The Nikon 1 S1 is a new entry level mirrorless camera from Nikon and sits underneath the Nikon J3, with the most compact body, as well as a 10 megapixel 1 inch Nikon CX sensor. It is available in a number of colours and comes with the new compact 11-27.5mm kit lens for around £435.
Nikon 1 S1 Features
The Nikon 1 S1, like the other 1 series cameras, offers high speed shooting at 60fps at full resolution. Full HD video recording is possible with stereo sound, and high speed video recording, at 400 and 1200fps at a reduced resolution of VGA (640x480) and 320x240 respectively.
Manual controls, as well as a number of creative shooting modes are included. The camera has used the high speed shooting sensor to provide "Motion Snapshot" ("Create works of art just by pressing the shutter-release button"), "Best moment capture" offering "perfectly time photos hassle-free" with two options: slow view, where you can view the scene in slow motion and choose which point to take the photo, and smart photo selector that will take a number of photos and choose the best 5 for you.
A WU-1b wireless adapter is available if you want to add Wi-Fi to the camera. The Nikon 1 S1 comes with the 11-27.5mm compact kit lens, and the Nikon 1 series has a number of lenses available, with new lenses added with every new camera launch.
10.1 megapixel CX 1 inch CMOS sensor
Nikon 1 Lens Mount
11-27.5mm (2.5x optical zoom) kit lens equivalent to 30 to 74mm
3 inch, 460k dots
Full HD video with stereo sound
High speed video recording at 400 or 1200fps
ISO100 to ISO6400
Focus assist LED
5/15/30/60fps continuous shooting
Available in black, white, red, pink (of course), and khaki.
Nikon 1 S1 Handling
Handling - The design of the Nikon 1 S1 is noticeably stylish and rather trendy, with the lens, lens cap and camera strap all matching the camera colour you have chosen. While the camera has a plastic body, it feels well built and there is a good thumb grip on the back, and a rubberised grip around the lens, although no hand-grip on the front of the camera, also missing is the mode dial found on the J and V series cameras. The pop up flash is activated with a small button on the left hand side of the camera, and can take some time to find for the first time, as it is right next to the strap loop. The rear of the camera is dominated by the 3 inch screen, which unfortunately is not a touch screen, and on the right hand side are a small number of buttons and controls.
The Nikon 1 S1 and J3 do not feature a dust reduction system, instead relying on the infra-red filter position to help avoid dust spots appearing on the sensor, so care will be needed when changing lenses.
Menus – The menu button is used to enter the menus where you can switch the shooting mode (you can also choose the shooting mode using the F button), as well as alter camera settings. The camera options are spread out, with some of the more basic photo options in the "Shooting options" and additional photo options in the "Image processing" menu, such as White Balance, ISO, etc. Trying to remember where to find settings can take a while, and as they are similar it seems strange that they are seperated into different menus. A touch-screen would also aid navigation of the menus.
Battery life - Battery life is rated at 220 shots according to Nikon / CIPA test results, we were able to take over 300 shots before the battery went flat which is impressive considering the CIPA rating.
Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
60fps (15 shots)
7fps (speed priority mode, 15 shots)
Continuous Shooting - Flash
Continuous Shooting - RAW
60fps (15 shots)
4fps (13 shots)
Shutter response is excellent and focus is very quick as well. Switch on time is good, as is shot to shot time whether using the flash or not. Continuous shooting is excellent at 60fps whether shooting JPEG or RAW and will take 15 shots before stopping.
Nikon 1 S1 Performance
Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.
Nikon 1 S1 Sample Photos
Sample Photos - The photos show good skin tones, lots of detail and just a slight hint of red-eye, although noise is visible. Colour is very good, with saturated reds and blues, without being overly saturated.
Nikon 1 S1 Lens test images
Lens Performance - The 11-27.5mm kit lens performs well with sharp detailed images whether using it at the wide or telephoto ends of the lens and purple fringing was very low. Some barrel distortion is visible in wide shots, although auto distortion correction is available in the camera menus to correct for this. Macro performance is a little disappointing, and the 10-30mm kit lens performs better for macro shots.
Nikon 1 S1 ISO test images
ISO Noise Performance - With a smaller sensor than other mirrorless cameras such as Micro Four Thirds or APS-C sensor cameras, noise performance suffers, and at ISO3200 and above that noise becomes noticeable, with images best resized for use on the web, rather than left at full size. The camera has low noise at ISO100/200, with some noise becoming more noticeable as the ISO setting increases to ISO400 and ISO800. It's at ISO1600 that coloured noise becomes more noticeable, but results are still good up to ISO1600.
