Still image mode: this mode captures full resolution 10.2 megapixel images. The rear menu gives you plenty of options to shoot in Program, Shutter, Aperture priority, Manual or Scene modes. Selecting Scene mode is equivalent to shooting in Full Auto mode and many of the cameras options are greyed out, e.g White Balance, Metering, ISO, Picture control etc. For full control you should select one of the other modes.
Smart Photo mode: this is an interesting mode which continuously capture images to a buffer once you half depress the shutter release, fully pressing the shutter captures the buffered shots. The camera then sorts through the 20 buffered pictures and chooses the best 5 shots, the other 15 are deleted. The choice is based on image sharpness and exposure, funny how technical issues are given priority, I usually look for facial expression or composition etc.. When viewing the image via the Playback button you will notice a stack of images with the best image on top. Press the central OK button to scroll through the five images and select another image if you think it is better. In principal this is a nice feature, but the images are shot so quickly one after another that it becomes hard to tell which is the best shot. The example above shows what I mean, they all look so similar, only the girl leaping has changed. One important omission is the ability to use flash in this mode, surely this would have been a great feature, especially as we always seem to have the knack of catching blinkers. I would gladly sacrifice the 15 shots the camera discards for 5 shots with flash. Hope to see this as a firmware upgrade in the future! The camera uses full auto mode with Smart Photo capture, very few manual control options are available.
Motion snapshot: this is a novelty mode with limited use. Basically it shoots a short 1 second movie followed by a still shot. On playback the movie clip duration is doubled to 2 seconds, a jingle is added (from a choice of three) and then a still image is displayed, this is the motion snapshot feature in a nutshell. I tried this on several scenarios, some worked, most didn’t, the Motion Snapshot feature didn’t add much to the Nikon J1. It may come in useful if you want to capture someone blowing out birthday cake candles or drinking a toast to a friend, but at a 1 second real time capture you have to time you shot with split second accuracy in order to catch the decisive moment. I’m sure this feature was inspired by the moving pictures in the Harry Potter films.