A morning walk with the Nikon 1 J4

I recently purchased a Nikon 1 J4 kit with the 10-30 mm PD zoom, and a Nikon 1 WP-N3 underwater housing. I bought both at very attractive prices with the intent of using the combination for occasional underwater images and video, as well as an inclement weather option for travel and landscape photography. Earlier today I went out for a morning walk with the Nikon 1 J4 and captured a few images.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom @ 25mm, efov 68mm, f/5.6, 1/100, ISO-800
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom @ 25mm, efov 68mm, f/5.6, 1/100, ISO-800

I started off by grabbing some photographs at the front of my home, then headed off to Grimsby harbour.

Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom @ 23mm, efov 61mm, f/6.3, 1/60, ISO-900
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom @ 23mm, efov 61mm, f/6.3, 1/60, ISO-900

Before trying any kind of wet weather or underwater shooting I thought it would be prudent to take a bit of time to get used to the camera and lens. Even though it was a blustery morning – overcast and cold – I decided to venture out to see what I could find to photograph.

Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom @ 27mm, efov 72mm, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-800
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom @ 27mm, efov 72mm, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-800

I had only shot with the Nikon 1 10-30 mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom during some field work I did when writing my Nikon 1 J5 review. At that time I thought the lens was better than I had first anticipated.

Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom @ 12mm, efov 32mm, f/5.6, 1/1000, ISO-800
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom @ 12mm, efov 32mm, f/5.6, 1/1000, ISO-800

My outing today put the 10-30 mm PD zoom lens in a different light for me.

Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom @ 24mm, efov 64mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO-400
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom @ 24mm, efov 64mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO-400

While I have never liked the power-zoom control on the 10-30 mm PD lens, and still don’t, I initially thought the lens did quite a good job with colour rendition. After my outing this morning I think what I had previously experienced was caused by the improved performance of the 20.8 MP BSI sensor in the Nikon 1 J5.

Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom @ 30mm, efov 81mm, f/5.6, 1/400, ISO-400
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom @ 30mm, efov 81mm, f/5.6, 1/400, ISO-400

When I got home and started working with today’s images I found them somewhat flat and lifeless… even considering the lighting conditions. Since the sensor in the J4 is rated basically the same as those in my Nikon 1 V2’s by DxO I’m pretty sure the ¬†somewhat disappointing colour performance was caused by the 10-30 mm PD zoom.

Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom @ 30mm, efov 81mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO-400
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom @ 30mm, efov 81mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO-400

Obviously I tried to do the best I could with the files for this article. I found that I had to spend more time on them than usual. In part this was due to the fact that I had to make some adjustments that I wouldn’t typically have had to make with my V2 files when using other Nikon 1 lenses.

Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom @ 13mm, efov 36mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-400
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom @ 13mm, efov 36mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-400

For example I have seldom had to add saturation to any of my Nikon 1 files before. If anything, I sometimes have had to pull saturation down a tad at the end of my processing regimen because of how I typically work my Nikon 1 files.

Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom @ 15mm, efov 41mm, f/5.6, 1/320, ISO-400
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom @ 15mm, efov 41mm, f/5.6, 1/320, ISO-400

In addition, I found that I went into CS6 to adjust curves and levels a lot more often than I typically would need to do with files shot with other Nikon 1 lenses.

Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/5.6, 1/640, ISO-400
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/5.6, 1/640, ISO-400

I’d be the first person to admit that I don’t like to spend a lot of time with my images in post. Usually 2 or 3 minutes is about all I’m willing to spend on an image before I get bored and move on.

Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/6.3, 1/640, ISO-400
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/6.3, 1/640, ISO-400

So, having to spend more time than usual working on files in post isn’t something that I’ll be going out of my way to do. That means that the 10-30 mm PD zoom will likely only be used when I have the J4 in the WP-N3 waterproof housing and I have to use it.

Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/6.3, 1/800, ISO-400
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/6.3, 1/800, ISO-400

It should be noted that Nikon 1 waterproof housings can only be used with very specific Nikon 1 body/lens combinations.

Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom @ 30mm, efov 81mm, f/8, 1/100, ISO-400
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom @ 30mm, efov 81mm, f/8, 1/100, ISO-400

While at Grimsby harbour I noticed some memorials left on two of the benches overlooking the waterfront.

Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom @ 27mm, efov 73mm, f/8, 1/100, ISO-400
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom @ 27mm, efov 73mm, f/8, 1/100, ISO-400

It is always a heartfelt experience to witness a family’s ongoing expression of love.

Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom @ 30mm, efov 81mm, f/8, 1/640, ISO-400
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom @ 30mm, efov 81mm, f/8, 1/640, ISO-400

As you’ll notice with a few images in this article I’ve been doing more experimentation lately shooting my Nikon 1 gear at f/8.

Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/8, 1/320, ISO-400
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/8, 1/320, ISO-400

So far I haven’t noticed too much of a sharpness penalty from diffraction when shooting at this aperture. The 10-30 mm PD zoom also seemed to perform acceptably at this aperture.

Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom @ 30mm, efov 81mm, f/8, 1/80, ISO-400
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom @ 30mm, efov 81mm, f/8, 1/80, ISO-400

When first testing out a lens I often look for some kind of rock, or cracked and broken cement as I find these are often good subjects to assess lens sharpness, especially when looking for any loss of detail when stopping a lens down.

Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom @ 28mm, efov 75mm, f/5.6, 1/400, ISO-400
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom @ 28mm, efov 75mm, f/5.6, 1/400, ISO-400

The icing on the cake for me with any outing is finding something to capture that I can use to create an abstract image.

The Nikon 1 J4 kit isn’t something that I will be using on a regular basis as I much prefer cameras like my Nikon 1 V2’s that have an EVF. That’s not a problem for me at all as I bought the J4 kit along with the WP-N3 waterproof housing for very specific situations.

After spending more time shooting with the 1 Nikon 10-30 mm f/3.5-5.6 PD lens I am even more convinced that if folks have the extra money they should definitely choose the 10-100 mm f/4.5.6 over the 10-30 mm PD lens when buying a Nikon 1 camera kit.

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Article and all images Copyright Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, duplication of any kind, or adaptation is allowed without written consent.

9 thoughts on “A morning walk with the Nikon 1 J4”

  1. Enjoyable article and photos, Tom. Didn’t you check out the new J5 with improved sensor? How does the J4 compare? I am looking forward to the appearance of the new sensor in a model with viewfinder. But I hope that model will have a built in viewfinder instead of that on the V3. I much prefer the V2 over that one, and now have two V2’s, my favorite Nikon 1. And I agree with you, I think the 10-100 CX VR is a fine lens. It’s one of my most used lenses. But of course my favorite of all is the CX 70-300 VR. What a lens!

    always look forward to the email notices about new posts on your blog. Keep up the good work.

    Vern Rogers

    1. Hi Vern,

      The J5 is a much better camera than the J4. Sensor performance is noticeably better and the handling of the J5 is much nicer than with the J4. In addition the J5 has a tilt screen which comes in very handy. The only reason I bought the J4 is because it is one of the two cameras that will work with the WP-N3 waterproof housing. The other model is an S-series.

      Like you, my favourite Nikon 1 camera is the V2. I didn’t like the detachable EVF and grip with the V3, nor do I like the use of micro-SD cards. I’m not sure if Nikon has listened to users or not about these three issues. I found the AF on the V2 is slightly faster than on the V3, especially in lower light conditions.It would be great to see some of the additional handling characteristics of the V3 incorporated with a future V4, the use of the much improved BSI sensor, and a return to an integrated grip and EVF…and standard SD cards! I hope we see a V4 launched within the next few months.

      I agree that the CX 70-300 is just an awesome lens! If I would have bought it earlier I likely would have sold my full frame gear sooner.

      Tom

    1. Hi William,

      It is a good thought to test out either the 10-30mm PD or the J4 further. I will likely make some time to test the J4 with my 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 with extension tubes, and use the J4’s touch screen as that would be a capability I haven’t had in the past. I’ve used the 30-110 a lot so if the colour issue is with the J4 camera I’ll likely spot it right away. I don’t like using the 10-30 PD very much and I think I’d be hard pressed to find the motivation to use it with one of my V2’s. I’ll keep you posted…

      Tom

  2. Another great article. Thank you for writing.

    I have the Nikon V1 & V2 with a variety of lenses including the 10-30PD. My fav is the CX75-300 – I haven’t the 10-100 you mention, I’ll have to look at that one.

    I’ve a variety of top end cameras but the only one that really beats the Nikon 1 hands down is the Sony A7s which I use a lot for very low light photography including astro photography.

    I’m amazed at how well the i series perform and love the snappy auto-focus. On New Years eve I used the V1 and 6.7-13mm lens indoors and was surprised at how well the camera performed. Only 2 or 3 out of focus of the 100 or so I took.

    Have you ever thought of doing some low light/astro shooting with the 1 series? It’d be good to hear your views. I’ve never tried – maybe I ought as the cameras keep surprising me.

    1. Hi Robert,

      I’ve never tried astro shooting with any camera that I’ve ever owned. To be honest I wouldn’t know where to even begin with that subject matter! I’d love to hear about your results if you give it a whirl!

      Like you, I’ve had good luck with my Nikon 1 gear shooting in lower light conditions and find the AF works quite well. I’ve never shot with a V1 so I can’t comment on it. I did find that the V3’s AF in lower light wasn’t quite as snappy as it is with my V2…it wasn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination…just a hair slower than my V2. It will be interesting to see how the V4 performs in this regard…assuming of course that Nikon introduces one.

      Tom

  3. Its a small world….. I recently sold my 10-30PD that came with my J5 in order to purchase the 10-100VR lens ( non PD )…. great minds think alike… although they do say fools seldom differ…. :))

    1. Hi Ian,

      I’ll be keeping my 10-30 PD zoom since I need it for the J4 to operate with the Nikon 1 WP-N3 waterproof housing. Other than that my wife may decide to use it as she likes to use her Nikon 1 V2 with more ‘auto’ type settings.

      lol…fools seldom differ…but let’s look at our ‘continuity of thought’ as being ‘logic often leads to the same end’.

      Tom

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