Nikon Enters Mirrorless Hybrid Category
By Greg Tarr On Oct 3 2011 - 4:01am
NEW YORK –
Nikon recently entered a new phase of
its vaunted digital camera business by unveiling the new
Nikon 1 System — the company’s first take on the growing
mirrorless compact hybrid interchangeable-lens camera
Nikon became of first of the industry’s two dominant
market share leaders (the other is Canon) to embrace the
“mirrorless” hybrid market that started with Panasonic’s
and Olympus’s Micro Four Thirds-sensor-based products
and quickly ramped up with SXRD-based compacts from
Sony and Samsung.
Nikon will not risk cannibalizing its highly successfully
endeavors in d-SLR marketing and development, opting
instead to cultivate a whole new user segment with the
new diminutive cameras.
The Nikon system encompasses two camera models —
the J1 and V1 — both based on a Nikon-made 10.1-megapixel
CX-format CMOS sensor (measuring 13.2mm by
8.8mm) and a new dual-core Expeed 3 image-processing
engine. Both were developed to deliver fast autofocus for
high-speed burst shooting and 1080p video capture.
The Nikon 1 system, which also features three new
compact-lens options out of the gate, represents the first
camera system Nikon has developed from scratch since
the Nikon F system was introduced for its d-SLRs more
than 50 years ago.
“It’s a new market and a new category that has been
started from the ground up,” said David Lee, Nikon USA
Steve Heiner, Nikon senior technical manager, added
that he expects the format will not appeal to Nikon’s traditional
d-SLR users, who would be more likely to use the
advanced manual P7100 point-and-shoot for a second
compact alternative camera.
Instead, Nikon is looking to capture young, socially connected
adults who may or may not be traditional memory
keepers in the home, said Sharon Henley, Nikon product
lifecycle control senior manager.
The cameras will shoot at 10 fps with full adaptive AF
and full resolution, and up to 60 fps at full resolution with
The step-up V1, which was developed to be “the world’s
smallest and lightest” interchangeable-lens camera, adds
a stereo mic input and multi-accessory port for an external
flash, GPS and other accessories.
The V1 also includes a 1.4 million-dot high-resolution
electronic viewfinder (not included on the J1) that automatically
activates when the camera is raised to the eye.
A 920,000-dot 3-inch LCD allows an alternative framing
method as well as a playback monitor.
Both cameras capture FullHD 1080 video resolution at
30p and 60i frame rates, as well as 1,280 by 720 at 60p.
Slow-motion video is captured at 640 by 240 and 400
fps, or 320 by 120 at 1,200 fps.
The V1 will capture still images and full-resolution video
without interruption. Its Motion Snapshot feature captures
one second of 60 fps video around the still shot, then processes
the video down to 24 fps and combines it with the
still image to offer a 2.5-second video clip of slow-motion
action ending with a freeze-frame still.
Another new feature in the cameras, Smart Photo Selector,
offers a virtually fail-safe still image shooting system
that captures 20 images with one press of the
shutter and then intelligently evaluates each image
for focus, exposure, composition, smiling,
etc., narrowing the selection down to the best
five frames, the best presented first.
To support the new cameras, Nikon has developed
new System 1 lenses that are smaller
than those used by its traditional d-SLRs, but
Nikon will offer an F-mount adapter to use many
of Nikon’s traditional d-SLR lenses with the new
compact camera models (at a 2.7x crop factor).
The new lenses include a 10mm, f2.8 (27mm
equivalent) pancake; a 10-30mm, f3.8-5.6 (27-
81mm equivalent) Vibration Reduction (VR) II
standard zoom; and a 10-100mm, f4.5-5.6 (81-
297mm equivalent) VR II long zoom.
For low-light shooting, the cameras feature a
100 to 3,200 ISO range (with one high step to
6,400), and a contrast-detect 73-point autofocus
system that places the phase detect sensors
directly on the CMOS imager for faster
The cameras are slated for delivery in stores
Oct. 20. The suggested retail for each model
bundled with a 10-30mm lens is $650 for the
J1 and $900 for the V1.
Henley told TWICE that Nikon is planning a
series of ads supporting the Nikon 1 System
cameras to begin around the market release
time. It will include national spokesman Ashton
Kutcher and will feature TV, print and online