Nikon’s V3 too rich for your blood? Here comes the more affordable J4, S2 mirrorless cameras

Update on May 15, 2014: Nikon provided incorrect pricing for the various J4 kit lens options. We’ve updated the pricing below.

If you had been interested in the new Nikon 1 V3 but was turned off by its high price tag, Nikon has two follow-up models that may be more in line with your budget: the J4 and S2. The J4 was actually announced globally in April 2014, but May 14 marks its official availability in the U.S. Both the J4 and S2 share similar attributes as the V3, but have lesser features and performance to justify the lower price tag. In addition, Nikon is coming out with two new underwater accessories for the J4 and S2, making them unique in their own right.

With the V3 at the top-end of the mirrorless Nikon 1 compact system camera series, the J4 and S2 slot into the middle and lower-end, respectively. As we mentioned before, Nikon says the J4’s subject-tracking performance exceeds that of DSLRs, with a 20-frames-per-second burst mode and autofocus system that uses 105 phase-detection focus points and 171 contrast-detect focus points – covering nearly the entire viewfinder area. These are the same specs as the V3, which includes an 18.4-megapixel CX-format CMOS sensor with no optical low-pass filter, Expeed 4A image processor, ISO range of 100-12,800, Full HD movie capture at 60p (slo-mo in 720p, at up to 120 fps), 3-inch touchscreen LCD (1,037k-dot), and built-in Wi-Fi. Based on the specs alone, it seems the J4 and V3 are nearly identical.

The S2’s specs are a bit lower: It uses a 14.2-megapixel sensor, ISO range is 200-12,800, and the autofocus system has 73 phase-detection points and 135 contrast-detect focus points. It can record Full HD videos up to 1080/60p, but it can’t shoot in slo-mo. It has the same 20-fps burst mode, but the touchscreen is a lower-resolution (460k dots), non-touch variant. There’s no Wi-Fi, but can be added using Nikon’s WU-1a adapter. Like the V3, both the J4 and S2 use the Micro SD flash memory card format for storage.

While the V3 is designed to handle and function more like a DSLR, with its controls and included textured grip and electronic viewfinder, the J4 and S2 are more like higher-end compact point-and-shoots, geared toward the general consumer – more so with the S2, which lacks fewer controls, like a mode dial. The J4 and S2 also have a variety of scene and creative modes. What does make these two cameras unique from the V3 are the underwater accessories, which were also announced globally with the J4. The WP-N3 Waterproof Case fits both cameras (with a 1 Nikkor 10-30mm f/4.5-5.6 PD-Zoom lens on the J4, and a 1 Nikkor 11-27.5mm f/3.5-5.6 lens on the S2). With this case, either camera can dive down to approximately 148 feet), letting users record both photos and videos. For those who go down to deep, dark underwater depths, Nikon is introducing a new SB-N10 Waterproof Speedlight (compatible with the WP-N3 case, as well as older WP-N1 and WP-N2 cases, and the Nikon 1 AW1 rugged camera), allowing you to illuminate down to approximately 328 feet (however, the camera can’t go as deep). With these accessories, both the J4 and S2 are designed to be vacation cameras.

The J4 comes with the aforementioned 10-30mm kit lens, and will retail for $600; it will be offered in black, white, silver, and orange. A second kit, with a 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.0-5.6 VR lens (with Nikon’s Vibration Reduction), will sell for $1,050. A third kit, which includes the 10-33mm lens and a 1 Nikkor VR 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 lens, will sell for $850. The J4 is available this month.

The S2, which will arrive in June, will come in black, white, red, and yellow, for $450 with the aforementioned 11-27.5mm kit lens. A two-lens kit, with the 11-27.5mm lens and the 30-110mm lens, will sell for $700.

No pricing has been determined yet for the accessories, but those will go on sale this month.

(Originally published on May 14, 2014)