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 Nikon 1 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 Nikon 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? See all Compact camera reviews.
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. Take a look at our Nikon 1 J1 review.
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. See Group test: what's the best compact camera?
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.