Hellbent on Whizzbang | Nikon releases 1 System

Be forewarned: this is going to be one of my rants.

See, while having breakfast this morning I stumbled on the unveiling of Nikon’s new J1 and V1 cameras, part of the new 1 System. I thought “Hmm... Mirror less, new system... Let's see what this looks like”.

Or not. Or maybe. I don't know.

Nikon is releasing an entirely new ecosystem and I'm at a damn loss to understand why. New lenses, new format called CX (with a 2.7X crop factor), new flash units... The whole deal. And — unless I'm wrong — no backwards compatibility with existing Nikon gear. Wow.

You'd think the runaway success of the X100 would clue other companies to the need for a simple, well-constructed, high quality camera. It's not like there isn't room for improvement. But instead we get plastic red and pink bodies, a smaller sensor than micro four thirds and highly desirable features like Motion Snapshot: which mixes a still image with a short burst of slow-motion video to create the effect of a "living" photo with its own soundtrack. Or Smart Photo Detector: a feature that pre-shoots images and selects the best one of five automatically... Because we all know how great a camera’s brain must be at replacing a photo editor. It's all just about focus and exposure anyway right?

Whizzbang. Step right up.

What about the system itself? The lenses? Here we go: 10-30mm (27-81mm equivalent) f3.5-5.6 1 Nikkor lens available a launch. Later, 10mm f2.8 pancake ($250), a 10-100mm f4-5.6 lens with powered zoom ($750), and a 30-110mm f3.8-5.6 ($250).

Lacklustre apertures to say the least.

The “pro” V1 model is priced at $900US and has an electronic viewfinder.
Electronic. Viewfinder. This one only comes in black, because — you know — it's for Pros.

Ok, I might be wrong and these could become the next big thing. A year from now we may all be scrambling to shoot Harry Potter style “living photos” for all I know. And there's some intriguing stuff in there like simultaneous movie and still capture or 60 frames/second in focus locked burst mode.

But I can't help longing for Nikon to relax their consumer offerings just a tiny bit. I mean, the D700 should've been updated two years ago. Yes, the D7000 is impressive but the ergonomics aren't on par with pro bodies and I sure as hell don't need a program mode. The money they must've spent developing 1 System is probably staggering. But was it really necessary?

I just wish they'd stop and focus on the basics again. But maybe that time has passed.

More info on 1 System here.