Entry-Level Mirrorless Camera Roundup (2013)
Nikon 1 S1
10MP CMOS Sensor | 15 fps Burst Shooting | Hybrid AF
What we like:
- Small and lightweight
- Excellent continuous focus
- Fast burst rate
What we don't:
- Soft JPEGs
- Comparatively small sensor with low resolution
- Poor quality at high ISO
The Nikon 1 S1 offers a 1"-type 10MP CMOS sensor tucked inside of a relatively small and light camera body that's not much larger than a point-and-shoot. It accepts 1 Nikkor lenses and tends to sell as a single-lens kit with the unstabilized 11-27.5mm F3.5-5.6 (30-74mm equivalent). It sits below the Nikon 1 J3 in terms of size and sensor resolution, aimed squarely at a beginner who is unlikely to spend time changing a lot of exposure settings.
"A good option for someone photographing kids and their sporting endeavours."
The S1 has one of the smaller sensors in its class, and as a result images at mid-to-high ISO are noisier than those of its peers. The camera applies a lot of noise reduction even to low ISO JPEGs, resulting in a noticeable drop in sharpness as compared to its Raw images. As its target audience are unlikely to shoot Raw and edit later, this is a real shortcoming on the part of the S1, though JPEGs straight from the camera are acceptable for web sharing.
The Nikon 1 S1 underscores its intent as an entry-level camera by eschewing a physical mode dial for a menu-based mode selector. Beginners aren't likely to mind this approach, though anyone wanting to learn more about photography will probably be better served elsewhere. The S1 is fortunate to inherit the 1 system's very good Hybrid AF system and continuous shooting capabilities with a fast 15 fps shooting mode, making the S1 a good option for someone photographing kids and their sporting endeavours.
Unlike other some of the other interchangeable lens cameras in the class, the Nikon 1 S1 is clearly aimed at the beginner and is unlikely to attract a lot of attention from more advanced users, and that's just fine. The S1 offers an impressive continuous tracking AF mode and is one of the smallest cameras in the class.