Thu, 11 Oct 2012 Nikon J2 review
Second generation Compact System Camera finds it hard to improve on perfection
- Manufacturer: Nikon
- Pros: Cool design, metal build, simple intuitive handling, a twist of the lens powers the camera up or down (if using the kit zoom), creative mode for more experimental users, slight boost in LCD resolution
- Cons: Though the market has moved on, hardly a jot has changed feature-wise when compared to the year-old J1, picture quality is acceptable but only marginally better than your average snapshot
- Price: £499.99 with 10-30mm VR zoom lens on test
- Star rating:
Usually when a camera is updated it gets a pixel or frame rate boost, Wi-Fi or GPS added, or handling niggle refined. But on inspecting the metal build, palm-sized J2 compact system camera (CSC), outwardly the doppelganger of the year-old J1, it seems Nikon has decided ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’. A reluctance to change is partly excused by the fact that the J1 was a best seller for those looking to improve on the quality of their snapshots, but who didn’t yet want a DSLR. But with Canon entering the CSC market with its EOS M, plus Olympus, Sony, Panasonic and Samsung offering built-in Wi-Fi and iPhone style apps, can a camera that now suddenly seems ‘traditional’ keep up?
Perhaps not, but luckily the J2 has one of the coolest and most compact designs of all CSC’s in its favour, distracting somewhat from the modest 10.1 megapixel on-inch sensor that has been retained. It is available as a kit with a 10-30mm zoom lens, fine as a starter option, although a pancake lens suits it better.
Nevertheless a welcome feature this time around is the fact that the camera can be switched on or off with a twist of the zoom ring, though a standard on/off button still features for when you’re using a fixed focal length. Also new is a Creative Mode, which seems to be basically a way of keeping real photographic controls such as Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual initially hidden away from anyone trading up from a snapshot or smartphone until they actually want to seek them out.
There is no electronic viewfinder but the fixed 3-inch screen has had its resolution upped from 460k dots to 921K, not that one can immediately tell. While battery life has stayed the same as the J1 for stills, should you choose the maximum 60fps frame rate for Full HD stereo video, it’s actually worse. In terms of image quality, though shots are clear and crisp at first glance, bugbears such as pixel fringing and softness at longer zoom settings remain.
While rivals have thrown everything but the kitchen sink at their latest cameras, Nikon has made minimal tweaks but the size and glossy exterior sells itself