The Nikon 1 system: A [NR] hands-on review

The Nikon 1 system: A [NR] hands-on review by Cary Jordan

The Nikon 1 system might be one of the most talked about interchangeable lens systems in Nikon's history. While it was built as a new system from the ground-up, it's been surrounded with controversy, speculation and even pure hatred. Now that the Nikon 1 system has been released and is in the hands of photographers around the world, it seems a lot of the speculation and hatred was completely unfounded and was based solely on the unknown (I admit, I am was a skeptic as well) and Nikon's choice to build the system around the newly Nikon designed CX format (13.2mm x 8.8mm, 2.7x crop factor) 10.1 MP CMOS sensor. Nikon's reasoning for the Nikon 1 design is now clear and actually quite brilliant, considering the 1's target market. While the Nikon 1 represents major technological advancements the photography world has never before seen, it's not without its flaws (although, very few indeed).In this article, we will present to you the Nikon 1 system, in all its glory and its faults. As icing on the cake, we will pit the Nikon V1 against one of its main competitors, the µ 4/3rds Olympus PEN EP-3 (the comparison will be coming online few hours after this post).

In this article, we tested the Nikon V1 (kit price $846.95), Nikon 1-Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 pancake ($246.95), Nikon 1-Nikkor VR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 and the Nikon 1-Nikkor VR 10-100 f/4.5-5.6 PD-Zoom ($746.95). We will break the article up into four main categories, one for each piece of equipment. Each category will be broken-down into the appropriate sub-categories that pertain to each item. At the end of the article, we will present sample images taken with the system. The first set of images are presented straight out of the camera (JPEG Fine) with ZERO post-processing. We will also provide separate sample images that have been post-processed from the V1's NEF files to show how the Nikon V1's RAW files fair in professional post-processing. In a separate post we will show comparison images and videos with the Olympus PEN EP-3 w/ 17mm f/2.8 pancake lens.

Sample images below were edited from a V1 RAW file:

Nikon 1 V1 | Nikon 1-Nikkor 10-100mm VR f/4.5-5.6 PD-ZOOM @ 52.8mm | 1/200th sec | f/5.6 | ISO-100 | edited from RAW

View full-res on Flickr 

Nikon 1 V1 | Nikon 10mm f/2.8 pancake | 1/10th sec | f/2.8 | ISO-100 | edited from RAW

View full-res on Flickr 

Nikon V1

V1 Build Quality/Ergonomics

The Nikon 1 V1 is built very well. It features a magnesium alloy body that is very sturdy and confident in the photographers hands. It is small, but not "too" small. Its size is on the lower end of usability; any smaller and it would not be easy to use and would be awkward with larger lenses. I found its size and build to be just about perfect. It easily slips into a jacket pocket or briefcase with the 1-Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 pancake lens attached. The only limiting factor in it's size is the electronic viewfinder (EVF). The EVF protrudes from the rear of the camera just over a 1/4 of an inch and raises from the top of the camera exactly a 1/4 inch. While this protrusion isn't very large at all, it can make the camera difficult to slip into your pants pocket due to the extra depth (front-to-back). The Nikon 1 J1 would be a better candidate if you absolutely need the smallest and slimmest package and don't mind forgoing the excellent EVF. The controls are all laid out well, but lack the control a professional would prefer. Although that might be an issue for a lot of professional photographers, it is not an issue for the Nikon 1's current target market. Even as a professional photographer, I don't mind its sleek and simple physical interface. For a compact interchangeable lens system, it just needs to be small, fast, reliable, chic and have excellent image quality; this is all the target market really cares about and is exactly what the Nikon 1 offers. Beyond those limitations, the Nikon 1 V1 has just the right amount of physical controls to take great pictures and video footage, easily. The lay-user will have ZERO issues getting great images from this camera. It does most of the thinking for you, if you allow it. AF Focus mode(AF-A, AF-S, AF-C, MF), AE/AF-Lock, Self-Timer (should be buried in the menu and replaced with metering or ISO control), Exposure Compensation, Mode Dial (Motion Snapshot, Smart Photo Selector, Still Image mode, Movie mode), Playback/Zoom/Thumbnail Control, Shutter Release/Movie Record Release and Display mode are physically accessible on the body. Other important modes are only accessible through the menu system. The menu system is very simple and intuitive. If you're familiar with Nikon's GUI interface, you'll be right at home with the Nikon 1. The menu system is a stripped-down, simplified and cleaner version of the GUI used in all Nikon's DSLR cameras. You can still access the PASM shooting modes, but there is no dedicated dial/button for its selection. You'll need to go into the menu to select the shooting modes - but they are never more than two simple clicks and some spins of the command wheel away. Because the menu cursor stays where you've left it, I've learned to always keep the menu cursor on the shooting menu to keep this selection close-at-hand. Another reason to keep the shooting menu always at-the-ready: to easily reach and manipulate other important modes such as Metering, Image Quality/Size, WB, ISO Sensitivity, Picture Control, D-Lighting and AF-area Modes.

