Digital Cameras Guide

Nikon 1 J4 review

Nikon 1 J4 Mirrorless Camera - Small and Speedy

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Launch SRP
S$749 with 1 NIKKOR VR 10-30mm PD-ZOOM
S$999 with 1 NIKKOR VR 10-30mm PD & 30-110mm dual lens kit

Overall rating 8/10
Performance:
8
Design:
8.5
Features:
8
User-Friendliness:
8.5
Value:
8
THE GOOD
Fast autofocus and continuous shooting rate
Touchscreen makes navigating menus simple
Easy for beginners to pick up
Built-in Wi-Fi support
THE BAD
Poor high ISO performance
Images have a slight cyan cast


Introduction, Design and Handling

Advancing the Nikon 1 Series

We first covered news of the Nikon 1 J4 in our sneak peek here, but we’ve since had a chance to have the retail set in our labs for a proper review, and we do believe the J4 is a worthy upgrade if you’ve been on the J3 or J2.

The Nikon 1 system is fairly mature by now, and with the J4 the focus remains on making key shooting situations easier via the use of presets. With eight filter options like HDR, Creative Palette, Panorama, and Soft focus available under the Creative mode, and Nikon’s own helper functions like Best Moment Capture and Smart Photo Selector (more about how these work in our interview with Nikon), it’s obvious Nikon is trying to bridge the gap between cameras with interchangeable lenses and simple point-and-shoot compacts with this one.

At 100 x 60 x 29mm, the J4 is about the same size as the J3 (which measures 101 x 61 x 29mm), but is surprisingly heavier at 232g with battery and memory card (compared to 201g for the predecessor). The J4 also gains built-in Wi-Fi support and a higher-resolution 1.04-million dot 3-inch monitor with touchscreen capabilities, which compensates for the J4’s minimalistic approach to controls.

Nikon 1 J4 Compared to its Predecessors
  Nikon 1 J4 Nikon 1 J3 Nikon 1 J2
Effective pixels
  • 18.4MP
  • 14.2 million
  • 10.1 megapixels
Sensor
  • Nikon CX
  • 13.2 mm x 8.8 mm CMOS sensor (Nikon CX format)
  • 13.2mm x 8.8mm
  • CMOS
Lens
  • Nikon 1 mount
  • Nikon 1 mount
Focal Length Multiplier
  • Approx. 2.7x lens focal length (35 mm format equivalent)
  • 2.7x
ISO rating
  • 200 to 12800, in steps of 1EV, ISO 160; 6400(NR); 12800 (NR); auto ISO sensitivity control (ISO 160–6400, 160–3200, 160–800) available (user controlled in P, S, A, and M modes)
  • ISO 160-6400 in steps of 1 EV
  • 100-3200
  • 6400
Shutter speed
  • 1/16,000 to 30s in steps of 1/3 EV; Bulb Note: Bulb ends automatically after approximately 2 minutes
  • 1/16,000-30 s in steps of 1/3 EV; Bulb
  • Note: Bulb ends automatically after approximately 2 minutes
  • 1/16,000 sec to 30 sec
Auto Focus
  • Hybrid autofocus (phase-detection/contrast-detect AF); AF-assist illuminator
  • Matrix Center-weighted: Meters 4.5 mm circle in center of frame Spot: Meters 2 mm circle centered on selected focus area
  • Hybrid autofocus (phase detection/contrast-detect AF)
  • AF-assist illuminator
  • Hybrid autofocus (phase detection/contrast-detect AF)
  • AF-assist illuminator
Specialty Shooting Modes
  • P, S, A, M, creative palette, HDR, easy panorama, soft, miniature effect, selective color, cross process, and toy camera effect; best moment capture (Active Selection, slow view and Smart Photo Selector); advanced movie (HD movie, slow motion, jump cut, fast motion and 4-second movie), Motion Snapshot
  • P programmed auto with flexible program; S shutter-priority auto; A aperture-priority auto; M manual; scene auto selector
Exposure Compensation
  • –3 to +3EV, in steps of 1/3EV
  • -3 - +3 EV in increments of 1/3 EV
  • ±3 EV in increments of 1/3EV
Metering
  • TTL metering using image sensor
  • TTL metering using image sensor
  • Matrix Center-weighted: Meters 4.5 mm circle in center of frame Spot: Meters 2 mm circle centered on selected focus area
  • TTL metering using image sensor
  • Matrix / Center-weighted: Meters 4.5mm circle in center of frame / Spot: Meters 2mm circle centered on select focus area
Flash Modes
  • Auto; Soft, Miniature effect, Selective color, Cross process, Toy camera effect (Creative mode): Flash pops up automatically and fires as required P programmed auto, S shutter-priority auto, A aperturepriority auto, M manual (Creative mode): Manual pop-up
  • Auto; Soft, Miniature effect, Selective color (Creative mode): Flash pops up automatically and fires as required Night portrait, Backlighting (Creative mode): Flash pops up automatically and fires with every shot P programmed auto, S shutter-priority auto, A aperture-priority auto, M manual (Creative mode): Manual pop-up
Recording Formats
  • MOV, AAC
  • MOV, AAC
  • MOV, AAC
Display
  • 3-inch TFT LCD touch screen with brightness adjustment (approx. 1037k-dot)
  • 3-inch, approx. 921k-dot, TFT LCD with brightness adjustment
  • 3-inch, 921,000 dots, TFT-LCD
Storage type
  • microSD (micro Secure Digital), microSDHC, microSDXC
  • SD (Secure Digital), SDHC, and SDXC memory cards
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards
Connectivity
  • Hi-Speed USB and Type D HDMI connector, built-in Wi-Fi
  • Hi-Speed USB, Type C mini-pin HDMI connector
  • USB, Type C mini-pin HDMI connector
Battery
  • EN-EL22 Lithium Ion battery
  • EN-EL20 Lithium Ion battery
  • EN-EL20 Lithium-ion Battery
Dimensions
  • Approx. 99.5 x 60.0 x 28.5mm excluding projections
  • 101.0 x 60.5 x 28.8mm
  • 106 x 61 x 29.8mm
Weight
  • Approx. 232g with battery and memory card but without body cap; approx. 192 g, camera body only
  • Approx. 244 g with battery and memory card but without body cap; approx. 201 g, camera body only
  • 238g (body only)


