Nikon announces its second-generation mirrorless camera

The Nikon 1 J2 is a slightly different version of its predecessor, with new creative photo mode and revamped lens technology

The Nikon vs. Canon battle rages on, this time in the mirrorless octagon. Announced today, the Nikon 1 J2 isn't a radical departure from Nikon's first mirrorless model, the Nikon 1 J1. Not surprisingly, the J2 announcement comes hot on the heels of Canon's first mirrorless model; it essentially maintains Nikon's one-generation mirrorless lead over its biggest rival.

The new Nikon J2 features the same 13.2-by-8.8mm, 10-megapixel CMOS sensor found on the J1, as well as the same speedy 73-point autofocus system that adjusts for each shot in the camera's 10-frames-per-second burst mode, and the same point-and-shoot-like body size. And like the J1, the new Nikon mirrorless model offers manual exposure controls, aperture- and shutter-priority modes, a pop-up flash, and 1080p video capture at 30 fps (or 1080i recording at 60 fps).

New to the mix are a few features that might make the J2 a more-attractive mirrorless option for casual shooters. The new camera will have a Creative Mode menu on its mode dial that adds point-and-shoot-style features to the camera, such as an exposure-bracketing Night Landscape mode, a Selective Color mode that lets you highlight one color in a black-and-white shot, a motion-controlled Easy Panorama mode, and a tilt-shift-simulating Miniature mode.

Another enhancement to the J2 is a 921K-dot 3-inch LCD screen. The J1 has a lower-resolution 460K-dot LCD; and given that neither camera offers a shoe for an eye-level electronic viewfinder, the J2's spec represents a significant upgrade. Another change compared to the J1: In addition to having a traditional power button, the J2 will boot up as soon as an attached lens is unlocked.

Perhaps the most significant change is in the price: The J2 will list at $250 less than the Canon EOS M. When it becomes available in September, the Nikon 1 J2 will sell for $550 as a kit with a stabilized 10-30mm lens--that's also $100 less than the cost of the Nikon 1 J1 with the same lens. Both cameras have a focal-length multiplier of 2.7X, which means that the kit lens will have a 27mm to 81mm field of view when mounted on the camera.

Along with the new camera, Nikon today announced a lens for its 1 series cameras and an underwater housing for its 1 series models. The new 11-27.5mm F3.5-5.6 lens (30mm to 74mm when mounted) is more compact than the standard kit lens, but it also offers a slightly shorter zoom range. It's priced at $190 and will be available in September. The WP-N1 underwater housing is rated as waterproof down to a whopping 130 feet, but at $750, it costs more than the 1 series cameras themselves.

In addition to making the mirrorless camera announcements, Nikon unveiled a new high-zoom compact camera. The AA-battery-powered Coolpix L610 camera has an optically stabilized 14X zoom lens (25mm to 350mm), a 16-megapixel CMOS sensor, and 1080p video recording. It's smaller than previous models in Nikon's Coolpix L series line, but it's a bit bulkier than most current pocket-megazoom models. Due in September, it's priced at $250.

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