Nikon V1 dimensions/weight:

  • 4.4 x 3.0 x 1.7 in. (113 x 76 x 44 mm)
  • Approx. 383 g/13.5 oz with battery and memory card but without body cap; approx. 294 g/10.4 oz (camera body only)

NOTE: The Nikon 1 J1 features an aluminum alloy body as opposed to the V1's magnesium alloy body.

Sample image below was edited from a V1 RAW file:

Nikon 1 V1 | Nikon 1-Nikkor 10-100mm VR 4.5-5.6 PD-ZOOM @100mm | 1/250th sec | f/5.6 |SO-140 | edited from RAW

View full-res on Flickr 

V1 Mechanical Performance

a. Auto Focus/ Auto focus modes

With the Nikon V1 (kit price $846.95) came the ability to have Contrast-Detection AF and Phase-Detection AF on sensor, in a hybrid system. This "world's first" achievement is what allows the Nikon V1 to feature one of the fastest and most precise AF systems on the planet. It is blazingly fast and insanely accurate - it makes my beloved D700/D3s Multi-Cam 3500FX AF system blush. It has 135 focus points in Single-point AF and 41 focus points in Auto-area AF mode. Because it features Contrast-Detection AF (CD AF) and Phase-Detection AF (PD AF) on sensor, there is no need to calibrate (AF Fine-tune) the PD AF system, like you would in a DSLR. The camera also has the ability to focus with the same speed and accuracy in D-Movie mode. The AF system on the Nikon 1 is one of its biggest strengths and is extremely impressive, even when compared to any professional DSLR camera. Nikon's AF systems are recognized worldwide to be industry leaders and the Nikon V1 and J1 are no departure; they are the culmination of many years of Auto Focus research/development and deployment in the professional and pro-sumer camera markets. Expect to see these AF advancements refined and improved in the future and to be featured in future Nikon DSLR bodies - this is why the Nikon 1 is such an important system for Nikon, Nikon's professional photographers, Nikon's consumer users and Nikon enthusiasts.

The Nikon 1 has 3 AF Area modes and 4 AF drive modes and features AF face-priority (accessible only in the menu system): AF Area Modes:

  • Auto-area • The camera selects the auto focus points automatically using the available 41 focus points
  • Single-point • The camera only focuses with the single focus point the user selects from the available 135 focus points
  • Subject tracking • The camera will follow a target the user selects

AF Drive Modes:

  • AF-A • Auto focus automatically selects the appropriate drive mode
  • AF-S • Auto focus operates in the AF single-servo mode.
  • AF-C • Auto focus operates in the AF continuous-servo mode
  • MF • Auto focus is disabled, enabling the user to manual focus the lens using the command wheel on the back the camera

b.Overall speed/Responsiveness

The Nikon 1 V1 is FAST, every command is met with unrelenting eagerness. The camera has a lot of pure processing power and RAM (1gb DDR2, to be exact) that allows it to jump at any and all commands thrown at it. It laughs at simple commands such as menu commands, scrolling through images, deleting images, zooming in and out in previews...etc. Its power is reserved for its stupid-crazy continuous shooting speeds, blazingly fast AF system and high frame-rate video modes. This camera never stutters or hang's up in anything it does. The Nikon 1 features the new Nikon EXPEED 3 digital image processing engine, with dual image processors. EXPEED 3 is the latest iteration of Nikon's renowned EXPEED digital image processing engine. This processor engine coupled with a massive amount of RAM (for a camera) is the reason for the Nikon 1's AF speed, overall responsiveness, crazy frame rates/burst rates and most importantly, image quality. While the V1 is generally very fast, I have found a few flaws in responsiveness.

The following is a list of speed/responsiveness issues that could probably be fixed with a simple firmware update:

  • When putting your eye to the EVF, it takes about a second to turn on the EVF. This could be a little faster
  • Once the V1 goes into "sleep mode", it takes about 2 full seconds to "wake-up". This can be a problem if the camera has gone into Sleep Mode and you need to use it in a fast situation. I've only had a few instances that this has hindered my shooting, though. You can set the Auto Power OFF timer to a higher value (15 sec - 10 mins)
  • The camera previews every shot you take, no matter what. There is no option to turn the preview off. This becomes especially annoying when you're shooting a continues burst while tracking a subject. Even in single shot mode, the preview slows down the time it takes to move on the next shot by almost 2 seconds. This is my BIGGEST gripe with the camera and could easily be fixed in a firmware update.
  • The light sensitive "eye sensor" that is used to turn on/off the EVF is a little too sensitive. I've found this to be an issue on several occasions where I was previewing a shot on the LCD display. If your hand comes remotely close to the EVF "eye sensor", the camera will sense this drop in light and will engage the EVF in the middle of trying to preview your image. The EVF can switch on if an object comes within about 1.5-2.0 inches from the sensor. This is entirely too sensitive, in my opinion. Maybe Nikon did this to decrease the time it takes to switch on the EVF by giving the system a head start - in this case, it didn't work as it still takes a full second for the EVF to switch on.

c. Burst rates/Buffer depth

The Nikon V1 features three different shutter modes: Mechanical, Electronic and Electronic (Hi), (unlike the V1, the J1 does not have a mechanical shutter). These modes will be discussed later in the "Shutter Release modes" category - However, its important to discuss the different shutter release modes as they pertain to burst rates/buffer.

