincing the compact users and the advanced users, I suspect the entire user base is scratching their heads on this, including their target audience, not just the enthusiastic dpreview community

we'll see, this could be the next ipod of compact cameras in 5 years...

2 upvotes
Light Adrenaline
By Light Adrenaline (Sep 21, 2011)

Honestly, as many have mentioned, the trip up for most seems to be the 2.7x crop on the smallish sensor. Of course, we don't get stellar results out of the 24MP NEX cams IMHO - not for $1400 anyway - and the noise levels on virtually all Panasonic m4/3s is terrible. I had an E-PL2 and it was ok, but struggled under certain conditions as well.

Long story short, if the images are strong off the little thing, then no one will care what the dimensions are. If noise is well controlled, it'll be even stronger.

Of course if they're weak, Nikon will look a fool.

4 upvotes
mr moonlight
By mr moonlight (Sep 21, 2011)

The image quality would have to be phenomenal to compete. With such large lenses, a relatively big body combined with a small sensor, and a much higher price tag, most advanced users are going to expect some thin DOF capabilities as well. Nikon better come out with some really, really fast sub f1 lenses and this thing better have some really outstanding image quality or it will fail next to m4/3rds. For camera that hopes to be a step up from compacts for users intimidated by DSLR's this camera is priced quite high. Especially with so many cheaper more established options out there. Nikon should have went M4/3 and they would have become a dominant force.

1 upvote
Light Adrenaline
By Light Adrenaline (Sep 21, 2011)

Ha. I totally agree on several points. DOF is gonna be an issue for sure. But apparently it's aimed at users that might not know any different! You're also right about price. It must be in the fancy tech cause it's high for a smaller sensor camera. The other problem is that audience is typically pixel driven and 10 MP just sounds low! If I'm getting the marketing campaign right they are after lower end consumers who don't mind spending more on an ICL unit with a bigger sensor than a PAS, but smaller than less expensive offerings from established mirrorless vendors. They better hope that AF system and high-speed shooting are legit or it'll be a long up-hill battle for Nikon.

0 upvotes
Tychom
By Tychom (Sep 21, 2011)

Sounds like they're taking a leaf out of Nintendo's book and aiming for their own Wii success story.

Only the Wii was cheaper than it's rivals.

1 upvote
Thoughts
By Thoughts (Sep 21, 2011)

Nikon may prove that they are just good at making DSLR only.

5 upvotes
justmeMN
By justmeMN (Sep 21, 2011)

This sounds like a really nice bridge camera, significantly better than a compact camera, but not as good (or big, or intimidating) as a DSLR.

I suspect that it will be popular with current compact camera owners who want to upgrade.

0 upvotes
N13L5
By N13L5 (Sep 24, 2011)

What about the existence of better non-intimidating and equally small sized options that can already be had for less money?

0 upvotes
desmo101
By desmo101 (Sep 21, 2011)

I think the J1 is more interesting than the V1... fits more the target market IMO and the rice is more reasonable. Also it's the more compact of the two. I can't wait to read the official review. Now... when is leica bringing out a M compatible mirror less cam? :-)

1 upvote
dgreene196
By dgreene196 (Sep 21, 2011)

Isn't the M9 already mirrorless?

0 upvotes
Ivanaker
By Ivanaker (Sep 21, 2011)

No, it has a mirror so you can focus.

0 upvotes
N13L5
By N13L5 (Sep 24, 2011)

Didn't Leica re-brand some mirrorless Panasonic camera already?

0 upvotes
cberry
By cberry (Sep 21, 2011)

I like the idea - I think the execution with motorized everything is not so great.
The thing I see missing is the physical control of zoom and focus that an ILC should have - otherwise it's a P&SILC - and a very good one at that. 2 lenses and 27-270mm equivalent isn't bad but where is the portrait prime and Macro lens?
A separate flash battery would have made it larger and reduced cycle times. No worries - 3rd party solutions will certainly crop up.
Price it just above G12 and it should have some takers although looking at it, I might just think Leica should do this and improve on it.
cb

0 upvotes
N13L5
By N13L5 (Sep 24, 2011)

portrait prime is where Sony lost me with their Nex models :P

0 upvotes
sandy b
By sandy b (Sep 21, 2011)

DP review gets it right. welcome to the future boys, better get out of the way or get on.

0 upvotes
Henry M. Hertz
By Henry M. Hertz (Sep 21, 2011)

yeah make a path for japanese school girls and people who are to dumb to use manual controls.. that´s the future.

and some m*r*ns applaud to it.

1 upvote
increments
By increments (Sep 21, 2011)

Applaud is a transitive verb.
Something about people in glass houses springs to mind...

0 upvotes
Rooru S
By Rooru S (Sep 21, 2011)

ewwwww..really? I don't like this future...prefer the Sony NEX, Samsung NX and Panasonic/Olympus m4/3 future instead, thanks.

