Nikon 1 J5 [Review]
The Nikon 1 J5 is the latest camera in the 1 series of interchangeable lens cameras from Nikon, and features a new 20.8 megapixel 1inch sensor, 20fps continuous shooting with AF, 4K video, built-in Wi-Fi and NFC, and a 180degree tilting touch-screen, all packed into a redesigned metal body with improved handling.
Nikon 1 J5 Features
The Nikon 1 series is designed as a high-speed camera system with interchangeable lenses, and the Nikon 1 J5 is no different, offering up to 60fps continuous shooting at the full resolution. The J5 features a new BSI (Back Side Illuminated) 20.8 megapixel 1inch sensor for improved low light performance, with ISO up to ISO12800 (ISO160-ISO12800).
The J5 is available as a kit with the collapsible NIKKOR 10-30mm VR power zoom lens, and as part of the Nikon 1 Series, using the Nikon 1 lens mount, there are a number of lenses available, from a 6.7mm (18mm equivalent) wide angle, to a 300mm (810mm equivalent) telephoto zoom lens. An adapter, the FT-1 Mount Adapter, can be used to mount Nikon F mount lenses on the camera.
Like the J4, the J5 features a high-speed AF system with 171 total focus points, and 105 phase-detection points that allows 20fps continuous shooting with continuous AF, and up to 60fps continuous shooting at full resolution with fixed AF. A 3inch touchscreen on the back can be used to set the focus area, take photos as well as change camera settings. Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity lets you connect the camera to a smartphone to transfer images, as well as control the camera remotely.
The camera has a creative palette function (accessible in Auto mode) that lets you change the filter effect by sliding your finger around an on-screen ring. Best moment capture includes active selection where you can take up to 20 shots in one second and save as many photos as you like.
The Nikon 1 J5 features a new sports burst mode on the redesigned mode dial, which now features the more traditional P/S/A/M modes, as well as Auto and other high-speed shooting features, along with Creative shooting which has a number of new effects.
4K video has been added to the camera, although this shoots at a sluggish 15fps. FullHD video recording allows full resolution photos to be taken while recording, and the camera has a number of high-speed video modes, including 120fps at 720p, as well as 400fps and 1200fps at reduced resolutions. Time-lapse video creation is possible in camera.
- 20.8 megapixel CX 1inch BSI CMOS sensor (13.2mm x 8.8mm)
- Nikon 1 series lens mount
- RAW + JPEG shooting, manual controls
- 3inch, 1037k dot tilting touchscreen
- Take full-resolution photos while recording video
- 1080p, fullHD video, electronic VR, 120fps at 720p
- 4K video recording at 14.99fps
- Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity, with remote shooting
- 20fps continuous shooting with continuous AF, 60fps fixed AF
- 105 phase detection AF points, 171 contrast detect AF points
- Built-in pop-up flash
- MicroSD card slot
- Aluminium body available in white, black, and silver
Nikon 1 J5 Handling
The camera is very compact for a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, and has a solid feeling aluminium body, with improved handling thanks to a new rubber grip at the front, as well as a rubber thumb grip on the back. The camera feels well built, although some people may find it's compact size slightly off-putting.
A mode dial on the top lets you quickly change modes, and the camera now has the standard P/S/A/M modes along with Auto and Sports modes. The other modes available are the following:
- Motion snapshot - This takes a photo, and a slow motion video - (1 second long) and then when played back on the camera it plays the video then shows the photo with a choice of music.
- Best moment capture - Takes a sequence of shots, with the option of active selection, slow view, or smart photo selector.
- Auto Photo mode features live control that lets you alter active d-lighting, background softening, motion control, and brightness.
- Creative shooting mode - lets you choose from HDR, Easy panorama, Soft, Miniature effect, Selective colour, Cross process, Toy camera, and more
- Advanced Video mode is where you find all of the video options.
The top features a new command dial (with a video button in the middle), and there is a scroll-wheel on the back, this lets you change the shutter speed and aperture in manual mode without having to enter a menu. There is a front Fn (Function) button that can be customised. Like the Nikon 1 J4, the J5 features an electronic shutter, that allows it to be more compact than if it were to feature a mechanical shutter. This also means that it can shoot silently.
To focus you can choose from auto-area, single point and subject tracking focus, as well as touch the screen to set the focus position. You can set the focus point across a wide area of the screen, and the screen quality is very good with a high resolution and good colour production. You can set single-point AF from any of the 171 focus areas; the center 105 areas support phase-detection AF.
Menus – Pressing the F (function) button will bring up an on-screen control panel making it easy to change settings using the touch-screen, and to access more advanced settings pressing the menu button will bring you to another set of options. The menus can be scrolled through and set using the touch-screen or the buttons on the rear of the camera.
