Saturday, September 15, 2012

Nikon J1 – Review Part 1 – The arrival …

I decided to pull the trigger on my compact camera replacement before the compacts have completed their auctions because The Camera Store in Alberta has a smoking good price on the 2 lens kit in black, and because it is in stock I was able to get Henrys to match it. And by an amazing fluke, that actually had one in stock.

D7000 + 85mm 1.8D  3200ISO  f/8  1/250

They also had the FT1 adapter on sale for 50 bucks off, so I added that to the kit. The whole thing came out to double the cost of an advanced compact, and even a bit more than, say, the Fuji X-S1 bridge camera. But the flexibility and capability of this system is far above what you would get with any of those single purpose devices. And yes, I understand that they are all fit for purpose and thus very appealing to many people. Just not to me. Not any more.

Queue reverent preacher voice shouting from the pulpit:

“Because I have seen the light!”
”I have gazed upon the power and the glory of the tiny camera with the interchangeable lens!”

Crowd: Testifyyyy!

You get the picture. I’m sold. Seriously. Today, I held the OM-D in my hands for the first time and was utterly blown away by how tiny it is. And the image quality does match my D7000 … I’m not kidding. This sensor has come a very long way from the 12mp sensor that served the m4/3 crowd so well for so long. But this thing is a revelation. And add to that the amazing abilities of their AF system and you have a serious contender for the dollar.

In fact, the 15 day evaluation period I am embarking on with the J1 is exactly that. I have seriously pondered trading all my Nikon gear in for the Olympus and now I understand why people are shooting this thing.

Anyway … back to the J1, another very fine camera for those of us who understand its place in the world. This thing has a smaller sensor and cannot match the image quality of the OM-D E-M5, but it also has the crop factor of 2.7 and the ability to auto focus the 70-300VR or any AFS lens. So that changes the game considerably, especially for a long shooter like me.

The box came with the usual cast of battery, charger, neck strap, lenses and body. Very compact it all is.

D7000 + 85mm 1.8D  3200Iso  f/8  1/250

So how compact is the J1? Well, up against the Fuji F200EXR, which is pocketable, only the lens makes any real difference. And here it is fully extended for use.

d7000 + 85mm 1.8D  3200iso  f/8  1/250

I thought I’d check how close it could focus and it easily exceeds the ability of a compact camera in basic macro capability. This is a tiny fan with about a 2” wing span that is attached to a 5 dollar keyboard light I grabbed off of eBay. The clarity of my image in the silver plastic hub of the propeller is amazing, especially for 2000 ISO in crappy mixed light.

Nikon J1 + 10-30VR @30mm  2000iso  f/5.6  1/15

I then took it to my light tent to shoot a product-style image of the F200EXR, which was still in there from the image shoot above. Since I had the newer Nikon flashes mounted, I could not trigger them with CLS from the J1 (shame on you Nikon) … I will try that at a later time with the SB26 flashes, which have slave plus delay mode that works on simpler cameras.

Meanwhile, the tent was receiving some light from some old halogens that blast off the ceiling about 10 feet from the tent, and a bit of mild daylight coming in from the from. I had to do massive white balance adjustment and I also dropped the vibrance and saturation a bit to tame stray yellow shadows.

nikon j1 + 10-30VR @30mm  1400iso  f/5.6  1/15

I must say that these lenses appear to be stunningly sharp. I am very pleased so far Smile