Burst rates/buffer and associated shutter release modes:

Burst Rates

  • Mechanical shutter: up-to 5fps
  • Electronic shutter: up-to 5 fps
  • Electronic (Hi) shutter: up-to 10, 30 and 60fps

Buffer Depth

Mechanical Shutter:
  •  42 frames in RAW+JPEG Fine mode
  • 44 frames in RAW mode
  • 58 frames in JPEG mode
Electronic Shutter:
  • 42 frames in RAW+JPEG Fine mode
  • 44 frames in RAW mode
  • 58 frames in JPEG mode
Electronic Shutter (Hi)*:
  • 10fps • 34 frames in all image quality modes☨
  • 30fps • 30 frames in all image quality modes (1 second depth)☨
  • 60fps • 30 frames in all image quality modes (half second depth)☨

☨While in Electronic (Hi) Shutter release mode, the Nikon V1 defaults to Programed Auto and Auto-ISO. While this isn't the end-of-the-world, it's something you should be aware of. You do have some control over Programmed Auto, so you can easily make changes to the shooting settings as long as it's within the Programmed Auto's flexible program. (See "Programmed Auto" in the g. Exposure Modes category, below)

d. Shutter Release modes

As mentioned above in the "Burst rates/Buffer depth" category, the Nikon 1 V1 has 3 different Shutter Release modes to choose from:

  • Mechanical Shutter • An actual mechanical curtain/shutter mechanism with a max shutter speed of 1/4,000 sec (provides a tactile and positive feel during shutter release) (flash sync is limited to 1/250th sec in Mechanical Shutter mode)
  • Electronic Shutter • An electronic shutter with a max shutter speed of 1/16,000 sec (Flash sync is limited to 1/60th sec in Electronic Shutter mode)
  • Electronic Shutter (Hi) • Same as the Electronic Shutter, but features faster burst rates.

e. Electronic viewfinder

As stated in the "Build Quality" section, the EVF is excellent. The EVF has 100% coverage and is automatically engaged when you bring your eye to its opening. The EVF is bright, has great clarity and gives the photographer all pertinent shooting and configuration information that one would expect from Nikon. You can also review images, video and traverse through the menu system, all while never taking your eye from the EVF. One of the few issues I've found with the J1's EVF is actually a flaw in the system. As stated above in the "Overall speed/Responsiveness category", the camera previews each image between each shot, which makes shooting difficult through the EVF (and the display). There should be a menu option to turn this feature OFF and I suspect Nikon will release a firmware update that might deal with this serious inconvenience. While this is a hindrance, it's not a deal breaker. When shooting a sequence of of bursts, it becomes really annoying and is difficult to track your subject while in the burst, but is still manageable with practice. When shooting in Single Release mode, the unwanted preview slows down your shooting time from shot-to-shot to about 2 seconds.

Electronic View Finder Specs:

  • EVF size and resolution • 0.47-in., approx. 1440k-dot color TFT LCD viewfinder with diopter control and brightness adjustment
  • EVF coverage • Approx. 100% horizontal and 100% vertical
  • Eyepoint • 17mm (-1.0m-1; from center surface of viewfinder eyepiece lens)
  • Camera switches to viewfinder display when it detects that viewfinder is in use
  • Diopter adjustment • -3 - +1m-1

f. Shooting modes

There are 4 distinct shooting modes to choose from:

  • Motion SnapshotMotion Snapshot Mode • Each time the shutter is released, the camera records about 1 second of video footage then records a still image. The resulting effect is played back in slow-motion for about 2.5 seconds @ 24fps with the still image placed at the end of the brief video.
  • Smart Photo SelectoSmart Photo Selector Mode • Each time the shutter is released, the camera takes a series of shots in a burst and then selects the photo with the best composition, motion and sharpness as well as gives 4 best shot candidates that the user can choose from if he/she wishes.
  • still imageStill Image Mode • This is the mode used to capture still images. Selectable still images and sizes: NEF (RAW) 12 bit compressed (3872 x 2592), JPEG Fine, Normal, Basic compression (large: 3872 x 2592. Medium: 2896 x 1944. Small: 1936 x 1296) and NEF (RAW) + JPEG
  • movieMovie Mode • This mode is used to capture High-Definition or Slow-Motion movies. Selectable HD movie modes: 1080/60i (59.94 fps), 1080/30p (29.97 fps), 720/60p (59.94 fps). Selectable Slow-Motion movie modes: 640 x 240/400 fps played back @ 30p (29.97 fps), 320 x 120/1,200 fps played back @ 30p (29.97 fps)

g. Exposure modes

The Nikon 1 V1 has 5 Exposure Modes that are only accessible through the menu system:

