on October 27, 2011
There's been a lot of talk about Nikon's new 1 Series cameras, and a lot of disappointment over the CX sensor size, and the perceived lack of quality compared to Sony's larger APS-C NEX cameras. Many enthusiasts have been understandably frustrated by this move, wanting the best of all worlds - D3 quality in a point and shoot body. The J1 doesn't quite hit that mark, but if you understand what you're buying and play to the camera's strengths, it's a great piece of gear for the beginner, enthusiast, and the pro alike.
For clarification, I am primarily evaluating the J1 for its use *as a camera* - I won't touch much on the video or motion snapshot modes.
* As a part-time professional, I bought this camera primarily because of its size, and the ability (hopefully) to use my collection of F-mount lenses in the future. In this respect, the J1 is fantastic. My first mirrorless purchase was a Sony NEX-3, and I was overall very happy with it, but the size of the lens still made carrying it around a real chore. Unfortunately, this really comes down to physics - there are physical constraints on how small you can design a lens with a 55mm focal length (concretely, it can't really be much less than 55mm in length). Fundamentally, this is where the CX format helps the J1 significantly. Due to its smaller sensor size, it is possible to construct equivalent lenses which are significantly smaller and lighter than for the APS-C format. The promise of being able to use standard-range high-quality zoom lenses (think a 17-55 f2.8, for instance) as mid-range telephotos is certainly intriguing. There is no such thing as a free lunch, and obviously the wide end and depth of field suffer here, but I am hopeful that Nikon or third party manufacturers will address that concern as much as they can. At the moment, however, the J1 with its kit lens is a camera that is, while not pants-pocketable, certainly coat-pocketable.
* The autofocus system is fantastic, especially in good light. I've been particularly impressed at the ability of the J1 to track a subject around the frame. I've been a big fan of Nikon's 3D tracking AF since I first saw it in action on the D300, but the J1 really takes it to a new level. The subject tracking mode is fast and very responsive, and once you've locked it on something, it does a very good job of staying with your targeted subject. Nikon claims that the J1 and V1 focus faster than the D3, and while I haven't used a D3 in a while, the J1 focuses fast enough (in good light) that I wouldn't doubt the claim.
* Image quality is actually quite good. I was fearful of how bad the noise would be on a smaller sensor, but I've been reasonably impressed with the results so far. JPEG results out of the camera are not stellar at high ISO - there's certainly some aggressive noise reduction going on - so you will certainly want to switch to RAW for best results. At present, ACR will not open J1 files, but Capture NX2 will. The ACR 6.6 beta results posted on dpreview.com are encouraging, being close to on-par with previous generation sensors (D90, D300, etc). Without access to the files in my normal workflow (Lightroom), it's hard for me to make a direct comparison on how much you can eek out of a RAW file on the J1 compared to other cameras, but so far I've been pleased.
UPDATE: Lightroom version 3.6 (beta) is out, and I've had a chance to play around with several of the images I've taken over the past few weeks. Again, I've been reasonably impressed. This is not a D3. With standard noise reduction in LR, I think the image quality is easily better than my D200 was, which given the size of the sensor is quite impressive. It is certainly better than the higher end point and shoots I've owned (Panasonic LX-2, Canon S90 - which to be fair are a couple of years old).
Things that could be improved:
* The interface. The camera tries to take care of a lot of things for you, and for the most part it does an ok job. If you're trying to access things like you would on a DSLR, you may have some problems. It would be nice to see Nikon update the firmware with the ability to reassign some of the buttons to tasks that are more useful in manual mode, but as with any wish-list feature, it's not something you should plan on happening if you're buying the camera. Overall, the interface isn't worse than the NEX-3, so I'm not displeased. I'd like things to be more accessible, but the camera is perfectly usable as it is.
* The high-speed electronic shutter setting is very, very restrictive with regard to the settings you can change. Things you have no control of if you want to use the high-speed capture: Program mode only (no aperture, shutter or manual), ISO (Auto 100-3200 only), metering (matrix only), focus mode (AF-A only), and focus tracking (area mode only). I was rather looking forward to using the high-speed mode, but frankly these restrictions make it pretty difficult to use with any kind of creative control.
