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Nikon’s New J5 Mirrorless Packs Powerful Features In Tiny Body

By Anthony Thurston on April 2nd 2015

Nikon’s 1 Mirrorless cameras have been more of a punchline than an actual product in much of the photography world for several years now. The small mirrorless cameras take a different approach to that of other Mirrorless companies trying to match larger full frame sensors, and instead, puts the emphasis on being small above all else.


Today, Nikon officially unveiled the latest in its Nikon 1 J line, the Nikon 1 J5, and the list of features it holds is rather impressive. This little camera packs a powerful punch shooting 4K Video, taking stills at up to 60FPS (no AF), and boasts (according to Nikon), the world’s fastest AF shooting at 20FPS.

This is not your average point-n-shoot mirrorless clone, it looks to be a powerful camera, that would easily be pocketable (if not for its lens).


Nikon 1 J5 Specs


  • New 1″ 20.8MP backside-illumination CMOS image sensor
  • ISO range: 160-12,800
  • World’s fastest continuous shooting with AF at 20 fps
  • 171 AF points (105 are phase-detection)
  • 60 fps burst rate
  • Simultaneous still and video capture
  • 20 frames buffer capacity
  • 4k video
  • Slow motion video
  • 3.0″ 1,037k dots touchscreen (180° tiltable)
  • Small grip
  • Fn button
  • Seven new “Creative” modes, incl. “Glamour” mode for making faces “look attractive”
  • Built-in time lapse feature
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • NFC

The one thing that has always killed me about these Nikon 1 J cameras has been the design. I have never quite liked it, and, unfortunately, the new J5 is no different. I will say it is a bit better than the previous J-series designs. That being said, with the specs I see above, if the performance and real world testing backs it up, I would almost be willing to overlook my design reservations.


The new Nikon 1 J5 will be available for $499 in the kit with a 10-30mm lens and will begin shipping at the end of this month (the 30th). It will also feature three color options: All Black, Black/Silver, and White. If you are interested, you can get your pre-orders in over on B&H here.

What are your thoughts on this new Nikon 1 J5 mirrorless camera? Are you as impressed by the specs as I am? Do you think the real world testing will back them up? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think!


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Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Dan Sifuentes

    I couldn’t find a review of this camera on SLR Lounge. However, I wrote a full review of the Nikon 1 J5 on my blog. Check it out and let me know what you think in the comments.

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  2. Stephen Glass

    Thanks Anthony. I’d love to get a mirrorless and I’m a Nikon shooter.

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  3. Leslie Troyer

    couple the N1 with a FT1 and some longer (DX or FX) lenses and if you have enough light – it works great for birds/wild life.

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    4k 15 frames per second :)))))

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  5. robert garfinkle

    Gents and Ladies –

    While a CX sensor appeals to me greatly (this new cam & the N1 v3) – I’m holding off, at least to see the N1 V4 (have to wait a wile I suppose). I suspect that’ll be on the Expeed5a platform too – yet anticipate a small bump in features (i.e. expanded focus points, better IQ, 4k video, 24fps @ cont focus / 72fps – locked, 420 shot battery life, wifi, etc…) price, 1399.00 w / lens adapter etc… I’d like to see a 100 ISO (comfort feature)

    Matt tags these CX devices as somewhat sea-worthy as well as other’s saying similar – especially where one might want a nice “true” 2.7 crop factor in conjunction w / adapter and FX lens – yet want to wait…

    Or, I hold out til a DX / FX mirrorless hit the streets from Nikon – personally, I think when Nikon lands it’s first set of mirrorless we will see some impressive meat on the table…

    Rafael, for you, under your 2015 xmas tree, behold the Nikon M450 Expeed 5 16mp 1/8k shutter / 12fps DX with all the trimmings (4k video, wifi, flip out EVF, dual SD Card / 89mbps throughput.. )

