Nikon 1 J1 Digital Camera Review with the Nikon 10-30mm VR Zoom NIKKOR Lens Review, Photos, Sample Images and Video in NYC

Nikon 1 Series 2011 Photo Expo Exhibit
If you’ve followed my blog since last year, you may have read my post on the October 2011 PDN Photo Expo. Unsurprisingly, one of the most impressive booths at the Expo was the Nikon booth featuring hands-on exhibits and a cleverly orchestrated mini fashion show where customers could use the Nikon 1 J1 or V1 to snap shots of the models on stage who were each posing with one of new Nikon 1 series models. Each model wore either a red, black, white or pink dress to represent and match with one of the new Nikon 1 camera’s colors. After taking a few shots with the Nikon 1 J1 mirrorless and interchangeable lens digital camera at the Expo, I couldn’t wait to get a real hands-on test with it. Plus, I’ve tested plenty of new Panasonic and Olympus mirrorless interchangeable lens camera systems so it’s about time I got around to testing the new Nikon 1 J1 mirrorless and interchangeable lens digital camera with the Nikon 10-30mm VR Zoom NIKKOR Lens
The Nikon 1 J1 digital camera is compact making it highly portable even with a 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 VR zoom lens attached. It’s mirrorless design allows the camera to not only be extra small in size but also lightweight as well while still incorporating many if not all of the desirable features found in any new mirrored model. In fact, although the J1 is similar in size to the new Panasonic and Olympus models, it does feel more lightweight than the others. The J1 comes equipped with a CX-Format High-Speed AF CMOS Sensor and a EXPEED 3 dual image processor. The sensor allows excellent quality photos even in low light situations and the EXPEED 3 allows for superior system performance, high-speed processing, advanced phase detection autofocus and high-speed data transfer rates. Other J1 key features include 10 fps Continuous Shooting in AF Mode, 73 Point AF Array, 3.0″ 460K-Dot Anti-Glare Color LCD, Full HD (1080p) Movie Record Mode, Motion Snapshot 1-Touch Photo Animation and a Smart Photo Selector, just to name a few.

The Nikon 1 J1 that I tested came with a Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 VR zoom NIKKOR lens which features up to 3x magnification and a silent stepping AF motor(STM). The 10-30mm lens comes standard with the Nikon 1 J1 lens kit. The lens has Vibration Reduction II (VR II) image stabilization technology for reducing the effects of camera shake from hand-held shooting and has a multi-layered coating to help reduce ghosting and flare. The angle of view ranges from 29° 40″ to 77°. The lens’ minimum focus distance is 0.66′ (0.2m and the filter size is 40.5mm.) The 10-30mm lens allows for versatile shots from wide-angle, dynamic scenery to tight portrait shots by applying 3 aspherical lens elements to ensure high quality images even at the widest aperture settings. Additionally, the 10-30mm zoom range can capture fine detain even when you are at a far distance from your subject. The 10-30mm lens has Internal Focusing (IF) technology which allows it to have a closer focusing distance and to have a a compact and lightweight design.

As I mentioned earlier, the Nikon 1 J1 has an interchangeable lens system which in addition to the Nikon 10-30mm NIKKOR lens allows you to choose from from 3 optional Nikon 1 NIKKOR lenses. Although I haven’t tested all of the new 1 NIKKOR lenses yet, I read that there is even a new 1 NIKKOR lens that is designed specifically for filming videos. However, while my past experiences with Nikon lenses have been positive, I can’t say I like the idea of having such few options for my interchangeable lens camera. Nikon does not use the four thirds or micro four thirds lens system and when you you compare the options for the J1 with the wide variety of optional lenses available for the new Panasonic and Olympus interchangeable lens system cameras, it is a tad off-putting. Then again, if you wanted a larger array of lens options then your best bet would be to skip these models altogether and just go straight for the DSLR camera instead.

Interestingly enough, the Nikon 1 J1 does not offer the vast amount of lens options as a DSLR would have but similar to a DSLR camera, it does have a rather advanced and complex menu when setting the dial mode to Manual mode. Taking it right out of the box and attempting to use it on Manual Mode immediately was a little frustrating at first because the menu was somewhat challenging to navigate through. However, although the J1 offers an advanced Manual mode option, you can choose to use it as a simple point-and-shoot by setting it to Intelligent Auto (iA) mode. In fact, when using Intelligent Auto Mode the J1 will adjust its settings and change scene modes automatically to give you the best looking shot for whatever environment or subject you are shooting. For example, while shooting in Intelligent Auto Mode, the camera instantly adjusted to Macro Mode simply by placing the camera at a close distance from my subject.

Below are sample images taken with the Nikon 1 J1 with the Nikon 10-30mm lens:

The Nikon 1 J1 also has a highly responsive autofocus and a fast shooting speed. You can shoot at 10 fps continuous shooting speed in autofocus mode so that your camera won’t lag behind the action. An impressive 73 point AF array gives both stationary or fast-moving subjects impressive clarity. Additionally, the J1 has a 3.0″ LCD color screen with a 460k-dot resolution and an anti-glare coating. When shooting outside, for example, the J1 LCD screen will adjust its brightness automatically so you don’t have to manually adjust it’s white balance when shooting on Intelligent Auto Mode. In general, the Nikon 1 J1 LCD screen appears brighter in comparison to the new Olympus and Panasonic models. The J1 also has a pop-up plastic flash on it’s top right hand side. Honestly, the flash seemed flimsy and I was a sort of paranoid the whole time that I was shooting that I might accidentally snap it off. I mean, at least the Panasonic Lumix GX1 has a flexible pop-up plastic flash that is bendable, the J1 flash just sticks straight up.

The Nikon 1 J1 has a nice one-touch full high definition (1080p) movie record mode which can smoothly and steadily zoom to and from subjects while recording. One of the most desirable features the Nikon 1 J1 offers is the ability to capture still images while recording video simultaneously by switching the dial mode to Photo and Video Mode on the top of the camera. If you want to, you can add a slow-motion effect to your videos for a dramatic feel or you can use Motion Snapshot One-Touch Photo Animation to bring your photos to life. Essentially, this feature creates a picture slideshow where there would otherwise be merely a single image. Thanks to Smart Photo Selector, the J1 chooses the best of the images you’ve taken, so all you have to focus on is getting the shot you want. You can allow the J1 to do the work for you while you do what you love and stay in the moment.

We are currently working on our sample videos taken with the Nikon 1 J1 with the Nikon 10-30mm lens, but check back in a few hours or tomorrow and it will be ready to view!
For pricing and availability:
The Nikon 1 J1 with Nikon 10-30mm Lens Kit


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