Nikon J1 worth investing in as second camera.

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Oahu, HI
# of dives
None - Not Certified
Aloha All. I have a J1 with waterproof housing that I tried to use couple years back, but for what I was doing it wasn't any better than a GoPro at all. I picked up the camera and housing for under $200, but it doesn't have a zoom gear and it was just a pain to use for simple snorkeling stuff. I am now getting more into the Scuba side and I invested in an Olympus mirrorless system, but I was considering having a backup in case something goes wrong and already having the J1 might be better than a gopro once I get strobes and everything else, but I'm not sure the kit lens will do much good. I can't find a lot of information on the WP-N1 housing, the gear is WP-ZG1000 and when I do find them they are over $100 for the gear, do I need it? Will autofocus do with this camera? Is there extra lens attachments or do other lenses work with the setup? I found someone's youtube with some videos and they are good enough for a backup, but I can't find any info. Can someone with some info chime in if it's worth it to put any more money into it? I am mainly thinking due to the similar light option set up for strobes it will do as a good backup and if my kid goes diving we can do one doing wide angle and the other doing macro shots. Better to use what I have. I am also looking to see if there is a way to 3D print a zoom gear. For now it's sitting in a box not being used I might take it out just for the fun of it, but I don't have a chance to get in the water for well over a month. They only made a few lenses for them and the 10mm has 77 degrees of view and the 6.7 has 100 and not a hole lot that would be useful for macro. But the 10mm is $100+ and the 6.7-13 is over $500, I could get a decent used TG and case for that. I only own the kit lens, 10-30 mm so minus the 2.8 do I really need the 10mm prime? This would mainly be for photos I still plan on having a GoPro mounted on my main setup for any video. I know these are a discontinued camera that weren't that great to start with, but I've already got it, but should I add to it?

  • 1 Nikkor 10mm f/2.8[24]
  • 1 Nikkor AW 10mm f/2.8
  • 1 Nikkor 18.5mm f/1.8
  • 1 Nikkor 32mm f/1.2
  • 1 Nikkor VR 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6 [25]
  • 1 Nikkor VR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6[24]
  • 1 Nikkor VR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD-Zoom
  • 1 Nikkor VR 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 PD-Zoom[26]
  • 1 Nikkor VR 10-100mm f/4.0-5.6
  • 1 Nikkor 11–27.5mm f/3.5-5.6
  • 1 Nikkor VR 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6[26]
  • 1 Nikkor VR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6
I see this post is a few months old but figured I'd weigh in, as there is very little detailed info on using Nikon 1 systems underwater despite the good manufacturer housings. I've been using a Nikon 1 S1 in WP-N2 housing obtained for a similar deal many years ago, basically just a newer J1, same sensor though some features may have changed. This generally applies to all the Nikon 1 cameras (J1, J2, J3, J4, J5, S1, S2, V1, V2, V3, AW1) and Nikon 1 housings (WP-N1, WP-N2; the WP-N3 fits different lenses) except certain features that differ on the V series (no Nikon-made housings, faster strobe sync due to physcial shutter, some without built-in flash, manual flash modes) and the AW (not needing/having housings and related underwater lens differences).

Camera Performance:
- The camera is very responsive; fast on-off cycling, buttons/dials/menus all quick to respond.
- Autofocus speed and accuracy is great in all lighting conditions, both above and below water. Face detect (even with a mask), auto, single point, tracking, video AF... all work great.
- When not using a strobe, the high-speed burst shooting combined with good AF is great; surfers, kayakers, big sharks and rays etc. The underwater white balance preset is quite good at adapting to varying underwater lighting conditions.
- Photo and full-HD video quality are very good for the sensor size and age. Colour, rendering and sharpness are pleasing. High-ISO photos (over 800) can be a bit rough, but to bandy about an overused term, is more akin to film grain than digital noise. 10MP is very useable, just don't expect heavy crops (better on the later 14, 18 and 20MP cameras). Lenses are quick, quiet and smooth to focus, generally sharper than most underwater conditions would need and VR gives smooth video.
- Controls are a bit limited coming from a terrestrial two-dial DSLR/mirrorless, as it takes some time-consuming button/dial shuffling and menu use when changing combinations of shutter, aperture, ISO/auto-ISO, white-balance and strobe settings. At least all those controls are there though, unlike a lot of other compact cameras, but digging for them can be difficult when keeping up on a group dive.
- Battery performance is decent for a small mirrorless, I can get 2-3 long dives per charge when being careful about quick sleep period and/or switching off when not using but still using strobe triggered by the built-in flash. 3 dives is pushing it though, I'd say change every 2 is safe.

Housing and Use:
- Handling is great, underwater weight and balance is pretty good as-is, all controls work smoothly, Nikon put long shutter button levers on their housings so even with gloves you use the two-stage shutter release. Size of the housing is about the same as most full-frame cameras without any housing! Easy to pack and travel with. Cleaning, maintenance and corrosion resistance have all been good.
- I have it mounted on a tray with a handle on the left side, handhold the housing directly with a leash on the right. Strobe ball mount on the left handle with a Y-arm and a selection of ball-arms, clamps and floats, so I can mount one or two strobes or a strobe and video light. I use a couple short sea&sea type coiled optical cables, and one long spooled fibre optic for when placing a strobe.
- The back cover of the housing is tinted, this helps at depth and keeps the built-in flash from blinding you, but for shallow depths, you'll want the screen at max brightness, and even then, if shooting down like while snorkeling, it can be difficult to see the screen with reflections, although you can shield it with your hand or body.
- As with most housing ports and domes, and worse when adding wet-lenses, if the lens has writing on the front bezel, you either need the WP-IR1000 reflection ring, a similar step-down ring or a sharpie to cover up the writing otherwise stopped-down close-focus shooting it can showup in images.

Strobe use:
- Biggest limitation for the whole 1 series (other than V) is sync speed is limited to 1/60 max; this can prevent freezing fast moving subjects. It can also pose challenges in balancing lighting in bright clear water, shooting 1/60, ISO 100, f/8 to f/11 has yielded good results but eats strobe power for bigger subjects and is starting to get to lens diffraction softening.
- The built-in flash always fires with fast/complex preflash(es), so only some strobes will be compatible that can exactly mimic this and only as TTL flashes, although the camera itself does allow -3/+1EV flash compensation and does well with reliable TTL exposure control. Check compatibility, especially for older "digital" strobes! Eg. my old YS-110a worked in initial testing as an extra strobe, but in actual use, it was hit-or-miss on triggering properly and sea+sea indeed don't list it as compatible with Nikon 1; most newer strobes (YS-D1 and up, YS-01solis, YS-03, S-TTL Inons, etc) should be fine though choice of modes may be limited. And of course the (expensive) sea&sea-made Nikon SB-N10 will work.
- Deploy the camera flash before loading in the housing. For the cameras with powered release, if you forget you can just take a photo in auto to make the flash deploy, for those with a physical release sorry for your unplanned surface stop or no-strobe dive. Then you can use the various flash modes (including off) to control it's use.

- 10-30/3.5-5.6 VR: For the 10-30 zoom gear, you don't need it if you are choosing photography style pre-dive or bringing another rig; 10mm for everything except 30mm for macro should get you by, but I do like having the gear. The lens already focuses down to 8in/0.2m from the image plane, so only a few inches in front of the housing. For true dedicated macro, you could see if you can fit a 40.5mm 4-diopter on the front of the lens, or a 67mm wet macro on the housing, which should let you focus right to the front of the housing. This lens did have some problems; mine was warranty serviced with Nikon for the aperture sticking.
- 10/2.8: I don't see a benefit using the 10mm, you lose VR for 2/3rd of a stop of light and smaller size+weight that doesn't matter in the housing, may vignette in WP-N1 or N2, okay in WP-N3.
- 18.5/1.8: Again giving up VR, but great for low-light shooting. I sometimes use this one with a 40.5mm thread-on small diameter wide converter that fits in the housing and gives me a ~13/1.8; causes some CA and barrel distortion but fixable in post. Very sharp on its own, focuses to same 8in/0.2m, but a little short (50mm equiv) for macro even with a diopter (which has lots of room to fit in the housing).
- I don't think any other lenses will work in that housing, the 11-27.5 only works from about 14-27.5 and no VR, I really wish the 6.7-13VR worked but haven't ever found confirmation of this and its too expensive to buy just to try, the 10-30VRPD has no real benefit over 10-30VR and not sure how it would fit, the AW lenses aren't needed and likely wont mount on any non-AW camera, all the other lenses are too big.
- Wet Lenses: I mostly use a meikon-seafrogs-type 67mm air filled wide angle dome; it restores the above-water angle of view and gives pretty good image quality, although at 10mm stopping down really helps the corners, otherwise works great with the 10-30 and 18.5. I have a 67mm adapted INON UWL-105AD that is useful as a semi-fisheye but vignettes by ~12mm in front of the 10-30VR. No macro wet lens... yet. I also have a yellow 67mm filter for blue-light fluorescence diving.

Overall I've gotten some great results over the years, especially for the system price, size and weight compared to waterproofing my main land rig, but like everything (and especially UW photography), there are some limitations to work around. Even today, the Nikon 1 series are still fast performing cameras with pleasing colours and nice compact size.

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