Nikon 1 J5 digital camera review

“With a model new 20.8-megapixel sensor and a sooner processor, the Nikon J5 takes an astonishing leap in prime quality — we advocate it wholeheartedly.”


  • Wonderful burst mode
  • Secure, prime quality pictures
  • Compact, moderately priced
  • Good ISO performer


  • Weak battery life
  • Digital stabilization, not optical
  • Single burst solely remaining for 20 frames

The Nikon 1 J-series of mirrorless cameras started off successfully, with the J1 incomes our Helpful award after we reviewed it in 2011. Nikon misplaced momentum over time, nonetheless; subsequent fashions have been OK (along with the S- and V-series), nonetheless by the purpose the J4 arrived, it didn’t wow us considering stronger fashions from rivals.

With the model new J5, Nikon has dramatically improved its latest mirrorless camera by together with a model new 20.8-megapixel sensor and a sooner processor. The usual soar is so good that that’s the major Nikon 1 camera we’d advocate wholeheartedly, significantly should you want to seize fast-moving subjects.

Choices and design

Nikon did a 360 on design for the latest entry throughout the J assortment: Whereas the J4 appears futuristic, the J5 resembles a retro rangefinder, nonetheless the outside belies a fairly superior 2015 digital camera. It’s compact and, with the 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 VR tools lens related, we had no hassle carrying it spherical all day.

The J5 physique measures 3.9 × 2.4 × 1.3 inches (smaller than an iPhone 5S with regards to prime and width) and weighs spherical 11 ounces (with battery and card). Our review sample was black and silver, nonetheless white and brown our our bodies are moreover accessible.

The vital factor operate on the doorway is the Nikon 1 mount. The company has 13 interchangeable lens selections overlaying various focal lengths. Along with the 10-30mm lens, our tools received right here with the 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 VR zoom, and Nikon equipped us with a unbelievable $900 32mm f/1.2 prime to play with. The Nikon 1 has a 2.7× crop difficulty (be taught additional about that proper right here), so there was a pleasing basic focal differ and the prime equaled a typical portrait lens. Bear in mind: The Nikon 1 cameras use completely completely different lenses than Nikon’s DSLRs, nonetheless you probably can join a Nikon F-mount lens by the use of an adapter.

Rounding out our tour of the doorway is an AF Assist lamp for focusing in low light, along with Function and lens-release buttons and an NFC (near-field communication) tag on the grip.

As a result of a model new sensor, Nikon has dramatically improved its latest mirrorless camera.

Nikon added a useful jog dial for camera/menu modifications, with a red-dot button throughout the coronary heart for recording films. Shut by are stereo mics, a built-in flash, a standard mode dial, and a shutter button/power lever. The built-in flash is an precise plus compared with completely different mirrorless cameras that use add-ons that join by the use of the latest shoe, like Samsung’s NX500. Nonetheless as a result of built-in flash, the J5 doesn’t have a scorching shoe, so there’s no methodology in order so as to add an elective mic, stronger flash, or digital viewfinder (EVF). Whether or not or not these tools are important is decided by the individual; we similar to the consolation of an EVF, as an example, an selection that isn’t accessible.

The once more is dominated by a 3-inch touchscreen (rated 1,037K dots). It’s an excellent one, and we had few factors with wipeout or reflectivity as quickly as we cranked up the present brightness. Given the world’s propensity for self-portraits, the LCD flips 180-degrees for selfies. With the touch-focus enabled, capturing smiling faces is kind of simple.

Nikon 1 J5 screen angleJessica Lee Star/Digital Developments

Jessica Lee Star/Digital Developments

To the acceptable of the show display screen are a comfortable thumb rest and the usual buttons and keys for navigation and efficiency. It’s considerably tight, nonetheless pressing them with a fingernail will get you there.

On the underside is the battery compartment and MicroSD card slot. We’ve certainly not been followers of tiny MicroSD taking part in playing cards for cameras (arduous to cope with, easy to lose), nonetheless as a result of the J5 is so small, one factor wanted to offer. Moreover a downer: The battery is rated solely 250 footage compared with 350-plus for various admittedly larger mirrorless cameras. In case you occur to plan to be away from an outlet, a useful spare is extraordinarily helpful.

