Nikon 1 J5

Nikon 1 J5The J5 packs some eye-catching features into a stylish and compact design, but how well does it perform? Matthew Higgs puts Nikon’s latest CSC to the test…Since the launch of the V1 and J1 in 2011, Nikon has released ten cameras in its CSC line-up, all aimed firmly at the consumer end of the market. All ten have come fitted with a relatively small 1in-type sensor, so unlike Canon, the Japanese giant has chosen to make its CSCs very different to its DSLRs. The smaller sensor has allowed Nikon to maintain the small body size it believes is fundamental to CSCs, but has alienated many users who demand high-end performance.
Boasting the largest resolution of any Series 1 camera, 4K video and a flip-out screen, the J5 is Nikon’s most advanced mirrorless model yet. Available in silver, black or white, the clean and sleek design of the J4 has been ditched in favour of a more vintage look. At just 98mm wide, it’s small even for a CSC, despite the addition of a front grip and thumb rest. But while affordable and carrying the respectedNikonname, does the J5 off er enough to tempt buyers in this highly competitive marketplace?Measuring 13.2×8.8mm, the J5’s CX-format sensor is much larger than that found in most compact cameras, but a lot smaller than the Micro Four Thirds or APS-C sensors usually found in CSCs. Smaller sensors usually result in increased noise, although as this one is backside illuminated (BSI) it can gathermore light than a regular sensor. At 20.8MP, and with no anti-aliasing filter, the J5 has a higher resolution than any previous Series 1 camera.Fitted with an EXPEED 5A image processor, the camera has maintained the J4’s 160-12,800 ISO range. Like all of Nikon’s current CSC models, the J5 can shoot in exceptionally fast framebursts of 60fps when focus is fixed, or 20fps with autofocus enabled at full resolution. This is impressive, but the camera’s buffer restricts shooting to 20 simultaneous RAW or JPEG files. In other words, it can only shoot at the fastest speed for 1/3sec.The J5 has a hybrid 171-point autofocus system, 105 of which are phase-detect, and focus points can be selected from across almost the entire frame. With auto, spot and subject tracking modes, focusing is fast and in most conditions reliable.While the included kit lens doesn’t feature a focusing ring, manual focus is still possible. Once selected via the menu, a magnified Live View stream is displayed. Focus can then be fine-tuned via the camera’s rear scroll dial. However, this system is a little awkward, and much slower than a conventional manual focus ring. Like all previous J models, the J5 doesn’t feature an EVF. As the camera has no hotshoe alongside its external flash, this is something that can’t be added externally either. The J4’s 1037k-dot 3in touchscreen has been maintained, with a new tilt mechanism enabling comfortable use at more testing angles.Capable of Full HD (1080p) video at 60fps, 4K recording is now also possible, though at only 15fps it isn’t particularly smooth. The camera features in-built stereo microphones, but external headphone and mic inputs are missing, limiting the camera’s suitability for video use. Up to 20 full-res stills can be captured without interrupting video recording.As with all recently-released Nikon CSCs, the J5 has Wi-Fi for remote shooting, and establishing a connection is a fast process thanks to the inclusion of NFC. The battery life of the J4 was 300 shots – average for a CSC – but this has been reduced to just 250 on the J5.Nikon 1 J5 rearThe compact J5 is extremely portable, though its tiny body means it’s not the most ergonomic device for those with larger hands. However, front and thumb grips like those found on the more expensive V3 do help to improve grip. Predominately made of metallic-looking plastic, build quality is good but not premium.Redesigned controls on the top-plate share similarities with the more advanced V3. The shutter button now sits on top of the J5’s power switch, and a redesigned mode dial offers better access to shooting modes, while a thumb dial for shutter speed surrounds the video button. A D-pad and scroll wheel on the back are used for menu navigation and all other setting controls. The camera’s touchscreen can also be used for menu control, as well as touch focus and shutter.Given its price and size, the J5 is in a position to compete with both CSCs and compacts. In fact, it’s against these fixed lens rivals that this camera will shine, offering better image quality, advanced features and interchangeable lenses. However, with its small sensor, those looking for optimum image quality from a CSC may be better off looking elsewhere. While resolution has been improved, the J5 doesn’t have the low light performance of most of its rivals. It may be the best 1 Series CSC yet, but it still feels held back by that 1in sensor.Kit price: £429 (£349 body only)Sensor: 13.2×8.8mm CX CMOS with no anti-aliasing filterLCD: 3in 1037k-dot touch & tiltAF: 171-point hybrid AF, with centre 105 phase-detectShooting speed: 60fps (20fps with AF) for 20 RAWs or 20 JPEGsVideo: 4K at 15fps, Full HD (1080p) at 60fpsOther features: Wi-Fi and NFC Battery life: 250 shotsCard type: Micro SD, Micro SDHC, Micro SDXC

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