* There doesn't seem to be a way to turn off the image preview after you take a picture, which is somewhat problematic if you are trying to capture a string of pictures. You can take a single shot, or a burst of pictures, but in either case you can't use the camera again until the preview goes away, which generally takes 2-3 seconds. This won't be a big deal most of the time for most people, but it does make capturing any kind of action problematic. Simply adding an option to turn this off in firmware would go a long way.
Things that you might care about, but aren't strictly speaking critical to being a camera:
* Video seems to require more light than stills - at least if you are using the 720p60 and definitely if you are using the high-speed video. High-speed is somewhat gimmicky, perhaps, but don't plan on using it indoors. There simply won't be enough light. The 720p60 video is nice - certainly smother than a lot of SLR and mirrorless video out there, including my experience with the NEX-3. I don't know that you're going to get broadcast quality, but things have come a long way in just a couple of years.
* The smart selector function seems to work fairly well, but since you can't see the images it throws away, it's hard to really know. I haven't used this function extensively, but when I have, I've been happy with the pictures it's kept.
Should you buy a J1? It depends. If you're intrigued, but not completely sure you need one, I might wait for the next generation. If you want to be able to carry a small, light camera that offers fairly good image quality - especially if you have a set of Nikon lenses - this would be a good choice. If you're a parent who wants to take pictures of your kids at their sports games, when paired with a longer range zoom, the Nikon J1 will get you some great results. If you want a camera that weighs half a pound, can fit in your pocket, has a 25x f2.8 zoom, and gives you noise-free images at ISO 204,800... you'll need to look somewhere else.
At the end of the day, the J1 is a compromise, and it doesn't really pretend to be otherwise. You won't get the low light performance you would in an APS-C camera, but you won't be carrying ten pounds of gear with you either. When buying the J1, my personal philosophy was the following: if I'm in a situation where my primary concern is image quality, I'll bring my pro gear along. Otherwise, I'll carry the J1, and thereby have the possibility of capturing scenes, albeit at reduced (though still acceptable) quality, because my camera is with me, instead of sitting at home.
on October 30, 2011
I initially preordered the V1, most of the lens, and the flash. I realized I was getting a Nikon 1 camera so that I don't have to carry so much camera equipment. I cancelled the V1, and I purchased the J1 black instead. I am glad I did.
I think for most people the J1 and 10 - 30 mm kit is the best choice. The 10mm pancake lens is nice if you want to do a lot of shooting in low light, but you can't zoom. Most of you are used to zooming, and when you can't get closer with your feet because of some barrier, you won't be happy. Many are posting that the 30 - 100 mm lens is very good too. I would have gotten that one for my J1, but I have Nikon lens for my Nikon dSLR D5100. I plan on buying the adapter so I can use my current dSLR Nikon lenses on the J1 for fun.
The J1 is a great little camera, but you do need to read parts of the manual. If you are someone who likes to capture the moment, this camera is very good in bright light. The colors (white balance) is very good, and in bright light the camera will focus more quickly than most cameras out there. This is great camera for someone (example, my wife) who likes to just shoot and not worry too much about all the photographic technical mumbo jumbo.
The Nikon 1 cameras are very good in both pictures and video. I think there is one other mirrorless brand that does video as good as the Nikon 1 cameras. When I use my D5100 Nikon dSLR for video, I just have to accept the fact that there will be enough moments where the D5100 is trying to find focus, and so the video will have many small instances of a blurry picture. For most of us, the video of the Nikon 1 J1 will be very good for our family and social events. The Nikon 1 J1 has better auto focus video than any dSLRs out there.
My previous ''small' camera was the Canon S90. I really liked it. I have compared the J1 to the S90. You have to increase the sharpness in the J1 menu settings to match the sharpness of the S90. The J1 beats the S90 in color accuracy. I love the colors (white balance) from this new camera. It is as good or slightly better than my Nikon D5100, which is a great dSLR.
