Nikon 1 V1 & J1

Nikon announced its compact systems with interchangeable lenses, under the new sub-brand name Nikon 1.

This post is about why you should not buy them, or any other mirrorless system.

Many of us were expecting the D800 and D4 announcements but I guess Nikon as to go where the money is, especially after the X100 success in the field expensive compacts (and I'm guessing much bigger margin).

Beyond my impatience and disappointment - I really can't take the wait for a D800 - let's have a look into those 2 "cameras".

Are you for real?

Yes I put it between quotation marks, because as I will demonstrate it, I don't believe the Nikon J1 and V1 are proper cameras, as any other interchangeable lens compact nowadays. As I read it on a site, "the quality of compact with the price tag of an SLR".

Why is that? As always, figuring out what the right product is for you comes from clearly identifying a photographer's need.

  • You are a total amateur, that is to say cameras are just for party pictures, shooting the kid's first time on a bike, etc. The point and shoot photographer who is just into capturing moment, as he would do with his smartphone, but with greater image quality. That photographer, the one who cares about price, portability and versatility, should be looking for a compact camera indeed. SLR systems cost a lot more money, for no better results unless you have the skills or training to make the most of it. 
  • The photo enthousiast amateur, that is to say, the person who'll intentionally go somewhere or do something with the main purpose of taking pictures. This person might not have the financial commitment of a pro, and will buy a DSLR: it is versatile, multi purpose, and rather cost efficient since the camera is all you need (no scanner, no film etc). You can get a brilliant DSLR system such as the Nikon D7000 with a decent zoom and a good prime lens for 1300$. That person will not be satisfied with a compact size sensor, size he wont be able to shoot low light, play with depth of field, etc.

  • The hardcore amateur with more financial means or the pro: that individual will look into pulling a few great shots, and will use the best available equipement for each purpose. That is to say: medium format for portrait, maybe large format for landscape, and 35mm full frame SLR for sport, wildlife or action. This person is aware that sensor / film size is key, and will prefer carrying 15 pounds or gear rather that shoot a compact and never look at the picture twice because it's not up to his expectations.
The Pentax 67II, a terrific medium format camera for portrait.

So where do those compact mirrorless cameras fit in?

They correspond to nothing at all that makes sense photography wise. Their sensor is far too small to allow anything more that what a compact does, however they cost as much as a Canon 600D or Nikon D7000 (body only). Lenses around 300$ for this? Come on !!! A Mamiya lense for a 6x7 system (a Rolls Royce compared to this) cost 250$ on the second hand market in mint condition !

Why would anyone spend 1000-1200$ on a system that has both the disadvantages of compact and SLR? I know marketers claims it aggregates both benefits, but that is plain bullshit: you get the picture quality a small sensor can give you, that is to say rubbish, but you still need to pay the price for the camera, lenses, as for a DLSR. Get a proper compact, please, like a Canon S95 or S100, a Fuji X10. Those are as good as it gets on a compact, they are small, and they cost what they should.

Now I'm a Nikoner, because historically they produced so many great film and digital SLRs. My lenses work on all my cameras, and many of them still are or were the best in their field (I own a FE, F5, D80). 
Yes I know Nikon has to make money and can only surf the wave of a need that has been created by electronics manufacturers, get their market share. Ok. But still, you are Nikon, do it well ! 

They could have made the first actually interesting compact mirroless camera, if they had used a DSLR size sensor, at least, or even a full frame sensor !!! It would be expensive? Yes and so what? People pay 1200$ for a premium compact? WOW, they would pay for it anyway !!! That would beat Fuji and its X100 (the only sense making compact for a pro, and it pays off commercially). A compact full frame that work with small lenses and Nikon SLR lenses? Even I would buy that ! It would be great for PR, position Nikon as "the real thing for true photographers" or whatever marketing can think of.

Now if size really, really matters, go for the Fuji X100. It has a SLR size sensor, and a great lens. Not cheap, not flawless, but a photographer can pull terrific shots with that already.

The final word: 
Both the J1 and V1 are likely to have pretty lenses and built quality. They will shot ok for a compact, but don't buy them. It you read until here, you care about photography. Those have been created to sell to uneducated people who'll pick it because "you can have it in pink !". For those people there is now "Nikon 1." 
Do yourself a favor : pick your fight. You want to point or commit to that hobby? If you fall into the second category, get yourself an SLR. Please. Even if it's digital I will forgive you, at least it will make sense :)
For you, there is still Nikon.

Compare, this 35yo 90$ camera will allow you to shoot...(see below)

That kind of pictures:

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