Would this be a good starter?

Started Mar 1, 2014 | Questions thread
MarkInSF Senior Member • Posts: 2,237
Re: Would this be a good starter?

So I live in Alabama surrounded by trees and on a lake. I would love to be able to take some pictures of animals, or lake or sunset or whatever might come up mainly will be nature photography with maybe some sports or people but mainly outdoors stuff. I have never really owned a DSLR or a high end camera so to speak although I have had a few Cameras and my mom has a D90 which I have used a few times but I don't have very much experience with high end cameras.

Anyway I was looking at picking up a Nikon 1 J1 Manufacture Refurbished with a 10-30mm lens for $159 and I have looked at several reviews and stuff on it. Would that be a good camera to start with? I like it cause its light, stylish, compact and I can also buy a 30-110 or a few other lenses later if I want to.

Post any opinions on the camera and/or alternatives below along with maybe some suggestions on accessories like do I need a lens hood to start out and/or a UV Protector etc.

Links to the Camera:

Nikon 1 J1 SLR White Digital Camera w/ 10-30mm VR Lens (Refurbished)

Nikon 1 J1

Yes, as a starter camera it isn't so bad, especially for outdoor use. Its ultimate image quality is a step behind most other mirrorless cameras, but better than most compacts and superzooms. For a mirrorless camera it has a smaller than typical sensor, which has an effect on dynamic range and low light/high ISO shooting. It also has very simple controls, fine if you mostly will use auto modes and not change settings much. If you see yourself as a serious photographer in the future something else might be better.

Now for the good. While mostly plastic on the outside, build quality and fit and finish are good. The lenses are mostly very good to excellent, built very well, collapsing down when not in use to quite small packages. Because of the smaller sensor these lenses don't have to be as big as MFT or APS-C based cameras. The stsndard kit zooms are the least impressive of the set, but they're not much worse than the competition. If you can afford one more lens make it the 30-110mm, a remarkably fine telezoom that will be very useful for backyard wildlife, if not a bird-in-flight shot. That lens is bundled in a lot of Nikon 1 kits for an extra $100, so I suspect they can be had cheap. The serious pleasure of all the Nikon 1 models is the blazingly fast autofocus in strong light (outdoors, generally). They can lock onto a subject and track its movements far better than most mirrorless models. Great fun. The J series is unusual in only having an electronic shutter, not a mechanical one. It works well and you usually won't see any difference in results. Video is also decent, and you can shoot in a silent mode that can be very handy at events. One negative is a poor flash synch speed, but that's not critical. In dimmer light the camera switches to a different af method and the af speed plummets. It's probably not much different than other mirrorless cameras, all of which suffer from poor low light af performance, but the rapid shift from fast to slow is a bit jarring. I have a V1, big brother to the J1, but they share a lot.

If you see yourself really wanting to learn the inner workings of a camera by setting all the properties, you need a camera with better controls. Panasonic has made some models that have come down to quite low prices over the years. The pleasant GX1 is very well made and has the basics well resolved. Not many fancy extras, but a solid camera. Even better are the G5 and its similar predecessor, the G3. They offer electronic viewfinders (behind state-of-the-art), a fully articulated rear screen, and a touch screen. They are a bit chunky. So is the much improved G6. All Panasonics use the Micro Four Thirds lens standard, so there ate lots of lens choices, though many are fairly expensive. I'd stay away from older Olympus models, as most used a 12mp Panasonic sensor that is out of date by now. The Panasonics I listed use a much improved 16mp sensor. Recent Oly models have used very good Sony sensors.

Hope this helps.

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