I am enjoying this new toy. Hanging the camera on my neck or shoulder is much more comfortable than my DSLR. If you can afford it, I recommend getting the J1 10 - 30 mm kit. In bright light it is fantastic with great fast focus and great color. You do need to read the manual on the topics of vibration reduction (VR) and active dynamic lighting. For pictures you will want the VR to be on 'normal' most of the time. For video, you probably will need to put VR on 'active.' This is currently the best camera for both very good pictures AND very good video. As a father, I really regret not taking enough small video clips of my kids, especially of them speaking. Like any camera, you do need to use good holding technique, read the manual, and learn to use this new toy if you want to get the most out of it. If you just like to point and shoot, this will do that too.
on November 12, 2011
I've had my new Nikon J1 with 10-30mm lens for one week and have taken about a 1000 test shots with it. A decent compromise between the dSLR and the point and shoot, and I get video. The color is superb. The auto focus has NO problems. The image review has been very accurate. If the images did not get enough light then they were darker on the review screen and I re-shot them. There is some amount of vignetting at the corners, especially at each end of the zoom range. At f/9.0 everything is very nice and clear. I believe there is some distortion at the 10mm end, but perhaps the 10mm /2.8 lens will not have this problem. I also purchased the 30mm-110mm lens and have been very happy with the quality of the pictures. Like any new camera there is an adjustment period and learning how to shoot it. I have learned to shoot in A-mode outdoors and S-mode indoors to get the type of images I want. I wanted something light than my Sony A700 that still took good pictures, especially macro work, and this lens delivers for that. For landscapes, the jury is still out on that one due to possible distortion issues. I don't normally shot in RAW mode, so adjusting the images in Photoshop has not been a problem. Video seems to work nicely. I was strongly considering buying the Sony Nex-5N, especially since I could use my A-mount lens on it, but decided against it because it requires a separate microphone for sound and has no attached flash. This made the camera less easy for capturing in the moment photo shots and video and more gear to carry around. Purchased the White body and lens and loving it. Glad I bought it? After getting familiar with it - YES.
Update: After using the camera a little longer I would say one disadvantage is the shadow cast by the lens when using the flash up close. You can not use the flash when you are standing close to the object or there will be this little brown shadow at the bottom of the picture. To compensate, just step back and zoom in and no shadow. I purchased my camera kit from a local store and paid full price of $899, which is irritating when I see the sell prices from some of the online stores. I found a piece of lint in the front glass of the 30-110mm lens. I took it back to the store and they promptly replaced it, no problem. I actually took an Olympus PEN camera home to try out and took it back the very next day. It did not hold up in comparison to the Nikon J1 at all. The video works great on the J1, it focuses constantly and keeps a sharp image.
on January 13, 2012
I am a former Nikon D50 owner, I abandoned the camera because I started carrying much smaller Sony DSCs I could simply slip in my pocket. I still miss the D50 after all these years, even if the Sony DSC line only got better. This Nikon 1 J1 replaces my current Sony, a DSC-HX9v.
For starters, this is not a point and shoot. The automatic modes are nice, but they won't do anything you can already do with much cheaper point and shoot cameras. That said, if you are willing to do the work and learn the camera, you will be rewarded. I am really happy with the pictures I am getting, but it took me weeks to get used to it.
The camera is basically a slab, it doesn't have contoured edges or soft grips. I find it really comfortable, it fits in my hands just fine but some will get nervous at using this camera without a wrist strap. I only used the strap that shipped with the camera for a few days until I received my Gordy strap, which works extremely well.
I like that it is pretty much impossible for the camera to power up just from sliding within a case, unlike the Sony DSC-HX9V which did this all of the time. There's a downside to this, it is very hard to find the power button by touch (the camera will wake up if you have a lens with a lock button and you engage it). The shutter button is exactly where I expect it, unlike again the Sony.
This camera is beautiful, it draws a lot of attention, which may be the opposite of what you want. I imagine the silver and black bodies from a few feet away will look like any other camera, but the white version just stands out too much. The fit and finish are really nice, I am not a fan of the pop up flash but it works. The flash cannot pop up unless you unlock it manually.
The bottom door for the battery and memory card access has a decent latch and has yet to open accidentally.
The cover for the micro HDMI and USB is hard plastic, no idea how log it will last if you actually use these cables a lot. I only used them once to test the HDMI cable.
The back controls are extremely simple, they took very little time getting used to. The main command wheel does NOT include PASM, those are accessed through the shooting menu. The main command wheel actually looks kind of naked, since it only has four modes.
The second command wheel has a nice texture and the spinning element has a notch action, again a nice touch.
