The Nikon 1 system has been built from scratch, says Nikon, with the goal of offering still image and movie recording capabilities "without compromise," according to the firm. "This next generation pioneers amazing photography features such as pre and post capture technology that starts before you - enabling groundbreaking new shooting modes that mean you'll never miss a thing - even the most fleeting of moments, bringing shots to life to help you to capture images you didn't think possible."
And that might be Nikon 1's most important feature, setting it apart from the other camera manufacturers that have entered the mirrorless camera market more than three years ago now.
The Nikon 1 V1 and Nikon 1 J1 feature a Motion Snapshot (MSS) option, which "brings a photo to life in just one click." By selecting MSS, users simultaneously record a slow motion movie and still image that are then combined to create "a photo that moves and captures the story of a moment as never before - a living picture."
Speaking at an exclusive press conference this morning, Simon Iddon explained that the Motion Snapshot can be saved as a .mov file. "Going forward, as this develops, it's something that we want to build-on - the way you can share these, for example, is being looked at as we speak."
Both cameras also have a Smart Photo Selector feature, which, when selected, will shoot 20 full-resolution images in less than a few seconds. "You just press the shutter once and, utilising the pre and post capture technology, the camera starts to take the pictures before you've even fully depressed the button." The camera then automatically selects the best five shots, which are saved based on facial expression, composition and focus.
Even while shooting Full-HD movies, the Nikon 1 system can take high-resolutions photos, without interrupting recording, claims Nikon.
"This is Nikon's most significant announcement since we introduced our first digital camera 14 years ago" says Nikon Europe's president Takami Tsuchida of the two new cameras. "With the launch of Nikon 1, we're unveiling two groundbreaking interchangeable lens cameras that are packed with revolutionary technology."
Also speaking at today's press conference, Michio Miwa, Nikon UK's managing director, explained why the new system was created. "Over the last 15 years, the world of photography and videography has developed to such an extent that people not only have the [products] to shoot creatively, but are now able to explore new ways of enjoying their digital creations," he said. "We wanted to take the next step [in this development]. Instead of jumping the mirrorless bandwagon, our engineers decided to go back to the drawing board; to start from scratch; and to create a new device from the ground-up."
He added: "Focussing on usability and design, Nikon began creating a camera for the future with no compromises - a device that would lay the groundwork for new ways of capturing, sharing and experiencing still and moving images. Today, we're not just announcing a new camera system, we're introducing a new category. The Nikon 1 is an Advanced Camera with Interchangeable Lens.
The Nikon 1 V1 and Nikon 1 J1 feature a new type of CMOS image sensor called CX. "Taking its place alongside Nikon's existing DX and FX-format sensors, the all-new Nikon 1 CX-format CMOS sensor is designed for Nikon 1 cameras and the 1-mount," says the firm. It offers a resolution of 10.1 megapixels and has a sensitivity range of ISO 100 to ISO 6400.
However, Nikon has been criticised for using a 13.2x8.8m sensor, which is smaller than traditional Micro Four Thirds sensors used by Olympus and Panasonic in their mirrorless cameras. But, according to Jeremy Gilbert, Nikon UK's group marketing manager, the choice was deliberate. "[This sensor] allows us to have a small, compact system."
Simon added: "The key thing about this product was not to be like other people. This is the Nikon 1, the first camera of its kind. We spent four years working on what customers wanted and we built that camera based on that research. Customers wanted compactness, ease of use, speed and image quality as well. The sensor size and the amount of megapixels have been specifically chosen because they are the perfect combination to deliver what the customers were demanding."
Both cameras are also equipped with a new high-speed autofocus system with 73 AF points. But, says Nikon, "if your subject is stationary, or poorly lit, it will opt for the 135-point Contrast Detect AF system."
The Nikon 1 system also introduces, for the first time, the Expeed 3 image processor. "To be as fast as a Nikon 1 camera, you need an engine that can handle speed, and this newly developed processor is equipped with two powerful engines that can process images at an incredible 600 megapixels a second," claims Nikon.
The Nikon 1 V1, the most advanced camera of the two, also features a 1,440,000-pixel electronic viewfinder that delivers 100% frame coverage. The camera boasts magnesium alloy panels (top and front, says Nikon) and a multi-accessory port.
Meanwhile, the Nikon 1 J1 camera is more compact, with a minimalist design, and features a built-in flash. It will be available in pink, red, silver, matte black and white.
Nikon has also introduced a new class of Nikkor lenses to fit the cameras "1-mount," the first new lens mount launched since the introduction of the F-mount in 1959, says Nikon. To coincide with the launch of the new system, Nikon will release four 1-mount lenses.
The first is a compact Nikkor VR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 lens, which features Nikon's Vibration Reduction technology and a retractable lens mechanism. Then comes the Nikkor VR 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6, which can also retract when not in use to ensure "superior portability," says Nikon. The Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 and Nikkor VR 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 PD-Zoom will complete the range.
Of course, Nikon has also announced the release of the FT-1 mount adapter, which will also Nikon 1 owners to use any Nikkor digital SLR lenses, "offering limitless possibilities to match a lens to the shooting situation," says the firm.
Nikon is also releasing a new "tiny" SB-N5 Speedlight flash and a GP-N100 GPS unit to be used with the Nikon 1 V1 camera.
Both cameras, which will be officially presented later today, will retail from 20 October in a variety of kit options and at prices starting at £550 (€638).
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