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Date: 08/01/2013 | By: Mathieu

CES 2013: thoughts about the new Nikon 1 cameras


CES 2013: thoughts about the new Nikon 1 cameras

Despite its highly-criticized small sensor, the Nikon 1 camera series has proved itself a worthy contender in the mirrorless camera market. The success of the J version further reinforces that Nikon made a wise choice in choosing a small sensor, even though they managed to attract fewer professionals than other brands.

As I see it, Nikon has tried to differentiate itself from the competition by introducing a system based more on functionality than on overall quality image or professional appearance. Nikon 1s are fun to use, and that’s probably what matters the most.

This said, with the V2, Nikon listened to its customers. It added many features that users asked for, and most of them were related to more professionals needs – a wise choice, as doing so accentuated the difference between the amateur-friendly J2 and the more advanced V2 models.

But now, only a few months after the release of the J2, Nikon has already announced a J3 as well as a third model, the S1, which is somehow supposed to be the entry-level exemplary for the 1 system. So, now we have three models and a half: the S1, J3, V2 and J2, which is only a few months old.

The differences between the two new models can be counted on one hand:

  • 10.1 megapixels (S1) vs 14.2 megapixels (J3)
  • Slight difference in ISO sentivity: 100 (S1) vs. 160 (J3) ISO minimum, both go up to 6400
  • Slight difference in body design
  • $100 difference in price, the S1 starting at $499.95 and the J3 at $599.95
  • The kit lenses are also different: 10-30mm for the J3, the 11-27mm for the S1

Otherwise, they share the same EXPEED 3A image processor, the same 15fps continuous shooting that bring them to the same level of the V2 in terms of speed, and 73 points AF. They also have a release time of 80 milliseconds, which is fast!

So, where is the “but” in all this? Well, as much as I love seeing new Nikon products pop up on the market, I can’t help but ask myself why the brand first tried to extend the gap between the J and V products, only to close it again by introducing a “third wheel” to the mix? Do we really need an S1, J2, J3 and V2?

The S1 is practically the mirror image (pun intended) of the J3, save the megapixels, so I ask – is it enough to justify a new product? It sounds more like a commercial choice to me. However, I’m sure that Nikon knows exactly what it is doing and I still find the 1 system specs very interesting. I merely think that it would be easier to choose between two models rather than three and a half.

In addition, we have also two new lenses:

  • the 6.7-13mm (18mm to 35mm full frame equivalent)
  • the 10-100mm, which is the widest range for a zoom in the 1 system (27mm to 270mm full frame equivalent)

Sadly, no more fast aperture lenses for now.

Finally, Nikon also introduced an underwater camera case for the 1 series, the WP-N2, which is a tad expensive (more than 700$).

All these new products will be available as of February 2013.

Click here to read the Nikon official presse release

About the author: Mathieu Gasquet

Mathieu Gasquet is a professional photographer with French and Italian origins. Besides running his own video and photography studio 3Dit Lab, he is also the official photographer for the National Cinema Museum in Turin. You can follow him on Google+, Twitter or Facebook!

  • Akvinat

    S1 has an advantage over other 1 series cameras – no mode dial. Very important for pocket camera. Nothing to bump by accident. Lockable mode dial is OK too, but it is reserved for bigger cameras.
    Another advantage – all plastic construction (with metal lens mount) – feels much better in -20C than metal cameras.
    It doesn’t hurt that S1 was $150 on closeout sale – cheaper than most compacts.

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