Friday, October 25, 2013

Nikon 1 camera shows big improvement from J1 to J3

<Nikon D5300 Black Friday Dealp>When Nikon first introduced their Nikon 1 J1 camera a couple of years ago, their TV ad campaign with Ashton Kutcher getting fired out of a canon among other things, I thought two things.

First I liked seeing him get shot out of a canon and second, the Nikon 1 J1 looked like a really cool new kind of camera from Nikon. The commercial nicely shows some of the nice features of the J1 in a short 30-second bit, and it's one that I'm sure a lot of people remember.

With a 10.1-megapixel image sensor and five frames per second continuous shooting speed it handled continuous shooting easily. Full 1920 x 1080 HD video recording made creating great HD videos as simple as pushing a button.

I used a J1 while on holidays recently and found it to be easy to use, nicely sized to both carry in a backpack and in a pocket, and I got some great images as reminders of a fantastic holiday.

The New Nikon 1 J3 takes all the good bits from the original J1 and amps them up considerably, so it's a lot more camera for your buck. A little smaller and lighter than the J1, the improved feature set on the J3 makes this a camera well worth having a look at if you're in the market for a small format camera and want Nikon quality.

Where the J1 was 106mm W x 61mm H x 29.8mm D, and weighs 234 grams, the new J3 is 101mm W x 60.5 mm H x 28.8mm D and weighs just 201 grams. Both cameras use the 13.2mm CX sensor and have a 3" TFT-LCD monitor on the back for you to compose and look at your photos. The J1's monitor has a resolution of 460,000 dpi, while the J3 offers a lot better clarity with 921,000 dpi.

The J3, has a 14.2 megapixel sensor however, and it'll fire of a whopping 15 frames per second. It shoots the same 1920 x 1080 HD video and comes with the same five picture control settings: Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait and Landscape, and both offer user customizable settings.

The problem I had with the J1 was that my test version only came with the basic lens; the J3 came with a much nicer 10-100mm lens that offers a 10x zoom. I really like the size of the Nikon 1 J3, and it weighs enough that it has a nice comfortable feel when you're using it.

The 10-100mm lens offers lots of options for the user and adds enough bulk so it's very easy to get a nice stable platform to shoot photos from. I've got big hands, so the addition of the larger lens made using the J3 very comfortable for me as opposed to the J1 with the basic lens, which I found a little small.

The pop-up flash is totally out of the way until you need it, and the different modes of shooting are very user friendly and easy to understand.

The Nikon 1 J3 offers ISO settings from 160-1600, which enables users to have a tremendous amount of flexibility when shooting in al different sorts of lighting conditions.

My only complaint is that multifocal glasses are a pain when it comes to using point and shoot cameras. I end up looking at the monitor to compose a shot with the camera held out in front of my face and my head tilted back at an uncomfortable angle. In bright light I find myself unable to read the monitor so I've taken some shots that might make someone think I was loaded when I took them.

So, for me, it'd make the J3 a great little camera if a viewfinder were incorporated. It'd also be nice to have the ability to geotag photos. Geotagging is the process of applying geographical information to a photo, like longitude and latitude, so you know exactly where a photo was taken. After I go on a big trip I like to create a book of the pictures I took, and having my photos geotagged lets me add a map of where I went and what pictures I took when I was there.

I had a ton of fun with both the Nikon 1 J1 and J3, and I think the improvements made between the J1 and J3 make the new Nikon 1 J3 a great fit for someone looking for a point and shoot with tremendous versatility. I'd also add the optional Wi-Fi module to the package because of the flexibility that offers, and one thing that I'd like in a camera

PROS: Nikon 1 J3 is a big improvement on the J1; faster; lighter; smaller; a blinding 15 fps continuous shooting speed.

CONS: No viewfinder; No Wi-Fi connectivity without buying accessory; pricey at nearly $700 with taxes in; no touchscreen monitor; it'd be nice to have geotagging.

TO SUM IT UP: The Nikon 1 J3 is a vast improvement on the original J1, which was a very good camera when it was introduced. At $430 for the J1, users still get a great small-bodied camera with the flexibility of interchangeable lenses. For $630, the J3 offers smaller size, blazing speed, a 14.2-megapixel sensor and the same great selection of lenses.

Murray Hill is lead tech writer at, a social media marketing agency where this article originated. You can reach Murray by email at or on Twitter at @MurrayDHill

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