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Nikon 1 J1  Digital Camera System with 10-30mm Lens (Red) (OLD MODEL)
Style: 10-30mm lens|Color: Red|Product Packaging: Standard Packaging|Change
Price:$345.77+ Free shipping

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.

The Good:

* 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 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.
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on September 4, 2012
Owning a number of digital cameras both SLR and compact, this is one of the best as far as picture quality. The low-light color reproduction is especially good. I shot a cathedral AFTER they turned off most of the lights and the pictures were gorgeous. The Nikon 1 has very fast focusing along with everything else it does. The whole package seems aimed at catching action. Between the fast burst mode, Nikon's new Motion Snapshot, Smart Photo, and the high-speed video there is little that escapes its lens.

I have yet to put this up on a big screen but on smaller screens the video seems quite good. Just the fact that it auto-focuses during normal-speed video shooting is a plus point. One quick tip: you will want to change the video format to one of the 60i if you want to view it directly on your iPad. 30p doesn't translate.
The high-speed video (an awesome 400 fps and a super slow 1200 fps) is one of my favorite features as this is a rare feature in cameras. It does scale down the resolution so don't expect recreating Discovery's Planet Earth moments but it is fun to play with.

I think Nikon found a happy place between camera size and SLR quality with the Nikon 1. In fact I really, really like the size. However, it is a bit of an awkward shape and by that I mean it is neither an SLR or a compact so finding the right case to hold the camera and a second lens that is not bulky can be a challenge. Holding it feels just right. Shooting with it is easy enough but you do have to make sure you don't cover the auto-focus sensor while adjusting the lens.

The most basic controls (flash, timer etc.) are at your fingertips but this is true of nearly all cameras. SLRs and some compacts tend to have a mode wheel that selects shooting modes but Nikon chose to keep the external interface simple and only the Nikon 1 mode wheel offers only 4: auto, Motion Snapshot, video, and Smart Photo (takes several photos and chooses the best one). This is great for newbies and amateurs who prefer not to know of additional complexities but if you are used to SLRs and being able to rapidly switch between modes you will find this camera lacking. The camera has all the usual modes and manual controls but to change them you must go down to a second level menu. Thankfully the 4-way button is also a wheel which allows you to rapidly traverse the menu. Still I would have preferred at least a dedicated button to instantly switch modes or a 5th option on the mode wheel that you could customize, or the ability to customize the F button which to me is under-utilized.

One area in particular is very weak: manual focus. First you have to get the camera into a manual mode, then you have to enable manual focus, and finally you must use the tiny paddle control in the corner to adjust the focus. This is so cumbersome you will not want to do it except as a last resort. That being said, it is rare that you will need it. The auto-focus is very, very good!

The two primary lenses are 10-30mm and 30-110mm. 10-110 is effectively close to a typical SLR range of 18-200 due to the 2.7x crop factor of the Nikon 1. I noticed the wide-angle (10mm) had notably less of a view field than I was used to but it is good enough for most shots. Changing the lenses is as easy, perhaps easier, than an SLR due to the smaller size but with one issue: the rear caps must be lined up to attach. I wish they would snap on or screw on like every other lens I have. The retraction and locking button takes a little getting used to. It is a good thing that the lens pulls back to make the camera more compact but it IS an extra step and one easily forgotten if you are in a hurry. The camera does warn you if the lens is retracted but by then you have missed your shot. The camera will also turn on automatically if you extend it--a nice feature if you train yourself to use it. It does not currently have the ability to likewise shut off when retracted but maybe a future firmware update will allow this. That being said, you can always just leave it extended. The camera aggressively tries to conserve battery power by featuring a sleep mode and fairly fast on/off times so leaving it on while walking around is perfectly fine.

I would recommend an additional battery if you shoot more than 200 pictures a day. The battery gauge has three segments which do not seem to be equal. The first and second ones last a long time. When you get down to the last segment there is little power left and the camera will shut down at any time and no warning. There is no flashing red or other indicators of a very low battery like most SLRs. You can usually squeeze one or two more shots out of it if you let it rest a bit but that's all.
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on June 11, 2014
This camera is beautiful when you hold it. I was not expecting much as the photos looked very plain and like it would be hard to hold. It actually isn't. And, if you have larger hands or feel you need a little more, I attached a leather half-jacket to mine, and it looks great. Photos are beautiful - but I am a Nikon girl. I have always loved the natural look and flesh tones that Nikon gives, and this is no different. I hesitated before purchasing due to the small 10.1 MP sensor, but after you use it, you realize, it's actually very decent. I would buy this camera again in a heartbeat.

