Compared to some other mirrorless interchangeable lens camera systems, it's tempting to dismiss the Nikon 1 and its small sensors. But the cameras continue to sell well, and after taking the system in an enthusiast direction with the launch of the V2, Nikon is now also attempting to appeal to a more entry-level demographic with a simplified model, the S1. The suddenly mid-range J-series has also been updated with the launch of the J3.
Of the two new cameras, it's probably the S1 which is most notable in that it has clearly been designed to lure people away from their point-and-shoots. Gone are many of the physical controls seen on previous Nikon 1 cameras, and the whole thing looks more like a typical compact camera than most mirrorless systems.
On the top there's just power, shutter and video buttons; mode selection is now controlled with a graphic user interface on the three-inch LCD with 460,000 dots. Buttons on the rear have also been kept to a minimum. Everything about the S1 shows it's targeted at people who want better image quality than most compacts can offer, but not the complexity of a typical mirrorless system or entry-level DSLR.
Inside there's a CX 1-inch-type 10.1-megapixel CMOS sensor, and Nikon’s Advanced Hybrid Autofocus system – with 73 phase-detection focus areas and 135 contrast-detect focus areas – should ensure speedy focus. An EXPEED 3A image processing engine means an impressive continuous burst speed of 15 fps with autofocus, and up to 60 fps (for up to 15 frames) with fixed-point AF. The ISO range covers 100-6400 and it can record HD video at 1080/60i/30p or 720/60p.
The Nikon 1 S1 will go on sale in February for a price of US$500 with a 1 NIKKOR 11-27.5mm f/3.5-5.6 lens, or for $750 which also gets you a 1 NIKKOR 30-110mm f/3.8 – 5.6 VR. Color options include white, black, red, pink and khaki.
The Nikon 1 J3 is a relatively minor upgrade to the J2, and possibly the most interesting thing about it is that it's arrived just five months after its predecessor was launched. Key upgrades include the sensor which now comes in at 14.2 megapixels and the fact Nikon has been able to shave enough of its size to refer to it as the world's smallest interchangeable lens camera (with an image sensor equal to or larger than CX format).
Using the same EXPEED 3A image processing engine and Advanced Hybrid Autofocus system as the S1, the J3 also shares the top burst rates as its little brother. Because it has a bigger buffer, however, it's able to keep going at 15 fps (with autofocus) and 60 fps (fixed-point AF) for longer. At 60 fps it can shoot for 20 frames to the S1's 15. ISO ranges from 160-6400 and Nikon promises quality images even in low light situations.
The J3 also differs from the S1 in its design and construction. Measuring 4.0 x 2.4 x 1.1 inches (101 x 61 x 30 mm) it boasts an aluminum exterior and has a mode wheel on the top to access manual exposure controls (P,S,A,M) and other image modes. While there's no grip like that seen on the V3, the rear three-inch LCD has 921,000 dots for a fine image. Video options are the same as the S1, with HD recording at 1080/60i/30p or 720/60p.
The Nikon 1 J3 will be available in white, black, silver, red, and beige from February for $600 with a 1 NIKKOR 10-30mm f/3.5 – 5.6 VR lens, $850 with the 10-30mm and a 1 NIKKOR 30-110mm f/3.8 – 5.6 VR, or $1,050 with a 1 NIKKOR 10-100mm f/4.0-5.6 VR.
Both the Nikon 1 J3 and Nikon 1 S1 were designed to work with Nikon’s optional WU-1b Wireless Mobile Adapter, which allows users to transfer images to their iOS or Android smart device. WU-1b users also have the ability to remotely take photos with the camera from a smartphone or tablet.
See the stories that matter in your inbox every morning