Nikon 1 J3: Image Quality
As mentioned previously, the Nikon 1 J3 features a sensor that is much smaller than competing CSCs, and unfortunately it shows in the shots it takes.
One of the key areas of concern is how the camera manages noise at higher ISO settings. This is an area where CSCs have become increasingly more impressive over recent times, but that’s not the case with the Nikon 1 J3.
The camera only really performs well at ISO 160 and 200, with colour distortion appearing from ISO 400. As you go further up the settings it gets even worse, so it’s sensible that Nikon has limited the maximum ISO to 6400 as even at this level the camera struggles dearly.
It’s also bad news when it comes to the camera’s colour reproduction. Reds appear under-saturated, although greens and blues are just about right.
The model’s while balance performs well in good conditions, although in lower light conditions results are somewhat cooler than desired.
Although the camera’s exposure system is generally reliable in normal conditions, the reduced dynamic range of the sensor results in blown highlights and blocked shadows in high-contrast situations.
In low-light conditions the model’s metering system can sometimes fail completely, producing badly exposed images that lack any detail whatsoever.
All told it’s a very disappointing performance considering Nikon 1 J3 will set you back a hefty £540.
Should I buy the Nikon 1 J3?
In a word, no. At its current price of over £500, the Nikon 1 J3 is up against some pretty tough competition. This includes the Olympus E-PM2, Samsung NX1100, Canon EOS M and the excellent Panasonic Lumix GF6 that’s nearly £150 cheaper. Even Nikon’s own Nikon 1 S1 is a better option.
All have more features, take better photos and have a greater selection of lenses. Indeed, even at a lower price we’d think twice considering the poor ISO performance and so-so handling. Even inexperienced photographers can do better than this.
For more alternatives, head to our best cameras round-up.
The Nikon 1 J3 is flawed on several levels. It handles poorly, has limited features and takes deeply average photos. It’s rare for a camera to disappoint this much, but the Nikon 1 J3 is one to avoid.
Score in detail
Image Quality 5