The J1 body is minimalist in appearance and is available in a choice of Silver, Pink, Red, Black and White colours, but where are the dark blue or racing green models? On the top plate there are two shutter release buttons, the large button is for shooting stills and the small red button is for movie capture. The red button only operates when shooting movie clips in Movie mode.
The large button is used for normal photo shooting but will also capture a 1920 x 1080 still photograph (Full HD format) whilst shooting a movie. This may seem like a nice feature but when you’re shooting at 30p you are effectively capturing 30 still frames each second and any one those frames could be used as a still image. However, this camera also shoots high quality still photographs with a dimension of 3872 x 2592, which is more useful for producing high quality prints. In other words the still frame capture feature has little real value and the act of pressing the shutter release may cause camera movement or shake whilst shooting a movie sequence.
Next to the shutter release is the On/Off button. This button is flush to the top plate, which could be hard to operate if wearing gloves. Press this to turn the camera On, press again to turn the camera Off, simple? Well not quite, indeed the button activates the camera, but once pressed you are given a message on the rear LCD screen “Rotate the zoom ring to extend the lens” now you can start taking pictures. An easier way to activate the camera is to simply rotate the zoom lens and now you are ready to shoot without any annoying message. Given that this camera contains some very advanced electronics, it wouldn’t be that hard to alter the firmware so the camera also powers down when the zoom lens is closed. However, the camera can be set to Auto Power Off after 15s, 30s, 1, 5 or 10 minutes of inactivity. This is not a total power OFF, a green light continues to flash for a further 3 minutes before the camera totally shuts down.
To the left of the ON/OFF button is a 2 x 1mm hole – this is the camera’s speaker. Sound quality is not up to Bang & Olfson standard but it suffices to monitor what has been captured, shame Nikon didn’t incorporate a 3.5mm headphone output on the camera.
Next to this is a small pop up flash, this has to be manually activated via a sliding switch located at the rear of the camera. The small flash jumps up by about 5cm and on the end of a short stick it does look vulnerable to knocks. However, it does produce good exposures and even light coverage with the 10 – 30mm lens. Flash compensation can be set in 1/3 stop increments from 0.0 to +1 or -3 stops, this menu item is only available once the flash has been popped up. Red eye reduction and rear curtain sync options can be set via the rear multi selector dial.