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130 of 132 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 25, 2013
Here is how I came to buy the Nikon 1 J3:
During a recent trip, I discovered that my new Moto X phone took amazing photos and my old digital SLR was just too big & heavy for most occasions. So I started a mission to find something smaller and lighter which would partly or completely replace my SLR and take better photos than my phone. Note that most point-and-shoot cameras do not take better photos than the recent generation of phones, and in fact have the same sensors if not worse. Some sort of mirrorless large-sensor system seemed to be the answer, and I tried the Nikon 1 and others.

In a nutshell, the Nikon 1 J3 is an outstanding camera with a terrible user interface.

GOOD:

- Takes good photos in all types of light. Press the shutter and it takes a photo right away, freezing the moment. No second guessing. Can't say that about most other cameras.
- Super fast autofocus. It may well be quicker than most SLRs even. This camera is probably better suited for kids and sports photos than anything else you can buy.
- Very high frame-per-second rate for full-sized photos. 15 fps with autofocus, 60 fps without! This is better than practically all other cameras on the market right now. I personally prefer the more sedate 5 fps which is still better than entry level SLRs :)
- Good auto white balance. The photos come out looking natural, with good skin tones, etc.
- Small and light. The kit lens has an interesting folding design to make itself more compact. This camera is smaller than all other interchangeable-lens mirrorless systems, as far as I can tell.
- You can get some decent bokeh (blurry background for portraits etc) with the kit 10-30mm lens with big aperture plus remote
background. Not as easy as APS-C or full frame sensors, but at least doable.
- Clever "unlock the lens and turn the camera on" feature. No need to press the on/off button. Hard to describe but very handy. I wish other manufacturers did this too.
- Even when noisy, the photos have an "optically fuzzy," instead of "digitally smeared" look when viewed 1:1, which is a better and more pleasing noise reduction than many other manufacturers and cameras offer.
- Instant access to HD video. Press the smaller button with a red dot on it from any camera mode.

BAD:

- Although it is small and light, and fits in a jacket pocket, this camera is bulky. The kit lens protrudes enough to make it look like you are carrying a good old rock in your pocket. I wish it were flatter. Still, much smaller than any SLR.
- The mode selector wheel on top is useless. Normally you expect to find Auto mode + PASM. Here you get Auto + 4 weird and semi-useless modes which were probably conceived for the Japanese market. PASM is hidden under the menus of one of them. The other ones are "automatic selection of the best photo", "take a slow motion 1 second clip before snapping a photo" (WTF?) and advanced movie mode (which is useless since you can record HD from any mode with a dedicated button).
- The camera is too menu driven for what it is. See above - PASM and scene modes are buried under menus. I like changing between P, A, and S. (On this camera, S is the most useful mode in my opinion.) HDR is hard enough to get to that I never really use it.
- You can't hold this thing one-handed. It is very smooth and there is no finger hold on the right. Why? Even basic point-and-shoots have some little ridge, and SLRs have a big bulge for your right hand to grab.
- Auto ISO tends to pick the highest allowed ISO (in my case, 3200) too often when indoors. I wish it would instead try to take a lower-exposure photo instead and let you handle it in post-processing.
- No automatic orientation for photos and videos. Are you kidding? I had to flip all my vertical (portrait) orientation photos by hand in Picasa or Lightroom. Good luck flipping a video file. Any smart phone can do better. My 5+ year-old cameras can do better than this.
- Lens cap. Annoying. I like using hoods on my SLR lenses so the lens is protected when open but this is not an option here. Given the puny zoom range, I wish this were a fixed lens self-capping design (like any point-and-shoot).
- Noisy raw photos. I tried taking a few indoor shots in NEF, Nikon's raw format. The luminance and chroma noise were shocking. I will stick to JPEG since the image processor does a good job taming the noise in a visually pleasing way. I do not want to waste my time in Lightroom or some other software on this issue.
- High frames per second are a bit of a waste of time and storage space. 15fps produces a flood of nearly identical photos that take a while to wade through, and can clog up your storage card. I find it impossible to take a single photo in 15fps mode, while it is doable in 5fps. In 15fps mode, the camera occasionally loses focus (it autofocuses in between frames) and then finds it again. I am sure 15fps and 60fps have their use, but they don't appeal to me yet.
- Short battery life. 300 photos maybe? You may last a daytrip if you don't do bit multi-frame-per-second bursts or video.
- Image quality is visibly below SLR level. My 5+ year-old APS-C sensor DSLR with the 50mm 1.4 Canon lens (and half the megapixels) utterly destroys this Nikon 1. Better sharpness, color, noise, bokeh, level of control over the camera, etc. That said, that lens alone costs more than what I paid for this Nikon package on sale. Still, it is good to keep things in perspective. The Samsung NX series has equal or worse image quality compared to Nikon 1 (with kit lenses), so it is not just the sensor at play here but every element in the imaging chain.

VERDICT:

- Great for kids, sports, and low light situations. Better than an ordinary point-and-shoot camera in terms of speed and image quality. The responsiveness, fast focus and frames per second are on par if not better than an SLR at a fraction of the weight and size.
- If the camera were more compact, like the Sony RX100 (which has the same sized sensor and is very fast too), I would be in love with it. As it is, it is too bulky to be pocketable and my daily companion, and I am still not sure if I want to keep it.

