Nikon’s J1 marks the company’s entry into the compact interchangeable lens camera market. Nikon’s J1 is not that much larger than a pointand-shoot, but manages to capture sharp images and focuses and fires faster than many D-SLRs, even though its image sensor and lenses are much smaller. The J1’s included zoom lens covers a 3x zoom range, matching the field of view of the lens included with our Editors’ Choice Sony Alpha NEX-C3. The NEX-C3’s larger sensor packs more pixels and delivers bestin-class low-light performance, but if you are put off by its larger lens—which is closer in size to that bundled with most D-SLRs— the J1 is worth a close look.
The J1 measures 2.4 by 4.2 by 1.2 inches (HWD), and weighs 8.3 ounces without a lens. The included 10-30mm kit lens is collapsible, which helps to conserve some room in your bag. Thanks to the compact optics, J1 is also noticeably smaller than the Nikon J1 Sony NEX-C3, which features a kit lens that is the same size as that of a standard D-SLR.
The J1 is a compact speed demon. Although it is hindered by a just-ok 1.8-second start-up speed, autofocus speed is excellent; the camera is able to lock onto a subject in about three-tenths of a second. Shutter lag is virtually non-existent; we measured it at 0.04 second when the lens was pre-focused.
Nikon’s J1 is a very good choice if you are looking for a compact camera that delivers D-SLR-level performance. It offers a manual shooting mode that will satisfy serious photographers, and its burst-shooting capability and Smart Photo Selector mode make it possible for almost anyone to capture the perfect shot. But some shooters may feel limited by its fixed rear LCD and lack of a hot shoe or accessory port, which makes it impossible to use an EVF or a better flash. The same-priced Sony Alpha NEX-C3 offers a larger image sensor, an accessory port, and a tilting LCD.
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