Nikon 1 J1 pre-production vs. Sony NEX-5N: hands-on

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by studio460, Sep 22, 2011.

  1. 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.
     
  2. Soccer, a sport that has no pattern of where the players go or why. They follow the white ball...
    My guess here: any soccer Mom, from 60 yards away, is not going to be keen that 60% of her shots are crap before she presses the shutter, and the remaining 40% will have small images of someone down the field trying to move that white ball. A decent AF 300mm Nikkor lens, on a D300 or a D700, and a monopod --> will get you decent soccer shots....
     
  3. Jerry, do you play sports? Anyway.
    Sure is a cool concept but awkwardly expensive for what it offers in my opinion.
     
  4. Jerry - try to see some European soccer instead of baseball !
    The system is too expensive now, however in a couple of years, prices may come to an acceptable level for the 'ordinary' photographer.
     
  5. A decent Nikkor AF-S 300 mm on Nikon 1, and a monopod...--> what will you get?
    Or a 200mm lens ?
    would a 100mm AF-S lens on a 2.7 crop sensor be long for sports? It actually could get practical and inexpensive ?
     
  6. 60% of her shots are crap before she presses the shutter, and the remaining 40% will have small images of someone down the field trying to move that white ball.
    I'm not sure how you come to that conclusion. The idea is that when there is a kick you press the button when you see the kick (at which point the ball will be well on the way to the other side of the court. Now, the camera will record the moment before the button press and after, in high temporal resolution and you can choose afterwards which shot has the best composition, focus, and timing. If I understood correctly, the camera will even do this for you or suggest the best shots if you let it so storage is not wasted... Anyway, it sounds like a very useful aid to catching difficult to time moments and I am sure sports photographers will be all over it once the feature migrates into the larger-sensor cameras.
    Think of moments that you cannot predict ... for example the BBC great white shark slow-motion video was shot with this kind of equipment. You press the button when the shark appears and the camera will have recorded it coming from under the water, catching the pray and diving back down. That's with video resolution, and I recall the crew had to wait 15 minutes for the data to be downloaded off the camera so that another shot could be attempted. Now, this little, cheap, camera will let you do that in 10 MP resolution and cough up only a little after the sequence. Not at a toy at all, but a camera that will allow us to play with future technology for action photography.
     
  7. A decent AF 300mm Nikkor lens, on a D300 or a D700, and a monopod --> will get you decent soccer shots....​
    Oh, yeah, I can see the soccer moms lining up to buy that rig... sure...
    ...NOT...
    This new camera IS a good soccer mom choice. I'm not sure of the price, still.
     
  8. at which point the ball will be well on the way to the other side of the court​
    I hate football. I keep hoping that England will get knocked out of football tournaments early, in the hope that something decent will be on the television instead. But I'm still just about a man of my country enough to cringe slightly, and say pitch, not court.

    I agree that a fast burst mode can only be a good thing - after all, I believe professional sports photographers tend to shoot a burst around the time of the ball being struck, and that's one reason why cameras with 8+ fps appeal. That said, last time I took my D700 to Wimbledon, I got pretty good at getting single frames with the ball in contact with the tennis bat. (That one's for Shun.)

    I've no problem with fast video - and I could even use the very high speed modes this camera can support (as an alternative to using one of the Casio compacts with similar functionality). I don't have a problem with taking lots of images to pick one out of the sequence. It's the concept of a few frames of motion with accompanying music being a major feature of the camera that I find dubious - if you want stills, shoot stills; if you want video, shoot video; I just don't see enough 4K televisions appearing any time soon to justify a half-way house.
     
  9. No matter what all of us think of these new cameras, Nikon is doing what any company would do to survive today - aiming its new products at the contemporary market. Personally, I'd rather have seen an intro for a D400, but would that be the best decision in today's economic climate? Probably not. Nikon will sell 50 times as many of these mirrorless cameras as they would have sold new D400s, so let them go for it. Maybe if they sell a lot of these new guys they'll put the profit into developing some new pro and semi pro stuff. I can wait a while; my D200 still delivers a pretty good file.
    Personally, I already own a mirrorless - an Olympus EPL1 with a Panasonic 20 1.7 lens on it. Works great for me and I see no reason to sell that to get a new Nikon, even though I'm a pretty die hard Nikon guy.
    Best of luck to them! I hope they sell a jillion.
     
