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Mirrorless News

Date: 02/04/2015 | By: Heather

Nikon announces the new Nikon 1 J5 – Is this camera giant getting serious?


Nikon announces the new Nikon 1 J5 – Is this camera giant getting serious?

This morning, Nikon announced the fifth iteration of its Nikon 1 J-series, the J5. Thankfully, this new camera isn’t simply a minor upgrade from previous models, and will come at a much more reasonable price.

nikon 1 j5 review
Nikon 1 J5

The first point in the Nikon 1 J5’s favour is its new design, complete with a PSAM dial, secondary command dial, and more substantial grip that has been fitted with faux leather for an improved tactile experience. For those fond of the retro look, the camera has been made available not only in pure black and white but also in silver/black, giving it (whether intentionally or not) the appearance of an X series camera.

nikon 1 j5 review
Side view of the J5

In keeping with the current selfie trend, the J5 has been given a tilting touch screen that will rotate 180 degrees. When flipped upward, it activates a selfie mode and face detection. By comparison, the J4 and all its predecessors had a fixed screen. This feature is useful when paired with the J5’s WiFi and NFC connectivity, as you’ll be able to upload selfies in an instant to the web.

nikon 1 j5 review
The rotating screen

The 1-inch sensor has also been upgraded in two ways. First, it now has 20.8 MP of resolution as opposed to 18.4 MP. (It is more than likely the same sensor used in the RX100 III.) Second, it is backside illuminated, which means that it should perform better in low light despite the increased resolution. Like the J-series cameras that came before it, it has a total of 171 contrast-detect and 105 phase-detect points, but manages to take speed and noise reduction to a new level with its brand new Expeed 5A processor. Like on the J4, 20 fps with continuous focus / 60 fps with single focus are possible and the ISO sensitivity goes from 160 to 12800.

A surprising addition is 4K video but unfortunately it can only be used at 15 fps. Full HD, on the other hand, is possible up to 60 fps.

nikon 1 j5 review
Top view

There is little doubt that the Nikon 1 J5 is a formidable competitor for the likes of the RX100 series and the Lumix GM1 and GM5, and will certainly appeal to diehard Nikon DSLR shooters looking for a lighter solution. It isn’t quite as compact as the RX100 series but with the 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens, it is certainly more affordable than the latest iterations at just under $500. It also has the added bonus of an interchangeable mount, though only a couple of the Nikon 1 lenses are as fast as the RX100 lenses or the Micro Four Thirds line-up. Those interested in a camera like this should also remember that the GM1 and GM1 have both a larger 4/3s sensor and a wider selection of lens to choose from.

Are you interested in the Nikon 1 J5? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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About the author: Heather Broster

Heather Broster was born in Canada, has lived in Japan and Italy but currently calls Wales home. She is a full-time gear tester at MirrorLessons. You can follow her on Google+, Twitter or Facebook!

  • David Vandiver
  • AKH

    The fact is that mirrorless cameras will not save the world or photography as such Other than that a Nikon 1 in the right hands can produce stunning results.


    I would love to wait… but… I think we may be waiting for another 5 years or so. Perhaps forever.

  • Mark

    Hi Heather, First off, let me say I am a Nikon professional, and am still using their gear, for nearly 40 years now, so I am not one to mindlessly jump on them like a fanboy from one of the other brands. But there was a time when Nikon was a leader in the industry. Then the slightly more aggressive Canon came along and threw Nikon into an upheaval that they are still having trouble with, to this day.

    “Occasionally testing the waters” didn’t work for passengers on the Titanic, nor is it working for Nikon and Canon here. It’s time for Nikon to JUMP IN WITH FULL AND TOTAL COMMITMENT! Get serious about the market, and act decisively. Remember what happened to Leica, when one of their executives (prior to the current management group) said that they thought “digital photography was just a passing fad.” The phrase “getting caught with one’s pants down” comes to mind.

    This toy-like J-series of cameras may be selling in far eastern markets, but I have yet to see it be considered as a viable solution for any serious photographer in other regions. And don’t get me wrong. I am totally on board with Mirrorless cameras. Look over my shoulder (or in my bag) and you will find a Sony a6000 with various lenses and accessories. It recently has become my go-to rig while on assignment for one of the world’s largest wire services.

    I want Nikon and Canon both to be able to survive. But if they continue to let the others innovate, they will soon be as relevant as such names from the past as Praktica, Miranda and Mamiya-Sekor.

  • autofocused

    Heather, perhaps that’s true. But at one time, buyers used to look at both Nikon and Canon as innovators. But no more.

    Sony, Fuji, Samsung, Panasonic/Leica are all leading the revolution. At some point, Nikon management will hopefully wake up and become truly innovative again. My hope for them is that it not be too late.

  • Michael Gemine

    I’ll keep my Fuji X20 for sure.
    Am I the only Nikon DSLR shooter waiting for a good mirrorless pro grade camera from Nikon ? 😀

  • Heather Broster

    I can’t help but think that both Nikon and Canon are carefully observing the market, letting other companies do the legwork, and occasionally testing the waters with products like the J5. We shall see!

  • Heather Broster

    Where did you find this information, David? It would be a good point to add to the article.

  • David Vandiver

    not compatible Heather :)

  • Michael

    The camera looks ok & seems compact enough to go along with my Nikon DSLR . I went around Europe with a compact , Asia with DSLR & I find it hard to believe that a 1 inch sensor does not produce image quality good enough for most shooters. Yes m4/3 has a larger sensor with more lenses, but Nikon 1 does cover a useful range again enough for many.


    Yeah, at this point, they are probably about 10 steps behind the companies I mentioned above. The only 1 they are keeping pace with is Canon, who is equally sad on the mirrorless front.

  • soundimageplus

    I had two VI’s, lots of lenses and thought this was a system going somewhere. We now have no built-in viewfinder, less powerful battery and specs. very similar to my Panasonic CM1 smartphone. A realistic price at last, but is this better than the smaller m4/3 alternatives? Not for me and a system I thought could be good seems to be going backwards. I still think the V1 is the best camera this system has produced. And as for that pseudo retro look……

  • Heather Broster

    I too would prefer an RX100 (for portability reasons and the fast lens) or a GM5 (built-in EVF and larger sensor with more lens selection). Nikon makes nice enough products but it seems like they are always one step behind when it comes to the mirrorless market.

  • Heather Broster

    It doesn’t have a built-in EVF but I’m sure the one for the V3 is compatible.

  • whensly

    is there a viewfinder or is one available? that is the 1st question. if there is I would be interested in the camera. I loved the V1 but could never jack it above 400 ISO (really 200 ISO) or it fell apart.

    yeah 4k at 15fps is indeed silly


    I think the short answer to your question in the title… Not really. The 4k at 15 fps is a joke, because what is 15 fps really useful for? As for the measly 1 inch sensor, I don’t really understand the point. I’d rather have a smaller rx100 with a fast lens. (Which I do have). Nikon is so afraid of cannibalizing its DSLR sales, it is going to lose long-time DSLR owners who are now seeing the advancements of companies like Sony, Fuji, Panasonic, and Olympus and wondering what happened to our beloved Nikon. Yes the styling is nice, but why no APS-C type camera like the Sony A6000 that would work (even with an adapter) with existing Nikon APS-C glass and keep people in the Nikon system

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