Following on from the release of the Sony RX100, a large sensor compact camera, I compared it to the Nikon 1 system which shares the same sensor size.
In my Nikon 1 vs. Sony RX100 article I came to some troubling conclusions for Nikon. My final summary is below, but you can follow the link to catch up on all the details.
The key advantage the Nikon 1 system has is its autofocus (AF). If you don’t need DSLR AF speed for fast moving subjects. The RX100 comprehensively outperforms the Nikon 1 cameras in many other respects.
It’s true that you can get a J1 with kit lens much cheaper than the RX100 when it launches. However, once you’ve accepted the size of the J1, there’s a whole range of Compact System Cameras at that price with larger sensors and better lens ranges.
With the RX100 vs. Nikon 1 the choice at the moment is the very best AF versus just about everything else.
In other words, the RX100 has the edge in terms of lenses (despite being a fixed-lens camera), compactness, and manual controls. Right now if you were going to pick one of these cameras, the RX100 is the obvious choice.
This article is going to try to explain where Nikon needs to take the 1 system in order to rise to the challenge of the RX100.
Nikon can go a long way towards making the 1 system attractive by producing just 2 new lenses.
- Fast Aperture (f/1.4 or better) Normal Lens
- Macro Lens
A Normal Lens means something between 35mm and 50mm equivalent. For Nikon 1 cameras that means a lens around 13mm-19mm. By making a lens that has a wider maximum aperture than that on the RX100, Nikon can claim better low-light performance and the ability to blur backgrounds more effectively.
A Macro Lens will make the 1 cameras a viable option for shooting insects and flowers. A dedicated Macro Lens should outperform the macro mode on the RX100.
If Nikon manage to make these 2 lenses (and make them well), then there will be a good reason to overlook the size handicap of a system camera in order to gain better performance and image quality.
The Sony RX100 is everything the Nikon 1 cameras should have been in terms of design. It has a quality feel with controls that make changing settings fast and simple.
By contrast, Nikon’s desire to make the 1 cameras seem as easy for Point & Shoot upgraders to use has made changing settings on the 1 cameras unnecessarily difficult. Even common things like selecting exposure modes requires a trip into the menu system.
There’s nothing inherently wrong in making a camera that isn’t designed for enthusiasts, although given the launch price of over £850 for the V1 it’s hard to see many casual users buying one. However, the cheap dials and buttons on the 1 cameras make them less enjoyable to use than should be the case. The coloured variants of the J1 and V1 bodies still have black back plates, making it seem that Nikon just couldn’t be bothered.
So the solution here is simple.
- Better quality buttons and rear plates
- A body with decent manual controls for enthusiasts
- Fully finished design concepts
These changes are all easy fixes and design changes. The cameras themselves are fundamentally fine, they just seem like prototypes in need of some attention to detail.
That’s really all there is to it!
If Nikon addresses these issues, prospective buyers of the Nikon 1 or Sony RX100 will have a choice between the genuine pocket-ability of the RX100 and the performance advantages of the Nikon 1 system.
Until then, the RX100 is much the more compelling option.
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