Nikon 1 J1 vs. Sony NEX-5N: I happened to visit a pro photo store in Los Angeles today to pick up an MB-D11 for my D7000 for a shoot tomorrow, and saw that Nikon reps had set up a small display area. Oddly, they weren't there to showcase the new Nikon 1 line, and no "new" products were on display. But, when I asked about the new mirrorless cameras, a rep pulled out a white, pre-production Nikon J1 body from his pocket. He also had a white 10mm f/2.8 pancake, and a white 1 Nikkor 10-30mm VR f/3.5-5.6 kit lens. I asked the staff for a demo Sony NEX-5N body and a 16mm f/2.8 pancake, but they only had the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 E-mount kit zoom. Since this was a pre-production model, no photos of the products were allowed to be taken by me. Although this is not an apples-to-apples comparison, here are my first impressions: Nikon J1: Several millimeters thicker than the NEX. Auto-focus seemed wicked-fast. Everything seemed "quick." Although it slipped into my front jeans pocket without much effort, the J1 was bigger than I thought it would be, even with just the pancake mounted. Since I'm not willing to pony up for the $1,149 V1 kit at this point, I held up a Hoodman loupe to the J1's 3" display, and held it in-place with pressure from my eye to substitute for a viewfinder. As I'd hoped, it's actually a pretty nifty way to shoot with these types of cameras. Sony NEX-5N: While noticeably thinner than the Nikon, it seemed "bulkier," mainly due to the body's integrated handgrip. The grip certainly makes holding the camera easier, but it also makes it less "pocketable." Although the NEX' auto-focus was quick, the Nikon was noticeably faster (however I didn't notice if my apertures were matched or not). I wasn't able to demo the optional Sony OLED EVF for the NEX-5N, but as nice as this accessory is, it would tend to add to the camera's overall bulk as well. The result, I imagine, a bit kludgey, if not otherwise excellent, both ergonomically and functionally. General Impressions: While the Sony was no slouch, the Nikon product did seem "zippier" overall. The rep showed me several images from the J1 he had shot recently, displayed on his iPad. The images revealed his very accomplished techique: several beautiful portraits of an attractive girl, and some beautifully shot table-top food photography. The images were gorgeous. My casual conversation with the reps covered target markets, customer expectations, and of course, sensor size. Cleary, DSLR users and expert enthusiasts are not their primary target. As I understand Nikon's target market for this product, they may have hit this particular nail on the head. Soccer moms, mothers of newborns, and even paparazzi could benefit immensely from this small, instant-shooting, fast-focusing, compact camera. Now, successfully communicating these benefits to their potential customers is a whole 'nother trick. Think "Motion Snapshot" is a silly idea? Try it. It's pretty darned cool. The camera basically records at 60fps for a few seconds: 60% of the frames are recorded before you've pressed the shutter release, and 40% of the frames are recorded post-release. It's a pretty neat feature if trying to catch that perfect moment during an infant's fleeting moments of "attractive" expressions, or your kids at play in a school sport. Last night, I was pretty sold on the "APS-C or nothing" approach to selecting a new compact camera for my personal use. Although I've yet to see any studied noise comparisons between a CX imager, and a DX or APS-C imager, I'm sure there will be noticeable differences. But I'm willing to give this new Nikon a shot. Sure, you've got "too much" depth-of-field, a presumably higher noise floor, it's expensive, etc. But it just could be the "perfect" camera for a lot of other kinds of "stuff." Not necessarily for making great "art," but this little camera may well excel at just capturing your "life." Think of it as an incredibly good point-and-shoot, and you may not be too disappointed.