  • Scene Auto Selector • In this mode, the camera selects the appropriate scene and exposure mode
  • Programmed Auto • The camera chooses the appropriate shutter speed, aperture and ISO (if Auto-ISO is enabled) for optimum exposure, but the photographer can choose different combinations of shutter speed and aperture to produce the same exposure. This is called "Flexible Program". The difference between Programed Auto and Full Auto (Scene Auto Selector), is that the user still has some control over the final settings.
  • Shutter Priority • The user controls shutter speed and the camera controls aperture and ISO (if Auto-ISO is enabled) to properly expose the shot
  • Aperture Priority • The user controls aperture (f-stop) while the camera controls the shutter speed and ISO (if Auto-ISO is enabled) to properly expose the shot.
  • Manual • The user has full control over shutter speed, aperture and ISO (if Auto-ISO is disabled).
Exposure Compensation:
  • -3 - +3 EV in increments of 1/3 EV
  • Luminosity locked at metered value with AE-L/AF-L button

h. Metering modes

The Nikon 1 V1 has the standard Nikon metering modes featured in all high-end compacts and DSLR camera bodies. The metering modes are only accessible through the menu system :

  • Matrix Metering • The camera meters the full frame and adjusts metering accordingly
  • Center-weighted • The camera meters a 4.5mm circle at the center of the frame
  • Spot Metering • The camera meters a 2mm circle centered on the selected focus area

NOTE: The Nikon V1 and J1 will spot meter a 2mm circle centered on the selected focus point, rather than the center of the frame like most other cameras. This is a welcome advancement.

i. LCD Monitor

The Nikon 1 V1 has the standard high-end 3in 921k-dot TFT LCD display. If you're familiar with high-end Nikon DSLRs, you'll be right at home. This is the same 3 inch TFT LCD display used on high-end DSLR models such as the D7000, D700, D3(s)(x)...etc, while the Nikon 1 J1 get's a lower resolution LCD display @ 460K-dot.

j. Battery/Battery life

The Nikon V1 uses the same EN-EL15 as the Nikon D7000. Battery life is displayed below:

  • Still Images • Approximately 400 shots (350 with optional SB-N5 flash)
  • Movies • Approximately 120 minutes of HD footage @ 1080/60i

k. Nikon's Picture Control system

The V1 features Nikon's Picture Control system found on all Nikon DSLR cameras. These system settings can be easily modified and saved in user presets.

  • Standard
  • Neutral
  • Vivid
  • Monochrome
  • Portrait
  • Landscape

l. Flash Control/modes

  • Control • i-TTL flash control using image sensor available with optional SB-N5 flash unit
  • Modes • Fill flash | slow sync | red-eye reduction | slow sync with red-eye reduction | rear-curtain sync | rear curtain with slow sync
  • Flash compensation • -3 - +1 EV in increments of 1/3 EV
  • Flash-ready indicator • Lights when optional flash unit is fully charged

m. White Balance/modes

Like all of Nikon's current cameras (especially DSLR), the Nikon 1 V1 has extremely accurate Auto White Balance.

  • White Balance modes • Auto | incandescent | fluorescent | direct sunlight | flash | cloudy | shade | preset manual with fine-tuning
Sample image below was edited from a V1 RAW file:

Nikon 1 V1 | Nikon 1-Nikkor VR 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 PD-ZOOOM @ 100mm | 1/125th sec | f/5.6 | ISO-500 | edited from RAW

View full-res on Flickr

V1 Image Quality

a. Dynamic Range

The Nikon 1's CX format sensor has an impressive  amount of Dynamic Range, especially when shooting in RAW. What is really impressive is the amount of DR the sensor can achieve at high ISOs. This in-turn means more detail in the shadows and highlights, even as you turn up the ISO sensitivity. It leaves the Olympus PEN EP-3 in the dust throughout the ISO range (100-6400 ISO). The CX format sensor has about 11 stops of DR at base ISO (ISO-100) and tapers down to about 7.4 stops of DR @ ISO-6400 vs. Olympus PEN EP-3 DR of about 10.1 stops @ base ISO (ISO-200) and 6 stops of DR @ ISO-6400. This is especially impressive when your factor in the Nikon 1's sensor in relation to the other sensor sizes in the competition's range. The Olympus PEN EP-3 is a m4/3 sensor camera, which is almost twice the surface area of the CX format sensor. When comparing the CX format sensor to larger formats like APS-C (DX) sized sensors, the CX format does still hold its own, but can't achieve the levels of DR these larger sensors can reach. This doesn't mean the Nikon V1 has low DR, it's still impressive when compared to these much larger sensors and is more than enough DR to achieve great shots.