    M8000 – Expeed 5 / 24mp 10fps / 1/8k shutter – mid summer 2016

    M5 (a.k.a D5) – Expeed 5, 24mp / 1/16fps / 16k shutter / 171 focal point, 64 – 250k ISO No OLPF , mSata slot (1TB cap) / CF Slot, built-in AC wireless – high speed (replacing Ethernet), by xmas – street price $7450.00

    M850, spring 2016, 36mp mirrorless 10fps / 4k, 64 ISO, No OLPF, 171 focus points, 1/16k shutter etc.. – no wifi…

    also, lens refresh for Nikon –

    TC 1.7 III / 2.0 III
    Another PF Lens or 2 – say a 200mm or 400mm
    105 Micro Refresh – this could be the PF refresh, maybe a 200mm Micro :)
    Updated N coated fisheye 14mm for FX

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  6. Rafael Steffen

    I very impressed with the specs of this camera and it is a very compact camera to take around. Nikon has really showed that they are developing newer and better AF systems for their future FX and DX cameras. I think Nikon is going to launch a D400 with a 20.8 DX sensor and the new AF system to beat the Canon 7D Mark II. Let´s hope and see. I can´t wait! With a new processor like the 5A they can achieve 10fps shooting in 1.5 crop mode or DX mode for sure!

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    • adam sanford

      Rafael, love the enthusiasm, but the only thing holding Nikon back from making a 7D2-killing super crop body is…



      They could make that camera tomorrow, and (respectfully) they don’t need sideshows like the N1 platform to prove out how to do it.

      For whatever reason, Nikon only believes the DX segment is worthy of an enthusiast model (D7200) and not a pro model (the mythical white unicorn D400 or ‘crop D4S’). Whether they’d rather devote their pipeline to keep pumping out (great) FF rigs or perhaps they want wildlife/sports folks to migrate to FF and buy cosmically pricey superteles, we may never know. But, Nikon’s punishment of the action APS-C shooter and reach-obsessed birder/wildlifer continues.

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    • J. Dennis Thomas

      “But, Nikon’s punishment of the action APS-C shooter and reach-obsessed birder/wildlifer continues.”

      Yes, but it makes for hilarious “discussions” (read: arguments) over on Nikon Rumors. If there is a forum with more trolls and psychopaths on the internet I haven’t seen it yet!

      All you have to do is type “D400” and people go batshit crazy over there.

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    • Dave Haynie

      And you know, it goes both ways, too. Nikon hasn’t moved on a higher-end APS camera, and you read laments about the once and future D400 all the time. It sure sounds like there’s demand for it, but Nikon must have some intel on these things, too.

      Meanwhile, Canon does update the pro-class APS camera, and there’s all this negativity about the 7D mk II… I read reams of “why?” and “who’s this for?” when it was released. Presumably, Canon also has something of a clue about their market, but some people got downright angry at Canon.

      Which just goes to show… if there’s a thing that happens, there’s a group on the internet that’s against it. And if there’s a thing that hasn’t happened, there’s also a group on the internet demanding that it does.

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    • robert garfinkle

      can’t please everyone, right? I’m sure there has to be a good reason Canon / Nikon are waiting… yet willing to bet we won’t be dissapointed, at all!!!

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  7. robert garfinkle

    uh, is it me, or can this camera be run out of battery life in record time…

    250 / shots per charge, on a 20fps / 60fps burst – can you say out of juice in under 12.5 seconds – that’s better than most hopped up street cars do in the 1/4 mile baby!!


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    • Eric Sharpe


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    • Rafael Steffen

      These specs are the future of a D400 and the D5 coming up later this year!

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    • J. Dennis Thomas

      Not sure if you’re being sarcastic or not, but…

      It doesn’t quite work like that. It’s 250 shots using the mechanical shutter while the burst modes use an electronic shutter which uses almost no power.

      I wouldn’t worry about running out of juice while shooting a drag race sequence shot!

