Steve's Conclusion

Steve's SnapShot

  • 18.4-Megapixel CMOS Imaging Sensor
  • 3.0-Inch, 1,037,000 Dot Touch LCD Screen
  • 3x Optical zoom lens: 27-81mm (35mm equivalent) for Kit 10-30mm lens
  • Vibration Correction built into kit lens
  • Dedicated Video Recording Button
  • Almost every shooting mode imaginable
  • Full 1080p HD video recording
  • Slow Motion Video settings
  • Built-in WiFi
  • Rechargeable Li-Ion Battery
  • Pop-up flash unit
  • MicroSD/SDHC/SDXC memory card compatible
Pros
  • Image quality in both iAuto and Program modes is excellent
  • Hybrid AF is very fast and accurate
  • Outstanding Performance
  • High res 3.0-inch Touch Screen is easy to see and allows touch screen shooting
  • Full 1080p HD video capture with Slow Motion settings
  • Incredibly compact; easy to carry, handle and operate
  • Good battery life
  • Excellent lens selection for Nikon 1 cameras including an adapter to use F-Mount lenses
  • Most lenses are available in several colors to match your Nikon 1 camera
  • HDMI output to view images and HD videos on any HDTV
Cons
  • Unacceptable noise levels at higher ISO settings
  • Weak built-in flash
  • No external microphone input
  • MicroSD card slot may cause new users to have to switch from SD
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 1.9 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = approx. 1/10 to 3/10 of a second
  • Shot to shot delay wo/flash = 0.9 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash = 1.06 seconds
  • High Speed Burst = 50fps for 20 images
  • All of our tests were completed using a Samsung UHS-1 8GB MicroSDHC memory card, Program mode, ISO auto, Flash off and all of the other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
The Nikon 1 J4 is a compact, versatile and capable ILC. Loaded with great features and quality components, the camera provides excellent quality and speedy performance. It is a must see for anyone looking to spend around $500.
Pick This Up If...
You are looking to upgrade from a point-n-shoot or step down to a more compact ILC. Either way, this is an affordable ILC that performs very well all around.
Nikon's new 1 J4 takes over the reigns as their new middle of the road ILC (interchangeable lens camera). This incredibly compact camera is as small as most point-n-shoots, without the lens, fitting easily into the palm of your hand. Small but powerful, the J4 sports an 18.4-Megapixel imaging sensor, Hybrid AF system, built-in WiFi, 1080p HD video capture and a beautiful 3.0-inch Touch LCD screen. It is even easy-to-use with a plethora of shooting modes from full Auto to full Manual, with everything in-between. There are even creative shooting modes like Auto HDR and a wide variety of image filters that assist you with improving your creativity. With all of these great features, Nikon did not forget about performance either, providing you with a blazing fast Hybrid AF system and incredible burst rates. The camera is available in 4 attractive colors, with many of the 1 NIKKOR lenses to match.

The convenience of the J4 makes it a lot of fun to use anywhere. Starting with the built-in WiFi that allows you to connect to your smartphone or tablet anywhere, sharing your images with the world has never been easier. When connected to a smartphone, you have the option to not only view the images that are stored on the camera's memory, but you can also use the phone as a remote for the camera. This adds a whole new dimension to self and group photography. Transferring images is also a snap, letting you upload copies of the images to your other portable devices to be uploaded or emailed to social media sites for family and friends to see.

With its incredibly compact size, the J4 is very easy to carry, handle and operate. Although there is not much a grip on the camera, a small lip on the back gives your thumb and the rest of your hand a solid grip. The rest of the body has been kept very simple, only showing the most necessary controls. Everything else is left to the camera menu and 3.0-inch Touch LCD screen. With 1.03 million dots of resolution, the camera will show a great deal of detail in both shooting and playback modes. It allows for touch-to-focus and touch-to-capture modes, allowing you to easily choose exactly where the camera will focus. The screen can be seen easily in all lighting conditions thanks to its various levels of brightness.