Design and Key Features

In terms of body design, the J4 is decidedly futuristic, sporting a brushed-metal finish and a more boxy shape compared to the J3. A dedicated record button is placed next to the shutter button, letting you start recording movie with just a press, and we really like that it’s a nice solid ridged button that pops up enough for you to reach by feel.

Also new, is the 10-30 f/3.5-5.6 PD-ZOOM kit lens that comes with the bundle. This features an integrated lens cover, and Nikon’s power drive zoom, which essentially is a zoom-by-wire system, meant to facilitate smooth zooming while recording movies. We must say that we really like the integrated cover, as it cuts down on loose items to be mindful of, and more importantly, reduces the number of steps it takes to start shooting - just turn on the camera and you’re good to go.

Other cameras we tried like the  Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 and the Samsung NX Mini require you to remove your lens cap, turn on your camera, and then turn the zoom barrel to unlock the lens before you can start taking pictures, so being able to cut that down to one step is definitely refreshing. 

 

In terms of handling, the J4 fits nicely into the hand and is one of the smaller cameras out there in its class. We think the touchscreen really adds to its usability as it’s simply a lot easier to tap options on-screen than to go through multiple button presses - especially when it comes to menus that need navigation! A small plastic ridge on the right of the camera acts as a nice thumb grip, and the metallic finish gives the camera a nice, modern feel.

Also different from the J3, is the fact that the J4 now has wireless networking built-in, allowing you to take control of the camera using your smart device via the free Nikon app (available for Android and iOS). This also gives you the ability to transfer images to your smartphone or tablet, trigger the shutter remotely, and to save a copy on both the camera and smart device. In this case, the image saved to your device will be a low-res copy, whereas the one on the J4 will be full quality.

Something unique here is the fact that the Nikon app gives you options for setting battery warning levels - for both the smart device and the J4. This helps you prevent the instance where you connect the camera to your smart phone only for it to die on you after five shots for example, but it can be a little annoying if you have the trigger level set too high and don't realize it.