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    • robert garfinkle

      I was trying to be funny –

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  8. Eric Sharpe

    I’m diggin’ that Glamour mode. Watch out Lindsay Adler.

    Actually, this is all I’d want as a walk around camera. Instead of wishing that my Galaxy Note 4 was better, I could just get this thing, and have much more control. My next client will be paying for this.

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    • Stephen Jennings

      That’s what I’d use this camera for.. walk around every day pictures of family or short trips. It does get tiresome lugging around a dslr when traveling. It’s like a fancy point and shoot with better IQ.

      Though I still don’t really know who this camera is actually aimed at?

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    • Dave Haynie

      My m43 system started as a walk-around… the E-PM1 isn’t much larger than a decent-but-not-amazing P&S, and when I got it, the camera plus a Pansonic 20mm f/1.7 pancake (ish) lens was still less cash than a really nice P&S. Not really jeans pocketable, but easily coat-pocketable.

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  9. Matthew Saville

    Yeah based on the image quality I’m seeing from the 1.5x crop sensors like Fuji these days, I think the Nikon 1 sensor size is plenty big for anyone who wants something in between a cell phone and a serious camera. Heck, if you need 2.7X the reach for some telephoto reason, I’m sure the IQ will be professionally acceptable quite soon. Nikon was smart to develop this sensor size, for the bottom-end market. But now they definitely need to get crackin’ with a 1.5x and FX mirrorless system… I’m sure they already are. (Remember, they swore by the D2X(s) until the day they announced the D3!)

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    • Rafael Steffen

      With this new processor, I am sure Nikon can push a new 20.8 MP sensor to shoot at 10fps and finally make the D400 real!

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    • Dave Haynie

      They may have actually thought that whole “reach” thing through… they sell a 70-300mm lens in this series (one grand, and it starts at f/4.5, so you’re not getting your 20Mpixel worth), so that’s effectively 810mm in 35mm land. And I though 300mm was bad-ass on an m43 body!

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  10. J. Dennis Thomas

    It’s good to see BSI CMOS sensors starting to be implemented more. Can you imagine a BSI sensor based on Nikon’s D4 sensor? You’d be able to shoot ISO 25600 with little noise!

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    • adam sanford

      Yeah, that’s cell phone tech, right? Aren’t nicer cell phone sensors BSI as well?

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    • Dave Haynie

      BSI sensors were first developed for phones, sure. And the very first ones weren’t that good, but they have it down now, and pretty much any half-way decent smartphone these days has a BSI sensor. But it’s not really anything phone specific.

      The typical sensor chip stack has photodiodes kind of mixed in with the rest of the electronics, so there’s some limit to the fill percentage (eg, how much of any pixel cell site can actually be occupied by a sensor). Some of that’s mitigated by a good microlens, but it may be an issue. The BSI sensor puts the photodiodes on bottom of the chip. and builds up from there. Then, once the chip’s done, they basically polish off the original substrate and expose the photodiodes, which can have a higher fill ratio. Not 100%, as they still need to isolate one cell from the next, but more.

      Samsung’s NX1 has the industry’s first APS-sized BSI sensor. By all accounts, it’s a pretty good APS sensor, even at 28Mpixel, which means smaller pixels (but not necessarily smaller photodiodes) than other APS cameras.

      Still, I’m pretty skeptical of Nikon dropping 20.8 Mpixels on a 1″ sensor. For one, this means you’ll be diffraction limited at about f/4.7… kind of a real issue when the kit lens is an f/3.5-f/5.6. Of course, low-end P&S cameras, cellphones, etc. solve this problem by not having aperture blades and, of course, by selling themselves to people who don’t understand that they’d get a better photo with a 12Mpixel sensor. Anyway, that’s something like 2.4um pixels, which is actually slightly better than quite a few of the P&S models out there, a shade more than the two Fujifilm P&S cameras I have (X-S1 and X-F1).. though both of those P&S’s have faster lenses.

