Nikon J5 Technical Info

by Mike Tomkins

Sensor

In place of its predecessor's 18.4-megapixel image sensor, the Nikon J5 opts instead for a slightly higher resolution 20.8-megapixel chip. As in the earlier camera, it's a 1"-type sensor, smaller than those used in all other mass-market mirrorless cameras with the exception of Ricoh's Pentax Q-series. (In Nikon parlance, cameras with a 1"-type sensor are referred to as "CX Format".)

The increase in resolution from the new CMOS chip is not as great as a glance at the two figures might suggest. With a maximum image size of 5,568 x 3,712 pixels, linear resolution would only increase around 6% over the J4's 5,232 x 3,488 pixel images. However, the new sensor is very worthwhile for another reason. It's now a backside-illuminated chip, a change that should increase sensitivity and reduce noise levels, all other things being equal.

Processor

Output from the new image sensor is handled by a proprietary Nikon EXPEED 5A image processor. A replacement for the J4's EXPEED 4A processor, it's making its first appearance in the J5, and is said to offer increased speed.

Performance

That holds true when you pay attention to the Nikon J5's performance. Sure, capture rates haven't increased from those of the already-swift J4. You can shoot either 20 frames per second with autofocus between frames, or 60 frames per second with focus locked from the first frame, and these are full-resolution figures that simply blow away the competition. And when you consider that the J5's sensor now sports 13% more pixels than that of the J4, even retaining the same speed as before is placing a greater demand on the processor.

Sensitivity

Also unchanged is the Nikon J5's sensitivity range, which spans everything from a low of ISO 160 to a high of ISO 12,800 equivalents. Nikon tells us to expect lower noise levels at the higher sensitivities, though, thanks to the use of a backside-illuminated image sensor. And if your subject is reasonably static, you can improve things still further by stacking up to four frames shot at ISO 6400 or 12,800 equivalents, yielding a single image with reduced noise levels.

Autofocus

One of the keys to the Nikon J5's swift burst-shooting performance is a hybrid autofocus system that couples both on-chip phase detection AF pixels with contrast-detection. This system is carried over basically unchanged from that in the J4, with a total of 171 contrast-detection autofocus areas, of which the central 105 areas also include phase-detection points.

By default, the system operates in 41-point auto-area mode, with the remaining points accessible only in single-point mode. Both face-priority and tracking functions are included, and autofocus servo modes include single-servo, continuous, auto, and full-time.

And of course, you can focus manually, should you prefer to do so.

Display

On its rear panel, the Nikon J5 retains the same 1,037k-dot, three-inch LCD panel featured in its predecessor, complete with the touch-sensitive electrostatic overlay that allows it to serve double-duty as an input device.

What's new here is that the display is now articulated, able to tilt upwards 180 degrees for selfie shooting, or downwards almost 90 degrees if you want to frame shots over your head or above a crowd.

Wireless connectivity

As in its predecessor, the Nikon J5 boasts in-camera Wi-Fi connectivity, capable of transferring your images to Android or iOS smartphones or tablets. There's a new feature here too, though -- the presence of near-field communications technology (or NFC) for fast-and-simple pairing with Android devices. (Though newer Apple devices include an NFC radio, third-parties like Nikon are not permitted to use the feature.)

As in other recent models, Nikon is branding this Wi-Fi plus NFC system as Nikon Snapbridge.

Exposure

Just as in its predecessor, the Nikon J5 offers a shutter speed range from 1/16,000 to 60 seconds, using an electronic shutter. Exposures are metered using the image sensor, with a choice of matrix, 4.5mm center-weighted and 2mm spot metering modes on offer. And should you wish to tweak the metered exposure, exposure compensation is available within a +/-3EV range, in 1/3EV steps.

A built-in popup flash strobe is included, but its flash sync speed is just 1/60th second. The flash has a guide number of five meters (16 feet) at ISO 100, and flash exposures use i-TTL metering with an exposure compensation range of -3 to +1EV in 1/3EV steps.

Creative

The Nikon J5 offers several new creative options not found on its predecessor. Among these are an interval timer that allows up to 999 images to be captured automatically at intervals ranging from five seconds to almost 100 minutes. There are also a variety of new effects on offer for still images, including Nostalgic Sepia, Pop, Retro, High-contrast Monochrome, Fisheye, Skin softening and Cross Screen.

Movie capture

The Nikon J5's movie capture capabilities are quite similar to those of the J4, with a couple of notable changes. Resolution now tops out at 4K, where the earlier camera was limited to Full HD capture, but it's not a 4K mode you're likely to use much given the slow frame-rate limit of 15 frames per second. Still, for certain subjects it may prove worthwhile to trade off smoothness of motion for resolution, so it's nice to see the option offered.

A variety of new effects are now available in movie mode, too, including Nostalgic Sepia, Pop, Retro, High-contrast Monochrome, Fisheye, Selective Color, and Cross Process. And Nikon has also just slightly tweaked the resolutions of the Nikon J5's high-speed 400 / 1,200 frames per second capture modes, likely due to the subtle change in sensor resolution.

In other respects, though, movie capture looks to be unchanged. If you want a reasonable frame rate, your best bet is still to shoot at Full HD (1,920 x 1080 pixel) resolution, where you'll find a progressive-scan rate of 60 frames-per-second mode. You can also opt for 1080p30 movie capture, should you prefer.

If you drop the resolution to HD (720p; 1,280 x 720 pixel), the Nikon J5 retains its predecessor's ability to shoot not just at 60p or 30p rates, but also at a fast 120p rate, albeit with a clip length of just three seconds. There are also 400fps and 1,200fps modes, as we mentioned earlier, and these too are subject to the same three-second clip length limit.

Nikon has also retained the J4's unusual jump cut function, which alternates between recording for one second, and pausing capture for one second, repeating until you stop the capture. The idea is to obtain a series of short clips in a single video. There's also a preset four-second clip function intended to generate short clips that you can manually edit into a longer video.

As in the J4, the Nikon J5 records stereo PCM audio from its onboard microphone, which has two ports on the top deck of the camera.

Power

The Nikon J5 draws power from a new EN-EL24 lithium-ion battery pack rated at 6.2Wh (7.2v, 850mAh) compared to 7.3Wh (7.2v, 1010mAh) for the J4's EN-EL22 pack, a roughly 15% drop in capacity. Combined with the new hardware, battery life has fallen by 50 shots (~17%), with the J5 yielding just 250 shots on a charge to CIPA testing standards, where the J4 managed 300 shots. An optional EH-5b AC adapter is available, requiring the use of a new EP-5F power supply connector (dummy battery).

Connectivity

Unchanged from the J4 are the Nikon J5's Type-D Micro HDMI connector for video output, and USB 2.0 High Speed data connector. Both live under a small rubber flap on the left side of the camera body.

Storage

And the Nikon J5 also retains its predecessor's rather unusual choice of a MicroSD card slot as commonly seen in smartphones, rather than the full-sized Secure Digital card slot typical of most standalone cameras. The MicroSD card slot is both MicroSDHC and MicroSDXC compatible and faster UHS-I types are supported, and while the cards themselves are fiddly and more expensive than their full-sized equivalents, you can at least take the card out of your camera and put it straight into your phone, assuming the latter has a MicroSD slot.

 



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