Without question photographers who depend on excellent low light performance from their gear are best served by full frame cameras. Many of us mainly shoot under good lighting conditions and we only periodically challenge our cameras by shooting in low light situations. I recently purchased a Nikon 1 J5 and wanted to put it to the test. So, earlier today I went out to Bird Kingdom to try my Nikon 1 J5 shooting at high ISO.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
I typically capture images using Manual mode and let my ISO float by using Auto-ISO 160-3200. Since I wanted to push my Nikon 1 J5 I set my ISO to 6400 and changed my camera settings to Aperture priority.
As you look through the photos and the accompanying EXIF data some of the exposures setting will look a bit strange… ISO-6400 combined with a fast shutter speed. This is simply a product of me wanting to shoot at ISO-6400 during my visit to Bird Kingdom.
I’m still not used to composing images from the rear panel of the Nikon 1 J5 so it took me a bit longer than usual to frame many of my images. I think I will soon grow accustomed to this approach and it won’t be as big of an issue in the future.
I did notice that the auto-focusing on the Nikon 1 J5 isn’t quite as fast as with my V2’s. This was especially true in low light areas of Bird Kingdom. Since I’m not planning on using the J5 to capture any images of moving subjects under dark conditions this won’t be an issue for me in the future.
Since many of the birds, especially in the Small Bird Aviary, are quite skittish it made it quite a bit trickier to capture images not having a camera equipped with an EVF.
The larger birds did not pose as much of a challenge. I liked the small birds that were sleeping best!
In the Nocturnal Display I had to use a fairly slow shutter speed and the camera set-up handled it without any issue as I could prop the lens up against the glass of the enclosure for added stability.
Once in the Main Aviary it was easier to frame images as it is a more open environment and many of the birds remain perched for a bit more time.
Rather than just show you a few images this article has a selection of 20 photographs, all captured hand-held this morning. When sharing test results with you folks it’s always my preference to show you a decent selection of images to help give you a better idea about the capability of the gear I’m using.
All of the images in this article were produced from RAW files using my standard process of DxO OpticsPro 10 Elite with PRIME noise reduction, CS6 and Nik Suite.
I didn’t do anything special to any of these images or spend an inordinate amount of time on any of them. I simply used the adjustments I typically would apply for bird images captured at Bird Kingdom so I could compare them to past images taken with my V2s.
Overall, I was quite happy with how the Nikon 1 J5 performed and how the files it produced responded to OpticsPro 10 and my other software.
While I wouldn’t make it a habit to capture images with the Nikon 1 J5 at ISO-6400, depending on the type of use the images would get, I would not hesitate to shoot at this ISO when appropriate.
I even used ISO-12800 for a couple of test images, including the duck below. I think this is more of an emergency setting when no other option exists.
Like all cameras, the dynamic range and colour depth of my Nikon 1 J5 decreases as higher ISO’s are used. Images do suffer as a result with more colour blocking and fewer details in shadow and highlight areas.
This is to be expected when using a camera with a small sensor at higher ISO’s.
You’ll also notice that the colour transitions are not as smooth as they could be because of the high ISO’s I used.
Images captured at ISO-6400 with the Nikon 1 J5 would be acceptable for web use and potentially for smaller sized prints.
I’ll be doing some additional testing with my Nikon 1 J5 over the next few weeks and will be sharing additional results with you.
Matching up a Nikon 1 J5 with a V-Series camera like the V2 or V3 makes a great combination as the cameras compliment each other very well. As long as I didn’t absolutely need a camera with an EVF I would choose the much improved image quality of the J5 over a V3.
Composing from the rear screen does take a bit of getting used to, but I think the better sensor performance of the Nikon 1 J5 is a reasonable trade-off.
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