Nikon J1 two lens kit for $199 (refurb)

yakky

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If you've ever wanted to try out a Nikon one system:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/331117559211

-great system for shooting moving things, fastest AF this side of $3k DSLRs, rock solid tracking.
-super fast frame rates, very responsive
-poor system if you value easy controls, this thing is meant to live in Auto mode
-great IQ, keeps up just fine with older M43 stuff like the EPL3 and bests older Pany's like the GF3.
 

mrjr

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Ok yakky, I know you like the 1 system...

Educate me: what would I be missing out on if I grab a J1 (for my lady) compared to the V1 or the newer models?

(Aside from the obvious handling differences, of course.... I'm just curious about IQ [similar for all models, right?], autofocus, and other features.)
 

yakky

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I do really like the one system, for me, it doesn't matter how low noise is and how good DR is if a shot is out of focus. They are also speed demons, just so fast all around.

From what I've seen IQ is the exact same from the J1 vs V1. I had a V1 for a short while but ended up sending it back. I was HUGE, like bigger than most mid sized M43 bodies, and its heavy, and the controls are still terrible AND the wheel dial is even worse on the V1. The one thing I did like was the EVF, but the display on the J1 is great, and works well outdoors. The newer models have more megapickles ;-) but not better IQ. Really the IQ out of the one is J1 is great, I think where people freak out is when the camera uses its DR extension (Adaptive D-lighting) and aggressively lifts shadows, especially if it finds a face in the frame, and it will, regardless of face detect focus or not. With D-lighting off or non contrasty situations, the camera is very clean up to ISO800, good enough for most up to 1600.
 

mrjr

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...I think where people freak out is when the camera uses its DR extension (Adaptive D-lighting) and aggressively lifts shadows, especially if it finds a face in the frame, and it will, regardless of face detect focus or not. With D-lighting off or non contrasty situations, the camera is very clean up to ISO800, good enough for most up to 1600.
I know what you mean about things (especially people) getting weird when a camera tries to adjust for high contrast scenes. I've experienced similar when trying Auto Gradation on Olympus.

My main two concerns with this camera purchase ARE low light (quite low) performance and autofocus performance (not necessarily in that order). It's hard to get that in a small package (ok, "small" makes a 3rd main concern) for less than $300. But I would come close by buying this J1 kit, selling the tele-zoom, and buying an 18.5/1.8.

Not sure if I prefer to do that or to pick up an E-PM2 for ~$250.
 

madmaxmedia

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I have to say, I tried a V1 with the kit zoom and I absolutely hated it. I knew about the retarded control dial, but it annoyed me every time I looked at it (and that silly video/photo/elevator music mode).

The AF was fast, but not a difference maker for me personally compared to a good M43 combo which offers many other benefits (although I didn't use the focus tracking.) The image quality was okay, I shot a bunch of photos in daytime and didn't really like the results (though I didn't spend much time tinkering as I sold it quickly, due to my other complaints.)

I have to say I probably would have had much better impressions of the system if I had one of the prime lenses instead. The black V1 body looked really cool as well. If this bundle had the 18.5mm f/1.8, I might actually be tempted, as changing aperture in AP mode is actually fine since there's a physical control for it.
 

yakky

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My main two concerns with this camera purchase ARE low light (quite low) performance and autofocus performance (not necessarily in that order). It's hard to get that in a small package (ok, "small" makes a 3rd main concern) for less than $300. But I would come close by buying this J1 kit, selling the tele-zoom, and buying an 18.5/1.8.

Not sure if I prefer to do that or to pick up an E-PM2 for ~$250.
The E-PM2 and J1 are in different leagues when it comes to low light. PM2@3200=J1@800 . J1 completely beats the PM2 for speed in general, and especially focus speed and accuracy. The 18.5 1/8 lens is fantastic though.

The AF was fast, but not a difference maker for me personally compared to a good M43 combo which offers many other benefits (although I didn't use the focus tracking.) The image quality was okay, I shot a bunch of photos in daytime and didn't really like the results (though I didn't spend much time tinkering as I sold it quickly, due to my other complaints.)

I have to say I probably would have had much better impressions of the system if I had one of the prime lenses instead. The black V1 body looked really cool as well. If this bundle had the 18.5mm f/1.8, I might actually be tempted...
Too bad you didn't try out the tracking. That's really the standout feature.
 

madmaxmedia

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And to show I don't hold a grudge, here's a Flickr user who has some GREAT photos with the Nikon 1 and 18.5mm:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/26344495@N05/

I'm sure I would have found the IQ much better with the prime, also with that lens the fast AF tracking probably makes a more obvious impact due to shallower DOF.
 

yakky

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And to show I don't hold a grudge, here's a Flickr user who has some GREAT photos with the Nikon 1 and 18.5mm:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/26344495@N05/

I'm sure I would have found the IQ much better with the prime, also with that lens the fast AF tracking probably makes a more obvious impact due to shallower DOF.
Nice find, lots of good pics. Really shows what the camera is capable of. I guess that's one thing I didn't mention, it the J1 seems to have plenty of the Nikon "secret sauce" whereas some of their lower end DSLR bodies do not. Just a rich tonality and overall clarity (outside of the pixel level).
 

madmaxmedia

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Thanks for the responses yakky. I had a couple of questions, I could search for them but you seem to have a good handle on the system-

1. So you find the AF significantly faster and tracker than say the E-PM2, both with kit zooms?
2. How is dynamic range? Above you mentioned DR extension, does it actually work well?
3. Besides EVF, J1 and V1 are identical right? (I know J1 has flash)

This could be a fun kit for the wife/kids.
 

