Nikon 1 J1 and V1 - Features and Design

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Looking specifically at what’s inside the cameras, without doubt the key talking point is the physical dimensions of Nikon’s all-new CX sensor that underpins the Nikon 1 system. Measuring 13.2 x 8.8mm, the CX sensor is larger than the 5.7 x 4.2mm compact-sized (1/1.2in) sensor used by the Pentax Q system, but smaller than the 17.3 x 14mm Micro Four Thirds chip and considerably smaller than 23.6 x 15.8mm APS-C sensors.

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The big question that many are asking right now is where exactly does the new Nikon CX-format sit within the hierarchy of the compact system camera market? Given that the CX sensor is closer in size to the Pentax Q than it is to the APS-C sensors used by the Sony NEX and Samsung NX range, some observers are already tempted to write Nikon’s CX format off as somehow inferior, before even giving it a proper go. We’d rather have a look at what the cameras can do ourselves, and then make our own judgements about image quality. And certainly to write CX off at this stage simply because the sensor isn’t as big as APS-C strikes us as a bit simplistic.

In the case of both the J1 and V1, the decision to peg resolution at 10.1-megapixels seems like a sensible decision to us. Not only should it increase the potential for better low-light/high-ISO performance, but also the smaller file sizes generated by a 10MP sensor (compared to say, a 16.2MP one) will make them easier to share – especially for casual photographers who don’t want to have to re-size their images for email and web use. Nikon clearly doesn’t intend either camera to be for professionals to shoot billboard-sized posters with, so there’s really no need to overpopulate the sensor,

especially if it interferes with other aspects of image quality.

One

thing we certainly will be keen to look at in more detail once we get review samples in, is how the

smaller sensor affects depth of field. Inherently, smaller

sensors can’t create the extremely shallow depth of field that

larger sensors can, and which is so beloved of enthusiast photographers. Can the V1 or J1 create the desirable ‘bokeh’ effect when

paired with a f/2.8 lens and used wide open? We very much look forward to

finding out.

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While the J1 and V1 both look interesting, the dedicated Nikon 1 lenses were perhaps the real stars of the big CX reveal. From the 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6

kit zoom to the 10mm f/2.8 pancake lens and the 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6

video-specific lens, the new lenses perfectly compliment the new bodies,

creating a very stylish and, above all, portable overall package.

Using

a retractable design and sporting internal Vibration Reduction

technology, they look to be smaller and more compact than comparable

offerings from Sony, Samsung, Panasonic or Olympus. Even the 30-110mm

f3.8-5.6 telephoto zoom just about folds down enough to fit inside a

(large) jacket pocket – quite some feat when you consider it offers the

equivalent of 70-297mm in 35mm terms.

Of course, we’d need to

have a proper look at each individual lens to see how well they perform

in terms of image quality, but for now they appear to win hands-down in

the miniaturisation stakes. Only the Pentax Q system is likely to offer

an interchangeable lens system with smaller lenses.