I bought the kit with the 10mm prime and the 10-30mm VR zoom. I spent a lot of time agonizing over this choice, but I am really happy that I got the prime instead of going for the kit with the two zooms. The only downside is that the prime doesn't have VR. As part of a Christmas promotion Amazon gave me a free memory card and a remote, the remote came in really handy while I was learning to get used to the 10mm prime, since this was the first time in years that I was shooting a camera without built-in optical stabilization and/or vibration reduction. After a few weeks I got the hang of it and shake is no longer an issue, it was just a matter of unlearning bad habits I picked up from spending so much time with point and shoot cameras.
The 10-30 is a sweet little lens. It is very small, and it has a lock mode that allows it to collapse for storage. This means that the camera is not really that much bulkier when carried with the 10-30mm than with the 10mm prime.
My personal preference is to keep the 10mm on as default, unless I know I will be shooting video or that available light is not going to be an issue. I am dying to get my hands on the 10-100 VR lens, which right now costs as much as what I paid for the camera, the 10mm and the 10-30VR.
The pictures are disappointing if you are expecting the camera to do all the work. It pays to dig into the manual and venture into the PASM mode, it was a lot less painful than what I expected. You can do some really impressive work with PASM modes with really little work. I wish I could do more than +/- 2EV adjustments, and it won't let me auto bracket, but except for those two things it has been a joy to shoot. Also, with the sound effects muted it is completely silent, which is awesome for candid shots.
As for the autofocus, it is as fast as advertised. My only issue with the autofocus was while shooting video, and I am not done experimenting with the different custom settings for that.
Two of the auto modes are more for show. There is a mode that will shoot a very short video and then freeze at the end, and it adds some background music. There is also a mode that shoots a high speed burst, then tries to pick the 5 best pictures of the batch. This mode is slow and cumbersome, to me it is mostly as a way to demo the capabilities of the camera.
The plain vanilla auto mode is decent, but creative types will soon end up leaving it set in one of the PASM modes instead.
This camera cannot shoot 1080p video at 60p, it either does 30p or 60i. At 720p it will do 60p. You can also shoot fast speed videos at either 400 or 1200fps, which are encoded to be played at normal speed and yields some interesting slow motion effects. I have not had issues posting these videos to Youtube but I noticed that the Xbox 360 channel for Youtube won't display the high speed burst videos.
This is not a camera for a newbie, or somebody that spends most of the time in full auto mode. Think of this as a camera for somebody that would rather have a DSLR and a dozen lenses but doesn't want to lug all that gear around. I actually freaked out when I realized that I could have had a Nikon D3100 and the 18-55 kit lens for $150 less, but in reality this is the form factor that I needed, I don't like hauling around a big camera.
Also, keep in mind your color choice if you would rather blend into the background when taking pictures because the white camera attracts a lot of attention (I imagine this is going to be 10 times worse if it is the pink one). I doubt anyone will blink twice at the silver or black versions.
on July 12, 2012
My main reason for buying this camera is because of the size and picture quality. It was either this or the Canon t4i, if you've gone to do photoshoots and pass-by photos at anime conventions you know you'll be walking around for hours getting as many pictures of cosplayers as possible. I have to say i'm satisfied with my purchase, the picture quality is good considering the sensor size; better than a point-and-shoot and about the same quality as an entry level Dslr. The battery life I wish was better.
Few things I want to point out to people who have problems getting good photos with this camera. When in an area with low light use your flash, the camera does handle poorly with little light if you dont use a flash. If you're outside set your ISO to 100; pictures come out much better than keeping the camera on auto 100-3200 when outside. Also try shooting in RAW or RAW + Fine if you post process. One of the most important things to do is to set your Vibration Reduction settings to Normal. The camera has it set to Active by default. Active is for when you are in a vehicle and such so the camera can take better stills while on the move. Normal is for when you move the camera so camera will compensate for you when you move it.
The Nikon J1 feels very sturdy and not cheap like other cameras, the front colored part is made of metal and the back feel like quality plastic. My first J1 was the white version that came with just 10-30mm lens. I sold that one and bought the silver color with the 10-30mm and 30-110mm. The white paint is glossy and if you're sweating or have greasy hands, the camera becomes slippery. The glossy paint is also a magnent for fingerprints. The silver however is of a non-gloss paint which wont bother you if your hands are sweaty or greasy.
