You photographers out there are most likely aware of the alleged shift in product design for dSLR’s. The companies have banned together to deny us the viewfinder…or something like that. :-)
Apparently when the big dogs switched from film to digital, in their SLRs, they kept the mirror. The mirror is basically necessary so we can see what we’re going to photograph. Then when you press the shutter release, the mirror flips up and the actually viewed image can be captured by the sensor, which is behind the mirror when it’s down.
We could loose the mirror, but then we’d either have no viewfinder, or we’d have to have a digital view of what’s being “seen”.
I know that’s a poor description, but it’s the best I could do with my layman’s understanding.
Enter, the mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, MILC. Yeah, I know. There are actually a few different names for these newfangled cameras, but “mirrorless” seems to be sticking.
Trey Ratcliff actually discussed all of this much better than I have even tried, on his blog, Stuck in Customs. Seriously, go read about it all there. Then come back, please.
Now that you know all about these newfangled mirrorless/3rd generation camera systems, I’ll get to my point. I picked up one!
Since I’m a Nikon guy, I looked first at the Nikon 1 series. The upcoming Pentax K-01 caught my attention as well. Honestly, I really liked what I read about both cameras. I believe that the Pentax K-01 is a better camera, and would have served me as well, if not better, than the Nikon 1 series.
However, the lower price of the Nikon J1 is what won me over. (That was a mistake. More on that later.) Plus, Nikon had just announced an adapter that would allow me to use my existing family of F-mount lenses on the new J1.
So I picked up a J1 package, with two lenses; a 10-30mm and a 30-110mm. Both lenses have VR. I got mine at Costco, which threw in a 16gb sdcard and a case. Oh, and I chose the white model! (It comes in red and black as well.)
Right away I tried using it more often than my D7000, and various lenses. It was easy, I will admit. It still is. For most life photography, it’s just real easy to grab and go. Two lenses for everything from 10mm to 110mm. (FYI, with the 2.7 crop factor of this sensor, that means 27 to 297mm, in 35mm terms.) That’s pretty much everything I’d need! Yes the speeds of the lenses are a huge factor, and so are the relatively smaller number of easily reachable features. The lens speeds, I can adjust to working around. I simply bump my ISO when I can’t get a comfortable shutter speed. Also, the VR helps with the lower shutter speeds.
The best feature, to me, is the insanely fast autofocus. It just works. It’s automagical, and it happens even when you’re not pressing the shutter release halfway down. I love it!
The rapid fire is quite cool. I can shoot 10 fps, on the special fast mode, with some limitation. The focus becomes fixed, and is limited to a semi-manually selected focus point. But the regular rapid speed is 5 fps, and that’s with the live focus! I generally use this mode all the time. BTW, they call it continuous mode. I used this mode to help capture this shot of my dad, 4x4ing this past week.
Overall, I like the camera, and am glad I bought it. It will serve me and my family well for quite a while. I hope to be able to use it to instruct my wife in the use of more features, to get better photos. Eventually I hope that she’ll begin using it more and more, freeing me to acquire that Pentax K-01, or whatever fits the role even better.
The single largest problem with the J1 is not any one single feature, it’s a bunch of little frustrations. The smaller sensor, really isn’t a problem. The lack of a viewfinder, I’m getting over it. Even the lack of bracketing I’ve adjusted to using the tripod and exposure compensation.
The problem is that everything I want to do is 7 million clicks deep in a menu setting. The features I want are simply too buried. I thought that the big camera companies were hoping to convince dSLR users that these mirrorless cameras are their future. What I’m feeling is that Nikon doesn’t care about the J1 being useful for me, but for the pocket camera user, as an upgrade.
Side note: I wrote this post with MarsEdit. I had great hopes for MarsEdit. It sucks. This would have been 10x easier within the WordPress app.