I love the Nikor lens selections for these cameras, although, if you already have a Nikon, you can purchase a converter to allow you to attach your DSLR Nikon lenses. Although, I do not plan to do that. I really just want my own lenses.

RE the sensor -IF Nikon had put a larger sensor in this camera from the beginning, even if it was simply to appease the masses, they would have sold much, much better. I hope Nikon learned their lesson from this, and quite possibly they have, as the J4 has an 18mp sensor. If you don't want to spend more for the newer and better featured (smart) versions, and just, like me, want a good little camera, go for this and wait on the J4 prices to come down. At some point, I can easily see handing this off to my son in a few years so he can study photography techniques, as it has so many features and lenses. THEN I will nab that J4 at a good price.
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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.
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on March 22, 2014
I bought this camera because I compared a relative's N1 J1 to my panasonic Lumix compact, and the Nikon produced far superior images in low light without flash, which is how I prefer to use it. I was very surprised because my Lumix was the first compact camera I was aware of, that could produce decent no flash images indoors. The N1 J1 sent to me works exactly the same as my relative's NI J1. I was very surprised at how well the N1 J1 produces bright detailed images in automatic mode with no flash. I also own a Nikon D300 with many lenses and previously owned a Nikon D40x. The Lumix is lighter and more compact than the N1 J1, but the N1 J1 is sufficiently compact to carry in most situations.
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on January 8, 2018
Thoroughly disappointing! The 10-30mm lens has been recalled for good reason. Even after repair, these lenses have failed. Every recalled lens has a black dot engraved onto the lens body. Poor focus at distance. Poor for inside use, even in a room with come out dark. Its simple to use, but what good is simple if your photos are not clear, bright, usable. Made in China, not Japan.
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on January 27, 2014
I have a large array of mirror-less digital cameras, with and without interchangeable lenses, including Lumix and Leica sets. Each one has its own characteristics and advantages. I primarily take pictures of my active 2 1/2 year old granddaughter, so speed and accuracy of focus is of paramount importance. I have missed quite a few good shots due to slow response and focusing.

I found a good deal on the J1 and decided to give it a try, and I am glad I did. I love the smaller (than four thirds systems) size, and the silver is a very attractive, and tough, exterior. It is also very fast and has a nice set of lenses to go with it: 10mm, 10-30mm, and 30 to 110mm. They are all very fast, with very smooth zoom rings, which make taking pics of a moving child much easier. I believe I am having a higher rate of good, focused shots with this system.

Just one problem: I liked it so much I just had to get the J2 and J3 versions. Each of those is even faster and more accurate, and good deals can be found if you look around. I am a big fan, but find myself using the newer versions more. But the J2 seems to be the most in demand. Its speed is comparable to the J3, but has features available on the back of the camera similar to the J1. For some reason, Nikon saw fit to remove them from the J3. So the back is less 'cluttered', I suppose, but it is inconvenient to have to go into the menu for just about everything.
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on November 28, 2013
I loooooove this camera! I have had so many cameras its not funny, Im a wanna be professional who doesn't have time to study or take classes on professional photography, but with this camera I really don't have to! it takes very clear pictures, I love the setting it has where it takes 5 pics in one second, so there is no blur and no retaking for closed eyes and that sort of thing. I also have the bigger lense 30mm-60mm and its awesome! I live on a ranch and have 2 sons. I mostly take pics of everyday living with silly boys and my husband who works cows, team ropes, and hunts. so there is a lot of action going on. this is very quick and im never frustrated about the pics being blurry or not snapping in time. it has a great focus also. ive had this camera about 2 years and I haven't disliked it once! beautiful photos inside and outside! you will not regret buying this camera!
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on October 1, 2012
I am a DSLR user (Nikon D300) and my wife quickly tired of carrying around so much camera gear when we travel. Well, someone has to carry the camera bag! Just kidding! She traded her Nikon D200 for this camera and loves it. The menu is very much like other Nikon cameras--so, it is easy to adapt to it. You really still have a lot of versatility and it is a fraction of the size and weight. We bought the 10-30mm wide angle and the 30-110mm telephoto lenses. She uses both lenses, but the 30-110 more frequently. I wouldn't trade in my D300 for this camera but I would gladly borrow hers for a trip...
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on June 26, 2014
Let me start by saying that I own a Canon Rebel XS, Canon Rebel XT, NIkon D90, and a fair share of lenses for each. Having purchased the Nikon 1 J1, I don't use the other cameras that much. I love the compact size of the Nikon 1 J1 and the quality is outstanding. I recently started dabbling with the video and I am extremely impressed with it. Nevertheless, if mirrorless cameras are the new rage and the Nikon 1 J1 is any indication of what to expect, I'm sold on mirrorless cameras from now on.
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