Nikon 1 J5 camera tested at DxOMark

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DxOMark tested the Nikon 1 J5 mirrorless camera. This is their conclusion:

"On paper at least, the Nikon 1 J5 looks like a serious contender in the mid-range mirrorless segment. In the past, the Nikon 1 models have lagged behind in sensor performance but with the shift to this back-illuminated 20.8-Mpix sensor, that’s no longer the case. The sensor in the Nikon 1 J5 is comparable in performance to the unit found in the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 models, and we assume it’s the same or at least a related sensor. It’s a welcome boost for Nikon in this segment, competing not only with the small Sony compacts but also some larger (Micro-Four-Thirds) sensors, such as that found in the highly-regarded Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100. The Nikon 1 J5 is the first mirrorless model with interchangeable lenses to adopt this sensor, and as a result, the future of the Nikon 1 system as a whole now looks a lot more promising."

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  • CaMeRa QuEsT

    Could this be the same sensor as on the RX100IV/RX10II but held down by firmware to allow Sony to get all the headlines first? Maybe a later firmware release will unlock all the functionality that’s already present in the RX100IV/RX10II? That will make the J5 a bargain by comparison! Oh well, wishful thinking, but it’s not the way Nikon usually functions. Maybe next year on the J6 then…

    • Citizen Kang

      I’d love to be the first to eat my own words, but, frankly, Nikon isn’t that generous. They don’t see it in their own best interest even though, in the long run, it may very well be. Customer satisfaction and good will goes a long way. I don’t think Nikon would be enlightened enough to gift us with freebies if they are indeed just locked away via software.

    • More like experImental error or sample quality. There are plenty of cases where dxo has rated the same sensor from the same vendor in two bodies that differently. Note that the LX100 has a near-M43 sensor, so the J5 is doing very well here.

  • Spy Black

    I was hoping, for the sake of the Nikon 1 system, that they would have used a Sony sensor. Apparently not. I would imagine Aptina made this one. It’s unfortunate, because I’ve yet to see a better killer combo than Nikon image processing and Sony sensors. That the older RX100 III sensor still beats it is a surprise. I can’t imagine how the new RX100 IV sensor will compare.

    Still, the J5 is the first step I’ve seen Nikon take to creating a truly competitive camera in the Nikon 1 system, with proper control surfaces and a real-world price. Now let’s see what the V4 looks like. Hopefully a fully-fledged camera with a standard hot shoe, higher quality sensor, and no crippleware.

    I recently considered taking some astro shots with my J4 via the FT1 adapter and some telephotos, only to find out you can’t make exposures longer than 1/3 second with the FT1 attached. Deliberate crippling. The Nikon 1 cameras with standard Nikkors or third-party FF optics on it would make for interesting astro cameras, if you could only expose for it. Ah, crippleware.

    • manhattanboy

      Did you misread the post. It said it uses the Sony sensor. I have both the 4 and 5 and the images are better out of the 5, but don’t expect dslr quality.

      • Spy Black

        I do believe you’ve misread the post. 😉

        • Kyle

          Indeed, DXO doesn’t know what sensor it is, but speculates it’s likely a derivative of the Sony one.

          • Spy Black

            I don’t think they’re implying that either. They’re simply saying that it’s “comparable in performance” which, to a degree, it is.

            • Nikon1isAwesome!

              “we assume it’s the same or at least a related sensor”

            • Spy Black

              Ah, I see, I was only reading the summery here. However they’re not saying it IS one.

    • ITN

      A Sony monopoly in sensors is in nobody’s interest (except Sony’s, of course). It is much better that camera manufacturers such as Nikon partner with multiple sensor manufacturers to develop the sensors used in their cameras. That way there is competition which leads to better prices and better performance in the long term.

