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Fashion + Technology: Nikon 1 J1 Camera Review

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Fashion + Technology: Nikon 1 J1 Camera Review

Since I'm just as much of a tech lover as I am a fashion lover, I wanted to switch things up a bit. Aesthetically pleasing electronics are just as thrilling to me as a YSL Cabas Chyc or a 3.1 Phillip Lim Pashli Satchel, and boy did this Nikon impress me on TV!

By now, you might have noticed that I'm all about photography. From the scene construction and framing to the final selections and editing, it's one of the things I pride myself on doing well. Naturally, I'm also all about aesthetics, too. I'm not going to lie; Nikon's recent ad for the Nikon 1 series with Ashton Kutcher really caught my eye (the 1 series did, not Ashton!) for obvious reasons. I'd encourage you to check out the Nikon 1's international ad because it's definitely more informative than the spot starring Kutcher. In fact, it is really reminiscent of Apple spots for iPads and iPhones. Maybe that's why I was attracted...

Earlier this week, I ordered a full Nikon 1 kit:  the J1, the 10mm, 10-30mm, and 30-110mm lenses. I've been looking for a more portable camera to take along with me during the day, something that would be casual but still have a professional edge. After reading a ton of reviews online, I chose the J1 over the V1 for its size and style. Forever in love with my Canon EOS, I still prefer to use that over this (after photo-trials with both of them), but having a portable option for me is a must. I could easily picture this J1 slipping into a wide array of designer a safe, stylish case, of course.

My first impression was that the device is just as sleek as it is portrayed on TV. The 1 series has an undeniable mod look, something that really attracted me initially. Its modern look is striking and powerful and will undoubtedly turn heads on the street!  See sample photos at the bottom.

To be honest, I think I would've been happier with the V1 instead of the J1, but the price point definitely wasn't there (the V1, a slightly larger camera has slightly better features, no flash (which is good for me) but has a way bigger price tag, +$200 more than the J1).  I am really disappointed that the J1 doesn't have a viewfinder like the V1 does. It's been a while since I've used a screen to take photos. Aesthetically, it makes me feel like more of a tourist than an aspiring professional photographer. But I'll cut my losses.

The photos I've taken are nice, but they don't really, "wow" me per se. The 10-30mm (standard) lens is probably the best lens for the camera, easily accommodating a variety of shots. The 30-110mm takes great landscape photos, but isn't as convenient to get up-close shots in macro mode. The 10mm lens is great for your macro shots--sometimes what I do with my photos here on The Shoulder Strap. I'm used to my Canon's great 18-55mm lens which provides for diverse shots. Never having the opportunity to carry around long lenses to switch back and forth, switching between these three has been both a new and annoying experience. Once I get used to switching lenses on-the-go, I'm sure this "portable" camera will soon feel more portable. I hardly ever use flash, so again, it might have been a better decision to get the V1 . I wonder if I'd like the V1 better, but it seems that I'll never know!

One of the coolest features of the 1 series is the ability to take a Motion Snapshot. Whenever the shutter is pressed in Motion Snapshot mode, the camera records a second of HD 1080p video in slow motion as well as taking a picture. It chooses the best frame of the slow Motion Snapshot video. Another great feature is the Smart Photo Selector. The camera takes over 20 shots before and after the shutter button is pressed. Then, the camera then selects the five best photos (using an algorithm choosing the best photo for composition, lighting, etc.) from those twenty and lets you choose which shot is the best. You can either save all five photos or choose the best one and delete the rest.

Although I don't often utilize the video function on my digital cameras, I was seriously impressed with the HD video. If I ever decide to do a "vlog" as an accessory to The Shoulder Strap, I'll definitely be using my J1.

If you're looking to start with a professional camera, I'd suggest getting a camera like a Canon EOS Rebel or a Nikon D40x/60/90, etc. I'd recommend the Nikon 1 series for someone like me who is looking for a half professional/half portable camera and I'd also recommend it for the person who is interested in more advanced photography but isn't yet ready to commit to a more expensive camera. Think of the Nikon 1 series as a nice "training wheels" camera. I'd definitely recommend the J1 over the V1 for the price alone. By no means do I think this is a better camera than my Canon SLR, but the J1 is a great camera for the size and its robustness.

Overall, I suppose it was better for me to stay with the J1, rather than really splurge for the V1. For a much smaller price, I was able to get all three lenses and additionally grab a leather case and memory card. I'm looking forward to carrying this around with me this summer when bringing along my larger Canon is too much. Plus, it's ultra-stylish! :)

Price Points: Nikon 1 J1 with standard lens: $549, promotional price (originally $649)Nikon 1 J1 with lens kit (either Wide or Zoom) $699, promotional price (originally $899)

This camera was purchased with my own funds; this is not an endorsement for Nikon, nor am I getting paid for this review. If you have more questions about the Nikon 1 J1 as I continue using it, please don't hesitate to write me an e-mail at

Sample photos taken with the Nikon 1 J1 & photos included in post:

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