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Nikon V1 first impressions and ongoing review

Carmen

Forum Geek :)
Honorary Life Member
Item type : Mirrorless interchangeable lens digital camera

Make and Model: Nikon V1

Price: Used with Nikon 10-30 VR lens approx £200, still available new from some places for £240ish

Where to buy: Ebay, Wex, other secondhand stockists. Some remaining stock available new.

Poor phone photo of my V1 which cost me the BARGAIN price of £179 from Wex USED.

2013-06-16 20.36.08.jpg

---------------------------------------------------------------

Build Quality: Excellent - it looks from photos like it's plastic, but the V1 is metal, very well made and very solid feeling with a bit of weight to it that inspires confidence. The lens is very light weight but again well made. THe only downside is the hotshoe cover which may well go missing easily.

Ease of use: Very easy to use. Nikon has made an "Apple" like attempt to redefine how a camera works - it's just, well DIFFERENT to other cameras, it's very good for novices, perhaps not so good for people with a more advanced knowledge, however manual functions are present and I find it actually a real pleasure to use, I really ENJOY using it!


Value for money: above excellent at the secondhand price now the V2 is out - it's original price was too expensive compared to other more "normal" system camera IMO but now, as it's priced around £100 cheaper than say the Canon S110 or G12 compacts it's a complete bargain.


Initial impressions and thoughts.
Very responsive camera, the AF works very, very fast in good light - Nikon claimed it was the worlds fastest AF. Well I can't prove or disprove that but it certainly works exceedingly well. It's extremely fast and accurate to lock focus. It also has an excellent high speed shutter options, shooting 5fps in mechanical and standard electronic shutter modes and up to an amazing 60fps in hi-speed mode at full res. The buffer is big enough to shoot RAW and fine Jpeg for a long time in the lower speed modes. It's VERY impressive and easily beats both my DSLR's on speed.

I have read in reviews that the auto-on/off view finder is a bit of a pain, but I've not found it too bad so far, yes there is a second or so delay when you put the camera to your eye before the viewfinder turns on but it's not too bad. I find the viewfinder perfectly adequate though it's a bit weird, after mirror cameras, to put the camera to your eye in image review mode and see the image review down the viewfinder.. I keep having to remember to half press the shutter to go back to normal shooting mode.

It does however only have a CX format sensor - this is where people initially slated it on specs alone. A CX format sensor is only 1/2 the size of a micro 4/3 sensor and 1/3 the size of a Nikon DX (crop) sensor, therefore small compared to other cameras. While Nikon only packed 10 megapixels on to the J1/V1 sensor the pixel pitch is far higher than most other comparable cameras - so is it awful in low light...

Well.... having come from the amazing-for-low-noise D700 and equally well rated (for a crop) D7000 - yes the results in low light at high ISO (3200 is the highest native ISO on the V1) do look a bit noisy, it must be said. However it's not terrible, and way better than any compact camera of course (unless you're wielding an expensive compact with a APS-C size sensor). Other reviews comparing similar system cameras point out that the image quality isn't really so different at high ISO to those with larger sensors until you really start pushing it at ISO1600 and above. Nikon after all are very good at producing cameras that produce low noise at high ISO even when many more pixels are packed onto them than there should be (thinking D800 here) so I guess it could be expected to be better than size/pixel density specs alone suggest.

I find the image quality from the V1 to be very pleasing. It takes very good pictures - the metering system is excellent, the pics are punchy and really nice to look at and I think they just have a different look to my DSLR's, something rather "vintage" or filmic to them.

I took rather a lot of images at Hatfield house recently, all with the V1 if you want to see the output.


I have yet to try out it's high-speed skills by shooting wildlife or sports but I can't wait to do so. Particularly since i now have the FT1 adaptor (thanks to Chris Grew) that allows me to attach any of my Nikon lenses to it... so I potentially have lots of long fast glass... it transforms my 85mm F1.8 into a 230mm F1.8 equivalent view... woo hoo with full metering and AF.

2013-06-16 20.36.36.jpg

Another potential drawback of the V1 is that it doesn't have a standard hotshoe - so it's not possible to use it with normal accessories. I also acquired from Chris a dinky and very cute litle Nikon SB-N5 flash for it. Such a cute little thing! I have yet to try it out though.