Nikon V1 Dynamic Range (DR):

  • ISO-100 • 10.95 EV
  • ISO-400 • 10.16 EV
  • ISO-800 • 9.42 EV
  • ISO-1600 • 8.96 EV
  • ISO-3200 • 8.32 EV
  • ISO-6400 • 7.34 EV
The sample images below are good examples of the V1's Dynamic Range. (JPEG straight from camera):

Nikon V1 | Nikon 1-Nikkor 10-100 VR PD-Zoom @ 31mm | 1/640th sec (mechanical shutter) | f/5.3 | ISO-100 | JPEG straight from camera

View full-res on Flickr 

Nikon V1 | Nikon 1-Nikkor 10-100 VR PD-Zoom @71.2mm | 1/200th sec (mechanical shutter) | f/5.6 | ISO-100 | JPEG straghit from camera

View full-res on Flickr

Nikon V1 | Nikon 1-Nikkor 10-100 VR PD-Zoom @ 100mm | 1/320th sec (mechanical shutter) | f/5.6 | ISO-100 | JPEG straight from camera

View full-res on Flickr

NOTE: DR figures according to DxO Labs. DxOMark sensor measurement comparisons (Nikon V1 vs. Olympus PEN EP-3) can be found here.

b. ISO latitude/Signal-to-noise ratio

Native ISO is a decent 100-3200 with an expandable range to Hi-1 (ISO equivalent of 6400). The CX format sensor does a great job of controlling noise, considering its size. I've found the V1 totally usable up-to ISO-1600 and with good post-production skills, well beyond ISO-1600. This is due to the quality of noise and the fact that the CX sensor retains good detail at high ISOs. This is impart due to its good DR at high-ISO when shooting in RAW. The CX sensor is also surprisingly decent at ISO-6400, too. This one stop advantage in expandable latitude does come in handy, especially with the slower zoom lenses. The quality of noise is especially important to this discussion; the CX format sensor does have a decent amount of "noise" at high ISOs, but it's the quality of noise that makes it easy to use in a good post-production workflow. At high ISOs, the CX sensor displays more luminance noise and very little chroma noise. This helps retain detail and keeps the images more usable at high ISO ranges. Chroma noise is very well controlled at all ISO levels, including the extended range. Because the noise characteristics include  mostly luminance noise, post-production de-noising can be achieved. Depending on your technique and tools used, a lot of detail can be retained. This CX format sensor retains more detail at high ISO vs. the Olympus PEN EP-3, as we will see later in this article.

ISO Sensitivity:

  • ISO 100-3200 in steps of 1 EV. Can also be set to approx. 1 EV (ISO 6400 equivalent ) above ISO 3200 ; auto ISO sensitivity control (ISO 100-3200, 100-800, 100-400 ) available

Nikon V1 Signal-to-Noise ratio (SnR 18%):

  • ISO-100 • 36dB
  • ISO-400 • 31dB
  • ISO-800 • 27.5dB
  • ISO-1600 • 25dB
  • ISO-3200 • 22dB
  • ISO-6400 • 19dB
The images below were all taken at high-ISO. Notice how there is ZERO noise in the blacks, even at ISO-3200. (JPEG straight from the camera):

Nikon V1 | Nikon 1-Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 pancake | 1/100th sec (mechanical shutter) | f/2.8 | ISO-1100 | JPEG straight from camera

View full-res on Flickr 

Nikon V1 | Nikon 1-Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 pancake | 1/100th sec (mechanical shutter) | f/2.8 | ISO-2000 | JPEG straight from camera

View full-res on Flickr 

Nikon V1 | Nikon 1-Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 pancake | 1/100th sec (mechanical shutter) | f/2.8 | ISO-3200 |JPEG straight from camera

View full-res on Flickr 

NOTE: SnR figures according to DxO Labs. DxOMark sensor measurement comparisons (Nikon V1 vs. Olympus PEN EP-3) can be found here.

c. Saturation (Color Sensitivity)

Color sensitivity is good at base ISO and holds on throughout the native ISO range in a very linear fashion. Nothing to be too concerned about in this dept.

Nikon V1 Color Sensitivity:

  • ISO-100 • 21.3 bits
  • ISO-400 • 18.7 bits
  • ISO-800 • 17 bits
  • ISO-1600 • 15.7 bits
  • ISO-3200 • 14.3 bits
  • ISO-6400 •  12.6 bits

NOTE: Color Sensitivity figures according to DxO Labs. DxOMark sensor measurement comparisons (Nikon V1 vs. Olympus PEN EP-3) can be found here.

d. Resolution

The CX format sensor is 10.1 megapixels (3872 x 2592), which is plenty of resolution for the Nikon 1's target market and a great compromise in resolution for Image Quality (IQ). Any more resolution on this 2.7x crop sensor (13.2mm x 8.8mm) and IQ would be seriously compromised. Nikon has a long history of designing sensors with a good mix of resolution and IQ and the new CX format sensor is no different. Nikon has proven that they won't design a sensor with more pixel density if that extra resolution comes at the cost of lower IQ. If Nikon increases resolution, it's because they could do it without sacrificing IQ, or they could achieve higher resolution and higher IQ. The latter being Nikon's usual modus operandi.

