Nikon’s debut compact system camera boasts a long list of world
firsts, fastests and bests. But it isn’t without controversy

Product Overview

Overall rating:


Nikon J1

Overall score:87%
Image Quality:95%


  • Small size, Build quality, Impressive image quality at most settings


  • Poor battery life, Manual controls buried, Some missing features


Nikon J1 Review


Price as reviewed:


Nikon J1 Review – Image Quality

Colour and Exposure

The Nikon J1 rarely puts a foot wrong with its exposures, even with tricky situations like backlighting, only occasionally being tempted to overexposure by a dark background. The Auto White Balance generally works very well – better than some of the pre-sets – though the myriad different hues that artificial light comes in did sometimes throw the J1 off balance.

Sharpness and Detail

One problem with the J1’s smaller sensor is that it’s very difficult to achieve shallow depth of field compared with CSC models that have larger sensors. That aside, both Raw and JPEG images from the J1 look sharp and detailed with none of the heavy-handed sharpening at the processing stage that some cameras apply to compensate for deficiencies in the lens or the sensor.

Of the three lenses used in this test, the 10mm pancake appears to be the best in terms of sharpness and distortion. While the 10-30mm and 30-110mm both display some barrel distortion at the wideangle end it’s within expected tolerances.

ISO Quality

Considering the small size of the Nikon 1 sensor the J1 does a commendable job of keeping noise under control. At up to ISO 800 it’s barely noticeable in real-world images, and even though it becomes more visible at ISO 1600 it isn’t really obtrusive.

At ISO 3200 chroma noise penetrates the shadow areas adversely affecting the colour, but images are still quite usable. The extended ISO 6400 position though is best kept for emergencies.

  1. 1. Nikon J1 Review - Features
  2. 2. Nikon J1 Review - Design and Performance
  3. 3. Nikon J1 Review - Image Quality
  4. 4. Nikon J1 Review - Value and Verdict
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