Review Nikon J1

A few months ago we tested Nikon J1 ‘s big brother: Nikon V1. The Nikon 1 series cameras have been designed for photographers who want more than a compact camera offers, but find an SLR too big or too complex. For these photographers, the Nikon J1 is possibly even more attractive than the Nikon V1, particularly because of its lower price.

How do the performances of the Nikon J1 and the Nikon V1 relate?

Nikon J1 review

The CX sensor 1 is in the Nikon 13.2mm x 8.8mm and with more than 4 times larger than the sensors in compact cameras. But the sensor of the Nikon and the Nikon J1 V1 is smaller than a micro-43 sensor in a camera like the Olympus OM-D or Panasonic GF5 or an SLR with an APS-C sensor, such as the Canon 1100D or Nikon D3200 . A larger sensor indicates, in general, a better picture quality.
Video is outside the scope of this test, but the video specifications of this camera are equivalent or better than many of SLRs. The design of the camera body of the Nikon J1 is Spartan: simple, angular and strong. Apart from SLR and compact cameras, the Nikon J1 in house only one competitor: the more expensive Nikon V1. Both have access to a completely silent electronic shutter, allowing the photographer much less emphatic or disturbing present. The main competitors are Nikon J1-43 micro cameras from Olympus and Panasonic, the Samsung NX and Sony NEX cameras with an APS-C sensor and Pentax Q. possible?

Nikon J1 vs Nikon J1

  • The Nikon J1 is cheaper than the Nikon V1
  • The Nikon V1 has an integrated electronic viewfinder, but is slightly less compact than the Nikon J1.      
  • The Nikon J1 only has an electronic shutter, the V1 both a mechanic as an electronic shutter. With the mechanic shutter, a faster flash synchronization is possible (1/250 sec vs. 1/60 sec).
  • The Nikon J1 has an integrated flash, the V1 does not
  • The Nikon V1 has a screen with a higher resolution than the Nikon J1

Nikon J1 versus Panasonic GF3, Olympus EP-3, Sony NEX-5N

  • Nikon J1 has an integrated electronic viewfinder just like the Panasonic G3, the Olympus EP-3, Sony NEX-5 and the Panasonic GF3 do not have that
  • Nikon J1 has a fast (hybrid) AF; Olympus, Panasonic and Sony only use contrast autofocus
  • Nikon J1 is quieter thanks to an electronic shutter, which also goes up to 1/16.000 second
  • Nikon J1 offers to 60 images per seconds in full resolution (10 megapixels)
  • The lens supply for the Nikon 1 series is still small compared to the lens supply of the other brands, especially the micro-43 platform

Viewfinder, LCD screen and menu

The camera’s LCD screen is fixed and can not be rotated or tilted. The screen brightness is roughly equivalent to the brightness of the screens on cameras from the competition.

A menu with only three tabs is well organized and helps you quickly master it. Each tab has a fairly limited number of options, allowing you to quickly find the options you’re looking for.

Also the number buttons on the camera is limited, some ease further benefit if you have a compact camera was used. Yet we have 2 comments on the ease of use: The weakest point is, like the Nikon V1, the mode dial wheel on the back of the camera. This runs so light that the camera easily unnoticed in another state lands. To find a picture, you find out that the mode dial wheel unnoticed the camera switched to video.

Nikon J1 test, test Nikon J1, test Nikon 1 serie, Nikon 1 serie
The other relates to the lack of consideration of the so-called “PASM button”. Those who regularly switches between aperture priority, shutter priority, program or manual control via the main menu will always have to do. The same applies to the ISO setting. For those who used an SLR is that annoying. But for the audience, mainly compact camera users will be less a problem.
We tested the Nikon J1 in combination with the Nikon 10-100 mm, which is specially suited for video, and the Nikon 10 mm pancake lens. Particularly the latter lens makes the Nikon J1 an attractive little camera that you can have with you always. Besides the practical test of the Nikon Nikon J1 J1 we have also subjected to a series of measurements. The measurements were carried out with the aid of Imatest. The measurement results are shown in the Nikon J1 test report. For the test method and explanation of terms, see the FAQ.


Nikon delivers e J1, both with the Nikon 10-100 mm zoom lens as the Nikon 10 mm pancake, a good resolution for a 10 megapixel camera. A jpg file in the center an average resolution of 1500 lines per picture height. It runs off of 1800 at 100 to 1300 ISO at ISO 6400.
With a standard processing of RAW files in Lightroom is a greater sharpness impression is obtained, which translates into an average resolution of nearly 2000 lines per picture height. If you used the Nikon J1 at a low ISO setting, in particular to noise in dark areas to avoid, you will not see an A4 print or shooting with an SLR or Nikon J1 is made.