Nikon 1 S1 White-balance test images
White Balance Performance - The camera produces very good results particularly using auto white balance, with very little difference between auto white balance and the tungsten preset. Under fluorescent lighting better results were obtained when using auto white balance, with the fluorescent preset giving a slight magenta cast. Some signs of moire are visible in the fabric pattern in the case in the middle of the picture, and detail is very good for a 10 megapixel sensor.
Motion snapshot - This takes 1 photo, and 1 slow motion video - (1 second long) and then when played back on the camera it plays the video then shows the photo with one of four pieces of music (chosen pre-shooting).
Best Moment capture has two modes of operation:
1) Slow motion - this shows you the scene in slow motion as it unfolds in front of you, letting you press the shutter release button when you want to capture the exact moment.
2) Smart Photo Selector - The camera takes 30 photos at 30fps and then presents the 5 best photos, as all 5 photos are saved to the memory card.
Nikon 1 S1 Digital filters
Digital Filters - The camera has a number of creative shooting modes: Night landscape, Night portrait, Backlighting, Soft, Miniature and selective colour. Under Auto shooting there are options for D-Lighting, background softening, motion control, and brightness control. Colour options are available including Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait and Landscape - these can be customised letting you alter sharpness, contrast, brightness, saturation and hue.
Video - Video options include P/A/S/M shooting, as well as high speed. Video can be recorded at 1080/60i or 30p, as well as 720/60p and 30p and there are options for microphone sensitivity, as well as wind noise reduction. High speed video examples can be found on our YouTube Channel, and are recorded at 400 or 1200fps. The lack of image stabilisation in the 11-27.5mm kit lens is noticeable in the sample videos.
Value For Money
The Nikon 1 S1 is available for £435 with 11-27.5mm kit lens which makes it average value for money, particularly as a number of competitors are available for less or similar amounts, with a 3x optical zoom kit lens as well as a larger sensor and image stabilisation (either in body with the Olympus PEN series, or in lens with the Panasonic, and Sony NEX cameras). Alternatives to look at include the Olympus PEN Mini E-PM2 at £469 (with 8GB Wi-Fi card), Sony NEX-3N at £400, Samsung NX1000 with Wi-Fi at around £350, Panasonic Lumix GF5 at £349 and with a smaller sensor, the Pentax Q10, at £379.
While the Nikon 1 S1 may be the smallest mirrorless camera from Nikon, it also comes with a rather limited 2.5x optical zoom kit lens, that isn't very wide (30mm equivalent) nor does it give much telephoto reach (74mm equivalent), it also lacks image stabilisation, and for roughly £70 more you can purchase the higher specification Nikon 1 J3 with 10-30mm VR lens, or the J2 with twin lens kit for £429 (while still available).
Alternatively other mirrorless cameras offer a larger sensor, IS as standard the majority of the time, wider kit lenses with 3x optical zoom, although none of them, apart from other Nikon 1 cameras, offer high speed continuous shooting at up to 60fps.
The Nikon 1 S1 is a capable camera, producing pleasing images with lots of detail despite only having a 10 megapixel sensor, and it shoots at 60fps with a number of potentially useful high speed shooting modes, including the ability to save the best 5 shots taken in Smart Photo Selector mode, or see the scene in slow motion and pick a photo from it. Full HD video with stereo sound is included, as well as high speed video recording, although the lack of image stabilisation could be an issue for some. For someone looking for a fast, compact, and good looking compact camera, the Nikon 1 S1 could make a good choice, particularly if you'd be interested in changing lenses at a later date.
The Nikon 1 S1 has a number of impressive high speed feature built into a very compact and stylish body.
Nikon 1 S1 Pros
Extend lens to switch on, close to switch off
2 year warranty
Matching strap colour
Manual stills and video
Silent (electronic) shutter
Extremely quick continuous shooting
Nikon 1 S1 Cons
Can't shoot RAW and JPEG at the same time!
Lacks panoramic mode
11-27.5mm kit lens does not feature IS
Limited 2.5x optical zoom with 11-27.5mm kit lens
Touch-screen would help menu navigation due to lack of mode dial