Nikon J1 Review

 
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Nikon J1 Performance


Timing and Performance

Generally excellent performance for a compact system camera.

Startup/Shutdown

Power on
to first shot

~1.4 seconds

Time it takes to turn on and capture a shot.

Shutdown

~0.9 second

How long it takes camera to turn off before you can remove the memory card.

Buffer clearing time
25 seconds after 28 large/fine JPEGs*
Worst case buffer clearing time. -- This is the delay after a set of shots before you can remove the card.
26 seconds after 19 RAW files*
46 seconds after 19 RAW+ LF JPEG files*
*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme Pro 45MB/sec UHS-I SDHC card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and noise reduction settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Startup time was a bit sluggish, but not bad for a CSC. Shutdown time was good. Buffer clearing time depends on the quality and number of shots, and on the speed of the memory card. With a fast 45MB/s UHS-I SDHC card, the Nikon J1's buffer clearing times were quite slow, though buffers were very deep in standard continuous mode.


Mode Switching

Play to Record,
first shot

~0.5 second
Time until first shot is captured.

Record to Play

~0.4 second
Time to display a large/fine JPEG file immediately after capture.

Display
recorded image

~0.3 second
Time to display a large/fine JPEG file already on the memory card.

Mode switching was quite fast.


Shutter Response (Lag Time)
Full Autofocus,
Single-point AF mode
0.094 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting. (All AF timing performed with the new Nikon 1 10-30mm kit lens.)
Full Autofocus,
Auto-area AF mode
0.232 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting.
Full Autofocus,
Single-point AF mode, 
Flash enabled
0.288 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting, Auto flash enabled.
Continuous AF
0.102 second
This mode usually shows no speed increase with our static subject; we have no way to measure performance with moving subjects.
Manual Focus
0.072 second
For most cameras, shutter lag is less in manual focus than autofocus, but usually not as fast as when the camera is "prefocused".

Prefocused

0.074 second
Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button.

The Nikon J1's full-autofocus shutter lag in single-point AF mode (center AF position) was incredibly fast, at only 0.094 second with the 10-30mm kit lens. That's faster than most professional DSLRs we've tested! In auto-area AF mode, lag more than doubled to 0.232 second, though that's still quite fast for a CSC, and competitive with most DSLRs. With the flash enabled, full AF lag increased to 0.288s, which is very fast. Continuous AF mode resulted in a shutter lag of 0.102 second, also quite fast, though we can't test tracking ability in the lab. When manually focused, the J1's lag time was 0.072 second, also very fast. The Nikon J1's prefocused lag time of 0.074 second is quite fast as well, though some DSLRs and many point & shoots are faster in this regard.

Overall, the Nikon J1's hybrid AF system offers outstanding AF speeds that set a new benchmark for CSCs and consumer DSLRs alike.

To minimize the effect of different lens' focusing speed, we test AF-active shutter lag with the lens already set to the correct focal distance.


Cycle Time (shot to shot)

Single Shot mode
Large/fine JPEG

1.44 seconds

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots with no signs of slowing, 1 second to clear.*

Single Shot mode
RAW

1.48 seconds

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots with no signs of slowing, 1 second to clear.*

Single Shot mode
RAW + LF JPEG
1.66 seconds

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots with no signs of slowing, 2 seconds to clear.*

Early shutter
penalty?

Yes

Some cameras don't snap another shot if you release and press the shutter too quickly in Single Shot mode, making "No" the preferred answer.

Continuous mode
Large/fine JPEG

0.20 second (5.00 frames per second);
28 frames total;
25 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer depth of 28 shots.

Continuous mode
RAW

0.20 second (5.00 frames per second);
19 frames total;
26 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer depth of 19 shots.

Continuous mode
RAW + LF JPEG

0.20 second (5.00 frames per second);
19 frames total;
46 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer depth of 19 shots.

Continuous 60 fps
Electronic Hi mode
Large/fine JPEG

0.02 second (57.9 frames per second);
12 frames total;
10 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer depth of 12 shots.

Flash Recycling

1.8 seconds

Flash at maximum output.

*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme Pro 45MB/sec UHS-I SDHC card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and noise reduction settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Single-shot cycle times were surprisingly sluggish even for a CSC, at 1.44 seconds per shot for large/fine JPEGs, 1.48 seconds for RAW, and 1.66 seconds for RAW+JPEG files. The Nikon J1 does penalize you for pressing the shutter button too early after taking a shot.

Default continuous mode speed was quite good, at 5.0 frames per second no matter the file type. The Nikon J1 also offers an "Electronic Hi" mode with options of 10, 30, or 60 frames per second at full resolution. (We're not sure why they call it "Electronic Hi", as the J1 always uses an electronic shutter. Perhaps they just wanted to keep nomenclature consistent with the V1, which also has a mechanical shutter.) When 10 fps is selected, the J1 is capable of focusing at the center of the frame between shots, but at the higher settings focus and exposure are locked at the first frame of a burst. In 60 fps mode, we managed 57.9 frames per second in our tests, which is incredibly fast for full resolution files.

Buffer depths were outstanding when shooting in the standard 5 fps mode, at 28 frames for large/fine JPEGs, 19 frames for RAW files, and 19 frames for RAW+JPEGs. In 60 fps mode, buffer depth was naturally shallower, at "only" 12 frames, but that's still very good considering the burst rate. Note that our test target for this was designed to be difficult to compress, so JPEG burst lengths should be longer with typical subjects. Buffer clearing was quite slow when shooting maximum burst lengths, though not a complete surprise given their depth.

Flash recycle time was also very fast at only 1.8 seconds after full power discharge, though the flash is rather weak.


Download Speed

Windows Computer, USB 2.0

5,748 KBytes/sec

Typical Values:
Less than 600=USB 1.1;
600-769=USB 2.0 Low;
Above 770=USB 2.0 High

Download speeds were good, quick enough that you probably won't feel the need for a separate card reader. (Note that this test was performed with a SanDisk Extreme Pro 45MB/sec UHS-I SDHC card: Slower cards would likely show slower transfer times.)


Bottom line, the Nikon J1's overall performance was outstanding. Single-area autofocus speed and the "Electronic Hi" burst modes were much faster than any CSC we've tested, and buffer depths were excellent as well. The only sluggish performance results we got were startup time, single-shot cycle times, and buffer clearing, though the later is mostly due to the unusually deep buffers. Still, the Nikon 1 system truly raises the bar in most performance metrics.

Battery

Battery Life
Below average battery life for a CSC.

Operating Mode Number of Shots
Still Capture,
(CIPA standard)
230

The Nikon J1 uses a custom EN-EL20 rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack for power, and comes with both a single battery and charger. The rated 230 shots per charge is well below average for a compact system camera, and slightly below average compared to most digicams. That's a price you pay for "big" performance in a compact package. We strongly recommend getting a second battery for your J1 if you plan any extended outings.

The table above shows the number of shots the camera is capable of (on a fully-charged rechargeable battery), based on CIPA battery-life and/or manufacturer standard test conditions.

(Interested readers can find an English translation of the CIPA DC-002 standards document here. (180K PDF document))

 

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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.

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