Nikon 1 J3 Review

Sections

Pros

  • Prompt AF system
  • Stylish design
  • Good build quality

Cons

  • Noise at high ISO settings
  • Poor image quality
  • Badly-designed controls
  • Way too expensive

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £540.00
  • 14.2MP 13.2 x 8.8mm CX CMOS sensor; Nikon 1 series lens mount; 3-inch TFT LCD screen; ISO 160 – 6400
We continually check thousands of prices to show you the best deals. If you buy a product through our site we will earn a small commission from the retailer – a sort of automated referral fee – but our reviewers are always kept separate from this process. You can read more about how we make money in our Ethics Policy.

What is the Nikon 1 J3?

By design the Nikon 1 J3 is the most basic compact system camera (CSC) you’re likely to find. This super-compact interchangeable lens camera is designed for convenience and simplicity, and uses Nikon’s own CX sensor that’s smaller than the micro-four-thirds and APS-C sensors found on many rivals. At £540 at time of writing, it’s not a cheap camera either. Can the Nikon 1 J3 compete with the likes of the Panasonic Lumix GF6 and its kin?

See what the J3 is up against in our best cameras 2013 round-up.

Nikon 1 J3: Features

The Nikon 1 J3 is relatively light on features compared to its numerous rivals. It doesn’t have Wi-Fi or NFC, while its 921k-dot LCD screen isn’t touch sensitive and isn’t vari-angle, either. How much any of these matter is down to the individual, but considering the price its sparse features is disappointing.

This doesn’t necessarily make the Nikon 1 J3 a bad camera, however, provided its photos measure up. That relies on Nikon’s proprietary CX CMOS sensor, which has 14.2 effective megapixels and an ISO range of 160-6400. The sensor is paired with a brand new imaging engine from Nikon. The new EXPEED 3A aids data processing and helps facilitate some fairly impressive shooting figures, including a headline shooting speed of 60fps.

Take a look at the camera’s shooting settings and you’ll get the firm impression that the J3 is targeted at the entry-level photographer. For example, the dial on the top plate that would normally offer control between the exposure modes, instead simply switches between the trio of auto modes.

If you want to access any of the camera’s manual modes you’ll have to enter in the camera’s menu system rather than on the camera body. The menu system itself is somewhat counter-intuitive and confused, with simple control settings hidden away in one of six sub-sections.

As is standard now with most CSCs, the Nikon 1 J3 also captures video at up to full (1920 x 1080) and at either 60i or 30p. The J3 also boasts a few tricks when it comes to video capture – it can, for example, capture slow motion video up to 1200fps, although this is at a greatly reduced resolution of 320 x 120 pixels.

We continually check thousands of prices to show you the best deals. If you buy a product through our site we will earn a small commission from the retailer – a sort of automated referral fee – but our reviewers are always kept separate from this process. You can read more about how we make money in our Ethics Policy.

Unlike other sites, we thoroughly test every product we review. We use industry standard tests in order to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever accept money to review a product. Tell us what you think - send your emails to the Editor.