Up until now the Nikon J1 range of Nikon’s 1 series had been considered the entry-level option for those wanting to purchase a Nikon CSC without breaking the bank. However, this has all changed with the introduction of the new S series. The S1 is the first in this series carrying a lot of the features found in its stablemates, albeit at a lower price.
One of the features maintained is the 10.1MP CX format CMOS sensor – the format of this sensor is larger than the 1/2.3in type found in most compacts although is smaller than that found in Micro Four Thirds CSCs, in fact sitting midway between the two.
This sensor is paired with Nikon’s EXPEED 3A processor to offer a truly impressive headline continuous shooting speed of 60fps at full resolution, although this only lasts for a burst of 15 frames and with fixed focus. If you want to utilise continuous AF, you’ll still be able to capture images at 15fps, although once again this is limited to 15 frames.
The CX format sensor results in a 2.7x conversion factor on attached lenses, meaning that the 11-27.5mm kit lens will have 30-74mm effective focal range. The kit lens itself is lacking built-in Vibration Reduction technology, although the good news is that the Nikon 1 S1 features image stabilisation within its body.
Although the Nikon 1 S1 is aimed at the more entry-level end of the CSC market, the camera still features full PASM shooting controls along with full Raw capture. These more advanced shooting modes are, understandably, accompanied by shooting modes aimed at making shooting simple for those starting out in photography. These include the standard ‘Auto’ mode alongside a range of scene and effect modes, including Miniature and Selective Color.
There’s also the standout 'Best Moment Capture' mode, which made previous model's in Nikon's 1 series of CSCs so popular. It automatically captures a burst of images both before and after you've pressed the shutter button and selects the best shots out of the range, thus taking some of the human error out of taking action shots.
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The Nikon 1 S1 is a nicely designed camera that’s easy to handle and use. It shares many design elements with other models in the 1 range. But there are some departures, such as the lack of a physical mode dial. Instead there’s a virtual dial that pops up on the touchscreen when needed.
Enthusiasts won’t approve, but the virtual mode dial and smartly organised menu system makes the Nikon 1 S1 easy to use – as do the logically arranged buttons with the playback button within easy reach. We also like the remarkably small and compact kit lens, whose dimpled outer coating makes the S1 easier to hold, and the rubber thumb grip on the body.
As for its appearance, the Nikon 1 S1’s streamlined body and glossy finish echoes that of Nikon compacts. It won’t be to everyone's tastes, but it looks slick and classy.