Image Sizes / Recording Rates:

  • Smart Photo SelectoStill images • (still image and Smart Photo Selector modes, aspect ratio 3 : 2): 3,872 x 2,592 | 2,896 x 1,944 | 1,936 x 1,296
  • still imageStill images • (movie mode, aspect ratio 16 : 9): 3,840 x 2,160 (1080/60i) | 1,920 x 1,080 (1080/30p) | 1,280 x 720 (720/60p)
  • icon 04 The Nikon 1 system: A [NR] hands on review by Cary JordanStill images • (Motion Snapshot mode, aspect ratio 16 : 9): 3,840 x 2,160
  • movieHD movies • 1,920 x 1,080/60i (59.94 fields/s *), 1,920 x 1,080/30p (29.97 fps) | 1,280 x 720/60p (59.94 fps)
  • movieSlow-motion movies • 640 x 240/400 fps (plays at 30p/29.97 fps) | 320 x 120/1,200 fps (plays at 30p/29.97 fps)
  • movieMovies recorded in still image mode • 1,072 x 720/60p(59.94fps)
  • icon 04 The Nikon 1 system: A [NR] hands on review by Cary JordanMotion Snapshot • 1,920 x 1,080/60p(59.94fps)(plays at 24p/23.976fps)

e. Electronic Shutter Still Photography Artifacts (rolling shutter)

The Nikon 1's CX format sensor displays very small amounts of rolling shutter artifacts in the electronic shutter mode (see shots below). There is also a slight hint of rolling shutter in 1080/30p video mode. More on rolling shutter artifacts in video usage below, in the "f. Video Quality" section.

The Images below show very little signs of rolling shutter artifacts. These were captured in Electronic Shutter mode. (JPEG straight from camera):

Nikon V1 | Nikon 1-Nikkor 10-100 VR PD-Zoom @100mm | 1/640th sec (electronic shutter) | f/5.6 | ISO-100 | JPEG straight from camera

View full-res on Flickr 

Nikon V1 | Nikon 1-Nikkor 10-100 VR PD-Zoom @100mm | 1/400th sec (electronic shutter) | f/5.6 | ISO-100 | JPEG straight from camera

View full-res on Flickr 

Nikon V1 | Nikon 1-Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 PD-Zoom @100mm | 1/500th sec (electronic shutter) | f/5.6 | ISO-100 | JPEG straight from camera

View full-res on Flickr 

f. Video Quality

The Nikon 1's video output is phenomenal. There is NO detectable rolling shutter artifacts in 1080/60i or 720/60p. There is a slight hint of rolling shutter @ 1080/30p, but it's almost non-existent. In my original testing, I didn't detect it. It was only when I put the V1 through a series of stress tests, did I actually see it and even then it's barely visible. You have to be panning at an insane rate to even bring this artifact out. Only in these nasty stress tests did it show up. You'll never see the rolling shutter artifacts, unless you're intentionally trying to find it with extremely fast panning. Again, normal shooting will not display any rolling shutter. If the V1  had a 1080/24p video option, the rolling shutter would be slightly more visible, but still very controlled. I can tell you this, whatever Nikon has done with this sensor, it's really working in the video dept - this is by far the best video output of any Nikon to-date. My only complaint is the omission of 1080/24p. I really appreciate 24fps as this is the most cinematic frame rate. Now, I doubt many people will be using the V1 to shoot indie films, but who knows. The video output is pretty amazing. The other issue I have with the V1's video is lack of shallow DoF (Depth of Field). Once very fast CX format primes (f.95-f/1.4) to market and the FT-1 f-mount adapter is available, the DoF issues should be less of an issue.

g. VR (Vibration Reduction)

As with all modern Nikon lenses, Vibration Reduction is handled in the lens, not the body. Because of this, each lens has its own VR characteristics, dependent on the lenses main use. All of the lenses tested had great VR. The VR on these lenses are very impressive, even when compared to their larger DSLR lens siblings. The Nikon V1 offers two VR modes:

  • Normal
  • Active

h. Known sensor info

This is what we currently know about the CX format sensor:

  • Designed by Nikon
  • Manufactured by Aptina Imaging Corporation
  • 12.0 total megapixels, 10.1 effective megapixels
  • Pixel Pitch of 3.4 µm
  • Sensor size of 0.62" (diameter)
  • CMOS
  • 2.7x focal multiplier
  • Includes a dust reduction system
Sample image below was edited from a V1's RAW file:

Nikon 1 V1 | Nikon 1-Nikkor VR 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 PD-ZOOM @ 100mm | 1/250th sec | f/5.6 | ISO-180 | edited from RAW

View full-res on Flickr 

Nikon 1-Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 pancake prime lens

Build Quality

The Nikon 1-Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 pancake lens ($246.95) is very small and light. It feels like it's made mostly of metal, with very little plastic, if any at all. It's a very solid little lens. It's built very well and is probably the most durable lens in the current Nikon 1 line-up.


  • Mount • Nikon 1
  • Maximum Aperture • f/2.8
  • Minimum Aperture • f/11
  • Lens Elements/Groups • 6 /5
  • Optical Conversion Factor • 2.7x
  • Format • CX
  • Maximum Angle of View • 77°
  • VR (Vibration Reduction) • No
  • Diaphragm Blades • 7 (rounded diaphragm opening)
  • Aspherical Elements • 2
  • Auto-Focus • Yes
  • Minimum Focus Distance • 0.66ft.(0.2m)
  • Filter Size • 40.5mm
  • Dimensions • (Approx.) 2.2x0.9 in. (Diameter x Length) 55.5x22 mm (Diameter x Length
  • Weight • (Approx.) 2.8 oz. (77g)
  • Supplied Accessories •  LC-N40.5 Snap-on Front Lens Cap, LF-N1000 Rear Lens Cap
  • Price • $246.95

Image Quality

a. Sharpness

The Nikon 1-Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 pancake is very sharp, even wide-open (@ f/2.8). Image sharpness is not a problem with this lens, regardless of aperture. The lens does sharpen up nicely as you stop it down.

