Digital Cameras Guide

Behind the Scenes with the Nikon 1

Behind the Scenes with the Nikon 1



Behind the Scenes

Getting Intimate with the Nikon 1

After our review of the Nikon 1 V1, we wanted to learn more about the Nikon 1 system. Why was a sensor of this size chosen? How does Smart Photo Selector choose the best shots? How does it differentiate itself from the competition? We talked with Kimito Uemura, General Manager from the regional headquarters of Nikon Asia, about how the cameras were developed and where they're headed.

Why was a sensor of this size selected? We've heard rumors that this smaller sensor size was selected because it wouldn't have been able to get the same quick frames per second speeds. Is this true, and can you elaborate on that?

Nikon has spent considerably research time in finding the right balance for the Nikon 1 system, and the sensor size is undoubtedly one of the key elements to enabling Nikon 1's features. We believe this format is most suitable for achieving three key benefits — high-image quality, quick response and ease of use.

This sensor format offers many advantages such as high-quality images and portability, integration of stills and movies, and ultrahigh-speed auto-focus, all in a compact and user-friendly design.

The results of the images on Nikon 1 speaks for itself. In fact, we are not in the game of pursuing the highest pixel count - when was the last time you needed a 20 megapixel photo? We are in the business of pursuing great photo quality.

What target market are the Nikon 1 cameras geared towards?

Nikon 1 is for consumers who want to take outstanding photos in any situation, hassle-free. The features and functionality are set to allow anyone to pick it up and start taking amazing photos. It leaves the hard work for the camera to do.

How does the Nikon 1 differentiate itself from Nikon's highest-end compact cameras and entry-level DSLR cameras?

We would think Nikon 1 is in a class of its own. Nikon 1's features take the best things from compact cameras (fun and easy photo-taking) and DSLR (super-fast response and great images & videos) to bring forth an all-new camera system.

Why were these price points chosen for the Nikon 1 cameras, especially since the highest prices come close to Nikon's mid-range consumer DSLR cameras?

The price points have been set after careful consideration, and we believe it is at the appropriate level for the current market conditions.

(Editor's note: Click here for the Singapore prices of the Nikon J1 & V1.)

Tell us more about the 1 camera's hybrid AF system. How does it compare to the E-P3 which also claims to be world's fastest?

The image-plane/phase-detection AF function is a world's first for lens-interchangeable digital cameras.

Nikon 1 employs an Advanced Hybrid AF System that automatically chooses phase-detection AF or contrast-detection AF according to shooting situations. Its technical achievement is in fact quite incredible - it combines 73 phase-detection focus points (currently the world's largest number of focus points) with 135 contrast-detect AF focus points. We are using both detection systems because contrast-detection is better at low light situations, while phase-detection excels for moving subjects and movie-shooting.

Moreover, users also can shoot at a fast 10 frames per second, with full-adaptive auto-focus, resulting in frame after frame of images with incredible sharpness and detail. We are quite confident in standing by our statement as the world's fastest.

How did the idea of Smart Photo Selector come about? What kind of algorithms and criteria does the Best Shot Selector use to determine which photos get kept?

Have you had instances where you need to snap a photo a few times because someone in the shot blinked, or you missed that perfect moment to capture your son's football goal because you were fiddling to find the right setting? Smart Photo Selector was developed to help take out hassle, and make photo-taking fun and simple.

It begins to capture images before you even take the shot, and continues after you’re done, ultimately shooting 20 high-resolution images in quick succession. The best shot is instantly displayed on the monitor, and four more are saved for you to choose from.

The camera recommends shots based on factors such as facial expression, composition, and focus, so you’ll never again miss a smiling face.

What kind of processing power is built in to the camera to ensure such functions will not slow down the camera's usability?

We developed a completely new dual-core EXPEED 3 processor, the most powerful Nikon processor yet, capable of delivering the speed and power for Nikon 1's optimized performance. There isn't much point in tooting the technical specifications of the processor. We encourage your readers to come check out the camera personally and see it in action.

How long was the J1/V1 in development? Who's involved more, the DSLR team or the Coolpix team?

The development of J1 and V1 have been in the making for approximately four years.

As Nikon 1 is built from the ground-up, we've engaged all teams at Nikon to help with the development.

Thank you for your time, Mr. Uemura.