A morning walk with Nikon 1 J5

Since it looks like the earthquakes in Japan will be delaying Nikon products for some time to come I purchased a Nikon 1 J5 this week.

I had been waiting for an updated V-series camera to be launched that featured the new 20.8MP BSI sensor that is in the J5. Since an updated V-series camera will likely be delayed until at least February 2017 I thought it was a good time to purchase a J5.

This article features a few images I took during a morning walk with the Nikon 1 J5 and 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 zoom lens.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.-56 @ 100mm, efov 270mm, f/8, 1/80, ISO-160
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.-56 @ 100mm, efov 270mm, f/8, 1/80, ISO-160

I did a review on the Nikon 1 J5 about 9 months ago and at the time I really liked the image quality produced by the sensor. So much so that I almost bought one last year…but I resisted that temptation until this week.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.-56 @ 100mm, efov 270mm, f/5.6, 1/80, ISO-160
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.-56 @ 100mm, efov 270mm, f/5.6, 1/80, ISO-160

The Nikon 1 J5 will become my main camera for landscape photography, as well as for flowers and macro-type images that I take with extension tubes.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.-56 @ 100mm, efov 270mm, f/8, 1/13, ISO-160
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.-56 @ 100mm, efov 270mm, f/8, 1/13, ISO-160

These photography genres will certainly benefit from the improved dynamic range and colour depth that the J5 offers compared to my trio of Nikon 1 V2’s. According to DxO test data the dynamic range of the J5 is 12.0EV compared to 10.8EV for my V2’s, and colour depth is much improved at 22.1-bits compared to 20.2 with my V2’s.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.-56 @ 100mm, efov 270mm, f/5.6, 1/320, ISO-800
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.-56 @ 100mm, efov 270mm, f/5.6, 1/320, ISO-800

In addition, the Nikon 1 J5’s sensor does not have a low-pass filter which enables the camera to produce slightly sharper images, capturing more fine details. The increased resolution of 20.8MP compared to 14.2MP with my V2’s also provides more cropping potential, and when shot under good lighting, increased print enlargement opportunities.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.-56 @ 100mm, efov 270mm, f/5.6, 1/125, ISO-160
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.-56 @ 100mm, efov 270mm, f/5.6, 1/125, ISO-160

There are some drawbacks with the J5 of course…every camera or lens has some kind of trade-off. With the J5 the lack of an EVF is the biggest challenge for me as I have never liked composing images from the rear screen.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.-56 @ 100mm, efov 270mm, f/5.6, 1/50, ISO-160
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.-56 @ 100mm, efov 270mm, f/5.6, 1/50, ISO-160

To me this is an acceptable trade-off given the improvement in image quality that the J5 delivers. After going out with the J5 the past couple of days and capturing about 900 images I feel pretty confident that I will get used to the lack of an EVF for the types of photography that I plan to do with the J5.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.-56 @ 100mm, efov 270mm, f/8, 1/40, ISO-800
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.-56 @ 100mm, efov 270mm, f/8, 1/40, ISO-800

I’m also not a fan of micro-SD cards as I find them small and finicky…but again…it is something that I’m willing to put up with to get improved image quality and higher resolution.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.-56 @ 100mm, efov 270mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO-800
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.-56 @ 100mm, efov 270mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO-800

My trio of Nikon 1 V2’s with their seven batteries will remain my gear of choice for my client video work. The J5 does not accept external microphones and the lack of an EVF also limits its use for my video work.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.-56 @ 100mm, efov 270mm, f/5.6, 1/320, ISO-800
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.-56 @ 100mm, efov 270mm, f/5.6, 1/320, ISO-800

I will no doubt use the J5 in situations where I need to capture low angle or higher angle video clips as the rear tilt screen will allow me to properly frame scenes without having to lay on my belly or get up on ladders quite as often.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.-56 @ 50mm, efov 135mm, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-200
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.-56 @ 50mm, efov 135mm, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-200

Anther issue for me is that the Nikon 1 J5 performs quite differently than do my Nikon 1 V2’s in terms of measured ISO. When used with identical manual settings the Nikon 1 J5 will consistently under expose images and video clips. Readers interested in learning more about manufacturer stated ISO and measured ISO differences can read a recent article I wrote on this subject.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.-56 @ 68mm, efov 182mm, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-400
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.-56 @ 68mm, efov 182mm, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-400

Since I often capture client video scenes with multiple cameras shooting concurrently using manual settings, this is a significant issue for me as it could cause additional work in post production. So, my Nikon 1 J5 will be used sparingly for my client video work.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.-56 @ 60mm, efov 163mm, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-280
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.-56 @ 60mm, efov 163mm, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-280