Sample images below are examples of Nikon's 1-Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 pancake lens (JPEG straight from camera):

Nikon V1 | Nikon 1-Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 pancake | 1/60th sec (mechanical shutter) | f/2.8 | ISO-360 | JPEG straight from camera

View full-res on Flickr 

Nikon V1 | Nikon 1-Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 pancake | 1/60th sec (mechanical shutter) | f/5 | ISO-360 | JPEG straight from camera

View full-res on Flickr 

Nikon V1 | Nikon 1-Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 pancake | 1/125th sec (mechanical shutter) | f/2.8 | ISO-140 | JPEG straight from camera

View full-res on Flickr 


There is hardly any visible vignetting with the 10mm f/2.8 pancake, even at f/2.8.

c. Minimum Focus Distance

The 1-Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 has a good minimum focus distance of just over 6 inches.

d. Contrast/Ghosting/Flaring/Aberrations

  • Contrast • Very good contrast, even when shot wide-open.
  • Ghosting/Flaring • The 10mm pancake controls ghosting and flare very well, even when shot directly into the sun
  • Lateral Chromatic Aberration • Very well controlled
  • Coma Aberration • This lens is terribly susceptible to Coma Aberrations. These show up as "halos" around bright sources of light, especially in the corners of the frame.
  • LoCa (Longitudinal Chromatic Aberration) • Because the 10m f/2.8 doesn't have a lot of shallow DoF, there is very little LoCa. Only a slight hint of LoCa at close focus distance.

e. Auto Focus

As with all of the current Nikon 1 lenses, the 10mm f/2.8 is super fast and deadly accurate.

f. Bokeh

Bokeh is totally subjective, but because this lens is in the Wide Angle category, the DoF is very deep. The only way you're going to really see enough bokeh to judge the quality is at close focus distance @ f/2.8. With that said, I find the bokeh to be pleasing, all things considered.

Sample image below was edited from a V1 RAW file:

Nikon 1 V1 | Nikon 1-Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 | 1/100th sec | f/2.8 | ISO-560 | edited from RAW

View full-res on Flickr 

Nikon 1-Nikkor 10-30mm  VR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom

Build Quality

The 10-30mm VR zoom (part of the Nikon 1 V1 kit) is also a very small lens, but not as small as the 10mm f/2.8 pancake. The lens barrel stays tucked away in the body of the lens until you're ready to shoot. At this time, you push a button on the side of the zoom ring and twist the zoom ring, revealing the lens' extended position. This is a great feature and really cuts down on size. The lens is mostly made of plastic, but is still very durable. It features a finish very similar to the finish on the dark graphite colored Nikon V1.


  • Mount • Nikon 1
  • Maximum Aperture • f/3.5
  • Minimum Aperture • f/16
  • Lens Elements/Groups • 12/9
  • Optical Conversion Factor • 2.7x
  • Format • CX
  • Maximum Angle of View • 77°
  • Minimum Angle of View • 29°40''
  • VR (Vibration Reduction) • Yes
  • Diaphragm Blades • 7 (rounded diaphragm opening)
  • Aspherical Elements • 3
  • Auto-Focus • Yes
  • Minimum Focus Distance • 0.66ft.(0.2m)
  • Filter Size • 40.5mm
  • Lens Barrel Retraction Function • Rotation of zoom ring
  • Dimensions • (Approx.) 2.3x1.7 in. (Diameter x Length) 57.5x42 mm (Diameter x Length)
  • Weight • (Approx.) 4.1 oz. (115g)
  • Supplied Accessories •  LC-N40.5 Snap-on Front Lens Cap, LF-N1000 Rear Lens Cap
  • Price • included in the Nikon V1 kit for $846.95

Image Quality

a. Sharpness

Like its smaller brother, the Nikon 1-Nikkor 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 is very sharp, even wide-open. Nikon has done a great job with image sharpness on all of the current 1-Nikkor lenses. And of course, this lens gets sharper as you stop it down, but not by much as the max aperture is already not very wide, especially on the long end (f/5.6) and the lens is already decently sharp wide-open.


