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Nikon adds new format to interchangeable fray

September 21, 2011: Nikon today revealed a new mirrorless interchangeable lens camera system, ‘Nikon 1’, accompanied by the announcement of two new cameras, the Nikon 1 J1 and the Nikon 1 V1.

The new cameras are scheduled to go on sale next month, but as US availability is slated for October 20, this may well slip into November for local release.

The new cameras are based on yet another new sensor format, dubbed the ‘CX’ format. This is a 1-inch sensor (13.2mm x 8.8mm – the smallest among the competing interchangeables) and gives a 2.7x crop. The first two cameras have 10-megapixel CMOS sensors, with the V1 the higher-end model in the lineup, It features magnesium alloy construction and a 1.4 million dot electronic viewfinder. It has an accessory port for the SB-N5 mini speedlight or GP-N100 GPS unit.

Both the J1 (pictured right) and the V1 (above right) can shoot 1080i video, and can shoot video at 60 fps.
The Nikon 1 J1 is designed for snapshooters and lacks a viewfinder. It comes in high-gloss white, matt black, high-gloss red, silver and hot pink.

Both models come with something Nikon calls ‘pre-post capture’ technology, which enables them to start recording images before you fully press the shutter button, and continue after you’ve clicked.

Nikon has introduced a new Motion Snapshot mode that records a one-second slow-motion movie and a still image simultaneously. Once the shot is recorded, the two images are combined to create a ‘living image’. A new Smart Photo Selector (SPS) mode harnesses the ‘pre-post capture’ technology by recording 20 still images in quick succession. The best shot is instantly displayed on the monitor, and four more are saved for you to choose from. The camera recommends shots based on factors such as facial expression, composition and focus.

A new autofocusing system uses 73 focus points and the sensor will switch between Phase-Detection AF (the default) and Contrast Detect AF according to which best suits the type of subject detected.

Both models support Full HD movie recording using the MOV file format and H.264/MPEG-4 Advanced Video Coding compression. Slow-motion movies can be recorded in VGA size at 240 or 400 frames/second or in QVGA size at 1200 fps. Maximum recording time is up to 20 minutes with the 1080p format and 29 minutes at 720p.

The new cameras will be released along with four lenses. The standard single-lens kit will bundle the camera body with the general-purpose 1 Nikkor VR 10-30mm f3.5-5.6 lens. The Slim Lens Kit replaces it with the 1 Nikkor 10mm f2.8 wide-angle ‘pancake’ lens. Two Double Zoom Kits will be offered, one with the 1 Nikkor VR 10-30mm f3.5-5.6 and 1 Nikkor VR 30-110mm f3.8-5.6 zoom and the other with the 1 Nikkor VR 10-30mm f3.5-5.6 and 1 Nikkor 10mm f2.8 lens.

An adapter allowing the use of Nikon F-mount lenses is in the pipeline.

Nikon is calling this long-awaited take on mirrorless interchangeables ‘Advanced Camera with Interchangeable Lens’, or A-CIL.

While no local pricing has been supplied, to give retailers an idea of where the new cameras will be positioned in the market, the US suggested price for the V1 kit with 10 – 30mm lens is $900.

COMMENT: As the resident grumpy old man of the photo industry, I read the press release below with increasing exasperation – leavened by the odd LOL. This new system seems like an exciting new innovation from Nikon just in time for the summer season (possibly), but the sheer breathlessness and hyperbole of the text renders it virtually unreadable. What’s needed is a straightforward, factual delivery of the features and benefits of the new format and cameras.

Marketing people really need to understand that there is a difference in the purpose of a press release as opposed to advertising copy. Their PR consultants need to have a bit of gumption and push back against this corporate narcissism. Nikon is not Robinson Crusoe here. Old-fashioned, to-the-point ‘who, what, when and where’-type press releases are the exception rather than the rule nowadays. But this 4-page beauty takes the cake. There’s no way I could have rendered this self-indulgent drivel into a readable 400 – 500 word news story in under two hours. (Though for advertisers we go that extra metre!) So the material above is hastily put together with additions courtesy of the knowledgeable and always understandable Margaret Brown, of Photo Review.

As Joe Friday in the old cop series Dragnet used to say, ‘Just the facts, ma’am.’

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