      • Spy Black

        While I agree with this, you need to have a a comparable product if you’re going to be competitive. 😉

        • ITN

          Not necessarily just comparable; collaborating with a different company might lead to better performance than they can get from working with Sony. E.g. the Nikon/Toshiba sensor in the D7200 dxo scores 87, Sony’s sensor in the A6000 scores 82. In any case having many sensor manufacturers is far more important for the camera manufacturers than having top performance at a given time (the differences are getting to be very small in any case, illustrated by the above comparison between RX100 II and 1 J5, basically the scores are so closely apart the difference is about the same as dxo’s measurement error and smaller than what the human eye and brain can discriminate from the image). If all manufacturers just bought their sensors from Sony, the latter could charge much more what they’re charging now for the sensors, or simply terminate the collaboration, effectively removing their competition. It is necessary for healthy competition to exist even if it sometimes leads to a slight disadvantage for a particular manufacturer. Canon is a clear example that sensor performance is just one piece in the puzzle as they continue to maintain clear market leadership in ILCs even though they haven’t led sensor performance in eight years. However, it is necessary for Canon to continue their own sensor work (even when at a performance disadvantage temporarily) to create original solutions and to prevent Sony from becoming a monopoly in large sensors. Similarly Nikon likely continues to work with several manufacturers of sensors so as to be able to pick the best performance and price for each camera. They might not always have the right solution available for each camera they’d like to make (e.g. the early 1 series sensors for a time were a little behind the competition, which is now rectified in the 1 J5) but in recent years they’ve been very competitive in overall image quality in most of their DSLR products. Soon all the sensor manufacturers’ products will be just a tiny little bit below ideal sensor performance and sensor prices will likely fall from what they are today since no one can charge extra for a performance advantage they don’t have. And that’s the ideal situation for camera and lens manufacturers to thrive.

          • Spy Black

            While I agree generally with what you’re saying here, I disagree that you don’t necessarily need a competitive product. The old Avis “we try harder” shtick doesn’t cut it if you want the best possible performance. I’m also not so sure the D7200 has a Toshiba sensor, the D3300 is that camera. I believe the D7200 has a Sony sensor.

  • Eric Calabros

    Another hint that DxO ISO score is not about noise at all. J4 obviousely shows more noise in shadows at high ISO, but here the difference is 479 vs. 426! if it was right, you couldnt even see it.

    • Lee

      None of Dxo’s anything scores are about anything. They literally make up those numbers on a whim. The charts are great, but don’t even look at the scores.

      • Spy Black

        …and your proof of this statement is based on…? Just because you don’t agree with their conclusions doesn’t mean they’re not basing their conclusion on measurable testing methodology.

        • Lee

          You can come up with a formula that will make anything say anything. Their methodology for their scores is bizarre. Look at the image posted by Eric Calabros from DPReview that show a fairly small (but definitely more than 53, which I doubt would be visible) difference in low light performance. Sometimes DXO’s scores reflect the reality found in their charts and in image samples, sometimes not. I’m not dismissing DXO, I’m saying look at the charts which show objective data.

      • El Aura

        I think it is rather that you make up your statements on a whim. DxO very clearly say how the ISO score is determined. It is the highest ISO value for which SNR, DR, and TN all are above a certain threshold value. For most cameras, it is the SNR threshold that is determining the ISO score. This means it largely mirrors sensor size (and QE, but QE varies much less than sensor size).

    • wj

      I was comparing J5 with other Nikon 1 cameras using Dpreview comparison tool (http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/image-comparison) and couldn’t really see big difference in ISO performance between all that 1″ sensors. So, I trust DxO marks in this regard. Even your example confirms that.

    • Spy Black

      Where did you get that comparison sample from?

  • I bought a V1 some years ago and like the camera for mountain hikes. I have the 6.7-13, 10-30, 30-110 and the 18.5. I think the lenses are quite good an relatively inexpensive. Unfortunately none of the newer models really appealed to me: the V2 uses a different battery (I also have a D7000 & D610) and the sensor wasn’t much better, the V3 also uses another battery, does not have an integrated viewfinder and uses Micro-SD cards.