Dynamic range

There are a few reasons why you prefer a SLR Nikon could give up the J1 and the usable dynamic range is one of them. With Imatest measured total dynamic range of Nikon J1 sensor averages nearly 10 stops at ISO 100 for a RAW file and 9 stops for a jpg file. This is identical to the entire dynamic range of the Nikon V1. The test results are in the Nikon J1 test report.

But more important than the total dynamic range, the usable dynamic range. The signal / noise ratio helps determine what the dynamic range remains for a displayable image. At this point the CX sensor has its limitations. ISO 100 is usable dynamic range of a jpg file is 5.5 stops, but at ISO 800 there are only 1.5 stops of about.


The Nikon J1 is less sensitive to noise than compact cameras, which will benefit the sharpness impression. The signal-noise ratio of the Nikon J1 is a little lower than the signal to noise ratio of 43 micro-cameras. In terms of noise will in practice not easily distinguish whether an image is captured with a Nikon 1 or with a micro-43 camera.
The test results are in the Nikon J1 test report. Here you see an example of a 100% cropped portion of an ISO 100 shot jpg.

On a monitor you can see the noise at highest ISO settings, but in print is probably not even on. Here is a ISO 6400 jpg image, which under favorable light conditions is made with the Nikon J1. If you’re in the dark shooting with the Nikon J1 at 6400 ISO the noise is more pronounced.>


Color accuracy

The measurement results as shown in the Nikon J1 test report, confirm the quality of practice shots. The Nikon J1 provides a very good color reproduction in daylight. The color accuracy (delta E 94) is also small for both in Lightroom converted RAW file as a jpg file (neutral picture style) directly from the camera.

The automatic white balance of Nikon J1 does its job well. The color accuracy in tungsten light of both RAW and JPG files are on average 10 (Delta E94). This means that at this moment the Nikon J1, like the Nikon V1, is one of the better cameras, in terms of color, that we have so far tested.


Built-in flash

The Nikon has J1 – unlike the Nikon V1 – an integrated flash. The flash pops up for use like a periscope. It may look a bit silly, but this construction ensures that a longer lens doesn’t block the flash light.Nikkor-J1-flash


The accuracy of the hybrid auto focus is good. This can partly be explained because the autofocus sensors are on the sensor of the camera itself. The hybrid autofocus AF chooses between two different AF principles. With sufficient light it uses phase detection autofocus and is very fast. In low light the Nikon J1, the camera chooses for the slower contrast AF, which occasionally hunts. Because the Nikon lenses 1 have no manual focus ring, you can not directly intervene manually. The contrast AF of the Nikon J1 may be slower than phase AF, but compared to a compact camera, the contrast AF on the Nikon J1 is definitely not slower.

Autofocus tracking

We didn’t test the autofocus tracking of the Nikon J1. See the test of the Nikon V1, which uses the same AF system.
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See our list of tested cameras to compare the performance of this camera with other cameras.



  • good electronic viewfinder
  • fast (hybrid) autofocus
  • silent elektronic shutter
  • up to 60 fps in full resolution (jpg only)
  • good image quality
  • video specs equal to SLR specs
  • mode dial rotates too lightly, letting the camera switch unintentionally to for example video
  • limited dynamic range and signal to noise ratio

Nikon 1 series cameras are ideal for photographers who want more than a compact camera, but find an SLR too big or too complex. The Nikon 1 series exudes quality and reliability. It is a well thought out system, which offers many options. Color accuracy and resolution are good. The camera fits comfortably in the hand. Using this camera you can certainly produce better pictures than with a compact camera.

The fast autofocus, the silent shutter with speeds up to 1/16.000 sec and the Smart Photo Selector might even make SLR owners jealous. But keep in mind the smaller sensor that “only” has 10 megapixels and a low signal to noise ratio and lower usable dynamic range. And an SLR more buttons and menu options, which are some in greater ease of use translates.

Is the Nikon J1 as good as the Nikon V1? The two cameras have many almost identical scores when you consider image quality. And the differences we measured are too small to worry about. Main choice is: do you want a Nikon 1 with a flash (choose the J1) or a Nikon 1 with a built-in viewfinder (choose the V1). My personal preference would be the Nikon V1, despite its higher price.

The measurement results are shown in the Nikon J1 test report


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