I would have much rather bought an updated V-series with the new 20.8MP BSI sensor that is in the J5…but that’s life. We all have to make the best decisions for our needs based on what is available. I have some photography plans for the second half of 2016 where the improved image quality of the J5 will come in very handy.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.-56 @ 48mm, efov 129mm, f/5.6, 1/125, ISO-800
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.-56 @ 48mm, efov 129mm, f/5.6, 1/125, ISO-800

I have already noticed some changes when processing RAW files from the Nikon 1 J5. I need to do far fewer corrections with highlights and shadows in OpticsPro 10 than is the case with my Nikon 1 V2 RAW files.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.-56 @ 100mm, efov 270mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-220
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.-56 @ 100mm, efov 270mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-220

Overall, my post processing time is reduced by about 15% or so when shooting with the J5. This is understandable given the improvements with dynamic range and colour depth of the BSI sensor.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.-56 @ 15mm, efov 41mm, f/5.6, 1/60, ISO-800
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.-56 @ 15mm, efov 41mm, f/5.6, 1/60, ISO-800

You can expect to see a lot more of my images in future articles captured with the Nikon 1 J5 as I really like the quality of the files it produces.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.-56 @ 42mm, efov 114mm, f/5.6, 1/100, ISO-160
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.-56 @ 42mm, efov 114mm, f/5.6, 1/100, ISO-160

Some subjects will not change of course as the J5 is not well suited to birds-in-flight and other action subjects. Not only is the lack of an EVF an issue for this type of photography, but the J5’s buffer is much smaller than in the V2. Plus, it takes much longer to clear.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.-56 @ 34mm, efov 90mm, f/5.6, 1/30, ISO-160
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.-56 @ 34mm, efov 90mm, f/5.6, 1/30, ISO-160

Nikon 1 J5 auto focus performance, while snappy in good light, is noticeably slower than with my V2’s in lower light situations. So my V2’s will still get the nod in specific still image situations.

I will also likely use a monopod and/or tripod a lot more often when shooting with the J5 as achieving the precise framing I like in my images is more difficult and time consuming not having an EVF.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.-56 @ 100mm, efov 270mm, f/5.6 1/30, ISO-160
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.-56 @ 100mm, efov 270mm, f/5.6 1/30, ISO-160

While the Nikon 1 J5 lacks a few things that I would have liked on the camera, the improved image quality more than makes up for them. At about $550 Cdn, including a 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD kit lens, I think the J5 is a great little camera for the money.

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7 thoughts on “A morning walk with Nikon 1 J5”

  1. OK, you convinced me! I’ve held out for a V4, but that looks increasingly unlikely now, and with the sensor issues following the earthquake, even if it ever happens, it won’t be soon. It is tiny, reasonably priced (which makes a change for the Nikon 1 range), but I agree with you on things we would have preferred if it had been a V4 (in particular this sensor, but with a built-in EVF). It only arrived yesterday, so not much chance to use it yet. Thanks for a great web site.
    Mike

    1. Hi Mike,
      I haven’t had my J5 very long but I am already searching for another new one to add to my kit! As I get more used to using the rear screen the more I am enjoying the camera. It certainly is great to have improved image quality. With Sony recently indicating that they will no longer be developing or manufacturing ‘high value camera components’ for third parties, it is unclear what exactly Sony means by that statement so (worst case) the J5 may be the only Nikon 1 camera with that particular 20.8MP BSI sensor in it. That’s another reason I’m trying to buy another one at the present time.
      Tom

  2. Your experience is very similar to mine – and the way I use my V2 and J5 as well.

    A V4 with a V2 style body and a J5 style sensor with the V1 battery – now that would be nice!

    My only real gripe with the J5 is the weedy battery – but pattern copies are cheap and I have several now.

    1. Hi Ian,
      I haven’t used one complete battery charge on my J5 yet…just two partial charges. So far I have 634 exposures on one battery with one bar left on it after it was fully charged.
      Tom

  3. Hi Tom, I picked up the J5 after reading your first review of it with flowers. So happy with the new sensor sharpness in the macro set-up, 30-110 and tubes. It’s my go-to macro kit. Small easy to use and great photos.
    The birding a bit more challenging but that’s what the 70-300 CX and V2 is for. I getting too old to cary all this FX gear around and have fun now with my set up’s. Also the different filter modes are fun to work with.
    Thanks for the new photos and article on the J5.

    1. Hi Jack,
      You beat me to the punch purchasing a Nikon 1 J5 but I’m really glad that I finally came to my senses and bought one! Like you, I also love using the 1 Nikon 30-110mm with extension tubes. I think it’s the perfect combination of size, handling and image quality for macro-type work with a Nikon 1 body. I’m glad you enjoyed the newest article. You can expect to see future article featuring J5 images.
      Tom

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