    I think Nikon crippled the Nikon 1 cameras on purpose because they do not want people to buy a Nikon 1 instead of a DSLR. I am not sure this strategy worked out well: a lot of people probably bought mFT instead of a Nikon 1 and a Nikon DSLR… I think what Nikon should have done is to market the Nikon 1 cameras as complement for DSLR-shooters. Most DSLR-shooters probably want a smaller lighter camera for hikes or family trips and the Nikon 1 could have been that camera.

    I think the whole “cripple Nikon 1 and DX cameras” strategy backfired: I had a Nikon D7000 and waited forever for a D400 and a 16-85 replacement. At some point I decided to switch to FX and bought a used D610, a used 18-35, 24-120/4 and 28/1.8. I probably would have bought a new D400 + 16-80/2.8-4 instead because I photograph wildlife and prefer a crop-camera for that. Now I will probably wait to get a used D7200 and just keep the D610 for landscape work.

    I hope Nikon does not repeat this mistake with the V4: just put the sensor from the J5 into the V1, add some more controls and a crip and use the battery from the D7000 / D610 and SD-cards and sell it at a reasonable price and I will buy one. I guess one can still dream…

    • Kyle

      If the V4 uses the EN EL 15, that will add to its appeal as a small companion to owners who have a D7xxx, D6xx, D750, or D8xx.

      • HotDuckZ

        I’m not log-in for 3 months, now I’m log-in to liked your comment.

      • Nikon1isAwesome!

        Yes. The battery is disproportionately important to me in choosing a model of camera.

        • MyrddinWilt

          If like me your main camera is a D800, being able to use the same battery in both is very useful. I consider my V1s to be an extension of my D800 system, like adding a teleconverter.

          If they came out with a V4 that looked like the J5 and had an electronic viewfinder, I would be very interested.

          • Nikon1isAwesome!

            I plan to stay with the EN-EL15. My D700 is an outlier, but when it’s eventually replaced it’ll be with an EN-EL15 powered camera. I would really hesitate to upgrade the V1 unless the newer model had this battery (I’d also like an integral viewfinder and a standard hot-shoe). I would substantially overpay for a V4 that met these three considerations in addition to it’s other performance improvements.

    • neversink

      I can’t believe the myth of shooting wildlife with a crop camera still exists!!! Oh well. Believe what you will….

      • What myth? I have a D7000, a D610 and the Sigma 120-300/2.8 OS and I definitively prefer the D7000 + Sigma 120-300/2.8 OS (often with a 1.4x converter) for wildlife.

        • neversink

          Image Quality is better on most full frames vs DX. The sensor on the D610 is so much better than that on the D7000 series of cameras. I had a D7000 for backup on my D700 and D3s. I gave my D7000 to my daughter after purchasing the D800 and D4, which are my main cameras now (with the D700 as back up and sold my old D3s.
          The IQ of the same subjects in the same light of wildlife in Africa is so much sharper on the full frame cameras even when cropping the full frame image. I use my cameras for all sorts of clients and wouldn’t even consider using a Dx body now. It just doesn’t make sense.
          When you add the TC1.4 to any lens – full frame or Dx – you will get some image quality degradation depending on the lens and the aperture opening used.
          But if you like what you see, then by all means enjoy.

          • Spy Black

            Just because you want to shoot full frame doesn’t mean crop frame cameras aren’t used in wildlife photography.

            • neversink

              I didn’t say that, did I? My replies are about image quality not about popularity. Point and shoots are also used to shoot wildlife.

            • Following that reasoning, all serious wildlife shooters should be using medium format, shouldn’t they? But considering cost and also weight, things start to look different.

