Pro photographers chosen to produce end-result beauty shots to promote Nikon cameras find that the assignments tend to be challenging combinations of the specific and the general: there are particular features to highlight but a wide latitude when it comes to interpreting concepts.

Not long ago Deborah Sandidge, based in Florida, and Dixie Dixon, out of Texas, were given the enviable task of putting a few Nikon 1 cameras through their paces.

“The concept was to capture emotional connections between people,” says Deb, who shot with the Nikon 1 V2. “The idea is that to capture moments of connection in stills and video, you’ve got to have your camera handy, and that this was an easy-to-carry, easy-to-use and very versatile camera.”

On Deb’s shot list: stills and video to illustrate particular features of the camera and to highlight its ability to capture vivid color and fine detail. Everything else was pretty much up to Deb—casting models, choosing locations, picking props and suggesting clothing. “The overall thing I had in mind was to create situations that anyone might run into and would want a camera for.”

Deb was no stranger to the capability and versatility of the Nikon 1 camera. She’d owned one for over a year and often carries it in addition to her Nikon D-SLRs. “Because it’s small and unobtrusive, it can change the dynamics of shooting in situations where I don’t want to bring out the big camera and be a pro at work. With a Nikon 1, I’m a tourist.”

The guidelines that Dixie got for her shoot with the Nikon 1 J2 were similarly specific when it came to features and capabilities: capture vibrant colors, test the camera’s fast AF and showcase selected features. “We had so much fun with motion snapshot in particular,” she says. “You shoot a two-second video and then capture a still picture. You play it back in slow motion, with music, and the video ends on the still image—so you’ve created a music-driven video clip that ends in a freeze-frame effect. How cool is that?”

I was blown away by the autofocus—its speed and accuracy—and the sharpness produced by the lenses. There’s amazing quality in that compact system.

Like Deb, Dixie had free rein when it came to talent, situations and settings. “The key words were lifestyle and spontaneous,” she says, “with nothing overly posed or mannered. I was able to art direct the shoot as long as it was in the parameters of the shot list.”

The biggest challenge of the shoot was to be sure her choice of models was dead on. “When you’re going to be shooting lifestyle, you have to get models with really great energy and outgoing personalities—essentially models that will keep up with the shoot’s aims and the performance of the camera.”

Dixie hadn’t shot with any Nikon 1 camera prior to the assignment—she’s accustomed to using only pro-level Nikon D-SLRs—but the J2 delivered. “I was blown away by the autofocus—its speed and accuracy—and the sharpness produced by the lenses. There’s amazing quality in that compact system.”

It’s a system she plans to own. “My family has been complaining that I never have a camera with me when I’m at family functions. They’re like, your life is so undocumented because you’re always working, and when you’re not working you don’t want to carry the huge gear around. So now I can have a cool little camera in my purse.”

Now that might have been a good picture for the shot list.