The flash is ok, not great but ok. If you are not using the 10mm prime lens you'll have to back up a bit and zoom in so you wont have a shadow at the bottom of your pictures due to the height of the flash and the length of the lens. Still not horrible for a built in flash.
The video mode is great. You can record 30 minute clips, then you'll have to press the record button again. With a 32mb San Disk Extreme SDHC card I recorded video for over 2hrs without overheating recording in 720p 60fps, but I was inside a cool place when I tested it. Then on another day I was outside in 90 degree plus temperatures to a cosplay met-up, the camera overheated after 2hrs of doing photoshoots and 17 minutes or recording. The video is quality is still very good though. just done expect broadcast quality. The microphone is decent, wish it could have been a little better. but not bad for the price.
*Photo quality is better than a Point-and-shoot and close to an entry level Dslr.
*Great photos when there is enough light and know how to use the camera.
*You can record video in 720p for 1hr and 20 minutes on one battery charge is pretty good.
*Easy to navigate menus.
*Nice cool look.
*Lens are great since they are multi-coated. Never had a problem with lens flare even in strong sunlight.
*Can use SDHC and SDXC cards.
*Very fast continous shooting.
*Very light and compact. Can fit in your pocket if you use the 10mm prime lens
*Handles poorly in low light if you don't use the flash.
*Battery I wish was better. 250 photos on one charge
*No lens hood for the 10-30mm lens (have to purchase separately) But comes with the 30-110mm
*Microphone in video mode isn't much to brag about, I give it a 3/5
on May 3, 2014
Let me start by saying I would never even consider buying this camera at anywhere near it's list price, but at the price I got it for on Amazon (considerably less than what it is here currently)--or even at the current Amazon price, there is nothing than can touch it.
It blows away any point and shoot regardless of the price. You're basically talking about comparing a camera that was meant to sell for around $700 with ones meant to sell for $400 or less. Image quality in terms of color rendition/accuracy, sharpness and noise, particularly under low-light conditions, is stunning compared to any point and shoot I've ever used (I've had about five now over the years, including Kodak, Olympus, Fuji and Panasonic).
The small size and light weight (easily pocketable with the tiny 10mm fixed wide-angle lens) make this my "go to" camera for almost everything now.
The overall build quality is top-notch in terms of look, finish, feel and handling--it is much nicer than most mirrorless cameras I looked at and worlds nicer than any point and shoot cameras I've seen--with a jewel-like quality and lots of precision-machined metal rather than molded plastic.
The available lenses are of the same caliber and their small size and weight (particularly for the super-zooms) just brings a smile to my face as someone who once had a large (big, heavy) collection of lenses for a 35mm SLR. Unfortunately the lens prices are not as inviting as the kit, but that's to be expected, as the lenses work across the entire Nikon 1 range and have not been discontinued as has this "old model" J1 body.
The continuous auto-focus is very accurate and amazingly quick (there are times when you don't even notice it refocusing, it happens so fast)--very useful for video as well and not a common video feature on digital cameras. As others have noted, at lower light levels the focus is slower, as the J1 switches between autofocus systems. The power zoom lens offered in the Nikon 1 line, while pricey, is silent while zooming, focusing or reducing vibration, so you can pull zoom in videos without hearing any motor noise in the recording. That's good as the camera does not have an external microphone jack but, really, video performance is pretty impressive for something that is not a camcorder!
There are lots of things that could be improved in terms of ergonomics, features, etc., but the bottom line is, at this price, it doesn't really matter. You simply can't take as good a picture with anything else at this price. If you can afford to spend a lot more, there are certainly better choices.
P.S. As this is an "old model", you should go to the Nikon website and make sure you have the latest firmware versions for the camera/lenses and download them if you don't.
on March 12, 2012
The title says it all - it's marvelous piece of hardware hobbled by some strange firmware choices. Before you buy it, please be sure to fully understand what are you going to use this camera for. It may help to read the following review by a well-known sports photographer Rob Galbraith: [....]
In short: this is a camera for person who wants:
- amazing AF performance, including AF tracking. No other compact camera will come close to this little box in ability to follow action (it CAN keep up with my 3 and 6 y.o. daughters, a feat shared in my experience only by the 3500AF module in my D300 SLR)
- like to shoot raw and want to have a camera with no speed penalty for doing so
- want to have it all in somewhat pocketable form (J1 with one of th ekit lenses (say 10-30) and 30-110 lens do fit into two of my jacket pockets)
- realize that even a great small sensor is a small sensor, and do not expect to shoot landscapes with it and expect results that would rival dSLR output, especially at dusk
- realize that even a great small sensor is a small sensor, and do not expect to shoot in dim lighting indoors with it and expect results that would really rival dSLR output
- have basic understanding of photography and be prepared to set up camera so that the firmware problems can be worked around (i.e. learn what shutter-priority mode is and when to use it)
As long, as you adhere to these rules of engagement, J1 delivers tons of great pictures in a very small package. Its' files are pleasure to work with, especially color-wise (I find it easier to get great colour out of J1 than out of D300). It's AF performance is amazing, and it happily churns out 5 frames per second in raw mode with no slowdowns and lengthy waits for writing. The only hardware problem - the battery performance. Fully charged J1 battery is good for ~2GB of video.
As for the other stuff - do take time to read advice on the web as to how to set up J1 properly. I found lots of good tips in aforementioned RG's review, as well as in Thom Hogan's review ( [...] and [...]l ). Oh, and I see that his complete guide is out as well - another amazing resource.
Update: I just uploaded 3 samples of what J1 is capable of. All are essentially out of camera (OOC) images, with no postprocessing. I really don't understand why people who supposedly know what shutter speed is and what is the influence of raising ISO on image quality complain that they cannot get useable image out of this camera...
on April 24, 2012
Let me start this review HONESTLY...I AM NOT A PROFESSIONAL. I am just a normal guy that got tired of going on trips and seeing grainy unfocused blurry pictures when I got back home. I was looking into SLR cameras but they are too expensive for someone that just wants to shoot and have the pictures look good. I started looking into DSLR cameras (youtube is a great source for reviews). It eventually came down to the Sony brand camera everyone rants and raves about and the Nikon J1. Now according to the reviews and a little experimenting of my own..The Sony gives a slightly better picture, but I chose the Nikon mainly because of price. It was $550 when I bought it, and for the quality of pictures I get I definitely think it was worth it. YOU CAN GET SLR QUALITY PHOTOS OUT OF THIS CAMERA. I personally feel like every shot I take is a good one. took it downtown this past weekend to get some Earth Day gathering pics, and I even believed I was a professional for a second. Extremely clear, beautiful pictures out of thing. This camera takes great pictures! The menu is easy to navigate, gives you plenty of options. The video shooting is good as well, and the ability to take pictures while shooting video is a cool perk. Now for the bad, every camera has problems and the thing that bothered me most was that you can only take about 5 seconds worth of slow motion video which I did not like. Other than that I love this thing and would recommend it to anyone
on March 10, 2012
I use everything from a 6x7 Pentax., a Hasselblad, and DSLR's. This new Nikon 1 is much better then a point and shoot, but obviously not as good as a DSLR.
The quality of the raw file is as good as and better then some of the micro 4/3rd's. You will not have the shallow DOF but buy a full frame for that or do it in PS.
You have to compare apples to apples. The price might seem a bit high right now but if you buy it with the 10mm prime like I did you only pay 150 dollars for that lens. It's a lovely lens too. Sharp at f2.8 and stellar at f4. The kit 10-30 zoom is really quite good.
I purchased both the V1 and J1. I decided to keep the J1. I don't use a view finder and wanted something smaller to take instead of my DSLR. Both camera's are nice. Build quality is great and the high iso raw files are on par with DSLR's of a few years ago.
I would have liked the controls for settings to be buttons and not in the menu. If you want a small high quality camera with images to match and the option to put on a new Nikon lens down the road this is a great choice. Search on 500px for Nikon 1 V1 and see what some great photographers are doing with these little Nikons.
And a quote from a professional photographer regarding build quality "Discerning Nikon-o-philes will understand this next statement: feels more like a D700 than a D300! ;-)"
Some reviewers comments here:
I love the people who say "it doesn't have the picture quality of expensive DSLR's" No kidding, it doesn't have the picture quality of my expensive Hasselblad but then again it doesn't weigh 3 lbs. and cost $15,000.
