There was a decent amount of grumbling on the internet when the Nikon 1 J2 came out, complaining that the J2 wasn’t a big enough leap forward from the J1. Sure, the J2 was given a higher resolution LCD and “effects” modes, but many people thought that this wasn’t enough. However, being new to photography myself, I wondered if those complaints weren’t missing the point a little bit. The reason the J2 existed wasn’t to act as an upgrade for the J1, but to get newer photographers who might have missed the initial J1 push interested in an easy-to-use, affordable, interchangeable-lens consumer camera.
Let’s just get this out of the way now: If you’re a professional photographer, you probably won’t be interested in the J2. However, if you are a new photographer who’s not quite ready for a full-fledged mirrorless or DSLR, a hobbyist who is looking for something different and portable, or a gadget fiend who’s just looking for something fun, the Nikon 1 J2 is right up your alley.
The kits that we sell include the camera, the 10-30mm VR f/3.5-5.6, and the 30-110mm VR f/3.8-5.6 telephoto (we also have these kits in red, silver, and pink). First off, especially for newer photographers, the interchangeable-lens aspect of the camera gives the user more control over your image without making lens collection a drastic expense. I found these lenses especially good for outdoors photography—not only was the telephoto (+ the lens hood) a totally solid lens to shoot with outdoors, but the size (if not the orange color) made the camera portable and inconspicuous. The auto-focus is also ridiculously fast, which should definitely appeal to people who are taking pictures of their kids or are out and about, trying to capture the moment.
The range of settings is there—you can shoot in Program (P), Aperture Priority (A), Shutter Priority (S), or full-on Manual (M)—but you have to go to Creative Mode then the menu to access these modes, as well as the effects modes. That being said, for the new photographer, the options for Automatic, Smart Photo, and Creative modes are easily accessible through the main dial. The lower dial changes exposure compensation, the AE-lock/AF-lock, self-timer, and flash, as well as allowing the user to navigate the menu.
Creative Mode (which will prompt you to press the ‘F’ button to select a specific mode) features night modes, “Easy Panorama,” soft focus and “Miniature effect” modes, and selective color. The panorama definitely was easy and I felt it stitched the images together with more consistency than most other cameras in its class.
Overall, I think the Nikon 1 J2 is a perfect gift to get for a new photographer. Say you have a significant other who wants to get into photography but isn’t quite ready for a DSLR yet but wants to get acquainted with the different shooting modes. The J2 is a great place for them to start.