The big camera names of Canon and Nikon are still swinging away trying to make a dent in the mirrorless market dominated by the likes of Olympus, Panasonic, Sony, and Samsung, but Nikon is giving it another thwack with a new camera that packs in the specs in a small space.
This week, the latest entry is the Nikon J5, another entry in Nikon’s “J” series of compact interchangeable cameras taking lenses made for the Nikon 1 mount, also known as the “CX” mount, which is more compact than the “DX” mount made for the APS-C cameras (D300, D5300, etc) and more compact again than the full-frame “FX” camera mount made for larger cameras (D4, Df, D810, etc).
Ignoring the initialisms, Nikon’s J5 is a compact camera that takes lenses made for Nikon’s other compact interchangeables, and isn’t a DSLR, skipping out on the mirror altogether and taking the image directly from the sensor behind the lens, just like with other mirrorless compact system cameras.
In this model, however, we’re seeing some changes for Nikon, embracing the 4K Ultra HD format for the first time (for Nikon, anyway), with videos captured in that high-resolution format, and still photography grabbed in 20.8 megapixels.
A new processing engine has been brought to the camera, the Expeed 5A, and together with some electronic progress inside, Nikon is claiming the world’s fastest shooting speed for a compact interchangeable at up to 20 frames per second in continuous AF and up to 60fps with fixed focus, and some of the world’s fastest shooting time lag, meaning you can go from shot to shot hyper quickly without waiting.
There’s also a new hybrid autofocus system that will bring in up to 171 points of focus, and when you capture the shot, with the newly developed CMOS sensor allowing ISO ranges from 160 to 12800 with noise reduction to keep the noise down in the 20 megapixel shots even when there isn’t much light to work with.
On the video side, there’s a 3840×2160 shooting mode, also known as Ultra HD, though it only captures video at 15p, roughly half of what we would expect a 4K video camera to grab, at least. Beyond that, there’s a Full HD mode with 1080p shot at 60p, with high-definition 720p able to be captured at 120 frames per second for slow motion video.
WiFi and Near-Field Communication are also found in the J5, meaning you can quickly pair an NFC-equipped smartphone or tablet to move images across, while Apple iPad and iPhone owners will likely have to look for the wireless networking connection instead of just touching the two devices and letting the gadgets do the work.
And then there’s the look, and for this camera, it feels like Nikon is drawing on its heritage as a camera maker and throwing some retro clothes on its new shooter.
As such, the Nikon J5 has a positively old school look to it, with either a black or white leather-look finish sitting atop a silver body, making the whole thing look delightfully retro.
If it weren’t the for 3 inch tilting touchscreen monitor that can be positioned to face you for selfies, why, we’d think this were an older camera.
Pricing hasn’t been announced for the Nikon J5 yet, hardly a surprise since Nikon tends to let dealers set the prices instead of giving us a rough idea, but you should be able to find it in stores later this month (April) with the Nikkor 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 Vibration Reduction (VR) lens. That being said, we have confirmed that the J5 will be replacing the J4, so here’s hoping this one sticks around the same rough $700 mark.