Battery life - Battery life is rated at 250 shots according to Nikon / CIPA test results, which is 50 less than the J4, and if you plan on shooting more we would recommend a spare battery.
Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.
Focus and shutter response are both extremely quick, however the switch-on time is a little slow due to the power zoom lens extending. You have the option to shoot at 10, 20, 30 or 60fps - it's also possible to shoot at 20fps with AF-tracking active. Flash is not available in any of the continuous shooting modes.
Nikon 1 J5 Performance
The performance section is where we look at the image quality performance of the camera. Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.
Sample Photos - Photos using the flash show very little red-eye, and skin tones are good. Images have good colour and exposure is reliable. Dynamic range is good, with the camera featuring a D-Lighting option to improve dynamic range, and there is also a HDR (High Dynamic Range) shooting mode available.
Lens Performance - Purple fringing and chromatic aberration is well controlled, with a little visible in areas of high-contrast near the edges and corners of the frame. Built-in distortion correction takes care of any barrel and pincushion distortion, as well as vignetting, although it's worth making sure that auto distortion correction is switched on as barrel distortion is quite strong when off. The 10-30mm PD-Zoom kit lens gives impressive macro results, letting you focus very close to your subject when using the full zoom. Images have reasonable levels of detail, however become soft when using the full optical zoom of the lens, and are softer in the corners. Therefore, we'd recommend using a prime lens for better results.
ISO Noise Performance - For the lowest noise and best detail possible we would recommend using ISO160 to ISO800, as images have low levels of noise and reasonable levels of detail. For lower light situations ISO1600 to ISO3200 still provides good results, although noise increases and detail is reduced. At ISO6400 and ISO12800 noise levels become strong, with some colour loss, and we would recommend avoiding this setting if possible, although results may still be useful if resized and used on the web. There are also additional noise reduction options at ISO6400 and ISO12800 that give images with less noise, although detail is quite soft.
White Balance Performance - Auto White Balance (AWB) performs well with a very slight warm colour cast under tungsten lighting, with the tungsten preset giving a more accurate result. AWB performs very well under fluorescent lights, with the fluorescent preset giving a magenta colour cast.
Panoramic | 1/1000 sec | f/5.6 | 10.0 mm | ISO 160
Panorama mode - The camera features an automatic panoramic mode, where you simply press the shutter release button and pan the camera from one side to the other. Results are good, and well stitched together, although the resolution is low.
Digital Filters - There are a number of the effects and scene modes, including: Pop, Retro, High-contrast monochrome, Nostalgic Sepia, HDR, Soft, Easy panorama, Miniature effect, Selective color, Cross process, Toy camera effect, Cross screen, Fisheye, Skin softening, Night landscape, Night portrait, Landscape, Close-up, and Portrait.
Video - The J5 records full HD video at 60fps with stereo sound, high speed 120fps video at a resolution of 1280x720, or ultra high speed video at 400fps (at 720x288 resolution), and 1200fps (at 416x144 resolution). Full HD video quality is good with clear video, and continuous focus is very effective. Electronic Vibration Reduction (VR) is available when recording videos, although this disables the touch features. With this switched off you can use the touch screen to set the focus position as well as change it while recording. The highest ISO setting available is ISO6400 when in video mode. 4K (3840 x 2160) video is choppy, with 15fps not giving a very smooth looking video. Additional examples can be found on the ePHOTOzine YouTube Channel, including video recorded at 4K (15fps).
Value For Money
The Nikon 1 J5 is available for £429 with a kit lens which makes it good value for money, particularly considering the high speed shooting performance it offers. Some entry-level mirrorless compact system cameras to consider as alternatives can be found below, and we've included some that also offer high speed continuous shooting:
You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.
Nikon 1 J5 Verdict
As part of the Nikon 1 series, the Nikon 1 J5 is the fastest shooting consumer camera currently available, offering 20fps continuous shooting with auto-focus, as well as 60fps continuous shooting with fixed focus. The Nikon 1 J5 is ideal for a wide variety of shooting situations, such as sports and action shots, as well as making it ideal for anyone with kids that move quickly as the camera can focus extremely quickly. Video quality is very good, and this will be of benefit to those who want to record high quality videos, although the 15fps maximum frame rate makes the 4K video option much less appealing.
The camera comes with a compact kit lens that offers reasonable performance to get your started, although to get the best image quality from the new camera, a prime lens is recommended. There are some interesting lenses available including the bright 32mm f/1.2 lens, as well as others, however there is currently not a dedicated macro lens available, so you may find the range limiting unless you are willing to purchase an FT-1 adapter and use Nikon DSLR lenses.
The camera has a great tilting touch-screen with good handling and build quality, with improved front and rear grip. The Nikon 1 J5 is available for £429 with 10-30mm PD zoom lens making it good value for money as none of the competition offers as quick performance as this camera.