Nikon Mirrorless J1 Digital Camera Review$649.99
Speed and Timing
While Nikon hasn't traditionally been a speed-obsessed company when it came to their compact cameras, the J1 offers a serious dose for the velocity-starved. The J1 utilizes an electronic shutter that is capable of firing at a rate of 5, 10, 30, and even 60 frames per second, at full resolution. The only hitch is that the camera can not continuously autofocus faster than 5 frames per second. The J1 also includes an interval timer option in the menu, with options for taking up to 999 shots at an interval of up to 24 hours between shots.
The J1 offers single shot, continuous, and electronic hi-speed drive modes, all available through the menu. there's no dedicated drive/burst mode button, though the "F" button next to the zoom in/out control level often allows direct access to this when shooting stills. The continuous mode fires at the aforementioned 5.21fps. Shooting faster requires specifically switching to the electronic hi-speed burst, though this will eliminate many menu options such as focus modes and interval shooting.
We found that the J1 was of its word, though we had trouble getting it to fire at faster than 40 frames per second, even when it was set to fire at 60fps. When in continuous autofocus though, we found that Nikon actually underestimated their 5fps claim, as we were able to squeeze 5.21fps out of the J1 in successive attempts.
Setting the self-timer on the J1 is very easy, as it has a dedicated self-timer button on the four-way control pad, with options for 2, 5, and 10-second delays. There's also a quick-release remote and a remote control delay option. The interval shooting option can only be selected through the menu and isn't available via this button.
The hybrid phase/contrast autofocus on the J1 and V1 is one of the hallmark features called out by Nikon when the camera was announced. The focus is very fast, able to lock onto a desired subject right away. We didn't notice much of a difference using the J1 compared to even the Olympus E-P3, though the J1 did perhaps hunt a little more in average lighting conditions. One area the J1 trounced the E-P3 was in low light, however, as the AF illuminator on the J1, while green and a bit distracting, was very effective in producing an accurately focused picture in low light.
While there isn't much in the way of peaking that we were able to tell, the J1 does provide a digital zoom to assist in manual focusing. This is good, because if the current crop of lenses is any indication, there won't be many lenses with a manual focus option. Of the three lenses we were provided, none offered manual focus by hand, requiring you to use the camera's zoom in/out lever to adjust focus manually. It's a functional solution, but the tactile control of manually adjusting focus with the lens is missed.