It’s been quite a week in the small and capable camera world. Yesterday Nikon announced it’s new camera. I’m hesitant to call it mirrorless as Nikon clearly states it is not in this category. So….Just what category is it in? I think that is a very, very good question. In looking at the specs, there is not really one single category this falls into. Let me explain.
Based on images and printed dimensions, the new Nikon V1 falls in between compact cameras and small DSLRS. This places it squarely in the same category as most of the micro 4/3 cameras from Olympus and Panasonic.
Nikon chose a very unique size. It is a 13.2mm x 8.8mm with a 2.7 crop factor. This is larger than most compacts and also the Pentax Q. It is smaller than the micro 4/3 cameras that have the same size body.
On spec alone, it looks like this camera has speed as it’s main feature and claimed competitive advantage. This shows in the claimed focus speed, frame rates and video. It also has interchangeable lenses, but so does micro 4/3rds. There are a host of new features on this camera but truthfully, none of those features stand out to me as I really don’t care about video. I care about taking pictures. One very notable thing to point out is that the PASM modes are menu driven despite having a control dial on the back that could have had those features included. For many, this is a clear deal breaker.
Ouch! $649 for the J1 and $899 for the starting prices for the base kits. This puts them above almost all the micro 4/3 cameras despite having a smaller sensor. While the Pentax Q is $799, it’s body and external controls place it in the middle of these two price points.
While it’s hard to tell from viewing pictures on the internet, it does not appear to me that IQ is really better than other premium compacts such as the Pentax Q, the Panasonic LX5, Canon G12, etc. That is my opinion so far. Time will tell here as more and more measurable tests are performed. For me, pixel peeping is not all that important.
Against the competition
Olympus and Panasonic micro 4/3 – Smaller sensor. Higher price. Arguably higher speed, focus and capture rates but both Olympus and Panasonic are very fast. All of these cameras have interchangeable lenses. ISO and video should be better on the Oly and Panasonic. One last nod to Nikon is the included EVF on the V1 model.
Against premium compacts
It’s bigger than all but the Canon G12 and Nikon’s own P7100. It’s also A LOT more expensive and depending on your viewpoint, either more or less versatile due to interchangeable lenses. In my opinion, the higher prices don’t justify the extra price and the additional lenses needed to cover the focal range of many of the premium compacts.
Most importantly, against my beloved Pentax Q
Size – I prefer the even smaller size of the Pentax Q. The Pentax Q really can come with me everywhere.
Features – I don’t do much with video. I like taking still images and I prefer the manual controls and feel of the Pentax Q. The Pentax just feels so good in hand. I like the quick control dial on the front of the Q and I like the menu system.
IQ – On paper the edge should go to the Nikon but truthfully I’m not sure this will be fully realized if you don’t print larger than 11×14″. For everything else, I’m personally blown away by the IQ of the little Pentax Q.
Lens Selection – Truthfully, the Nikon has an edge here. I’d like to see a 24 or 28mm fast prime for the Q as well as a non toy telephoto. The edge has to go to NIkon here.
Look – I prefer the look of the Pentax Q. It looks like a camera as opposed to a poorly sculpted brick.
Flash – The jury is out. Nikon has a nicely designed flash, but it requires a special flash as the V1 has a proprietary flash unit. The J1 does not have a flash hot shoe.
Overall – I, of course, love the Pentax Q and feel it is is a better small camera focused on taking pictures. I also love the small and interchangeable lens. Weight and size matter to me and frankly speaking the Pentax Q has no competition for size & features. But what did you expect really?!
Regardless of my opinion, both are really great cameras with unique features. Click on the images below to purchase either. Remember, clicking through and buying results in no changes to your purchase price. Only a small commission comes back to me to build and maintain this website.
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