Surprise! Mighty giant Nikon has landed with fanfare in the mirrorless market pioneered by Olympus and Panasonic and Micro 4/3. As expected, Nikon opted to create its own proprietary system rather than join the Micro 4/3 standard*.
The new system is called "Nikon 1" and initially consists of two cameras, four lenses, and many accesories, including an F-lens-to-Nikon-1 adaptor.
Nikon V1. Bigger picture here.
Surprise! The sensor size Nikon has chosen is considerably smaller than 4/3 and Micro 4/3 (13.2x8.8mm vs. 18x13.5mm). Doubtless to differentiate it clearly and cleanly from Nikon's popular and profitable APS-C-sensor DSLRs.
...No, seriously, that one really is a surprise. I didn't see it coming, anyway. (I don't pay enough attention to rumor sites, I guess**.) Nikon is calling it the CX format, and it has a focal length multiplier of 2.7x, vs. (of course) 2x for Micro 4/3 and 1.5x and 1.6x for APS-C.
Surprise! The new camera type has a new "class" name, at least according to Nikon's dictates/wishes: ACIL, which stands for "Advanced Camera [with] Interchangeable Lens." Okay, we'll be the judge of that, thanks—"Nikon mirrorless" 'twill also be, fer now. (Can't blame them for wanting to sidestep the term "EVIL," though.)
No surprise that the better of the two new cameras, the V1, has a built-in 1,440,000-dot EVF viewfinder. Smart move. There's a smaller viewfinderless version called the J1, which is available in overtly female-consumer targeted colors (white, red, pink, etc.). The V1 is just black or white for now. Both cameras have 10.1-MP CMOS sensors.
Nikon of course makes several other claims for the new Nikon 1 System in the basic press release, including fast AF, 10 fps, i-TTL flash, and full HD 1080p movies. Here's the scoop on the lenses.
Prices: not cheap—$650 for the J1 and $900 for the V1. That's in a kit with the standard 10–30mm ƒ/3.5–5.6 normal zoom lens (lessee, that's 27–81mm equivalent, right? I hope I'm not gonna have to do a lot of that. Multiplying things on the fly by 2.7 might prove to exceed the processing capacity of the onboard computer).
So what do you think? Overall I think I really am kinda surprised, given that this looks strongly targeted more at the consumer end of the market and I see Nikon as being basically stronger at the pro /advanced amateur end of things. The Nikon 1 System heads in the opposite direction from Sony's NEX, for one thing, with its much larger APS-C sensor. ("Opposite direction" relative to Micro 4/3, I mean. Which I still think hits the sweet spot for mirrorless bang on.) Too early to make this judgment, I guess, but the new Nikons maybe seem a little more targeted or tailored to a predetermined place in Nikon's existing product lineup than to being the best cameras of their kind they can be—?
For more, see dpreview.com, Imaging-Resource, and Nikon's own presentations. Thom Hogan has two articles, "Meet the One" and "Reaction to Reactions" that provide unique analysis going far beyond rehashes of the press release. Strobist has given it a double facepalm.
In stores October 20th.
*I'm a little grumpy about this. Ignore me, I'll get over it. It wasn't going to happen.
**Rumors, nothin'. I need to pay more attention to Thom. He (accurately) predicted this back on July 25th, writing, "Nikon's upcoming mirrorless camera is rumored to be a 2.7x crop...Do I believe that rumor? Basically. I'm not sure if the exact final measurement is 2.6x or 2.7x or 2.8x, but I'm pretty sure it's in that range. Yet I'm seeing a lot of people just dismiss that notion out of hand." Thanks to Bernard Scharp for pointing this out to me.
Note: Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site. More...
Original contents copyright 2011 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by K. Harrington: "I'm reading on various photo sites about the sensor being to small, but to me the example images look pretty good."
Featured Comment by Daniel Owen: "The V1 camera looks great but the photo sample is disappointing. I see purple fringing and blown out highlights in the wave on the bottom right and look at the smudgy noise reduction on the grass on the mid left...."
Featured Comment by Harrison Cronbi: "Mild to medium disappointment is my sentiment. The cameras look like a cross between something from the Samsung NX series and the Pentax Q series, but with an elevated paint-by-numbers quotient. And the launch lens choice is a bit of a joke—slow, chunky zooms. I can't think of a good reason to buy into this system over any of the other choices right now.
"I'm sure it will do fine, fitting into the one boom sector in the digicam spectrum, but it's certainly no Micro Four-Thirds killer. And it's quite annoying to think of all the R&D devoted to this system that could have been spent on more pro-targeted equipment. Oh well.
