Nikon 1 J4 Review - The Nikon 1 J4 is the latest 1 series addition and arrives with a host of impressive shooting speeds as well as a newly-developed sensor.
The Nikon 1 J4 follows on from the J3 and arrives with a revamped 1in CX format sensor. As a result of the 1 series pedigree, the J4 is capable of delivering some really impressive shooting speeds of up to 20 frames per second at full resolution.
Other improvements include a more refined finish, better battery life and an increased ISO range, on paper at least making the NIkon 1 J4 a thoroughly attractive proposition. In reality whether or not that’s the case it remains to be seen…
Nikon 1 J4 Review – Features
As mentioned in the introduction, the key feature of the Nikon 1 J4 is its performance with regards to speed.
The headline continuous shooting speed of 20fps places it almost in a class of its own, especially when you consider that such a rate is achieved with continuous AF enabled.
If you’re happy to shoot in fixed AF, this continuous shooting rate jumps right up to around 60fps thanks to the camera’s electronic shutter.
The J4 builds on the performance of its predecessor in several areas. One of these is with regards to the camera’s sensor. The J3 features a 14.2MP sensor, whereas the newly developed sensor offers a much higher 18.4MP resolution and as such should capture more detail than its predecessor.
Other improvements include a substantial raise in the ISO sensitivity range to 160-12800, double that of its predecessor, while there’s also the added benefit of a jump in battery life to some 300 images on a single charge.
The J4 is lacking in any kind of viewfinder, although it does benefit from an impressive LCD screen. The rear of the camera houses a 3in, 1,037k-dot LCD touchscreen which is up there with the best in class and offers a great image review surface
Elsewhere the J4 features full Wi-fi connectivity through which you can both wirelessly control the camera as well as transfer images to a smartphone or tablet and utilise creative photo apps in conjunction with the camera.
Nikon 1 J4 Review – Design
The improvements with regards to camera specification are mirrored when it comes to the camera’s design.
Where the J3 could be described as appearing a little clunky in places, the J4 feels a whole lot more refined. The body is notably minimal and will certainly appeal to the style conscious, while it’s also seriously compact and weighing in at just 192g it’s also portable.
There are some issues with such a minimal and style conscious body however. For example, the camera is noticeably lacking in any type of physical controls. On the rear of the camera there’s just a multi-selection wheel along with mode dial, menu, playback, delete and video record buttons.
That being said, the large LCD touchscreen does offer access to a wide range of the camera’s functionality and as such there isn’t a huge amount of buttons you might need.
Particularly welcome is the access to AF point selection through the touch screen, while swipe and pinch-to-zoom functionality is also a bonus.
Something which might present a bit of an issue to some is the lack on any type of handgrip. Instead the camera features just a slight lip as a thumb rest and a smooth front which can prove a bit slippy at times.
Nikon 1 J4 Review – Performance
While the J4 impresses both on paper and in the hand, unfortunately when it comes to the cameras general performance the situation isn’t quite as rosy.
One of the most noticeable disappointments is the shutter. As a by-product of the electronic shutter, it’s really quite difficult to discern whether or not the camera is actually taking any pictures.
The camera features quite a shallow shutter button, and when it’s pressed down the screen itself gives no indication of images being captured and there’s no shot counter meaning you’re never sure if you’ve actually captured an image.
There is the option to leave on an electronic shutter release sound, although this feels more like a quick fix than a genuine solution.
Another issue with regards to shooting with the camera’s various adjustable exposure modes. The shooting modes include Auto, Best Moment Capture and Creative, the latter of which includes manual control settings. However, actually modifying these creative settings is an issue as they’re deep rooted in the various menus.
As a result, it’s often easier to shoot in the camera’s auto setting especially if you’re shooting in situations which demand quick adjustment of camera settings.
It’s perhaps not surprising then that the J4 caters more for the beginner photographer than the advanced shooter, with a signifier of this being the fact that terms such as shutter speed and exposure compensation replaced with more simplistic terms like ‘motion control’ and ‘brightness’.
Nikon 1 J4 Review – Image Quality
One slight disappointment with the camera is its dynamnic range. The model doesn’t retain a great deal of detail in shadow and highlight areas, and this issue is exasperated in particular high contrast scenes.
On the whole the J4’s metering system is fairly reliable, with the camera delivering even exposures in a range of conditions. There is a slight tendency to underexpose, although it’s nothing to really worry about.
Although the J4 does feature a jump in resolution in comparison to its predecessor, the performance of the sensor in this regard is about in line with what you would expect for a camera of this type, keeping at a respectable level throughout the extended ISO range.
Performance at the lower end of the ISO scale is certainly respectable, and right up to ISO 800 you’ll have very little to worry about.
That being said, when you head above this ISO setting images certainly suffer from a loss of detail through aggressive noise reduction, and as such these settings are best avoided.
Nikon 1 J4 Review – Verdict
Despite the impressive headline features found on the J4, it’s certainly got its issues.
To begin with, the issues with the camera’s operation are a pain, while the kit lens is less than impressive and the model really struggles at the higher ISO settings.
That being said, in terms of the shooting speed and AF performance, it’s difficult to find a camera which comes close, while the improvements with regards to design are also welcome.
For that reason, if you’re looking for a speedy and compact body then you could do far worse than the Nikon 1 J4.
Nikon 1 J4 Review – Sample Image Gallery
These are just a small selection of images captured with the Nikon 1 J4. For a wider range visit the Nikon 1 J4 sample image gallery.