Nikon J5 Walkaround

by Mike Tomkins

Although there are plentiful changes throughout its design, the Nikon J5 is near-indistinguishable from its predecessor in terms of weight and size. Body height and width are just ever so slightly reduced, while the depth has increased by a scant 0.1 inch (3mm), likely due to the new tilting LCD monitor and reprofiled grips.

Looking at the Nikon J5 from the front, the most obvious change is a new leatherette wrap around all but the baseplate and topmost portion of the body. This is coupled with a new, gently-profiled handgrip, a worthwhile change that should make the J5 easier to hold than the J4, which had a smooth front deck with no grip whatsoever.

The lens mount release button and autofocus assist lamp sit just where they did in the J4, but they're joined by a couple of new details. First, just below and to the right of the lens mount (as seen from the rear) is a new user-configurable Function button, which can be set to provide fast access to variables such as ISO sensitivity and white balance.

And inset into the new handgrip is a logo indicating the location of the Nikon J5's near-field communications antenna. You'll want to place this within a short distance of the matching icon on your Android smartphone or tablet for quick and easy pairing. Although the latest-generation iOS devices also now support NFC, their implementation doesn't provide third-party access to the radio, so Apple fans will still need to pair manually.

Moving to the top deck, we see what (speaking as experienced photographers) is probably the single most important change on the J5: The Mode dial now includes Program, Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority and Manual positions.

The J4 was capable of shooting in all four modes, incidentally; you just had to select them on-screen, as they were absent from the Mode dial. The J5 also adds a new Sports position on the Mode dial.

These changes are accompanied by two others. Instead of the separate Power button of the earlier J4, the Nikon J5 opts for a Power lever encircling the Shutter button, a change that makes it easy to switch the camera on and off by feel, even when shooting single-handed. And there's also a new rear control dial, surrounding the video button which sits at the very right rear corner of the top deck.

It's the rear of the Nikon J5 that really separates it from its predecessor, though. For one thing, it's dominated by the new tilting, touch-screen monitor, and while the specifications of the LCD panel are unchanged, it's unquestionably more versatile thanks to its articulation mechanism. Selfie fans will appreciate the ability to flip it upwards 180 degrees for self-portrait framing, while the fact that you can tilt it downwards by almost 90-degrees will make light work of shooting over a crowd.

All of the controls are clustered tightly along the right side of the camera body, beneath a more prominent thumb grip that also sports a leatherette textured finish for increased friction. The Playback and Menu buttons now sit side by side, rather than one above the other. Beneath, the Four-way controller with control dial around its exterior is unchanged, and it's marked with the functions each button assumes in record mode. Finally, the Delete button now sits just right of a new Wi-Fi button.

While the layout of the Nikon J5's left side is quite similar to that of its predecessor, there's one noteworthy change. The Nikon J4 used a mechanical release switch for the popup flash strobe, but this has been changed to a small button for the J5, suggesting that the new camera releases its strobe electronically instead. The J5 continues to provide Micro (Type D) HDMI and Micro-B USB 2.0 ports, as did the J4.

Like the J4, the Nikon J5's right side has no controls or ports, but you can see a similar slot cover for an optional dummy battery cable for use with an AC adapter.

One final change of note can be found on the base of the Nikon J5. Where the earlier J4 used a proprietary EN-EL22 lithium-ion rechargeable battery pack, the J5 instead switches to a different EN-EL24 pack.

And that's it for the external tour. See our Tech Info page for what's new on the inside!


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