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Aug 10

Nikon 1 J2 mirrorless camera: minor control tweaks, $549, ships in September

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Not even a year after Nikon ceremoniously entered the mirrorless world, it’s issuing the followup to the J1: it’s the Nikon 1 J2, and it’s — at most — a gentle revision to a camera that was near-universally hailed as being one of the more disappointing ILC options. Disappointing, of course, because it’s Nikon. A company that quite clearly knows a thing or two about photography (D3S / D4, anyone?), but seemed to miss the mark in terms of price, performance and lens compatibility. With the J2, it sort of feels like a do-over. Outside of a slightly tweaked orange color and a reimagined exterior finish, the J2 is identical in size to the J1. You’ll find the same 10.1 megapixel CMOS sensor (1-inch), the same autofocus system and support for the same lens collection. What’s new are the additions to the Mode Selector dial, which add a smattering of creative options and access to P/S/A/M exposure modes. The rear LCD has seen its resolution double (to 921,000 dots, same as on the D4), and the camera has been intelligently designed to turn on when extending a 1 Series lens out, and turn off when retracting it into storage.

Perhaps most importantly, Nikon’s finally on the same playing field in terms of asking price. The J2 will ship in September for $549.95, and that includes the same 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens that shipped with the J1. If you’ll recall, the J1 kit started at $100 more, yet offered far less punch than Sony’s cheaper NEX-C3. It’s also worth noting that one other player has joined the ILC movement since the J1: Canon. Arguably, the EOS M still beats the J2 in practically every way; the thing that really needed an overhaul in the J2 was the meager 1-inch sensor, yet it remains. Perhaps the best news out of this ordeal is that the J1 isn’t immediately going away. Nikon confirmed that it’d remain on store shelves for an undetermined amount of time, likely at a nice discount. If it’s offered low enough, it may be easier to live with the shortcomings.

In terms of accessories, Nikon’s also introducing an optional 11-27.5mm f/3.5-5.6 lens ($189.95; ships next month) for the 1 Series. Though similar (on paper) to the 10-30mm kit lens, this guy is nearly 30 percent smaller from a physical size and weight standpoint. And on the other extreme, there’s the WP-N1 waterproof case. This one’s engineered to encase both the J1 and J2 for beneath-the-sea action up to 140 feet deep, but the staggering $749.95 (!) price tag is bound to attract jeers, chuckles and blank stares. Now, underwater cases of merit aren’t ever “affordable,” but offering an enclosure that’s a full $200 more than the hardware it protects? Questionable. That said, we’d certainly relish the chance to test one out, but you best be sure that Nikon’s J1 / J2 is going to be your underwater cam of choice for a long while before plunking down that much coin.

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