Nikon 1 J5 Review

Preview posted 04/01/2015 by Michael Palmer
Review posted 07/28/2015 by Kyle Schurman

Quick Take
  • Good upgrades over Nikon 1 J4, including 20.8-megapixels of resolution
  • Additional mode dial options make J5 easy to use
  • Up to 20 frames per second photos at full resolution with continuous autofocus
  • Silent shutter that can record images at a speed up to 1/16,000th of a second
  • Little to no shutter lag
  • Good mix of automatic and manual control features for varying photography experience levels
  • Small, good-looking camera design
  • Nikon changed design from J4 to allow J5 photographers to more easily hold the camera, adding narrow handgrip area and thumbpad
  • Two command dials make working through stored images faster
  • Touch screen LCD simplifies operation
  • LCD screen can tilt up to 180 degrees to allow for selfies and to combat glare problems
  • Can share photos with mobile devices through Wi-Fi or NFC connectivity
  • Offers 4K video recording
  • Plenty of movie special effect options
  • Image quality is adequate for small-to-mid-sized prints with the kit lens, but it's a little soft with large prints
  • Control button collection looks more like a point-n-shoot camera than an advanced model
  • Camera interface is improved from past Nikon 1 mirrorless models, but still requires too many steps to make certain changes
  • J5 works slowly when changing settings with too many delays; seems like a sluggish camera in terms of its operation
  • With image review turned on, shot to shot delays are too long
  • Kit lens zoom ring works awkwardly; it's tough to turn smoothly and ring doesn't stop moving once the focal length range limitations are reached
  • 4K video recording limited to 15 frames per second
  • Camera uses microSD sized memory cards
  • No option for adding viewfinder or external flash
  • Wi-Fi only works with smartphone or tablet with Nikon app installed
  • Popup flash overheated during my tests, locking up camera for several seconds
  • Battery overheated during my tests, causing camera to power down automatically
Bottom Line
The Nikon 1 J5 is a nice mirrorless ILC that makes quite a few improvements from the Nikon 1 J4. However, it still has enough minor annoyances that add up quickly to make it lag just behind some similar mirrorless models. Nikon gave the J5 a sharp touchscreen that can tilt up to 180 degrees, as well as a mode dial with plenty of automatic shooting modes that will give inexperienced photographers an easy transition to this ILC. Nikon didn't forget more experienced photographers, who can use the full manual control features. The J5 has an extremely fast burst mode option and can shoot 4K video, but both features also have some limitations. The J5's image quality with the 10-30mm kit lens attached is just a little softer than it should be with large prints. While the J5 with the kit lens starts at a desirable price point, to use the camera well you'll probably need to purchase a second (and better quality) lens and a second battery, which makes this no better than an average camera versus models in its more realistic price point. Read more in our Full Conclusion.
Nikon's newest J-series camera, as of April 2015, the Nikon 1 J5 is a compact, yet powerful ILC (Interchangeable Lens Camera) bursting with the latest technologies and DSLR-rivaling performance specs. The heart of the J5 is a one-inch CX-format 20.8-megapixel BSI CMOS image sensor mated to the EXPEED 5A image-processing engine, which is capable of incredible speed and noise reduction. More on that in a moment. The J5's exterior - available in silver/black, silver/white, or all black - is nicely designed with a 3.0-inch tilting touch screen LCD, full manual controls, and a Command Dial to access Exposure Modes, Scene Modes, and Creative Modes & Effects.

Let's talk still photography performance and features. The J5 features a Hybrid AutoFocus (AF) system with 171 Contrast-Detect and 105 Phase-Detect AF points, and boasts an astounding 20fps high speed shooting capability, made all the more impressive because it does 20fps at full resolution AND with AF engaged. Toggle AF to "lock on the first frame" and the J5 will capture 60 20.8MP resolution images per second. As Keanu Reeves once said, "whoa."

The J5 also offers a Sports Mode to help with the split-second focal needs of sporting events, as well as a number of Scene Modes and Creative Modes to customize the look of your stills. In fact, Nikon has added seven new effects for this year. Nostalgic Sepia, Pop, Retro, High-contrast Monochrome, and Fisheye are available for both stills and video. Skin Softening and Cross Screen are available only for still images.

In addition to snapping quick stills, the Nikon 1 J5 boasts a number of impressive movie features. Full 1080p HD video can be recorded at up to 60p, while you can also record 4K video at 15fps, or 720p video at up to 120fps (enabling slow motion). There are also creative tools - like Jump-Cut, Fast Motion, 4-Second Movie, and Time-Lapse Movie - to make different styles of videos. However, note "Time-Lapse Movie" only captures up to 300 stills to make, at most, a 10-second sequence. The J5's built-in Interval Timer can record up to 999 stills in intervals between 5 seconds and up to nearly 100 minutes, but to create a moving time-lapse with those you'll need external editing software. Also, two previous still-only Creative Effects - Selective Color and Cross Process - are now also available in various movie modes.

Lastly, no modern ILC is complete without built-in Wi-Fi and NFC technologies to allow the 1 J5 to connect with compatible iOS and Android Devices. Using Nikon's Snapbridge, it's easy to back up photos or videos to a smartphone or tablet, share those files on social media, or even use your smart-device's screen as remote camera display with the ability to access and adjust settings.

Nikon 1 J5 Features:
  • 1.0" CX-format 20.8MP BSI CMOS image sensor
  • EXPEED 5A image processing engine
  • 3.0" Titling Touch LCD Display
  • 20fps High Speed Shooting (with Autofocus)
  • 60fps with AF locked on the first frame
  • Hybrid AF system with 171 Contrast-Detect & 105 Phase Detect AF points
  • ISO 160-12,800
  • High ISO Noise Reduction
  • Manual Controls
  • P/S/A/M Exposure Modes
  • Command Dial
  • Sports Mode
  • Creative Modes & Scene Modes, including 7 New Effects
    • Nostalgic Sepia
    • Pop
    • Retro
    • High-contrast Monochrome
    • Fisheye
    • Skin softening (stills only)
    • Cross Screen (stills only)
  • Full 1080/60p HD Video
  • 4K Video @ 15fps
  • 720pHD @ 120fps (for capturing slow motion)
  • Jump-Cut
  • Fast Motion
  • 4-Second Movie
  • Time-Lapse Movie
  • Interval Timer
  • Creative Effects, Selective Color and Cross Process, now available for video
  • Built-in Wi-Fi & NFC
  • Nikon Snapbridge
  • Compatible with all 1 NIKKOR lenses & accessories
  • Compatible with DX & FX NIKKOR lenses (with optional FT-1 mount adapter)

The Nikon 1 J5 is available in Silver/Black, Silver/White and all Black in three different kits:

  • A $499.95 MSRP body plus the 1 NIKKOR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD-Zoom lens
  • A $749.95 MSRP body plus the 1 NIKKOR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD-Zoom lens AND 1 NIKKOR VR 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 lenses.
  • A $1,049.96 MSRP body plus 1 NIKKOR 10-100mm f/4-5.6 lens (in Silver/Black and Silver/White only)

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