It also has several movie modes including two slow-motion movie modes. One of which can actually be useful and shoots 5 seconds of footage at 400fps and turns it into a movie approximately a minute long. It's actually fairly useable at 640x 240 resolution. THe higher 1200fps mode is a uselessly low resolution however.

400fps SLOW MOTION VIDEO LINK

The one thing that is still unique (I think) about this camera is that in HD movie mode (720p) it can shoot up to 20 full resolution still images while continuing to shoot video footage. There wasn't (still isn't ??) another camera that could do that without stopping the movie recording. That is quite impressive and could be quite useful sometimes too.


---------------------------------------------------------------

Basis of your review : Owned for about a week and played with :)

Rate your experience level. Intermediate

At what level do you think this product was aimed at: Mainly amateurs and people wanting to shoot children/ football games as this camera is THE camera that WILL capture that moment where a normal compact(and probably many DSLRs) would miss. It's fast, responsive and gives high quality images. However more advanced photographers might enjoy it's feature set too... it's a camera with a bit of an identity crisis I think, and you just have to try it to see if you like it.

I personally LOVE it so far!
 

paulmag

Always on
Honorary Life Member
Nice write up Carmen

Unfortunately I will forgo the video as I dont really care to install MS Silverlight.......thought that had died a death .
 

tenchy

Rain maker
Administrator
interesting beastie Carmen.
You and Activ8 have me seriously thinking about something like this...
 

Carmen

Forum Geek :)
Honorary Life Member
Nice write up Carmen

Unfortunately I will forgo the video as I dont really care to install MS Silverlight.......thought that had died a death .
Ahh well I should have put it on you tube but as I have loads of skydrive space I thought I'd use it for a change.

interesting beastie Carmen.
You and Activ8 have me seriously thinking about something like this...
I'm very impressed with it as you can tell. No way if have paid the original new price for it though but as it stands at the moment it's such a good buy. I can carry it in my handbag along with the dinky flash.
 

Sago

Account Closed
The used price has made all the difference here Carmen. Interesting review especially since you show it with a 85 f/1.8 lens. Where does the FT1 adaptor come from Carmen ?
 

Carmen

Forum Geek :)
Honorary Life Member
I got the FT1 along with a SB-N5 flash from a member here, so it was a little cheaper.

Definitely the used price has improved the prospect massively. the new price it's hard to recommend compared to other cameras with different advantages like more advanced user interface and larger APS sensors. However the speed of it still makes it interestign.
 

G2EWS

Always on
It was me!

Who sold Carmen the FT1 and SB-N5.

The flash is incredible for such a small unit. But remember it uses the camera battery, so make sure you have spare batteries!

If anyone is interested I still have the V1 in black for sale. Mine comes with the awesome 10mm pancake lens. These kits were very rare and much more expensive than the standard kit lens.

Here is a silly price:
http://www.selfridges.com/en/Home-Tech/Categories/Shop-Tech/Cameras/Cameras/1-V1-series-camera-with-10mm-wide-angle-lens_695-10044-NIKON1V110MMBLK/?cm_mmc=PLA-_-Google-_-PlusBox-_-Nikon&_$ja=cgid:5189056654|tsid:35948|cid:116283454|lid:24800246374|nw:g|crid:30736580014|rnd:502111499340673143|dvc:c|adp:1o1&gclid=CPuA9Ki2p7gCFSGWtAodhRAAxQ


Here is the normal 'best' price:
http://www.currys.co.uk/gbuk/cameras/digital-cameras/compact-system-cameras/nikon-1-v1-compact-system-camera-with-10-mm-lens-black-11553802-pdt.html?srcid=198&cmpid=ppc~gg~Cameras~11553802&istCompanyId=bec25c7e-cbcd-460d-81d5-a25372d2e3d7&istItemId=ptmpqlmp&istBid=t&ef_id=UYfzEgAABaJKfNR2:20130711121844:s

Cheaper here but hate Amazon:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nikon-V1-Compact-System-Camera/dp/B005NFVXHG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1373545277&sr=8-1&keywords=nikon+v1+10mm

Would sell mine which has had little use and fully boxed for £195 to include Interlink insured delivery. At the office so cannot check what the shutter count is, but not many.

