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  • (Partial) Camera Lust: The Nikon J1

    2011 - 09.30

    The Nikon J1 is the company’s first mirrorless interchangable lens camera (MILC). That in itself is pretty exciting. What with digital viewfinders, live view, and the new emphasis on movie modes in high end cameras, it’s cool to see the elimination of the mirror and pentaprism format of SLRs. Just extra weight and bulk really. I am ALL for chopping out any of these obsolete bits. Pop Photo gives a great rundown of test shots they captured with the J1, check it out.

    Olympus and Pentax have been barking up the mirrorless interchangable lens format tree for a while now, and the retro-rangerfinder-esque stylings of their Micro 4/3rds format have major sex appeal for photography geeks. It’s super cool to see Nikon finally stepping into the ring (because that means now Canon has to as well, and I own Canon lenses!) But like the micro 4/3rds cameras, big-boy Nikon’s first offering in this vein comes with some whopping caveats:

    1. You can use your existing F mount lenses, but only with an adapter. It’s disappointing that this camera isn’t F-native.
    2. It’s got a crop factor of 2.7. Ouch. That means that your 28mm lens is now equivalent to a shocking 75mm. BOOM, your wide angle is insta-telephotoized! What?!? Jeez!
    3. That crop factor is, of course, due to a smaller than APS-C sized sensor. Hrmmmm. Small sensors are a drag. They mean poor light gathering ability at equivalent apertures, reduced bokeh affect at equivalent apertures, poor high ISO performance and by extension noisy, grainy, fuzzy images, when compared to their APS-C brethren.

    The second point here may really be the killer, as it essentially means you need to buy new lenses for this camera. Good luck getting a true wide angle below a full frame equivalent of 27mm. Nikon’s got a pancake 10mm that comes out in conjunction with the J1, but how long will it be before you can get something like my canon 10-24mm offers me? (16-38mm in full-frame equivalence) Probably never. No superwide. That’s sad.

    It’s a sign that the winds of change are blowing when Nikon makes their first mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. MILCs are lighter, smaller, and a logical step in the evolution of cameras. Unfortunately it seems like it’s still going to be a long time before a guy like me would ever want to take the plunge with one of these, mostly due to that staggering list of compromises above. I’ll check back in when Canon makes a MILC with (at least) an APS-C sized sensor. Now THAT would be a camera I’d get truly excited for!

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