Is three the magic number for Nikon and their third iteration of the J-series, a 14.2-megapixel compact interchangeable lens model with a few notable improvements over its J1 and J2 predecessors? From all appearances inside and out, this sequel looks like more of the same...but yet proves to be a little bit better.
The first all-white minimalist edition, the Nikon 1 J1, was one of those conversation starting, head turning product designs, eliciting questions from friends and admiring glances from strangers throughout our testing period. Nikon's design philosophy set out to ride the fine line of "less is more", from inside out. But what impresses visually doesn't always quite translate perfectly, and I was left wanting a few of the physical and menu-based features added back.
Which makes this third edition of the Nikon 1 J-series an interesting update: it looks and feels pretty much the same as before. Upon closer inspection, one may notice a few of the exterior controls have been moved around (most importantly the mode selector has been shifted over from the back to the top), while inside is a new 14.2-megapixel CMOS “CX” format sensor and EXPEED 3A image processor, an upgrade from the previous 10.1 megapixel resolution of version 1.0 and 2.0. But this interchangeable lens system camera looks like a refinement, akin to what Apple's iPhone 4s was to the iPhone 4 before it, where the differences are skin deep rather than apparent at quick glance.
- 14.2 CX-format CMOS image sensor
- EXPEED 3A image processor
- 3.0-inch LCD display
- Integrated Flash
- Advanced Hybrid AF (Autofocus) System
- 73-point AF Array
- 80-millisecond Release Time
- 15 frames-per-second continuous shooting with continuous AF
- ISO 160-6400
- Full 1080p HD Video Recording
- Auto Mode
- Creative Mode
- Full Manual Exposure Controls for Stills (P/S/A/M)
- Selective Color
- Night Landscape
- Night Portrait
- Advanced Movie
- Shoot Full HD Video & Stills at the same time
- Full Manual Exposure Controls for Video (P/S/A/M)
- Slow Motion Movies at 400 or 1200 fps
- Motion Snapshot
- Best Moment Capture
- Slow View
- Smart Photo Selector
- In-Camera electronic Vibration Reduction (eVR)
Available in white, black, silver, burgundy, and beige, the Nikon 1 J3's fashionable consumer intentions are clear, while the inclusion of features like Best Moment Capture Mode (which can either convert 1.33 seconds of live action down to 6.66 seconds of looped video with the option to pick out any frame, and also a rapid fire mode which captures 15 shots with a single press of the shutter button with five best photos chosen by the J3 based upon exposure, focus, and facial recognition) and Creative Mode give users an array of fun in-camera processing tools to alter photos (examples above).