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 20.8 MP 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 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 zoom lens.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
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.
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.
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 12.0 EV compared to 10.8 EV for my V2’s, and colour depth is much improved at 22.1-bits compared to 20.2 with my V2’s.
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 20.8 MP compared to 14.2 MP with my V2’s also provides more cropping potential, and when shot under good lighting, increased print enlargement opportunities.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I would have much rather bought an updated V-series with the new 20.8 MP 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 10-30 mm f/3.5-5.6 PD kit lens, I think the J5 is a great little camera for the money.
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