The rumors of a mirror-less camera from Nikon have been swirling around forever. Now we see that it’s true. However, many of the Nikon faithful were hoping for something more.

The new “Nikon 1″ system is 100% aimed at the consumer point-and-shoot crowd. It is an interchangeable lens system – that is the good news – now here’s the bad news (if you’re a pro or aspiring pro) – it uses what Nikon calls a CX-format AF CMOS sensor. That translates to one very, small, sensor. The crop factor is a crazy 2.7. The Pancake lens – 1 NIKKOR 10mm f/2.8 lens ($249.95) has an effective focal length (EVF) of 27mm! This isn’t ALL bad – it allows for some cool and fun technology like up to 60 fps, but unless the universe works in a different way than it did yesterday, it’s going to be hard to pull a big, clean print off this puppy in all but great light.

As for the rest of it? The mount is all electronic, which delivers faster everything. Nikon has developed a new image processor to support this camera – EXPEED3 which offers dual-core processing. Nikon is also claiming this camera has the “world’s fastest autofocus. There is an electronic view finder and a rear LCD. Both are lower resolution than that offered on cameras from Nikon’s competition.

There are some cool new features on this camera that might foretell the future of Nikon’s pro cameras – at least one can hope. There’s 29min video recording length. 60 FPS shooting, 1080p movies, 73 autofocus points, and the camera has an accessory port (much like the Olympus E-P3) that will allow everything from a GPS to a flash to be connected to the camera.

The lenses offered with the camera are another dead giveaway that this is strictly a consumer affair. They are all slow zooms with one exception, the aforementioned 10mm f/2.8 pancake lens. Another hint that Nikon is aiming this camera strictly at consumers – it comes in pink! :)

It’s exciting to see Nikon break into the EVIL camera class. It would have been MORE exciting if they developed a micro four thirds camera like everyone else. That would have provided potentially better image quality and the chance to interchange lenses with other brands.

Price/Availability/Conclusion

The Nikon J1 and V1 will be available throughout the United States beginning October 20th. The Nikon J1 camera with 10-30mm lens kit will be available at a suggested retail price of $649.95. The Nikon V1 camera with 10-30mm lens kit will be available for a suggested retail price of $899.95.

At these prices, the Nikon will have a hard time competing with cameras from Panasonic and Olympus. I’ll reserve judgment until I shoot with one, but unless their new EXPEED 3 processor is Star Wars crazy good, the physics of a small sensor and low-end glass are pretty hard to overcome.

Perhaps this is just the beginning and Nikon will show us something else from this line in the future that appeals to pros – or perhaps they are concerned about cannibalizing their own DSLR sales and no prosumer or pro-level mirror-less camera is in the works. Time will tell as it always does.

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