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By 26 July 2012 | Categories: gizmos

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It’s not often that we are surprised by a new gadget, but when we started taking pics with the Nikon J1 there was a moment when we were just amazed. Is the screen at the back really this good? How does it get these accurate light measurements? Why is it so fast? It turned out that a minimal amount of effort on our side was rewarded with maximum results. 
 
Small in stature, not in nature
 
Put the J1 next to Nikon’s D3100 entry-level camera and the size difference is very noticeable. In fact, comparing body size, the J1 is about the same as Canon’s G12 compact camera, just thinner. The trouble is that as soon as you add the lens, the package is not so small anymore, making it difficult to simply put the camera in a jacket pocket (except perhaps with the smaller 10 mm lens). But this interchangeable lens is, of course, one of the main differences between the J1 and its compact competition.
 
Despite its plastic body, the J1 looked extremely stylish thanks to its minimalistic appearance (at least at the front) while also feeling solid in hand. Nikon could have done more for a better ergonomic grip, while the flush buttons on top (power, video, shutter release) should have been more pronounced. The J1 carries for the most part the same functionality as larger entry-level dSLRs, while also making functionality readily available via buttons on the back, although a physical mode dial (for selecting P,S, A, M, Auto) is missing. We also sorely missed a manual focus ring on the lens. 
 
For Nikon owner who already have a number of older lenses available, there is a mount adaptor (FT1) available for the Nikon 1 mount.
 
A solid 460 000 pixels on its 3” LCD screen (although not fold-out as the Sony NEX range) did an excellent job at displaying images and videos – much needed since no optical viewfinder is present on this model.
 

Great images with minimal effort - the Nikon J1 did a lot to impress.
 
V1 or J1?
 
So what are the differences between the J1 and Nikon’s other camera in the 1 range, the more expensive V1? Count in higher pixel density on the back LCD screen, an electronic viewfinder, a magnesium body that’s also bigger in size, a multi-accessory port and a dust reduction system. That said, the J1 comes with a flash, and a very decent one at that, while the sizeable difference in price – R9699 vs. R6800 also needs to be taken into account.
 
If you are looking to progress from a compact system to one with an interchangeable lenses, without struggling with a large device, the Nikon J1 comes highly recommended. It’s compact, very responsive and required very little input to capture great quality images. Visit www.nikon.co.za for more info.
 
Sample images

Here are a few photos captured by Flickr user Vark1 with the Nikon J1.
 
 
   

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