            • David

              I’d say you’re a little misguided. A lot of wildlife shooters want greater pixel density over the ‘target’. Right now with most sensors the benefit of FX over DX is about a stop. However, if you’re shooting in DX crop mode, the advantages you had in both DR and ISO are pretty much erased. The only way you will get a better result from FX is when you need that wider field of view and you crop down only slightly from it.

              Unless you’re shooting with a D4, I’m not sure you can make the ISO argument either: if you’re using a 600mm f4 on your D800, but I’m using a 400mm 2.8 on my D7000, yes you’ll have slightly better ISO because the D800 sensor is I think more than a stop over the D7000’s, but you just spent something like $6000 more on your lens than I did on mine. If you’re using a D4, then you spent pretty much $10,000 over what I did for literally a stop of ISO gain.

            • spicynujac

              Precisely. While sometimes I’m doing wildlife shots at 400-1600 ISO, rarely are high ISO shots my priority. But getting close and tight is. I reluctantly switched to FX because Nikon refuses to put a tilt screen on the D7x00 line, but when shooting wildlife, I am in Dx mode.

              However, in your above example, isn’t the FX performance at f/4 going to be EQUAL, not “one stop better”, to the DX performance at 2.8 at a cost of thousands more? (Since performance gap between DX and FX is roughly 1 stop). But keep in mind one can always shoot their FX in DX mode and use the same 400mm 2.8 lens you are talking about.

            • David

              Yeah, in my above example it’d come out equal, but apparently it’s not that simple: I asked Thom Hogan why every DX user isn’t using a 50mm 1.8/1.4 on a D7100/D7200 in the 2x crop mode as a portrait lens, and he said you’d be giving up a decent amount of dynamic range. However, Thom said in his evaluation of the D7100 that he’s still taking his D800 with him on Safari because he can pull shadows much more easily. So it’s a combination of DR loss and potentially differing sensor tech. 24mp DX vs 15mp DX crop isn’t enough of a difference that downsizing the 24mp DX would help mask noise significantly.

            • neversink

              I use both a D4 and a D800 – I have no choice. It’s my living…

      • Spy Black

        Why would you call it a myth? It’s fairly well documented. Other than the Asian market, the one area the Nikon 1 was popular despite being crippleware with was the wildlife crowd, especially the birders.

        • neversink

          Read below… It all about image quality!!!! It’s not about being able to get up closer with a lesser quality sensor…. Nor is it about popularity…

        • MyrddinWilt

          Because he is a snob who doesn’t understand math or physics and thinks the size of the sensors is what matters, rather than the physical size of the lenses.

          Low light performance? What you need is big lenses to capture more light. Bigger sensors capture a wider angle of view. They don’t capture more light from a given portion of the picture.

          Shallow depth of field? What you need is to aggregate images taken from different slightly positions. i.e. a large aperture.

          • neversink

            My comment has nothing to do with the size of a sensor. Did I say that? Absolutely not. Read below. It has nothing to do with snobbery. It has to do with image quality. Your name calling and insults that I am a snob and uneducated only shows your inability to intelligently discuss a topic.

            • spicynujac

              But at some point, DX becomes “good enough” even if FX is always one stop better. I learned to shoot with film, and already DX is outperforming what I could do with film cameras (ie shoot color images at 800+ ISO and have them look sharp with no visible noise). As DX continues to improve, and we get acceptable quality at 1,200, 1,600, 2,400, 3,200 ISO, the higher performance of FX becomes less noticeable or needed.

              I read that the sensor in my AW1 had better performance than the sensor in my old Nikon D40x DSLR. At the time, I owned both cameras, and the smaller format, lighter, advanced 1 outperformed the larger sensor camera of a few years ago. So in the long run, I think CX (or m4/3, etc.) will become “good enough” although we are still several years from that. The size and weight reductions are amazing and I could travel with my complete CX kit from 18mm to 800mm in a tiny backpack.

