I was inspired to write about my camera after reading a few other camera related blogs. I’ll admit, many ‘real’ photographers do not like my camera, however, I am not a ‘real’ photographer so my qualifications for a camera are slightly different. I’m your average world traveler who loves taking thousands of pictures of cool things around the globe. I don’t own a tripod nor do I spend more than 30 sec lining up my shot. Though I do care a lot about my shot, the lighting, the positions, the coloring, etc. So with that baseline, let’s get into the Nikon 1.
First thing I want to call out is the camera store claims Nikon may be going out of business soon or at least discontinuing my Nikon 1 camera (which just makes me want to stock up, but may make you want to run for the hills, so I want to get that out of the way first). I found this out because for those of you that followed my blog, there was a sad day in Siberia when my camera took a nose dive. As I was day dreaming out the window of the Trans Siberian Railway, I turned to grab my coffee and my camera was caught on my shirt and followed my arm until gravity took it flying to the floor. Only a one foot drop, but enough to damage it. My lessons = buy a camera case, don’t drop your camera, and pay attention to where you set your camera.
Anyhow, those are the cons. So what brought me to buying this Nikon 1 camera in the first place (btw I have the J3 version). Well, back in 2009-10 while Ashton Kutcher was dancing around on TV sporting his white Nikon 1, I figured I wouldn’t hold it against the camera and included it in my search. So I headed down to one of the nation’s largest electronic stores with my criteria. First, I always travel carry-on, regardless of duration or number of countries/climates, so the camera needed to be compact. Second, I’m not a pro, so the camera needed to be digital. Third, I was going to Africa, my first and maybe my only safari (who knows what life brings right!), so the camera needed to be able to take pictures of moving animals 50-100 feet away. Fourth, I hate the inefficiency of carrying two cameras so it needed to be able to take quality shots of people and things near me too.
I looked at the little compact cameras that everyone adored back then, though the lens couldn’t be interchanged and the maximum distance was too short for the safari. I looked at the big fancy SLRs, but they were enormous and would take up half my suitcase making it near impossible for me to fit everything in a carry-on without major sacrifice of more important necessities. Not too mention, carrying it around my neck, lugging it around everywhere, such a deterrent that most people I know that have one never use theirs. I wanted a camera that didn’t collect dust, a camera that I wanted to bring everywhere.
That’s when I found the Nikon 1 J3. The base of it is the same size of those little point and click cameras, but the lens, the lens could be expanded to a 10-110. That means it takes awesome pictures of people and things near by (10 foot) and animals wandering the bush far away (110 foot). It was so small I could fit it in my purse (and my purse is small for a woman!). It took up little to no room in my suitcase. I could hide it under my jacket or a scarf easily if during my travels I veered down one of those areas where flaunting an expensive camera puts your life at risk. It was everything I’d wanted. Sure the camera community hated it, said it wasn’t professional enough grade, but heck, as an average photographer it seemed perfect for me.
The camera went to Africa, took amazing pictures and videos on the safari. Went to Spain, France multiple times, Egypt, Jordan, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Germany, China twice, Thailand, Russia, Mongolia, and really the list goes on. Probably at least 10-15 more countries. The camera goes everywhere because it’s so easy to carry, it’s so light, it’s so convenient. After the camera took a nose dive, I had the option of paying $250 to fix it or buying a new camera. Though nothing on the market today even compared to my Nikon 1 (for my criteria, which hasn’t really changed).
I lost count of the number of times I get compliments on it, as people are either lugging around their enormous cameras and seeing how easy and convenient mine slips in and out of my purse, or they’ve left their big camera at home once again and didn’t realize a “big” camera could be convenient. So needless to say, once Ashton Kutcher’s song and dance over the Nikon 1 died, so did most people’s awareness that the camera exists. They do still sell it, not all camera stores carry it or pitch it, but it’s perfect in every way and if you’re thinking of cameras and you’re one of those in the middle people like me (want more than a point and click but don’t need a professional grade camera), it might be worth taking a look at.