As the final instalment of articles in advance of my hands-on review of the Nikon 1 J5 I went out today to test the camera’s capability with landscape photography. One of our readers, Ray Miller, was kind enough to act as my guide today and took me to a number of very interesting spots at which I could put the Nikon 1 J5 through its final hands-on test.
I specifically looked for scenes and situations that would challenge both the dynamic range and colour depth of the J5’s new 20.8 MP BSI CX sensor. All of the images in this article were shot hand-held using the Nikon 1 10-30 mm PD kit zoom. Each is shown as full frame captures, no crops of any kind were done to the images.
I used my standard workflow to make adjustments to RAW files for almost all of the images in this article. Only the first image is an out-of-camera jpeg which is there for comparison purposes. I found the RAW files produced by the J5 were excellent and very easy with which to work. From a hands-on perspective the J5’s RAW files have more latitude in terms of dynamic range compared to those produced by my Nikon 1 V2’s. Colours also seem smoother and a tad richer.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
As I mentioned earlier I really tried to find challenging scenes for the Nikon 1 J5. To give you an example the following is an out-of-camera jpeg before any OpticsPro 10 adjustments were made.
And, here is the same image after OpticsPro 10 adjustments were done. Obviously not all of the images needed this level of adjustment.
We started out fairly early in the morning at an area golf course and found some interesting tracks in the dew. I found that composing from the rear panel was easy to do and I was able to get the framing I wanted without too much difficulty – in this case using the tracks in the dew as a leading line entering from the bottom left corner.
A series of stairs and trails led us down to the waters edge of the Niagara Gorge.
We found a tribute to one of our fallen heros.
I often like to use rock outcroppings as feature elements in my compositions.
Or, as a partial reveal in a composition as in the image below. As is my common practice I used single point AF for all of the landscape images in this article.
I found the ‘X’ pattern in this scene intriguing.
It can often pay dividends to look behind you when hiking. In the image below I noticed a strong shadow ridge that had covered the rock path in darkness. I was able to lift the shadows sufficiently to reveal a good level of details.
Parts of the shoreline along the Niagara River can appear quite tranquil, hiding its true power and danger.
Some very high contrast scenes can cause highlight clipping with the Nikon 1 J5. This can be expected given its dynamic range rating of 12EV on DxOMark. Compared to my V2’s, dynamic range performance is much improved with the new 20.8 MP BSI sensor and the J5 held highlights better than does my V2. There are also more shadow details available. The cement pier in the following image would have absolutely been blow out with my V2 but some of the highlights held with the J5.
Some bright flowers in dark shade by Brock’s Monument. Sky is blown out but shadow details held well. I purposely used a fast shutter speed to force the J5 to auto select a high ISO and thus reduce the dynamic range as I wanted to see what kind of image would result.
I also had the opportunity to test the Nikon 1 J5 with some typical subject matter often found when doing landscape imaging.
Even though the subject leaf was in harsh, direct sunlight the J5 held highlights quite well.
I often find tree bark quite appealing and somewhat abstract.
A flower garden in harsh, direct sunlight was also a good test for the J5’s new sensor.
Overall I was quite pleased with how the J5 performed. Composing from the rear screen posed a bit of a challenge when in strong, direct sunlight but not to the point where I could not get my desired image. The dynamic range and colour depth are both improved from previous Nikon 1 models such as my V2’s.
People looking for a small, light, and capable camera for landscape photography will enjoy the Nikon 1 J5.
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Article and all images Copyright Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, duplication of any kind, or adaptation is allowed without written consent.