Took it on holiday to Spain when I bought it and had the adapter and Nikon 70 - 200 f2.8 fitted. Got some strange looks with all that lens and a tiny camera! Also tried it with an 1.7 adapter and 200 - 400 at 400 giving 1836 mm! No surprises that even in a gimbal it was hard to hold steady!

Best regards


Chris
 

Carmen

Forum Geek :)
Honorary Life Member
Yes indeed it was Chris that sold me the lens and FT1. I am quite interested in the pancake lens, but even more interested in the new 18.5 F1.8 lens... though that's more than I paid for the camera.

I took some video clips and a few photos at a disco my husband was providing at the weekend and yet again I'm very impressed with the quality of both the photos and the film. It really is surprisingly good for a small factor 10mp camera. I love using it.
 

Jenbenjen

Always on
I was trying to think the other day as to why I suddenly got into photography and why I had wanted a camera for my 50th - it was like it came out of nowhere! It obviously has had a huge effect on my life .... but no idea why I got into it. Then today it came to me when I saw this thread!! It was when they had just released these cameras and the TV was full of adverts saying how they took the picture before you even see it etc...... it was that campaign by Nikon that made me go out to get one....................... came home with a Canon though! lol
 

Carmen

Forum Geek :)
Honorary Life Member
I was trying to think the other day as to why I suddenly got into photography and why I had wanted a camera for my 50th - it was like it came out of nowhere! It obviously has had a huge effect on my life .... but no idea why I got into it. Then today it came to me when I saw this thread!! It was when they had just released these cameras and the TV was full of adverts saying how they took the picture before you even see it etc...... it was that campaign by Nikon that made me go out to get one....................... came home with a Canon though! lol
See - you wouldn't be where you are today without Nikon... you'll come to the light side one day.


Yes indeed the V1 does take photos before and after you press the button in one of it's modes. It starts buffering images as soon as you halfpress the shutter then takes a few afterwards as well. It then displays and saves what it deems to be the best five (based on sharpness and apparently on composition and whether eyes are open etc) and you can choose from there. Could be very useful for catching moments with kids for sure. Not a mode I use very often though as it limits you on what manual input you can have to the shot.
 

Carmen

Forum Geek :)
Honorary Life Member
I took the V1 for a mini-walk last night with my 85mm attached via the FT1 adapter. I discovered two things about the combination.

  1. With AutoISO on the V1 appears to compensate for focal length.
  2. Continuous focus doesn't appear to work with the FT1 adapter.
I noticed when auto ISO was switched on on the V1 that it wasn't dropping the shutter speed below 1/500 sec which I thought was odd until I realised that the effective focal length of the lens on the V1 is 85mm x 2.7 which is 229mm - so I'm not sure why it wasn't going to 1/250 but perhaps it was playing safe. There's no option to set a minimum shutter speed for autoISO but it does seem to take into account the lens used.

I noticed that AF-C wasn't an option when the FT1 adapter was mounted, so continuous tracking focus was not possible. The V1 does get to focus very quickly however even when using the adaptor and a large full frame compatible lens - so the AF-system is really quite impressive.

Here's a thread with some images from the walkabout last night.
http://www.photography-forum.org/showthread.php/100823-A-walk-about-this-evening



Overall I'm really loving the camera so far. It has it's foibles but I've never had any issue with it's image quality and I must say I love using it - it's just fun. :)
 

MikeB

Always on
Premium Member
Carmen, thank you for the updates. I've been recommending mirrorless cameras to some and your comments make me feel more comfortable.
 

Carmen

Forum Geek :)
Honorary Life Member
As there's a couple of new V1 owners on here I thought I'd update this with some info .

Things I've learned about the 1 system.

Noise: Sometimes the V1 delivers surprisingly low noise in high ISO pictures (for it's sensor size) sometimes it's noisy at ISO 800. this is mostly, like other cameras, to do with the exposure. Nail the exposure and the noise is really not so bad (certainly comparable very favourably to an older generation crop sensor DSLR). I find the worst noise can be on flash pictures. Probably because although the flashgun (SB-N5) is quite capable for a small gun it is only powered by the camera battery and I think when used on TTL the camera tends to lower the flash exposure and can under expose sometimes which brings out the noise when the image is processed.

