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Advanced Camera with Interchangeable Lenses — High-speed Autofocus Realizing incredibly high-speed and precise autofocus

1. Proposing new forms of imaging expression

Styles of photography evolve in different ways, as types of cameras and means of photographic enjoyment diversify.

Nikon 1 J1 / Nikon 1 V1

As photography has advanced into the digital age, various new ways of enjoying images have developed — the appreciation of photos in digital photo frames, photo galleries on websites, photo sharing at SNS sites, and so forth.

Along with this, as digital cameras diversify, SLRs and compact models have become much more accessible to everybody. At the same time, mobile phones, smartphones and tablet devices now incorporate a camera function, so photography or video shooting has become an extremely common sight anytime and anywhere.

Today, as the styles of digital photography have diversified, evolving to become increasingly common elements of our everyday lives, Advanced Camera with Interchangeable Lenses Nikon 1 J1 / V1 have been introduced to demonstrate a great new way of achieving creative photographic expression while enhancing enjoyment.

For example, Motion Snapshot mode is a new feature of these cameras that enables the merging of a still image with high-resolution movie footage. Operation is the same as for shooting a still image, but the camera records both still pictures and video contents. Achieving dramatic results, playback is conducted in slow-motion video, with a still image displayed at the heart of the sequence, accompanied by selected background music. With Smart Photo Selector mode, before and after you press the shutter button, candidate shots are captured in buffer memory, allowing you to select a "best shot" later. These new cameras enable anyone to effectively capture the most photogenic moments.

Our high-speed autofocus technology, among others, has realized these innovative new features.

2. Autofocus via phase- or contrast-detection methods

Digital SLR cameras, in general, incorporate a phase-detection autofocus sensor inside the body.

Phase-detection autofocus: Enables quick focusing.
Contrast-detection autofocus: Longer time is required to locate a contrast peak and determine a focal point.

There are two methods used for autofocus in current digital cameras — phase detection or contrast detection.

Phase-detection autofocus is employed in digital SLR cameras. In this design, light that enters the camera through the lens is divided to create two images. This is basically analogous to how human eyes function. Our brain reconfigures the scene viewed by the left and right eyes to produce a three-dimensional image. The camera measures the distance between the two images and adjusts for the difference by moving the lens to obtain correct focus. This process controls the two images so as to determine focus accurately and move the lens position accordingly. Wasted motion is prevented for quick focusing.

On the other hand, contrast-detection autofocus design is employed in compact digital cameras, mirrorless cameras and mobile phones. Its mechanism is designed based on the principle that an image is in focus when contrast is at its highest. Contrast is calculated from the subject image information the image sensor provides. Lens position is locked when the contrast value is at its highest and the image is sharply in focus. The mechanism searches for the contrast peak methodically by steadily moving the lens without being able to predetermine where the contrast will reach its peak. Accordingly, the contrast-detection autofocus method takes longer than phase-detection autofocus. The merit of the contrast-detection autofocus method is that the unit can be more compact and lightweight as no dedicated autofocus sensor unit is required.

3. Precise, high-speed autofocus

Super high-speed AF CMOS image sensor

Nikon 1 J1 and V1 come loaded with a newly developed super high-speed AF CMOS image sensor.

The image sensor employs a phase-detection autofocus design, avoiding the need for a dedicated autofocus sensor. This realizes a compact, lightweight body and enables performance of both phase- and contrast-detection autofocus to achieve an advanced hybrid autofocus. Nikon 1 series cameras — the J1 and V1 models — employ this hybrid design and automatically select either phase-detection autofocus which is effective for capturing moving subjects, or contrast-detection autofocus which is ideal for shooting low-luminance subjects, depending on the shooting situations.

Nikon has attained this incredibly high-speed autofocus by combining technologies of the focal plane phase-detection autofocus enabled by the super high-speed AF CMOS image sensor; the newly developed high-speed image-processing engine EXPEED 3, which enhances processing speeds to a higher level; and 1 NIKKOR that realizes high-speed drive control.

The new cameras also employ the same algorithm of the predictive focus tracking system used in Nikon flagship digital SLR camera D3S, to secure the capacity required to follow a rapidly moving subject. These cameras assure you of capturing without fail those decisive moments during exciting play at sports events or the active movements of children in a playground.

Nikon has developed various technologies that achieve fast and precise autofocus in a wide range of photographic conditions. Once you are holding a Nikon 1 camera, you may completely forget that it's the autofocus of the camera that realizes this speed and ensures your carefree enjoyment of great photography.

Posted December 2011