            • neversink

              I agree with you on this. Of course you change depth of field focus and lose all that wonderful bokeh on most photographs taken with a CX, but the weight is a factor, and of course, focus in a bit more forgiving with CX. I use an AW1 also. The quality is impressive, but once you start going beyond ASA (I mean ISO) 400 the IQ begins to rapidly diminish.

              I’m not sure CX will ever become “good enough,” but I love the AW1 for just carrying around. Though my old Leicas are much nicer. But who wants to mess with film anymore. (I do, he admitted…) )

    • spicynujac

      As an owner of two extremes, AW1 and D750, I would say that sensor size is often quite overrated. For wildlife and most daylight shooting, the Nikon 1 system is exactly what I want. I bought both of these cameras for niche reasons, and let circumstances decide which I used for daily shooting:

      The AW1 I bought only because it is an underwater camera. I would have purchased it without being interchangeable lens; Nikon in a way “tricked” me into the Nikon 1 system because I soon purchased the 6.7-13, 30-110, and 32mm 1.2. The lenses are great, although I wish the tele was faster. The 70-300 is on my wish list, although it seems pricey considering the rather slow speed (and the fact that you need low ISO on Nikon 1 to avoid noise.) But this system is perfect for telephoto and macro photography. I am still waiting for the Nikon 1 micro lens to be announced. The autofocus and video (cool slo mo!) on Nikon 1 blow away DSLR offerings.

      The D750 I bought primarily for its night photography, astrophotography, and other low-light performance features, and because it has the tilt LCD. Again, situations like underwater that comprise <5% of my shooting. So which of these cameras do I use the other 90% of the time? Well, I normally grab the AW1, with my only complaints being poor battery life, bad noisy sensor, and the screen is hard to shoot with in daylight. If the V4 has a big DSLR battery, electronic viewfinder, and improved sensor, then this would be a huge winner for me. The D750 is so freaking heavy, I really only use it for tripod shots. It's just so impractical. Although technically great and the results are amazing.

      Nikon should definitely stop crippling the FT1–its silly. When you are spending $1,350 ($1,100 V3 + $250 FT1) on your camera (this is $100 cheaper than I got my D750 for, and more expensive than most of Nikon's DSLR line), you should get a fully functional, uncrippled camera.

      • neversink

        I agree, except for the part where you think your D750 is so navy. I don’t know. I use a D4 with very heavy lenses and I survive. …

        • David

          I have some serious shoulder injuries that have never fully healed ten years on: I can carry a D4-size camera and big lens around my neck, but even a padded shoulder bag will start to hurt after even a short time and backpacks aren’t practical enough I feel. About the limit for me without starting to get cramping/pain in my shoulders is an E-M1+12-40 and a 50-200 in a shoulder bag.

  • KT

    Now that Nikon has finally closed the gap to Sony’s RX100 mark III, DXO will soon release their sensor score for the RX100 mark IV and it will likely scorch the Nikon 1 J5, then everyone will get depressed again about Nikon’s lack of innovation, etc….

    • Eric Calabros

      Mark4 update was just about speed, not image quality

    • MonkeySpanner

      I am not so sure about that. I compared samples between III and IV and they look almost identical. IV update was about speed, not IQ.

      • nwcs

        Yeah, they look very similar. I’d say the IV update was mostly about video and some helpful additional tweaks.

  • Pat Mann

    V4 just around the corner now, I hope? And don’t blow it this time, Nikon, do it right. Built-in fast EVF. All-day battery, or at the very least a battery grip that uses a DSLR standard. Good manual controls. Standard accessory shoe with Nikon flash system capability. Wi-fi and GPS would be nice, but let’s get the basics right first.

    • Kyle

      I hope they keep the same EN EL 15 battery. It’s so nice being able to use my D750 and V1 and carry a single type of battery and charger!
      (I also shoot with Canon and Sony equipment as well… and have literally 6 other chargers and battery types for those different cameras. So I’m a fan of a standardized battery! lol)

      • Nikon1isAwesome!

