With the new Nikon Z9 imminent, we celebrate the 10th birthday of the Nikon 1

Last month the Nikon Z system celebrated its third birthday… but we’ve just passed another Nikon anniversary that slipped quietly under the radar. As I waxed lyrical about the Z system in a previous opinion article, I joked Nikon was a little late to the mirrorless party, but that’s not entirely true… The Big N first dipped its toes in mirrorless waters just over a decade ago, when it launched the Nikon 1 J1 and V1.

Back in 2011 the commercial mirrorless market was still very much in its infancy. Olympus and Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds system was nearly three years old, and both Sony and Samsung had launched their first APS-C mirrorless offerings the year prior. But anyone hoping Nikon would release a DX mirrorless camera would have to wait another eight years for the Z50 (though it was definitely worth it!).

Instead, Nikon took a bold gamble and launched the Nikon 1. The Nikon 1 system launched on September 21 2011 and was developed around a tiny 1-inch ‘CX’ CMOS sensor with a 2.7x crop factor. Today, of course, 1-inch sensors are widely used by Sony, Canon and Panasonic in some pretty serious compact cameras; back then, it just wasn’t taken seriously.

Nikon hit the ground running with its Nikon 1 ecosystem, with a neat little line-up of lenses to go with the cameras. (Image credit: Nikon)

The J1 and V1 featured a new hybrid AF system that boasted the world’s fastest autofocusing and the cameras packed 10Mp sensors, 60fps high-speed continuous shooting (imagine!), full HD video and raw shooting. The Nikon 1 V1 had a slightly better spec thanks to its electronic viewfinder, hot shoe, microphone port and extended battery life. 

Pick a color! Well, OK, you probably wouldn’t pick THIS color, but the Nikon 1 didn’t lack style. (Image credit: Nikon)

Neither were critical darlings and despite the nine additional cameras released for this system over the next few years, the Nikon 1 range was given the chop shortly before the Z mount’s 2018 debut. 


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