Nikon 1 S1: Performance

May 9, 2013 by Andy Stanton Reads (54,935)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Image/Video Quality
    • 7
    • Features
    • 7
    • Design / Ease of Use
    • 6
    • Performance
    • 8
    • Expandability
    • 7
    • Total Score:
    • 7.00
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10


Nikon 1 S1Performance
I found the 1 S1’s overall performance to be quick and reliable.  Its startup time is approximately one second and it shuts off instantly. I noticed little or no delay in accessing any of the menu selections. 

The 1 S1 uses the same rechargeable lithium-ion battery as the 1 J3, which has a CIPA rating of 220 shots. I found that number to be reasonably accurate. Battery life may be less depending on how often you consult the menu or shoot movies. 

Shooting Performance
The 1 S1 is a fairly quick performer when it comes to shooting.  In both JPEG and RAW mode it required about 2-3 seconds between shots, without the flash, and another second when the flash was used — a good but not great showing. I found the camera’s hybrid autofocus to be quick and reliable. The camera automatically selects between two types of autofocus to capture sharp images. For sports and other fast action scenes, phase-detection autofocus is used with 73 points. When shooting in low light the camera uses contrast-detection autofocus, with 135 points of coverage. Very few cameras have as many points of coverage and, as expected, this leads to very reliable auto focusing. The camera occasionally failed to lock focus in low light. 

The 1 S1 has the same impressive continuous shooting ability as the 1 J3. It can shoot at full resolution at 5 frames per second with the flash enabled and at 15 frames per second with continuous autofocus and up to 60 frames per second with fixed-point autofocus with the flash disabled. 

Nikon 1 S1Nikon 1 S1

Lens Performance
The 1 S1’s kit lens produced sharp, largely distortion-free images. Chromatic aberration was present in some high contrast shots, such as tree branches against a blue sky, but was not noticeable in normal use.  Images were sharp throughout the frame, even in the corners. Barrel distortion and pincushion distortion were not a problem, thanks in part to the camera’s use of auto distortion control which, when enabled, corrects for barrel and pincushion distortion, although it might add a little time to image processing. 

Video Quality
I was very pleased with the video ability of the 1 J3 and it appears that the 1 S1 system has the same specifications. However, I did not achieve the same consistently good results. Most of the videos I took were jittery, as if my hands were making slight vertical movements. I’m not sure how much I might have contributed to this problem, though I’ve never noticed this in any videos I’ve taken with other cameras, including the 1 J3. Perhaps optical image stabilization (vibration reduction), which is not present with the kit lens, would resolve this issue. 

Image Quality
Image quality is excellent, with sharp definition, good dynamic range and strong colors. Results are consistently good in both RAW and JPEG modes. The camera nicely showed off the beautiful spring flowers.

The camera’s auto white balance setting, which I used, worked very well, both indoors and out. Other white balance settings are incandescent, fluorescent, direct sunlight, flash, cloudy, shade, underwater and manual. 

Nikon 1 S1The 1 S1, like the 1 J3, produces good results even at high ISOs, even though its sensor is smaller than the APS-C and 4/3 sensors used in most small mirrorless, interchangeable lens cameras. As shown below, images from 100 ISO through 800 ISO look almost identical, with little graininess and strong colors. From 1600 ISO through 6400 ISO the images get more grainy and lose definition, although even at 6400 ISO quality is sufficient for very small photos, such as the type used on social network sites.


ISO 100                                                                                     ISO 200

ISO 400                                                                                     ISO 800

ISO 1600                                                                                    ISO 3200

ISO 6400

The 1 S1’s flash can be set to several modes:  Auto, auto with red-eye reduction, fill-flash, fill-flash with slow sync (which uses a slow shutter speed), red-eye reduction, red-eye reduction with slow sync, rear curtain sync (flash fires before the shutter closes), rear curtain with slow sync, slow sync with red-eye reduction and off. Flash range is approximately 16 feet (5 m) at 100 ISO.

Additional Sample Images 

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