Performance from the J4 was surprisingly good for this level of camera. It is able to capture its first image just 1.9 seconds after being turned on. Shutter lag is almost non-existent when the camera is pre-focused, taking less than 1/10 of second. Allowing the Hybrid AF system to work, featuring both Phase Detection and Contrast Detection, the J4 was incredibly quick. It averaged between 1/10 and 3/10 of a second, depending on the amount of available light. The shot-to-shot delay was low as well, taking 1.06 seconds if using the flash and 9/10 of second when the flash is off. The burst shooting settings are very impressive also, allowing the camera to capture 20 images at several different rates. The fastest, 60fps, allowed us to capture the 20 images in just 0.4 seconds. This only comes out to 50fps, but even that is impressive. The settings under that all achieved the rates that Nikon claims. All of our tests were completed using a Samsung UHS-1 8GB MicroSDHC memory card, Program mode, ISO auto, Flash off and all of the other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.

Image quality is easy to see with our outdoor image samples. The camera produced sharp, well exposed images with vivid colors. Our outdoor samples were taken in both Auto and Program shooting modes with only slight differences between the two. There is a little softness around the edges of a few of our images due to a shallow depth of field. Some severe pincushoining shows up at the telephoto end of the 10-30mm lens that comes with the camera. All other aberrations were handled very well. The 3x optical zoom lens with Vibration Correction has a 35mm equivalent of 27-81mm, which works well for your everyday photography needs. This is a unique power-zoom lens, meaning that when you turn the zoom ring, a motor zooms the lens for you. This provides an incredibly smooth zoom, that is also great for shooting videos.

Our indoor sample images show the same great image quality as the outdoor samples. Our sample images starting at ISO 160 through ISO 400, look fantastic, showing very low amounts of noise and tons of detail for each setting. After that the images slowly start to soften as the noise increases, but we were overall pleased with the J4's results up until ISO 3200. After that the images show an unacceptable amount of noise. Assisting with your low-light images, Nikon has included a small pop-up flash unit. This flash is not very powerful, but effective if you stay close to your subject. There is no hot shoe on the camera, so it is not able to accept an external flash.

Portrait photography is very easy thanks to the camera's face detection software. It works well to detect and follow any faces that appear in the frame. This assures that the camera keeps your subject's face as the "center point" of your images. While it does not keep the face in the middle of the frame, it keeps the focus and exposure set for it above everything else in the frame. Our samples show that the camera really does track and expose for faces very well. Our group shot also shows the weak flash and high ISO settings that give the faces an over-softened look. Our other sample shows more detail and presents an excellent portrait image. We did not see any redness in the eyes with our subjects in any of our samples.

The J4 is loaded with special shooting "filters" and even an automatic HDR shooting mode. All of these images start with a standard, high quality image, then the camera applies the filter; similar to an Instagram filter. The big difference being the much higher quality image that you are starting with. The samples page includes a few of these special mode images.

Thanks to the dedicated video recording button, capturing video with the J4 is as easy as the press of a button. This allows the camera to capture Full 1080p HD video at any time, in any shooting mode. If you are looking for more control, the camera also features a dedicated video shooting mode. Here you will find a much larger set of options for more creativity and control over the video. You will also find a slew of different shooting modes, including several slow-motion options. Our sample video easily demonstrates the great video that the camera is capable of capturing. Recording the audio for your home movies is a small built-in stereo microphone. This mic is very sensitive and picks up the loudest and closest sounds to the camera. Many of these sounds will be background noises, including the traffic and wind; which takes over in our sample.

Powering the J4 is a 7.2V, 1010mAh rechargeable Li-Ion battery. This battery allowed us to complete all of our tests while capturing over 300 images and several short videos on a single charge. During our testing, most of the special features i.e. WiFi were turned off. These features shorten the battery life drastically, but give you tremendous versatility. A second battery is recommended to keep charged and on hand at all times. The included charger makes it easy to keep more than one battery ready to go at all times.

Bottom Line - Nikon's 1 J4 is a powerful, versatile and very compact ILC. Their mid-level ILC features an 18.4-Megapixel CMOS imaging sensor, speedy Hybrid AF system, Full 1080p HD video capture and a high resolution 3.0-inch Touch LCD screen. While incredibly easy to use with its full auto shooting modes, it is also incredibly versatile with the built-in WiFi adding a ton of fun and useful features. With a MSRP of US $499.99 for the basic kit, this is definitely worth a look for anyone in the market for a compact ILC.


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