Nikon 1 J5

Nikon 1 J5

20.8MP 1"-type BSI CMOS sensor | 20 fps continuous shooting | Twin control dials

What we like:

  • Compact size with good ergonomics
  • 20 fps shooting with AF and no blackouts
  • Twin control dials

What we don't:

  • Smaller sensor than the competition
  • Fine detail in JPEGs can get smeared by noise reduction
  • Poor battery life

The Nikon 1 J5's 1"-type 20.8MP sensor is the smallest in this round-up. That said, it has an autofocus system that's far more advanced that its peers as well as burst rates that blow them away. This rangefinder-styled camera is also the lightest in the bunch.

The J5 has an ergonomically friendly design with a proper handgrip. The body's faux leather cover makes it easy to hold onto, as well. Unlike many inexpensive ILCs, the J5 sports two control dials. It has a 3”, 1.04M-dot touchscreen LCD that flips up a full 180 degrees and down 90. The J5 has a single customizable button adjacent to the lens mount, two of which you can assign to one of seven functions.

Nikon 1-series cameras offer Hybrid AF systems that combine both contrast and on-sensor phase-detection systems. Accordingly, the J5 utilizes 105 on-sensor phase detection points across much of the frame to understand subject distance, and in turn, acquire focus faster than many other cameras in its class, assuming relatively bright ambient light. Combine that with face detection and impressive subject tracking, and the camera is quite capable of keeping moving subjects in focus in a burst of shots, even at 20 fps. Battery life on the J5, rated at 250 shots per charge, is relatively poor, so bring a spare or two.

The Nikon 1 J5 scores points with its AF system and blazing fast continuous shooting.

Of course the smaller sensor on the J5 does somewhat limit image quality. JPEGs from the camera show the effects of rather aggressive noise reduction, especially in low light scenarios, which can lead to smeared detail. Raw shooters will fare better, but while the images from the camera’s 20.8MP sensor offer more latitude for shadow pushing than predecessors, noise levels are generally higher compared to the competition.

On the video side, the J5 is capable of 1080p capture at 60 and 30 fps, as well as 720p capture at up to 120 fps in the common H.264 codec. The J5 can also shoot 4K/UHD at 15 fps and includes a built-in stereo microphone. And in addition to being able to fire at speeds of 20 fps while using continuous autofocus, the J5 can also shoot at an impressive maximum rate of 60 fps with focus locked - almost six times faster than even the best DSLRs.

While the J5's 1"-type sensor is considerably smaller than the Four Thirds and APS-C sensors used by other inexpensive ILCs, it scores points with its AF system and blazing fast continuous shooting. The camera is stylish, very light and easy-to-use, and the twin dials is a nice extra. The main issues with the J5 are its image quality, which can't match that of larger-sensored cameras, and its relatively poor battery life.

Studio Test Scene | Specifications Compared

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