The Nikon 1, Have We Found The Missing Link?

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I’ve been saying for some time that the DSLR makes no sense. It is an evolutionary half step. The duckbilled platypus of the imaging world. In reality it was, I believe, a marketing decision designed to make, frightened professional photographers finding themselves part of a rapidly changing landscape of visual professionals, trust the digital camera. It looks and feels like a film camera. Crusty old shooters who were struggling to learn the Mac liked that but with that sense of familiarity came some of the limitations of film cameras. For example the loss of the auto focus function in video mode. Slower frame rates and mirror vibration. And in return, what is this mirror giving you? Nothing but the warm feeling of looking like a “professional” photographer.

Well, take a long hard look in the mirror because with the introduction of the Nikon 1 camera system, it’s gone. There are a few things I should say off the bat. It is not the first mirror-less digital camera on the market, but coming from Nikon it is big news. It is not available for a few days and I have not held one in my hand so this is not an endorsement of this camera. I’ll shoot with one before I say you have to buy it. Lastly, to my knowledge, the Nikon 1 and the Sage one are related in only 3 ways. The name, they are both on my Christmas list (my wife reads this stuff) and the price. That’s right, with a lens this camera is within $150 of what you would pay for a good fly rod. And let me say, it’s about damn time! We do not need another doctor camera. The D3X fills that spot nicely.

From what I’ve read, here’s what I like. 10 frame per second capture rate with auto focus. 60 FPS with manual focus. I have to see that to believe it. Simultaneous video and still shooting. Seriously brilliant. High-speed video up to 1200 FPS. OMG, my palms are sweating! I can see those slow motion jump shots already. CMOS sensor with ISO up to 6400. And of coarse a very compact design.

I do see some things I’m not crazy about. I’m not a fan of SD cards and the 1 offers no CF slot. Only 3 interchangeable lenses but I’m sure there will be more on the way. 10 megapixel resolution is the bare minimum for print but more than enough for the web. The battery only promises 350 shots per charge which seems like a problem if those frame rates are anything but fantasy. It’s clearly a “prosumer” camera. WTF that means? But I expect that Nikon is dipping it’s toe in the evolutionary ooze with this system and will follow with a more serious offering before long.

All in all this looks promising. The specs on this camera read like the real thing. We’ll see if it delivers, but of this much I’m sure. The mirror is on the way out and it’s about time. Next on the evolutionary chopping block will be the shutter. The Nikon 1 boasts both mechanical and electronic, which I read as virtual, shutters. If you think about it, why does a camera need a shutter anyway? All of this is very exciting and I think the next few years will be very interesting. Look for good deals on DSLRs coming to EBay soon.

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline

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6 thoughts on “The Nikon 1, Have We Found The Missing Link?

  1. This does look like a sweet system. However, I am sorely disappointed by the measly 10 megapixels. It is possible for the images to be great with that resolution, but only if they do everything else right. I hope they do. At least it is a CMOS sensor.

    On a side note, SD cards are the evolution of CF. I think CF will eventually be obsolete.

    • I agree on the resolution. I also agree that CF cards will disappear but it doesn’t make me happy. Smaller is not always better. SD cards are slower and more fragile. They are also harder to handle standing in a river with numb hands. Chase one downstream sometime and you’ll see what I mean. Thanks for the comment!

  2. Not only is the MP size tiny – the physical size of the senor is far too small to be worthwhile. Smaller than a micro 4/3rds. Nikon screwed up big time on this one in my opinion. The kit 10-30mm lens that comes with it is really a 27mm-81mm. That’s a 2.7X magnification because of the sensor. Could have been sweet… Oh well. Good try Nikon.

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