1 upvote
Abdo
By Abdo (Sep 21, 2011)

Hilarious !!!!!! arg.....

2 upvotes
Deleted-pending
By Deleted-pending (Sep 21, 2011)

60i... Nikon did it again !!!

0 upvotes
increments
By increments (Sep 21, 2011)

What I don't get with the v1 is if it's not supposed to be an enthusiast's camera, why the viewfinder, hot-shoe, focus mode button, etc.?

If it is supposed to be an enthusiast's camera, why no command dial for exposure settings?

They could even have put an ipod style centre control wheel if a regular dial is somehow intimidating to the uber-nervous.

0 upvotes
SHood
By SHood (Sep 21, 2011)

The Nikon 1 will have the same issues the NEX has. Enthusiasts will demand better controls as they become frustrated with the user interface.

Both Nikon and Sony didn't realize that the future is CDAF and you can't try to protect your DSLR base.

0 upvotes
increments
By increments (Sep 21, 2011)

And given the prices for these, why do they even care if they lose d3100 sales to the j1/v1?

0 upvotes
kona_moon
By kona_moon (Sep 21, 2011)

PINK body with PINK lens - that's a serious enthusiast stuff.

0 upvotes
increments
By increments (Sep 22, 2011)

It's just the j1 that comes in different colours, and that's definitely designed for P&S upgraders. I have no problem with Nikon making a consumer camera. I don't understand who they think is going to buy the v1 though. Maybe people who just want the most expensive one?

0 upvotes
hammerheadfistpunch
By hammerheadfistpunch (Sep 21, 2011)

Im not sure i understand the benefit to coming out with a smaller (15.9 mm diag.) proprietary sensor system instead of adopting a standard like MFT or even DX. I guess they were worried about it stealing sales from their larger offerings? This could have been a great addition to the MFT family, why Nikon, WHY?

0 upvotes
dgreene196
By dgreene196 (Sep 21, 2011)

I just spent a few minutes trying to find the details of the MFT standard, but I'm not completely convinced Nikon could have built some of the features of the Nikon 1 series into a MFT camera. They still would need to source a custom sensor even if they were able to adapt the hybrid focus system (to date, no other mirrorless camera can use phase detection AF without a big adapter).

Could the little touches, like the camera turning on when you depress the locking button the zooms, work in MFT. On the Engadget video posted last night, the Nikon rep emphasized that the sensor, while unique, is just part of the whole package of the new system. I think dpreview's initial hands on reinforces this claim.

Given Nikon's apparent target market for these cameras, I'm not sure a larger sensor or established system would have fit in with their apparent goals.

0 upvotes
cberry
By cberry (Sep 22, 2011)

The way I look at it, every generation of sensor competes with the larger sensor from the previous generation anyway.
With Nikon's larger market share, splitting r&d over higher sales volumes leads to greater profitability.
Next, factor in that smaller sensors are cheaper and you have a small gamble.
Looking at the language used, this camera seems to be for bloggers that want to go to the next level with a product that is designed specifically for their needs. Blog, digital camera, video uploads are the postcards of today used in higher volumes than ever before.
Ultimate blogger tool? surely.

0 upvotes
N13L5
By N13L5 (Sep 24, 2011)

@ cberry For practical purposes, what can it do better for a blogger than a G3/GF3?

Not sure there's enough bloggers to dedicate an entire new product line to.

0 upvotes
MarceloLI
By MarceloLI (Sep 21, 2011)

It look like its built by Black & Decker.

4 upvotes
Poweruser
By Poweruser (Sep 21, 2011)

Ridiculous BS

0 upvotes
MarceloLI
By MarceloLI (Sep 21, 2011)

Let's wait to see what this ugly duck can do.

1 upvote
Rooru S
By Rooru S (Sep 21, 2011)

at first I thought the sensor was a Square shaped one...

0 upvotes
paolo savonuzzi
By paolo savonuzzi (Sep 21, 2011)

... why don't they make a plain camcorder instead? :-p

0 upvotes
Graystar
By Graystar (Sep 21, 2011)

It's striking how ugly this system is...almost like someone said "let's see how ugly we can make it!"

9 upvotes
N13L5
By N13L5 (Sep 24, 2011)

I think the J1 looks ok, but on the V1, the EVF-hump and that whole upper lid on the case looks like a bloody amateur designed it.

0 upvotes
Toonooky
By Toonooky (Sep 28, 2011)

Don't get a x100, very bad focus probs, everyone is going on about sensor size and such , but why would nikon make a replacement for a dslr??? 10 fps with auto focus!! Great for taking pics of the kids playing, and most mums would use it over a slr

0 upvotes
Total comments: 255
123