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Nikon 1 J2 Compact Camera Review

Nikon 1 J2 with optional 10-100mm f4.0-5.6 lens

With its modern and attractive design, the Nikon 1 J2 mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera brings a minimalistic approach to video creating. This classy compact camera is a great addition to any family outing, cross-country road trip or simple backyard adventure.

With ever increasing video capabilities, many point-and-shoot digital cameras are starting to appeal to the video crowd as well. For a beginner photographer with an added curiosity for video, the Nikon 1 J2 is an enjoyable and easy-operated device.

No need to be confused over the complicated features of a full-fledged DSLR, the Nikon 1 J2 automatically shoots high quality photo and video with just the touch of a button. Many people love these mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras for a number of reasons. They are small, lightweight, and let the user easily switch out lenses for a variety of looks and zooming capabilities.

Out of the Box, Ready to Rock

Tightly rolled in bubble wrap, the beautifully designed Nikon 1 J2 camera body and matching 10-30mm standard zoom lens immediately became the focus of our attention. After quickly popping in the EN-EL20 lithium ion battery and mounting the small lens onto the camera body, we powered on the camera. Right away, a welcome screen appeared followed by clear instructions how to unlock the lens and start using the camera. The Nikon 1 J2 is a favorite camera among beginners for that very reason: it is simply easy to use.

Nikon 1 J2 camera back
With each dial turn or button press, the Nikon 1 J2’s LCD screen displays explanations of the assorted modes to provide a fast and laid-back learning curve. Without even picking up the included user manual, the layout and settings of the camera seem very intuitive and have a second nature feel about them. With no prior instruction or experience with the Nikon 1 J2, we were able to pull it straight out of the box and start taking quality photos and videos within seconds.

Included in the white Nikon box are a battery charger, USB cable and matching strap to secure the camera to a wrist or bag. Alongside those accessories, there’s a multiple language user manual and some editing software included to assist with movie creating and managing images.

Lets Talk Video

While the Nikon 1 J2 is a camera primarily focused on photography, we at Videomaker are going to focus largely on the video capabilities of this camera. Switching the dial to the dedicated video mode, the video record button now enables the camera to record HD video. The Nikon 1 J2 can shoot in full high definition (HD) 1920x1080 in 30p (progressive) frames per second or at 60i (interlaced) with a widescreen aspect ratio of 16:9. On top of the 1080, the camera can also record 60 frames per second at 720p. This mode is perfect for fast moving action shots or for editing a video intosmooth slow-motion. The user manual has detailed explanations of the varied modes and will help in determining which frame rate to use.

Nikon 1 J2 with 10-30mm f3.5-5.6 kit lens
While capturing video, sound recorded through the onboard stereo microphone has surprisingly good audio quality. What’s great for beginners is that the Nikon 1 J2’s user manual gives little notes to aid in the learning process. In addition, most of the features in the video mode default to auto so there is no need to worry about controlling exposure, white balance or shutter speed when you first get going.

One of the features of the Nikon 1 J2 that attracts a lot of attention is the extreme slow-motion video capture mode. Pressing the “F” button on the camera brings up an option to change from HD Movie to Slow Motion mode. In the slow-motion mode, the camera can capture two different speeds: 400 and 1200 frames per second (fps). These frame rates are incredibly fast, the only downside is the resulting frame size is very small. During the slow-motion mode, the Nikon 1 J2 can record up to five seconds. To give you an idea of how slow this actually is, when played back at normal speed five seconds at 400fps turns into a little over one minute, and 1200fps transforms into almost three and a half minutes. The frame size captured during these modes is so small it is distorted quite a bit when enlarged to basic YouTube size. Nevertheless, it is an absolute blast to play around with this special slow-motion feature of the Nikon 1 J2.

An Easy Transition
For the beginning photographer looking to explore the world of video, the Nikon 1 J2 offers a seamless transition … it also is capable of doing both photo and video at the same time! While shooting in video mode, press the shutter button at any time to snap a full quality photo without interrupting the video recording. Nikon takes this a step further with the new Motion Snapshot Mode, a feature that allows the user to record movie highlights of their photographs.

For someone looking to get into video without the hassle of editing software, the Motion Snapshot Mode offers a simple solution. Using this mode is simple: holding the shutter button halfway down the camera begins to buffer. Once pressed fully, the Nikon 1 J2 will capture a moment of video before and after the button press. It will then add background music of your choice and play back the short movie clip in slow-motion. In the setting menu, the user can choose from four different themes, which result in four different background songs of varying moods. What is great about this mode is not only do you get a great snapshot of your special memory; you also get a short 10-second video to remember the moment without any editing work at all. Nothing helps retell a story better than a video.

Photos First, Video Second
Overall we had quite a bit of fun with the Nikon 1 J2. It is lightweight, has a great looking design, and with the mirrorless interchangeable-lens system it opens up a multitude of options for future progression. Although when it comes down to it, this is a photography-focused camera. The video addition is nice, but is lacking because it is not the primary focus of the camera. The Nikon 1 J2 boasts powerful photo features from creative filters to face recognition, and is an excellent transition for any beginning photographer who wants a simple and easy route to capturing video in addition to their photos.

Strengths
• Exceptionally easy to use.
• Small and light, great for travel.
• Capable of fun super slow-motion.

Weaknesses
• Video-specific features are lacking.
• Slow-motion frame sizes are extremely small.
• Poor performance in low light situations.

Summary
The photography focused Nikon 1 J2 is an excellent transition for any beginning creative who wants a simple and easy way to capture video in addition to their photos.

Specifications:
Lens Mount: Nikon 1
Picture Angle: Approx. 2.7x lens focal length (Nikon CX format)
Effective Pixels: 10.1 million (12 million total)
Sensor Size: 13.2mm x 8.8mm
Image Sensor: CMOS CX
Dust-reduction system: Optical anti-dust mechanism
Movie Mode (16:9 aspect ratio)
- 3840 x 2160 (1080/60i)
- 1920 x 1080 (1080/30p)
- 1280 x 720 (720/60p)
Motion Snapshot: 3840 x 2160 (16:9 aspect ratio)
Storage Media: SD

Price: $549.95 (with kit lens)

Nikon, Inc.

www.nikon.com

Stephen Diaz is an independent filmmaker and professional blogger.

Tags:  June 2013
Stephen
Diaz
Fri, 01/18/2013 - 11:00am

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