Nikon 1 mirrorless cameras have, arguably and perhaps unfairly, not been given the respect they deserve, thanks to their smaller 1-inch-type sensors and all-too-often plastic compact-like appearance. However, that could change with the release of the new Nikon 1 J5 which combines high-end features including 4K video recording and continuous still shooting at 20 frames per second with stylish retro looks.
With its mid-range J designation, Nikon's new mirrorless camera is the follow-up to the J4 and will sit between the entry-level S2 model and the higher-end V3, in the 1 series line-up. However, this time around Nikon appears to be targeting the J5 at more advanced photographers as it boasts more physical controls, higher-end features, and the same sort of old-school styling which has served cameras like the Fujifilm X100T and Panasonic GX7 so well in recent years.
At the heart of the J5 is an effective 20.8-megapixel CX 1-inch-type (13.2 x 8.8 mm) back-side illuminated CMOS sensor which omits an optical low-pass filter for sharper images. This is paired with an Expeed 5A image processor to help deliver high-quality images in a range of lighting conditions, and the camera has an ISO range of 160 to 12,800. As with other 1 series cameras, the J5 takes Nikon 1 mount lenses and can be used with F-mount lenses via the FT1 adapter.
As with previous 1 series cameras, the J5 looks like it will be quite zippy for a mirrorless camera. It's said to have a very short shooting time lag, and has a DSLR-beating continuous shooting speed of 20 frames per second (fps) with autofocus, meaning you should be able to capture even the briefest of moments. The hybrid autofocus system also promises speedy and accurate performance with 105 phase-detection AF points and 171 contrast focus areas.
The J5 is the first offering from Nikon to offer 4K video recording, though as it is limited to 15 fps this 3840 x 2160 footage is going to have limited usability. At Full HD 1080p the J5 is capable of a much more respectable 60 fps. For those wanting to create slow-motion footage there are frame-rates of 120 fps at 720p and even 1,200 fps if you're willing to drop the resolution to 400 x 144 pixels. There's also an in-camera Full HD time-lapse movie mode. Meanwhile, built-in Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity make it easy to share images via your smart device, or use it to remotely trigger the camera.
Measuring 98.3 x 59.7 x 31.5 mm (3.9 x 2.4 x 1.3 in) and weighing 265 g (9.4 oz) the Nikon 1 J5 is a portable camera which, thanks to its redesign, is now suitable for more advanced photographers. While a mode dial makes flicking between modes easy, a new command dial around the video button also allows users to adjust settings without having to menu dive. A Fn button can also be assigned to access a frequently used function. While there's no hot-shoe, there is at least a pop-up flash.
Around back, there's a three-inch LCD touchscreen with 1,037K dots. This flip-up and tilting monitor has 180-degree movement and can be angled for easier shooting whether holding the camera low to the ground, above your head, or even facing forwards for those times you're shooting a selfie. For selfie fans a Glamour Retouch mode allows the use of appearance altering effects such as skin softening, big eyes and whiter teeth.
The Nikon 1 J5 is due to go on sale by the end of the month, and will be available in silver-and-black, silver-and-white or all-black, in a number of different configurations. With a 10-30-mm (27-81-mm equivalent) power drive zoom lens it will cost US$500, while a two-lens kit with a 10-30-mm and a 30-110-mm (81-297-mm equivalent) will set you back $750. Bundled with a 10-100-mm (27-270-mm equivalent) all-in-one lens, it will cost $1,050.
Product page: Nikon 1 J5