What’s included

We examined a two-lens tools that includes a 10-30mm and 30-110mm lens ($750). Nikon moreover gives two one-lens kits: one with the 10-30mm lens ($500) and one different with the 10-100mm f/4-5.6 VR all-in-one zoom ($1,050). These are MSRPs, so positively retailer spherical. The carton moreover incorporates a rechargeable battery with plug-in charger, strap, USB cable, 140-page individual’s information, and completely different paperwork.


Nikon gives a standard one-year assure (to be free from defects in supplies and workmanship).

Specs, effectivity, and use

It’s no secret that we’ve been underwhelmed by the J4 — merely be taught the review. The issue isn’t that it was a really unhealthy camera. It merely paled in comparison with truly sturdy mirrorless merchandise from Sony, Fujifilm, Olympus, Panasonic, and Samsung. It appeared Nikon cared additional about its DSLRs (they usually’re good), and the Nikon 1 cameras appeared like afterthoughts. (The exception being the AW1, a extremely one-of-a-kind camera.)

The J5 is a turnaround. It isn’t solely a rehash of the sooner model, nonetheless a camera that seems, feels, and performs in any other case – greater. And starting at $500, it’s an interchangeable lens camera (ILC) tools we’d be fully glad to advocate to first-time ILC patrons or anybody who needs a compact camera.

One among many key enhancements is a model new 20.8MP backside-illuminated (BSI) chip combined with a sooner Expeed 5A processor. BSI sensors present improved effectivity in low light. Discover the Nikon 1 makes use of loads smaller sensors (13.2 × 8.8mm) versus 24 × 16mm APS-C chips of many rivals, and that is doubtless one of many causes we’ve been disenchanted by earlier Nikon 1 fashions.

Nikon engineers knew they wanted to make a switch to remain throughout the mirrorless race, due to this fact the improved sensor. And by together with the model new processor along with hybrid autofocusing, the engineers created a camera which will seize fast movement at 20 frames per second – prior to any DSLR, Nikon claims. We took that pronouncement with two grains of salt after we heard it nonetheless after seeing the outcomes, we’ve been floored. The J5 truly does it, defending the subject in focus all through a burst.

Nikon claims the J5’s burst mode is faster than a DSLR – it’s true.

Nonetheless as with all good points, there’s a caveat: The camera grabs 20 pictures, after which stops to save lots of numerous data to the cardboard; it truly stops on the end of the burst and in addition you’ll must attend 10 seconds or so sooner than you probably can shoot as soon as extra. We found this a bit annoying nonetheless after we observed the outcomes, it lessens the sting. By comparability, the Nikon D7200 DSLR shoots a slower 6 frames per second, but it surely absolutely takes 100-plus JPEGs sooner than slowing down.

That talked about, the J5 is pretty fantastic.

We captured a youthful boy racing in the direction of first base and all 20 footage have been in focus for most likely probably the most half. This makes the J5 good for youthful households with frenetic kids (are there another type?) or for photographers looking for to grab fast movement.

We used the J5 over the course of quite a lot of weeks capturing every kind of nonetheless and transferring subjects. The outcomes have been truly good with very sensible colors, significantly within the occasion you get to utilize a chief lens like we did. Granted they don’t have the richness and depth of APS-C pictures when seen at 50 % or full dimension, nonetheless most people, considerably the J5’s meant individual, acquired’t do that. We’ve been significantly pleased with pictures taken outside and, due to the BSI imager, inside footage have been moreover good.

Nikon 1 J5

Les Shu/Digital Developments

Whole, the J5 is a breeze to operate. Given the small dimension, there aren’t a zillion buttons and levers — it’s additional point-and-shoot than DSLR, in a method. The first mode dial gives Good Auto, PASM, Biggest Second Seize, Motion Snapshot, Superior Movie, and Inventive (explicit outcomes along with HDR, along with 5 scene modes), plus Sports activities actions to shoot 10 fps on the fly. The touchscreen is kind of useful too: Faucet “F” on the once more and it’s possible you’ll change various parameters just by tapping the show display screen. The Function button on the doorway is prepared for ISO as a default.