  • 10mm • Mild vignetting
  • 30mm • No visible vignetting

c. Minimum Focus Distance

The 10-30mm kit lens has the same minimum focus distance as the 10mm f/2.8 pancake, 0.66ft.(0.2m)

d. Contrast/Ghosting/Flaring/Aberrations

  • Contrast • Very good contrast, even when shot wide-open.
  • Ghosting/Flaring • The 10-30mm VR f/3.5-5.6 zoom controls ghosting and flare very well, even when shot directly into the sun. The only time you'll need to be careful is when the sun or a bright source of light is just outside the frame. Loss of contrast, ghosting and flaring can occur.
  • Lateral Chromatic Aberration • Very well controlled
  • Coma Aberration • This is better at controlling Coma Aberrations than the 10mm f/2.8. These show up as "halos" around bright sources of light, especially in the corners of the frame.
  • LoCa (Longitudinal Chromatic Aberration) • Only a slight hint of LoCa at close focus distance.

e. Auto Focus

Auto focus is still very fast, but maybe just a hair slower than the 10mm f/2.8. The 1-Nikkor 10-30mm f/2.5-5.6 is just as accurate as the 10mm f/2.8.

f. Bokeh

On the long end, the 10-30mm kit lens does have decent bokeh. Close focus distances @ 30mm wide-open is about the only way you'll ever get to see a decent amount of bokeh. This is due to the CX format sensor's deep DoF, especially when using slow kit lenses like the 10-30mm.

Sample image below was edited from a V1 RAW file:

Nikon 1 V1 | Nikon 1-Nikkor VR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 10mm | 1/160th sec | f/8 | ISO-100 | edited from RAW

View full-res on Flickr 

Nikon 1-Nikkor VR 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 PD-ZOOM

Build Quality

The Nikon 1-Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 PD-ZOOM ($746.95) is built very similar to a DSLR zoom lens. It's actually quite large in comparison to the other lenses Nikon currently offers for the 1 system. Not only is it big, it's also heavy. What this lens looses in size and weight, it gains in image quality and features. The PD-Zoom was mainly designed for video use, as it features a power zoom feature that's a first of its kind for Nikon. The power zoom feature is very smooth and totally silent, as is the focus motor. This is due to Nikon's use of  a voice coil AF motor (VCM). VR operation is also totally silent. When powered off, the lens stays retracted into the lens barrel. Once the camera is powered on, the lens extends from the barrel almost 1.25 inches. The lens comes with a petal shaped bayonet type lens hood that does a good job of blocking stray light. The PD-ZOOM features electronic zoom controls on the left-side of the lens barrel. The  zoom system has 3 speeds that are easily controlled by the touch of the controls. The lens also features a lock feature that keeps the lens in the extended position when the camera is powered off. This is useful because the lens/camera takes 4 full seconds to extend and come on-line before you can shoot a single picture.

Build quality/ergonomic issues I've found with the Nikon 1-Nikkor VR 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 PD-ZOOM:

  • Size. While the PD-ZOOM is a really cool and useful lens, it would of been nice to make it a little smaller.
  • Time it takes to extend/retract. As mentioned above, it takes almost 4 full seconds to extend the lens and start shooting - at least Nikon was thoughtful enough to give us a lock feature.
  • The zoom controls on the left side of the lens barrel are positioned wrong for view finder shooting. They are positioned way too high towards the top of the lens barrel. This puts my left hand/wrist in a very uncomfortable position when shooting through the EVF. These controls need to be moved about 15-20° lower. The only way to shoot with this configuration is to flip my left hand around to the "novice" position (instead of cradling the lens in my palm, cradling it with my thumb with my fingers on top of the lens and my pinkie extended towards the front of the lens). Some of you might already shoot like this and that's OK, but proper and proven technique is to cradle the lens in your palm; you get much more stability using this technique.


  • Mount • Nikon 1
  • Maximum Aperture • f/4.5
  • Minimum Aperture • f/16
  • Lens Elements/Groups • 21/14
  • Optical Conversion Factor • 2.7x
  • Format • CX
  • Maximum Angle of View • 77°
  • Minimum Angle of View • 9°10''
  • VR (Vibration Reduction) • Yes
  • Diaphragm Blades • 7 (rounded diaphragm opening)
  • Aspherical Elements • 2
  • ED Glass Elements • 3
  • Auto-Focus • Yes
  • Minimum Focus Distance • 1.0ft. (0.3m) (at 10mm focal length), 2.8 ft (0.85m) (at 100 mm focal length)
  • Filter Size • 72mm
  • Lens Barrel Retraction Function • Yes (performed by DCM motor built into the lens based on power status information received from the camera body)
  • Dimensions • (Approx.) 3.0x3.7 in. (Diameter x Length) 77x95 mm (Diameter x Length)
  • Weight • (Approx.) 18.2 oz. (515g)
  • Supplied Accessories • LC-N72 Snap-on Front Lens Cap, LF-N1000 Rear Lens Cap, HB-N102 Bayonet Lens Hood
  • Price • $746.95

Image Quality

a. Sharpness

The Nikon 1-Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 PD-ZOOM is extremely sharp at all apertures and focal lengths. This lens is a really good performer in the sharpness dept.

Sample images below showcase the Nikon 1-Nikkor VR 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 PD-ZOOM's sharpness (JPEG straight from camera):

Nikon V1 | Nikon 1-Nikkor 10-100 VR PD-Zoom @52.8mm | 1/160th sec (mechanical shutter) | f/5.6 | ISO-100 | JPEG straight from camera

View full-res on Flickr 

Nikon V1 | