A great first entry, but needs improvements.
The Advanced Hybrid AF system in the Nikon 1 uses both phase-detection and contrast-detection to lock onto the subject. During day time and well lit places the former method is used, resulting in extremely fast AF, whereas in low light condition the contrast-detection mode kicks in, resulting in slow (but not Canon slow) autofocus. Manual focus is, however, horrendously slow and irritating to use because of the small sensor size and lack of fine quality captured; I would have much preferred a manual focus ring on the lens themselves.
The JPEG file output is sharp, with the Nikon 1 taking care of unwanted vignetting and fringing effects on pictures. The built-in option for Active D-Light control, in conjunction with the Noise Reduction allows for well-lit pictures without heavy shadows and noise at high ISO.
Movie recording at 1080p (in 60i and 30p) as well as 720p (at 60p) is fairly decent, with a good amount of detail being captured. What’s amazing, however, is how smooth and relatively fast the continuous AF system works. Not only that, but while recording a movie you can take 16:9 framed images by pressing the shutter release, and because of the electronic shutter in use, the pictures are taken silently and without interrupting the movie.
The Nikon 1 cameras are a great first effort by Nikon in the world of mirrorless cameras, with some great features. Great image quality, fast AF (including continuous shooting up to 60fps), and an impressive EVF are a few things that make the Nikon 1 amazing. However, for every useful feature, there’s an unnecessary layer of menu options to go through, making an otherwise enjoyable and quick experience something cumbersome.
If you stick with the basic options and don’t go into full manual controls, you’ll enjoy the Nikon 1 for what it is, a decent upgrade for point & shoot users, but enthusiasts will be left wanting due to the lack of some very basic features.