Lenses: all the 1-system lenses seem to be sharpest when wide open. This is great as it means you don't have to worry about compromising sharpness by shooting wide open and you maximise the light available. I have been very pleased with the performance of all my 1 system lenses, they weigh nothing but the quality of the glass is actually very good, the primes especially compare well to my full size prime lenses and pro quality FX glass. The lenses resolve surprising amounts of detail on the little CX sensor - really to the point that even when zoomed in it's not that obvious whether I'm looking at a shot from the D800 or the V1... unless I zoom right in and then notice the zoom factor that is (D800 as more than 3x the pixels of the V1).. I think this is a function of the great DOF available and the surprising detail that the small 10MP CX format sensor can render.

Depth of field: this takes some learning, the CX sensor is approximately 1/2 the size of a DX (or APS-C) crop sensor on a DSLR. This means that you get comparatively more depth of field for a given field of view. For example the "normal" prime lens on a crop sensor is a 35mm lens which gives the same field of view as a 50mm on a full frame. The "normal" prime lens on the CX sensor is only 18.5mm which means that the DOF even at F1.8 is much greater than either of the other two cameras. This can be a good and a bad thing.

Nice bokeh can be had by shooting close with the 18.5 on the V1, but as soon as you go further away from the subject the blur will never be the same as a larger sensor camera.

View attachment 199381

The extra DOF of course is a godsend for landscapes. Where you might shoot at F8- F11 on a DSLR you can get away with shooting F4 or so or maybe even wider on the V1, so less need to lose light by stopping down, which helps with keeping lower ISOs.

Using full size lenses with the FT-1 adapter

This is a huge advantage of the 1 system for owners who already have Nikon lenses, or even those who don't as using the FT-1 adapter you can mount any Nikon lens on the camera. AF-S lenses will focus in single and now continuous focus modes (recent firmware update allowed continuous focus) and if VR will also give stabilisation. This means stick a 200mm F2.8 lens on the camera and you have the equivalent of a 540mm F2.8 - NO loss of light!! Brilliant for birding I'd have thought and the camera's focus system is fast enough that with a fast focusing lens it shoudl be absolutely fine. Unfortunately my old 80-200 is not AF-S and though I can use it on the camera it's manual focus only. Is it wrong that I want to upgrade to the 70-200 just so I can use it on the V1....???

I have used my 85mm F1.8 on the V1 which turns into a 230mm F1.8 equivalent, it focuses fast and accurately on the V1. I do notice however that the V1 renders a lot of CA from this and also from my 50mm F1.8 lens. presumably there's no correction for this in camera. It is possible to correct in lightroom, but the CA can be quite extensive in high contrast situations. I guess the tiny pixels of the sensor render so much detail in the small area of the image circle that the CX sensor covers that the lens just cannot live up to it. In this way it's worse than mounting on a D800 BUT obviously only for the very centre sweetspot of the lens, so any soft corners or vignetting will definitely not be noticed.

Hope this helps a few. I updated my blog the other day with another post about my V1 after 6 months use.

http://photographybycarmen.co.uk/nikon-v1-6-months/
 
Last edited:

Carmen

Forum Geek :)
Honorary Life Member
Thought I'd shove this video I just shot in my "garden" up here. I think it helps illustrate the AF speed/ accuracy of the 1 system and also the new 32mm F1.2 lens. I put the camera on AF-F mode (full autofocus) and left face tracking switched on to see if it'd fool it. Then shot some flowers and complicated branches etc with the F1.2 lens at F2 (shutterpeed was ridiculous if I opend right up - this was at 1/640 which isn't really video suitable!). This was using only the centre focus spot so anything in the centre springs into focus. The focus on the lens was completely silent and didn't interfere with the video's original sound at all.

Make sure to click the settings and watch in full HD!

[video=youtube_share;fdU7g7WjdDc]http://youtu.be/fdU7g7WjdDc[/video]
 
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