        It is nice, but right now the V1 is rejecting a battery that works perfectly in the D7000. I only have Nikon batteries and this one suddenly went from age 0 to age 4 while in the V1. Does show age 4 in the D7000 but performance has not degraded in any noticeable way. Strange.

        • nwcs

          A lot of us former V1 owners are convinced there is a firmware bug that causes this. I saw that behavior after just a few months with the camera several years ago. Nikon apparently isn’t interested in fixing it.

          • Captain Megaton

            Maybe the battery is below spec due to age/use/defect and the V1 is a bit more picky about it. I have one battery which is a 3, the rest 0, and the rating does seem to be accurate, the “3” battery is weaker and doesn’t hold a charge when left in camera for a while.

            • nwcs

              I don’t know. It did it to a battery that was 2 months old without heavy use.

      • spicynujac

        The EN EL 15 is almost double the capacity of what my AW1 uses. And since I can blow through a battery in 2 hours, Nikon 1 system needs *at least* EN EL15, or more capacity, NOT LESS. (And I too like the idea of one battery, one charger!)

    • YS

      And not stupidly expensive please. The V3 setup cost more than a D7200.

      • Captain Megaton

        And unicorns. I want my unicorns.

        • YS

          You mean it should cost US$1100?

    • Captain Megaton

      I’ve always wondered why people keep asking for standard hot shoes on compact cameras. The V1 accessory port fits a GPS or a flash, both nicely sized to the camera, or holds a mic (with adapter).

      What is the point of being able to put a SB-910 on this kind of camera? I don’t get it.

      That said, after V1->V2->V3 its funny that a lot of people are wanting a V1 again (built in EVF, EL-15 battery), essentially, maybe with a PASM mode dial this time though and an ISO button … and deep-six the motion snapshot. Not that I disagree or anything. A slightly tweaked V1 would be welcome.

      • Carleton Foxx

        Pocket Wizards. And I was on holiday recently and saw a guy with a point and shoot Canon with the medium-sized Canon speed light on it and he looked very happy taking pictures. So there are reasons, maybe not great reasons, but reasons nonetheless

  • MonkeySpanner

    Disappointing that high ISO noise didn’t improve that much. But everything else seemed to, so that is positive.

  • Brett A. Wheeler

    DxO is a joke.

    • mikeswitz

      So why do you read this?

  • HotDuckZ

    I want EN-EL15 but with V3 + J5 style and hope for 4k 30p.

  • I don’t see how this could be a Sony sensor, the 1 systems selling point has always been the superior pdaf and contrast combo that makes these the faster af. Also, every dxo review I have ever read does not jive at all with the equipment I have used so I take everything they say with bags of salt. With that said, this J5 is the first real deal Nikon morrorless worthy of the Nikon brand. My v2 is slowly falling apart from heavy use and I might just pick up a j5 if the good reviews keep coming in.

  • Eric Calabros

    Did you click on the image? Its really different. There will be no “BIG” difference between sensors anymore, in any size; but we still want these 1/3 of stop or so improvements, and DxO doesnt show that, even if its there.

  • Eric Calabros

    Another example at 3200, even in Daylight mode, even in gray area, even downscaled. You should see the difference. I call it “not big but important” difference.

    • wj

      I have to correct my statement. I have looked the comparison pictures again at home, now on a better display and now I can see the difference more clear. So, you are right 🙂

  • Carleton Foxx

    So *now* is it time to buy into this system? (Waiting of course until the price of this camera comes down to reality.) I really want a small camera that I can use with my existing Nikkors. I don’t really care that it’s tiny in comparison to my most-used lenses. I just want a small camera that fits into the Nikon ecosystem more or less.

  • Daniel Högberg

    Someone told me theres is no way to customize the fn-button to AE-lock.. So.. still amazingly stupidly crippled by Nikon… Well well, does not matter to me anymore as I have switched to Fujifilm.

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