      Yeah, sure, this isn’t for anyone here I suspect. Nikon is still kind of treating this as a hobby, but they are doing a better job of it than Canon or Pentax are at their respective mirrorless hobby lines. There seem to be about 13 Nikon 1 lenses, but they’re kind of going all Sony on this one, since there seem to be even more versions of the various bodies (V-, J-, S-, and AW- series)… I mean, the system is only 3.5 years old.

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    • Stan Rogers

      Not so much “cell phone tech” as “something everyone should do, but the *only* way to get decent performance at all on a tiny sensor”. It’s a way of making the photosites larger relative to the “admin” part of the chip. And it’s what allows Samsung’s newer models to punch well over their own weight (if you can get them to focus) in low light.

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    • J. Dennis Thomas

      @ Adam Sandford: BSI sensor tech was first implemented for scientific purposes, mostly astronomical applications.

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    • Rafael Steffen

      Very interesting this idea of BSI Sensors.

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  11. Hannu Siika-aho

    Hopefully the new sensor’s s/n ratio is better…

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  12. adam sanford

    I don’t know what’s weirder between Canon and Nikon in mirrorless. One company chose (relatively) correctly on sensor size and is suffocating the brand without any supporting development pipeline, and the other made a dubious-at-best sensor size decision *and continues to double down on it year over year* with new models, lenses, accessories, etc.

    It’s madness on both fronts.

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    • Dave Haynie

      I’m not really sure what Canon was thinking. Sure, they got to check the “mirrorless” box on the line card, but not much more.

      Nikon clearly thinks they’re onto something, and it’s a completely different market than the traditional Nikon buyer. Who knows? There used to be a “cheap P&S upgrade” market, which is now a “smartphone camera” upgrade market… and more people are discovering photography through their smartphones. So maybe this is for that crowd? The sensor size certainly allowed them a big distance between the “1” and the rest of the line, and I’d bet money that Canon’s M is under control of their established Rebel/xxxD division, while the Nikon 1 is a new group.

      And then there’s the Pentax Q….

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    • adam sanford

      Agree on Nikon. They are chasing a different breed of shooter with N1, and there might be a ton of money there, so have at it I say.

      Canon, for all its mirrorless foibles, has three saving graces with their (wince) “slightly underwhelming” EOS-M platform:

      1) They chose APS-C, which is not a terrible call compared to smaller options. As much as every enthusiast on the planet wants a FF rig, APS-C is a solid mid- and long-term option for the market. Not everyone wants a Leica M9 / Sony A7 sized brick and FF glass to carry around — ask Fuji. It’s a nice tradeoff of IQ and size.

      2) Not committing to mirrorless (oddly enough) means not piling up a lot of product that you may have to walk away from if you have a big mirrorless strategy rethink. Nikon continues to throw good money after bad by amassing N1 glass that will do no good to a future larger sensored mirrorless offering.

      3) Canon are only a few things away from morphing from a mirrorless no-show to a decent mirrorless offering. If EOS-M4 gets DPAF, an integral EVF, and 2-3 higher quality lenses, I’ll stop giggling at it and take it seriously. (Hell, I might even buy one.)

      Again, Canon is only doing this to themselves for commercial reasons (i.e. protect their SLR sales and SLR glass investment), so they can make it stop and take mirrorless seriously whenever they want.

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  13. adam sanford

    I’ll say it again, the N1 platform is not aimed at enthusiasts. The back resembles a point and shoot. The sensor is about the same size as a premium point and shoot. And the controls are underwhelming to be kind. And on the ‘epic tradeoff scale’ of size of the rig vs. the IQ it delivers, these are all the way to the left: tiny sensor, tiny rig, and reviews of the IQ are unflattering. This platform is for the upmarket cell phone folks crowd far more than it is for SLR owners looking for a second rig — it’s not a poor camera so much as not-so-serious one.

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