UPDATE JANUARY 2014:

- I returned this camera to the store. Instead, I got a Sony NEX 3N and I love it. It is lighter and yet is has a larger sensor, flip screen, wider angle kit lens, and vastly better ergonomics (plus it costs less). Feel free to check that camera out. It also does 4 frames per second, which is not as fast as the Nikon but enough to capture sports or kids in motion.
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63 of 70 people found the following review helpful
on April 3, 2013
Five stars for the excellent photo quality,usability, lightness of the camera and ease of interchanging lenses. I am by no means a professional photographer but decided to step up the quality of photos from my old point and shoot digital camera. After taking a variety of photos and video with this camera over the course of an hour or so the quality of both are incredible and I found the camera very simple to use. It does have a steep price tag but for me it is an excellent camera! I will miss the gps capabilities of my old camera, but the higher quality pics make the trade off worth it for me.
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62 of 73 people found the following review helpful
on May 9, 2013
I own a Nikon DSLR with some lenses and I would rank myself as an amateur photographer, mainly focused on travel and family (my 3year old son mostly) photos. Both are areas in which the camera really excelled my expectations.
First, the camera is, if I can call it, a “small DSLR” in terms of capabilities. Second, with the FT-1 mount (too expensive, but cheaper than having to buy extra lenses), it is compatible with my Nikkor lenses. Third, the super-fast focus which is great for capturing my son’s deeds, especially with the Best Moment Capture Mode (Great feature!!!). Finally, it is light, small and always at hand (the main problem with my big DSLR). So, if you own a Nikon DSLR it is a sure purchase.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 31, 2014
LOVE this camera compared to my d3200 which i sold just to get this before our vation drivig from WV to California. Yes the d3200 is a nicer quality camera in general but for my purpose of use such as vacation and events like birthdays, holidays, parties, and school..this serves me better and is much more comfortable packing around my neck at Disneyland, Sea World, Canyons in Utah and the arches park, Cadillac Ranch in TX etc. Take great photos and also motion pictures like fireworks at disneyland!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 27, 2013
Overall great buy. Produces great photos, has a great feel and touch, the additional lens kit in the package is added benefit.

The only things I wish it did have, in case they're important to you are:
- Time Lapse setting
- More automated settings
- Wifi
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on June 11, 2014
The Nikon 1 camera is the smallest interchangeable-lens system available. It is lightweight, highest quality, and easy to use. The J3 is the most advanced of the line, though I love the J1 and J2. The J3 is also the lightest and smallest of the three models.

I do wish Nikon hadn't removed the 'display' button from the back of the camera, however. You must go into the menu to control what you want to see. And, in the earlier models, the flash is controlled by popping up the flash manually with a button next to it. In the J3, it will always pop up automatically unless you use the flash controller on the back and select non-flash mode. I tend to shoot without flash and I find it annoying to have to turn it off again every time I power up the camera.

The J3 with the 10-100mm lens is just about all the camera one could want. The lens takes the place of two kit lenses (10-30mm and 30-110mm). It is a beautiful lens in my estimation, and remarkably small for its zoom capability. I have all three plus the 10mm and 18.5mm fixed lenses. The zooms are smooth and clean. The fixed lenses are even cleaner. Beautiful bokeh on the 18.5mm (equivalent of the standard 50mm portrait lens in a 35mm film camera).

The J3 is very fast auto-focus, and the pictures are just about as good as one could want. Plenty of detail for blowing up shots if you use the full 14.2mp available. Simply great.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 2014
I originally purchased this camera for a trip abroad but was worried it would not do everything my D90 does. I was wrong. It did more. Easy to use, easy to carry, a pleasure to shoot with.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2014
Pros: A good amount of manual controls for the beginner, or someone who wants a nice compact SLR type of camera. There are some definite limitations, but you have to expect that for the price.

Cons: When taking a lot photos or even a short amount of video, the camera gets very, very hot. And if you're wanting to take a lot of video, the camera will overheat and shut down. I think that's a design flaw. Really limits your abilities.

Summary: It's a good camera, takes good pictures, pretty descent in low-light, especially for the money. I think that's what it comes down to. For the price, I don't know of a real contender. If you're wanting to use this as an entry into professional photographer, I would suggest saving your money and purchasing something that's designed for professional use. Not bad for family use.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 27, 2015
I got this older model as a gift recently, and I'm perplexed by the lack of respect Nikon has gotten for this new line. I have a big DX setup, and have been wary of going to a whole new format, but size is an issue. The Nikon 1 mount is the smallest of the major brands, and has been the only one that really interests me. Some of the other mirrorless formats (like Sony) are nearly full size lenses. What's the point?

Anyway, the pictures are great, the focusing is indeed very fast, and the limited controls are ideal for exactly what I use this camera for - casual use mostly outdoors in predominantly social situations for which a big DSLR is just not appropriate. I even picked up the 18mm f/1.8 lense, and it's great for those situations where I want an artistic shot. For my Nikon DSLR, I have a big SB-700 SpeedLight, which is bigger than this Nikon 1 camera. There hasn't been a time where I really wished this camera had a hotshoe. Images from my DSLR are slightly better, but not dramatically so.

The Nikon 1 seems to be the only mirrorless camera designed for experienced photographers who already have a DSLR. This may not be the best camera if you are looking to learn photography or take artistic photos. But if you already know what you're doing, and want something smaller that can serve as a companion when you don't want to carry around huge lenses - this camera is perfect.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 2014
I love this camera, not so much the zoom. Yes its lightweight but the lenses get in the way. Going to buy the next lense it comes with.
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