Nikon 1 J1 J2 compact mirrorless cameras
I recently sold off some older gear that I no longer use. At the same time I went looking for a smaller camera form factor for my 3D work. I already shoot smaller Lumix GH-2 pairs but sometimes I want smaller than that, and especially to place the lens centers closer together for a narrow interaxial.
I explored a lot of options, starting from thinking I wanted something like the Canon s110 or s120. But after building up a spreadsheet of cameras, camera features, and the features I needed, I ended up picking up some “used” Nikon 1 cameras. (“used” because the J2 was in a factory sealed box, so go figure.) The J1 and the J2 are the same camera, for the most part, except that the J2 has twice the resolution on the LCD back panel. Neither camera has an eye viewfinder (need the V1 or V2 for that). But when I am shooting 3D, I use the back panels almost exclusively so I can look at both cameras at the same time.
I will eventually write up more about the decision process that led to the Nikon 1 system cameras (small size, interchange-able lenses, decent low light performance) versus alternatives. And I will eventually do a write up about their use in 3D. This may be a while so do be patient! I am a huge fan of mirrorless – small, light weight means everything to me. At this point, I would not consider a mirror-based “DSLR” (keep in mind I am primarily a video shooter).
The two still photos, below, were taken with the J2 yesterday. Both were shot in RAW mode and processed in Lightroom. Both photos really used the RAW mode to advantage due to the wide dynamic range of these scenes.
On this hike I shot 3D video using paired Lumix GH-2s, and carried the J2 around my neck for “snap shots”. I am very pleased with the results. Very pleased.
The video tests I have shot with the Nikon 1 more than meet my expectations. Because I am primarily a 3D video shooter, video quality is important to me. When I looked online at Nikon 1 samples, most of what was posted was junk. Junk as in very poorly shot, shaky handheld, whip pans type of video, wrong shutter speeds, etc. I found only one video (hosted on a personal web site, not Youtube or Vimeo or DailyMotion) that was shot properly to show off the camera’s capability.
The main limitation is the stock kit lens – 10-30mm, starting at f/3.5. It’s a slow lens. And the slowest video shutter speed is 1/60th of a second, not 1/30th of a second. That means video night scenes are pushed to ISO 3200. Ick. The solution is to get a fast lens. Nikon sells one, reasonably priced, at f/1.8. It’s also possible to use various fast Super 16mm film camera lenses as the Nikon 1 sensor size is about the same size as the 16mm frame size. There are lots of f/1.2, f/1.3 c-mount lenses that work well. More on that topic another day too!