Halaking

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any one interest J1 with different package, the BH has new J1 with 10-30 kit lens and 10mm 2.8 pencake lens for $250 and it's new not refurb.
 

yakky

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Thanks for the responses yakky. I had a couple of questions, I could search for them but you seem to have a good handle on the system-

1. So you find the AF significantly faster and tracker than say the E-PM2, both with kit zooms?
2. How is dynamic range? Above you mentioned DR extension, does it actually work well?
3. Besides EVF, J1 and V1 are identical right? (I know J1 has flash)
.
1. E-PM2 is fair at tracking, my big gripe is when it loses track, it has a difficult time getting it back if the subject gets back in the frame. Focusing speed isn't even close.
2. DR is ok, not great. The Active D-lighting does a very good job of balancing things, it seems to favor highlight preservation vs shadow detail. DR is is somewhere between an EPL3/GF3 and the PM2 in my testing.
3. V1 also has a mechanical shutter, different battery and probably some other stuff I can't remember.
 

yakky

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any one interest J1 with different package, the BH has new J1 with 10-30 kit lens and 10mm 2.8 pencake lens for $250 and it's new not refurb.
Wow, that's a heck of a deal too. I grabbed a 10 2.8 from ebay but ended up re-selling it for $140. I really don't shoot that wide often (mostly shoot people not places) and while it is a fine lens, so is the 10-30. 2.8 vs 3.5...meh, not huge, plus the zoom has VR if you are shooting static objects anyway... I shot both and never got the wow factor from the 10. The 18.5 on the other hand is amazing.
 

madmaxmedia

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LOL at me, I bought one. ;) It will be for the family, I can always sell off the 30-110mm and end up with the basic kit for really cheap. Or if it goes well, I can go the other way and add the 18.5mm. I'm not sure there is a cheaper body/fast normal prime anywhere to be had than this (I'm not expecting super bokeh, just want some subject isolation.)

The one thing I liked about this Nikon system is that with NR turned off, the JPEG's are pretty nice (I primarily shoot JPEG but hate excessive NR.) Colors seemed good too, didn't use it enough to get a sense of how good the AWB is.
 

yakky

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LOL at me, I bought one. ;) It will be for the family, I can always sell off the 30-110mm and end up with the basic kit for really cheap. Or if it goes well, I can go the other way and add the 18.5mm. I'm not sure there is a cheaper body/fast normal prime anywhere to be had than this (I'm not expecting super bokeh, just want some subject isolation.)

The one thing I liked about this Nikon system is that with NR turned off, the JPEG's are pretty nice (I primarily shoot JPEG but hate excessive NR.) Colors seemed good too, didn't use it enough to get a sense of how good the AWB is.
Ha! Price too good to pass up!?!? AWB is very good indeed, no strange color cast (cough:panasonic/Pentax), but it will try to make white look white.

That said, my recommendation for you, and anyone else here that falls for this deal, embrace the camera for what it is. Don't fight it and try to set everything manually, you'll hate it. Shoot raw+jpeg and let it do its thing. Import the jpegs, leave the raws on the card in case you need them. Also don't forget about Nikon picture controls:

http://npc.biodiscus.com/
 

madmaxmedia

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Yeah, thanks for all the feedback. If I don't like it I blame you- just kidding! This time the camera is not really for me, but I know better what to expect when I use it. Honestly the photos I did get were significantly better than my memory, so that was a big difference, plus kit zooms are generally just not for me (I hate that f/3.5-5.6). If I ever add the 18.5mm for myself, I like that I can use the rocker to control aperture so there is physical control there. Plus the 30-110mm will be useful as my daughters ride horses.

Nikon Picture Controls looks pretty cool. If I am getting this right, I can create a profile at that online link, and save it to camera (via SD card I guess) to use for in-camera JPEG's? If so, pretty darn cool!
 

stratokaster

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I have a Nikon V1 with 2 kit zooms and it's an excellent camera. The handling is a bit idiosyncratic, but both AF speed and image quality are excellent. The EVF is also very good — about the same as the Olympus E-M5 EVF. The battery life is great. There are only two things I don't like about the camera: 1) you can't turn off image review in the EVF; 2) it takes some time to switch between the EVF and the LCD.

Nikon 1 lenses are excellent. Both kit lenses are very sharp, and the telephoto zoom has a very pleasant bokeh.

AF tracking is robust. This shot was taken in 10fps Continuos High mode with AF tracking and it did an excellent job (the plant was constantly moving back and forth in the wind together with the dragonfly).

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
 
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(Sigh!) I pulled the trigger. I had a 10% off ebay coupon that was going to expire by 1/31 so I get the kit for $179. Worst case, I figure I should be able to at least recoup my money if I decide to sell it.
 

yakky

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Nikon Picture Controls looks pretty cool. If I am getting this right, I can create a profile at that online link, and save it to camera (via SD card I guess) to use for in-camera JPEG's? If so, pretty darn cool!
I don't think that site lets you download the files, but you can take the values and create your own in the nikon software. Can't overstate their usefulness if you are a jpeg shooter. You can tweak your jpeg output to however you like. You can also find custom NCP files all over the web. And yes, you put them on the SD card and load them on the camera.

Nikon 1 lenses are excellent. Both kit lenses are very sharp, and the telephoto zoom has a very pleasant bokeh.
Totally agree, Nikon glass is fantastic and in this case, just outstanding. While they are kit lenses, they perform much better than one would expect. You won't get shallow DOF with either unless you get very close, but they make up for it in color, contrast and sharpness.
 
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