"It would be better if it had a view finder" That's what the Nikon V1 is for!
"You have to focus with your hand" What planet are you from? It has auto focus!
Yikes! It really is the person behind the camera, not the camera :0)
on March 22, 2013
I really love this camera. I have tried both V1 and J1 and I chose this camera over the V1. This is my favorite mirrorless camera over the Sony Nex and M43. Here are my reasons. I have a Canon 7D with various lenses as my primary system. I use that camera for more serious picture taking for various reasons like larger more comfortable body, better lenses for precise situations that I collected over the years, bigger flash options, larger resolution for better cropping and larger prints, optical viewfinder, and "professional feel and look(?)". Well, that camera does give an impression that I mean business and that I take photography more seriously to those that I am taking pictures of. Still, it's not convenient to take that system everywhere and for every occasion. (For example, going to an event where I am a guest and not "the" photographer.) I don't like the limit set by the usual slow lens of the point and shoot with limited options. I then discovered mirrorless option. I read many reviews for various options. I first tried the Nex 3C as it was rated as the best replacement for DSLR with same size sensor, and I was very impressed by it. I was able to get the pictures I wanted as with my DSLR in various settings. I then looked into other options. I stumbled upon V1 review. Then, I saw how cheap it was. I was able to buy V1 with 10-30mm and 30-110mm lens kit for very cheap. I loved the simplicity of it. Still, coming from Nex I was bit disappointed in the low light capability using the kit lens and lack of bokeh. Sharp pictures with very very little bokeh. I mostly take portraits and I do like to isolate my subjects... I was bit disappointed because I could get decent bokeh even from the kit lens of Nex... I then ordered 18.5mm f/1.8 hoping that it will solve my problem. Well, I received the lens and I was instantly happy. I recommend that lens as MUST to all Nikon 1 users. Great subtle bokeh and great image quality. It's also compact! Still, my wondering eyes looked at the J1. I compared the specs and the reviews claimed that all the important features were same minus buffer size, lower resolution display, smaller battery, no EVF, cheap build quality, mechanical shutter, and no slot for external accessories like more powerful flash. Well, I decided to try it out since I don't mind not having EVF as I got used to Nex. I got the silver one and it's perfect. I love the smaller size and weight of J1 over the heavy and bulkier V1. I also love the clean design. Reduced display resolution make no difference. J1 display looks just as good as V1. Really. No one will notice the difference if they no one tells them that J1 has less resolution display. I also prefer the built in flash of J1 over the hotshoe slot of v1. Less accessory to carry. I bought mirrorless over DSLR over convenience. Build Quality if plenty good enough and its so much lighter. Reduced features like EVF and mechanical shutter means smaller size. J1 is pocketable. (Jacket and with 10mm pancake, even pants) V1, not so much. V1's weight negated the lighter lens of Nikon 1 system. I almost exclusively shot with electronic shuttle as it enabled candid silent shot. Image quality in not effected in any way. There is almost no advantage of mechanical shutter. It has all the important features of v1 like fast hybrid af, fast burst shots, slow motion, full HD Video, etc. As for battery, I take a spare. (V1 just has an exceptional battery life. That doesn't mean that J1 has a bad battery life.) Even in sunny day, I rarely need evf. I can compose just fine. Also, I don't want the bulk all the time for an occasional situation of strong light to the LCD. It's a hassle but I squint and use my hand to shade. I rather do that on rare occasions than again carry the bulk. J1 paired with 18.5mm f/1.8 again is perfect for me. There are many people who complain Nikon 1 system not having enough lenses. Well, they are growing. Still, I am done. I have the 10-30mm for versatility during a vacation, 30-110mm for kid's playing sports outside, and 18.5mm for anything and everything from portrait to in door. I already have a complete system for Canon 7D. I just want a good camera that is convenient and portable and able. 95% of my everyday needs. Nikon J1 is definitely more than good enough to be that camera.
PS: For those getting the Nikon 1 J1 as only camera. Get the 3 lenses kit I mentioned and call it a day. If you are not pro, 1% of your shots are not worth 50% cost of you entire system for casual shooters.