"As for 'an F-lens-to-Nikon-1 adaptor'...On a 2.7x crop? Yay, I'll be able to pick up a cheap Nikon 13mm ƒ/5.6 (look it up) and use that as a nice compact classy 35mm-equivalent.
"Starting from scratch, with a large fanbase and proven technical and optical excellence, Nikon had a massive opportunity to create a real photographer's camera—valuing ergonomics, build quality, optical quality and manual control. Instead they've come up with a real management consultant's camera—ticks boxes, panders to trends, attracts demographics and looks friendly."
Featured [partial] Comment by Andrew: "As a design engineer I hate it when marketing trumps engineering—but it does, most of the time." [Read the rest of Andrew's comment—and any other "partial" comment you see here—in the Comments Section. —Ed.]
Featured [partial] Comment by Erlik: "What irritates me: Dear Nikon, couldn't you have spared us the marketing hyperbole? This is not revolutionary." [Ben also comments about this in the Comments Section, giving specifics. —Ed.]
Featured Comment by Chris Crowe: "Looks nice, but tiny sensor and a price that overlaps with the bottom two DSLR models. That doesn't make sense to me."
Featured [partial] Comment by Dennis: "I'm dismissing it out of hand (personally, for me only), not for its sensor size (it could provide an interesting compromise between size and performance), but for the slow lenses. An ƒ/2.8 pancake and ƒ/5.6 zooms on a 2.7x crop sensor are just very slow lenses."
Featured Comment by pepeye: "It seems fairly obvious that Nikon has tried very hard not to create a product that any potential buyer would chose over one of their conventional DSLRs. The classic 'protect our cash cow' mistake. They've ceded the market for the DSLR alternative cameras to everyone else while eliminating the 'let's see what Nikon's going to do' question that might have caused hesitation for some looking at Olympus, etc.
"Only the Pentax Q will seriously get hurt by this system."
Featured [partial] Comment by sneye: "Today may be remembered as the beginning of the end of the SLR era."
Featured Comment by Ed Hawco: "Ewww! Is that a production model? It looks like something chopped out of a block of wood."
Featured Comment by Ken White: "Nice and clean layout. If nothing else, the EVF will make the upscale model a popular choice. The 10-MP sensor seems right for the chip size to give good performance. Hope it handles and shoots well."
Featured Comment by Christer: "Looks like the digital viewfinder isn't articulate. Thus a no go for me."
Featured Comment by Jae Yoon: "This camera isn't for people who read this blog. If you look at Nikon's home market and where MFT and even NEX is winning, it's essentially for women who are looking for something better than a Canon SDxxxx Powershot. If you're in Japan or much of east Asia, it's mostly women carrying a GF2 or Oly around who aren't Alt Gear photographers but are enthusiasts. Why do you think Olympus and Panasonic release those cameras in feminine colors?"
Featured Comment by Thom Hogan of ByThom.com: "Someone already pointed out to me that I seem to be the only Nikon user that's not grumpy this morning. Perhaps knowing what this was before it was announced helped me be calmer ;~).
"The only eye-raiser in my mind is the price: it's too high and not sustainable. I predict we'll see Instant Rebates on this in the US before Christmas.
"Other than that, it's a very nice step up from any Coolpix. Indeed, it ought to be the top of the Coolpix line, IMHO. That Nikon thinks they have the marketing muscle to distinguish three lines of cameras is, well, self-delusion. (Technically, four lines of cameras if you separate DX and FX.) And dealers are already complaining about the zillions of stocking units on this new system (colors for everything).
"Bottom line: Nikon 1 isn't going to revolutionize the camera market, but it'll make a decent addition to the Nikon lineup."
Mike replies: I don't know. I keep thinking of the word "Pronea" for some reason. :-)
Featured Comment by Ciaran: "From the Nikon site: 'Nikon 1 J1 for the freedom to capture, communicate and connect to life. Bring quality, depth and passion to visual storytelling and spark conversations through photos, movies and multimedia.'
"Fine prose, but just another camera. When will someone give us a compact camera that can really 'communicate and connect,' as in connect and communicate to the internet?
"A camera with the Nikon 1 optics and sensors, coupled with a large touch screen, WiFi and 3G, and the Android or iOS operating system that could run all the social media, photosharing, and blogging apps would be a game changer. Meanwhile many of us are using our Androids or iPhones to 'communicate and connect,' despite the limited cameras in these gadgets.
"If Apple were to make an iCamera, they would put these Japanese camera companies out of business in the consumer sector."
Featured [partial] Comment by Ken S: "[Nikon] are about to give Canon a ton of free market research."
Featured Comment by Manish Bansal: "I think I'll buy a few units. This is going to be a collectible item soon."