Sunday, 18 November 2012

Review: Nikon 1 J2


Nikon refreshes its entry-level camera for beginners.
LESS than a year ago the Japanese ­manufacturer launched its range of Nikon 1 mirrorless cameras and now it has refreshed the entry-level J1 model with the J2.
Considering the fast turnaround time, the J2 is more of an incremental upgrade rather than a complete overhaul of the previous model. But even so, the J2 is not without a number of improvements.
Do these improvements warrant J1 users upgrading to the new camera? Let's find out.
Design
The J2 retains the aesthetics of its ­predecessor though it now comes in several colour variations (including red, pink and orange), and the cameras have matching coloured lens bodies.
Our review unit was in striking orange and the bright colour certainly drew stares everywhere we went with the camera. On the plus side, it's not easy to misplace, but it does stand out.
If you don't fancy being a beacon, Nikon offers the J2 in classic black, silver or white.
For the most part, the camera has a minimalist design, with flat buttons on top and a single mode dial on the back. The fixed angle 3in LCD screen on the back has a higher resolution than that on the J1,
There is no electronic viewfinder. Its absence may make it more ­challenging to shoot pictures while outdoors.
SWAP IT: Different situations call for different lenses, fortunately the Nikon has a range of Nikkor 1 lenses to choose from.SWAP IT: Different situations call for different lenses, fortunately the Nikon has a range of Nikkor 1 lenses to choose from.
Also, there is no accessory port for an external flash.
The J2 also lacks a grip on the body, but the camera still feels natural in hand and the rear thumb-rest helps users maintain a steady grip.
We also liked that the camera has two methods to switch it on and off. There's a regular on/off button on the top but if you are using a Nikon 1 lens that is retractable, you can switch the camera on by simply twisting the lens barrel to extend the lens.
The camera's near instant-on status makes it great for grabbing snapshots.
The J2, like the J1, has a pop-out, built-in flash that sits on the top-left corner of the camera body.
Performance
Nikon's J2 uses a 10.1-megapixel CX format sensor like with the J1, giving mounted lenses a 2.7x focal length magnification. This makes the bundled 10-30mm kit lens a 27-81mm focal length in 35mm format.
The lens has Vibration Reduction technology to prevent shaky ­handheld shots when using the zoom feature.
USEFUL BUTTON: The Nikkor 1 kit lens has a handy button on the side that not only retracts the lens to make it more compact but also turns the camera on when you twist to extend it.USEFUL BUTTON: The Nikkor 1 kit lens has a handy button on the side that not only retracts the lens to make it more compact but also turns the camera on when you twist to extend it.
Although the Nikon 1's range of lenses is comparatively small in comparison with other mirrorless systems, you can easily expand the range with regular Nikon DSLR lenses via an optional adaptor.
The J2 retains the J1's hybrid autofocus system that uses both phase and contrast detection, alternating between the two depending on the situation. Autofocus with phase detection is generally quicker, whereas contrast detection yields more accurate results.
Nikon's new camera, however, has a slight problem when focusing in low light because the autofocus will often not get an accurate lock on your subject in such conditions.
Pictures were generally sharp and quite detailed when we took to shooting outdoors on a bright sunny day. Colour reproduction was accurate and skintones came out natural.
Image saturation was initially muted, though this was easily fixed with a quick adjustment of the Vivid settings on-camera.
Under very contrasty lighting - harsh light and shadows - the J2's Dynamic Lighting options really helped save the day from what would otherwise have been overexposed or underexposed images with a lesser camera.
A high ISO sensitivity range is available on the J2. The ­camera managed to keep noise to a ­minimum, with noise only being visible at ISO 3,200.
If you are into night photography, you are in luck because the J2 can keep its shutter open for up to 30 seconds, and even has the Bulb setting for longer exposures.
BATTERIES GO HERE: Just pop open the bottom latch to insert the camera's battery and SD card for storing pictures.BATTERIES GO HERE: Just pop open the bottom latch to insert the camera's battery and SD card for storing pictures.
The J2 may not have a dedicated macro mode like on some compact cameras, but the 10-30mm kit lens is a decent performer when taking close-up photos.
We also liked the camera's fast continuous shooting rate, thanks to its electronic shutter. The J2 can shoot at an insane 60fps (frames per second), and you can dial that down to 30fps or 15fps. This is handy for sports photographers.
There's also Full HD video recording with stereo sound, so you are good to go if you need to shoot videos with the J2. There are special shooting modes, like slow-motion video and motion snapshot. J1 users have these features as well.
Conclusion
We think the J2 is more of an evolutionary step-up rather than revolutionary. Apart from the improved screen and additional colours, not much has changed on the J2 from the J1.
This incremental upgrade will likely not attract those who already have Nikon's entry-level mirrorless camera, considering that the J2 does not feature any exciting new features or offer significant new capabilities from the previous model.
However, the J2 has two key features - a fast autofocus and fast burst-shooting speeds - that may appeal to some. It's a shame the autofocus has some issues in low light conditions, though.
And really, an electronic viewfinder would have been good to have. Ditto with the external flash hotshoe.
All in all, the J2 is neat for those looking to upgrade from a compact camera, and serves as a good introduction to the world of interchangeable lenses.
Pros: Compact and lightweight; fast burst-shooting speeds; good low-light performance overall.
Cons: Autofocus has trouble in low-light conditions; no electronic viewfinder; no accessory port for external flash.
Nikon 1 J2
(Nikon)
Mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera
SENSOR: 10.1-megapixels CMOS
VIEWFINDER: 3in LCD (921,000-dots)
SHUTTER SPEED: 1/16,000sec -30sec (electronic)
ISO RANGE: 100 to 3,200
SHOOTING MODES: Still Image (PASM modes located within menu), Smart Photo selector, Movie, Motion Snapshot
VIDEO MODE: Full HD at 60i/30 fps for MOV; 640 x 240-pixels at 400fps or 320 x 120-pixels at 1,200fps for slow motion videos
BATTERY: Lithium-ion EN-EL20
STORAGE: SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card
INTERFACE: USB 2.0, HDMI
DIMENSIONS (W x H x D): 106 x 61 x 29.8mm
WEIGHT: 280g
WEBSITE: www.nikon.com.my
PRICE: RM2,118 (with 10-30mm kit); RM2,718 (with 10-30mm and 30-110mm kit)
RATING: 3 stars
Review unit courtesy of Nikon (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, (03) 7809-3688
- Chong Jinn Xiung (The Star)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
    thank you :)

    ReplyDelete