Initial feelings on Nikon 1 V1

Nikon 1 V1 arrived yesterday and I had time only for a short shooting session with it but I still decided to share my very initial feelings on it. First thing I noticed when I unpacked the camera was that very solid felling when I was holding it. Beautifully built camera and I think the weight of it is just perfect. Not too heavy but not too light either. I got Nikon 1 NIKKOR VR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens with the body. The lens is very small and lightweight and still it feel very well built. Both the LCD and the EVF are very crisp and clear, i.e. pleasure to use. All in all the whole package screams quality.

My main reason to get this camera was the fast AF (of course the very low price helped too). And I can say that the AF really is FAST. Much faster than my Fuji X-Pro1 with XF 35mm lens and clearly faster than my Ricoh GR. I noticed that multi-point AF with face recognition is great for casual shooting. Nails the focus fast almost every time. For close-ups I tested single-point AF and it worked nicely and blazingly fast for that kind of shooting. All I can say is that I would like that kind of AF in all my cameras.

I mainly used shutter priority with auto-ISO (up to 3200) because the camera tends to select too slow shutter speeds when you are using e.g. aperture priority connected with auto-ISO. At least for moving subjects, like children or dogs, this is the only way to freeze their motion. To select the shooting mode as well as ISO you have to go to camera’s menu. This is silly and slow process. You have to remember that I am using this camera more or less as a point & shoot substitute. So, I think I can not ask everything to be perfect (and that is not certainly the situation with Nikon 1 V1). But I knew about these things beforehand.

The IQ is very nice for such small sensor. High ISOs (from 800 up) produce some quite noticeable noise but I can deal with that using Lightroom’s tools. And the noise this camera produces is not any horrible mush. Of course it is not any APS-C sensor Fuji X-Pro1 (or even Ricoh GR). You should not expect that kind of a ISO performance. If you take the small sensor into account the ISO performance of the V1 is more than acceptable. It is, however, very clear already now to me that if I want to shoot lots indoors, I have to get a faster lens (or a flash). Luckily Nikon has a great option for this. Nikon 1 NIKKOR 18.5mm f/1.8 (about 50mm equiv.). This lens is fast and reasonable prized (about 190 euros as new).

I was really surprised how sharp the 10-30mm zoom is. And it can produce nice DoF and bokeh in close-up shots as you can see from the shot below (shot at 30mm, f/5.6). And I really love the image stabilization (VR) it has. I was able to get sharp shots with 1/10s shutter speeds at 30mm (81mm equiv.).

Nikon 1 V1 close-up test
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2 comments

  1. Wow bud, I knew you would have some great things to say about it, I am a little disappointed to hear about the low light performance, but considering the sensor size I understand. I am very surprised that you did pick this one up, are you looking for a replacement or a new line up in your camera gear? I noticed you commented about the build quality and weight, do you think if you went on vacation for a month and could only bring one camera, would this be enough? Just curious since that is one purpose I am looking for in any new camera I get.

  2. Jeremiah, I can say that I would not buy V1 as my only camera. It has quite many quirks but in other hand it has that very fast AF and very decent IQ too. It does not have many dedicated buttons, e.g. no button for ISO and so on. You have to go to menu to change ISO, shooting mode (PASM) and many other things.

    For me the decisive things to purchase this camera were the very low price and the fast AF. I have now only that 10-30mm zoom lens which seems to be very decent one (and very small). For indoors you would need a faster lens (e.g. 18.5mm/1.8) which allows you to use lower ISOs. You have to remember that Nikon 1 lenses are very sharp wide open and still offer you enough DoF e.g. for portraits. Of course you can get a flash but V1 does not have a standard hot shoe which is a pity as you have to use a special flash gun.

    Please, feel free to ask more if you want to. I find this kind of a discussion very nice.

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