  10. I appreciate your post but it doesn't really match this other recent post regarding the image quality and overall quickness of the camera.
    http://www.photo.net/nikon-camera-forum/00ZMrn?unified_p=1
     
  11. "but it doesn't really match this other recent post" - and this could continue, until many cameras are in hands of users.
    Use of AF-S Nikkor lenses on this camera is clear advantage for those who already have Nikkors.
    However, the upcomming Sony24 MP NEX-7 is 1.5 crop sensor, much larger sensor physically and in pixel count than the 10 MP Nikon 1 with 2.7 crop. Since 3rd party vendors already provide adapters for Nikkor lenses on Sony's NEX-7, (for now they are for the NEX-5 to be exact). Sony NEX-7 seems clear winned with Nikon 1 competition, at least when comparing on paper.
    Real camera tests and how they both work with Nikkor lenses, will show what is better for Nikkors owners, for the pocket size cameras category. Not so pocket size with Nikkors attached.
     
  12. For me putting an F mount lens w/ adapter on a Nikon 1 defeats the point of having a small camera but if you like it by all means go ahead.
    I have 8 Nikon film and digital SLRs. I've been waiting to see what Nikon did in this area. I don't mind the 2.7X crop but the slow consumer zooms and high price are a big let down. I understand that I'm not the target market which is why I won't say it's crap but it is not the camera for me.
    Today I bought a Sony NEX 3 (on closeout sale) and Leica adapter. I have no interest in putting a Nikkor on this thing (too big) but my Leica glass will finally be getting used again. Sony has actually added substantial features in their firmware updates. More customization for the buttons and the focus peaking looks great.
     
  13. Walt said:
    I appreciate your post but it doesn't really match this other recent post regarding the image quality and overall quickness of the camera.​
    Yes, I read Alex' post, and he apparently came away with a different impression of its overall speed. He was also apparently demo-ing a V1, whereas I was demo-ing a J1 pre-production model. When compared with the Sony NEX-5N, my immediate impression was that the J1 definitely felt "snappier": access to playback, switching modes, AF, etc. I did also shoot in fairly low light, albeit with the f/2.8 lens, and my experience with the J1's auto-focus speed was that it was extremely fast, and appeared accurate. Overall the J1 felt very light on its feet--enough so, that it convinced me to seriously consider the J1 as a near-term personal purchase.
    Perhaps, Alex' pre-production V1 firmware wasn't quite up to "speed?"
     
  14. I tried both the J1 and V1, several copies actually. All of them felt slow to me. The V1's slow switching between LCD and EVF is particularly annoying. Maybe it was the firmware, I dunno. But I also have high standards for speed, so someone else might not be as disappointed. And well, NEX5 is quite slow too IIRC, so if 5N is the same, then perhaps J1 can feel faster in direct comparison...
    But overall, I agree it's really easy to like the J1. It feels right in the hand, even though it's so small and doesn't look very ergonomic on photos. Did anyone else notice that the shape of the J1 body quite matches that of Leica M or CL bodies?
    Yeah, I think Nikon hit the right spot with a 'low end mirrorless camera'. If I'd have 550 € lying around here, I'd have the J1 on order already, despite its bugs. NEX on the other hand clearly targets the 'high end mirrorless', but, it doesn't match the expectations IMHO, especially considering the controls (NEX 7 might be better in this regard).
    I'm just glad to have the new options when I'll be shopping for cameras some day.
     
  15. Alex said:
    I tried both the J1 and V1, several copies actually. All of them felt slow to me. The V1's slow switching between LCD and EVF is particularly annoying. Maybe it was the firmware, I dunno.​
    Yeah, I don't know either. I only was able to demo the J1, so I wasn't able to switch from LCD to EVF. But I was impressed by J1's overall responsiveness.
    But I also have high standards for speed, so someone else might not be as disappointed.​
    I also have little tolerance for slow consumer point-and-shoots. Although I was using the Sony NEX-5N as a baseline for comparison, I also own a D3s.
     
  16. I tried both the J1 and V1, several copies actually. All of them felt slow to me. The V1's slow switching between LCD and EVF is particularly annoying. Maybe it was the firmware, I dunno. But I also have high standards for speed, so someone else might not be as disappointed. And well, NEX5 is quite slow too IIRC, so if 5N is the same, then perhaps J1 can feel faster in direct comparison...​
    From all the demo videos I saw on YouTube, the AF and overall operation of the J/V 1 seems very snappy, and in one video, I even caught a glimpse of the the switching between rear LCD and the EVF, which seems pretty fast to me. I have a D90 and I shoot frequently with the Nikon 17-55/1.8. I also have a GH1 with the 14-140 and many pancake lenses. From what i saw, the 1 seems faster than the GH1, which is among the fastest of the m4/3 system.
     
  17. It's strange indeed. Nobody else reports the same stuff I saw.
    I can only conclude those cameras I demo'd must have been some early samples or something... It's a bummer but at least it means I can only be pleasantly surprised when I check it out again. And since I find the J1 very attractive already, even better.
     
  18. It could simply be a question of earlier firmware which has not been optimized.
     
  19. bms

    bms

    I am still tempted to purchase one when they come out....
    As a side, iamasoccermon.com is still available....
     

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