updated 9/21/2011 3:19:35 PM ET 2011-09-21T19:19:35

Nikon launched its first mirrorless interchangeable lens compact camera this week that is based on an entirely new imaging system. The new camera, dubbed the J1, is the first homegrown camera system that Nikon has developed since its F System more than 50 years ago.

At a swanky event in Tokyo, Nikon revealed the 10.1MP candy-colored cameras with high-tech features designed to appeal to a new crowd of users.

“Nikon is looking to capture young, socially connected adults who may or may not be traditional memory-keepers in the home,” Sharon Henley, Nikon product life cycle control senior manager, told reporters.

Video, stills  and combo

With a surprisingly small sensor and new dual-core processor, the compact digital camera offers full 1080p HD video shooting at up to 60 frames per second for a maximum video shoot of 29 continuous minutes. Users can also shoot at 1200 fps for super slow-motion effects.

For stills, the J1 can capture 10 frames per second in high-speed burst mode, a new high in the compact market, and that’s with continuous adaptive auto-focus. Smart Still mode lets photographers take 20 pictures in succession with one press of the shutter, and the camera automatically selects the best shot along with four alternatives and displays them in the 3-inch LCD display.

The 1.4 million-dot high resolution electronic viewfinder, which replaces a mirror in traditional camera systems, automatically activates when the camera is raised to the eye.

The J1 uses a so-called CX system that offers a combined still and video shooting mode. With Motion Snapshot activated, the J1 captures one second of 60 fps video before and after a still shot and processes it to movie film rate of 24 fps. Photographers end up with a 2.5-second video clip of slow-motion action ending with a freeze-frame still.

CX system

Nikon said the new advanced hybrid AF system in the J1 is the world's fastest autofocus. It automatically adapts to a wide variety of lighting with a native ISO range of 100-3200 with one additional step to 6400, useful in very low light conditions.

The Nikon 1’s CX-format CMOS sensor sits between the conventional compact camera sizes and those used in DSLRs and other mirrorless cameras.

For instance, the CX sensor is four times bigger than the one in most compact cameras and two-and-a-half times bigger than the 1 and 1.7-inch type used in expensive enthusiast compacts. However, it is half the size of the sensor in a micro four-thirds camera and one third the size of the APS-C format used in most DSLRs, which allows Nikon to produce a smaller, lighter-weight camera than its competitors.


Nikon’s new CX cameras will have their own compatible lenses, but the company said it will offer an adapter so that F-type lenses from a photographer’s Nikon DSLR can be used with System 1 cameras.

System 1 lenses include a 10 mm, f2.8 (27 mm equivalent) pancake; a 10-30 mm, f3.8-5.6 (27-81 mm equivalent) Vibration Reduction (VR) II standard zoom; and a 10-100 mm, f4.5-5.6 (81-297 mm equivalent) VR II long zoom.

The J1 will be available on Oct. 20 for $650, which includes the camera body and a 10-33 mm lens.




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