The J5 has an ISO differ of 160-12,800, a bit decrease than completely different mirrorless cameras that hit 25,600. That talked about, the BSI chip labored successfully as a lot as ISO 3,200, and even 6,400 is usable at small sizes. We advise avoiding the 6,400 NR selection as a result of it softens pictures methodology an extreme quantity of. For a small camera with a small chip, it’s an excellent ISO performer.

One different optimistic is the Hybrid Autofocus system. The system consists of 171 focus areas with the 105 throughout the coronary heart using half detection, the remainder being distinction detect. What’s important for readers to know is that we not typically had any factors locking focus. Moreover serving to to grab fast movement is a excessive shutter velocity of 1/16,000th of a second (digital not mechanical).

A particular damaging was battery life. The battery is rated 250 footage nonetheless our real-world check out found it to be a bit a lot much less. This isn’t a problem within the occasion you’ll be able to price it someplace all through the day. In case you occur to buy this camera, nonetheless, a spare power pack is a worthwhile funding, for spherical $40.

Movie time

Along with 5,568 × 3,712-pixel stills, the J5 takes Full HD 1080/60p films. Nikon moreover dipped its toes into the 4K waters by together with 3,840 × 2,160-pixel H.264 .MOV films at 15 fps. This isn’t within the an identical league as a result of the 4K-capable cameras from Samsung and Panasonic, but it surely absolutely’s a start. We should at all times anticipate higher prime quality throughout the years ahead from Nikon and completely different firms as 4K turns into mainstream. Inside the meantime, it gives the possibility to experiment.

Whole the flicks have been merely OK. The camera didn’t cope with focusing as right as with stills. One different concern was a complete lot of shake as a result of the J5 makes use of solely digital image stabilization comparatively than the optical IS constructed into the lenses. It’s a disappointment nonetheless you probably can’t have all of the issues for $500. A gradual hand and good light will yield acceptable outcomes.

The J5 has built-in Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity. We had no factors connecting the camera using the Nikon Wi-fi Mobile Utility app (WMU) to a Samsung Galaxy S5 using every selections. As quickly as paired you probably can ship pictures between models, then use your smartphone to share pictures by the use of e-mail or social neighborhood du jour. The app gives rudimentary distant administration if the camera is mounted to a tripod, using the cellphone as a viewfinder and controller; publicity compensation is the one setting you probably can change aside from snapping the shutter. It is perhaps very good if additional camera firms embraced wi-fi comparatively than treating it as a compulsory evil — they might take cues from Samsung, Sony, and even GoPro.


The DT Accent Pack

Up your sport and get most likely probably the most out of your gear with the following extras, hand-picked by our editors:

Nikon 1 Nikkor 32mm f/1.2 ($900)
An excellent prime lens similar to the 1 Nikkor 32mm would make a pleasing addition to this tools.

Nikon EN-EL24 battery ($40)
On account of the J5’s battery has a lot much less price than we would like, we advocate packing a spare.

SanDisk Extreme Skilled 16GB MicroSD card ($25)
To help with effectivity, use a high-speed, high-capacity memory card. Bear in mind that the J5 makes use of MicroSD taking part in playing cards – 16GB minimal, nonetheless additional is greatest.

Lastly, Nikon has an accurate mirrorless camera which will go in opposition to competing entry-level mirrorless fashions. As we talked about, the Nikon 1 cameras aren’t unhealthy, it’s merely the rivals was getting stronger – fast.

There are few reservations, nonetheless the professionals outweigh the cons, and we beloved our time with it. In case you occur to’re looking out for a small journey camera, positively maintain this one in ideas. For $500 that includes a respectable 10-30mm VR 3x zoom, this is usually a truly complete lot. Stills are sturdy, and that 20-fps burst mode is spectacular.


  • Wonderful burst mode
  • Secure, prime quality pictures
  • Compact, moderately priced
  • Good ISO performer


  • Weak battery life
  • Digital stabilization, not optical
  • Single burst solely remaining for 20 frames

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