Review: Nikon J3
3.7Overall Score

Price (RRP): $TBA
Manufacturer: Nikon

While smaller than DSLRs, interchangeable cameras are often still quite big, and that’s something Nikon would like to change with the J3, a pint-sized camera offering compatibility with Nikon’s “1” range of lenses and a body that will fit into a small bag nicely.

Features

On the surface, the Nikon J3 doesn’t appear to be a huge shift from what Nikon first launched in the J1 in 2011, with a similarly compact design with a few buttons littered around the top and the back.

Some of these have changed in position since we saw the model back then, and Nikon has given the J a design closer to that of its other cameras, moving the mode wheel to the top of the camera instead of sitting at the back, while keeping the shutter, power switch, and record button up top.

The rear of the camera still features a directional pad with click wheel around it, with various menu buttons on the back around a 3 inch screen which, while being the same size, now supports twice the pixels as the first model.

Inside the J3 is a sensor for taking up 14 megapixel shots in either RAW or JPEG, up to 135 focus points, and low-light sensitivity supported up to ISO 6400.

Performance

It’s been a couple of years since we first looked at the J series, but from what we recall, the basic idea is still in with this updated model: a small interchangeable lens camera you can fit in a handbag without thinking that will take high quality shot when you need it.

Picking up the J3 you can see that, yes indeed, Nikon has continued with the compact design in this body, creating a reasonably slim compact camera that doesn’t stray too far from small digital cameras, provided you forget about the lens protruding from the front.

That lens is certainly nowhere near the size of Nikon’s digital SLRs, and with a lens ring of 40.5mm, it’s much smaller than the smallest of lenses for either an APS-C or full-frame based camera.

The small lens we played with on the J3 was the 10-30mm, and with the small sensor inside the camera, makes the lens perform closer to a 27-81mm, similar to the range you find on most kit lenses, albeit in a relatively diminished form-factor.

In the hands, the combination of small lens and basic body makes this camera noticeably small, especially in comparison to the mirror-less cameras we normally see.

Nikon’s use of plastic in the build comes off feeling better than the cheaper plastic cameras we’ve seen thanks to the amount of resistance it offers in the hand, and reminds us more of metal cameras out there, helped in part with a metal brushed steel top included on the top of this camera.

The shift in button placement is also far more effective here, and with the mode selection wheel on top, using the J3 is closer to using any other camera, since the wheel is in the place it should be.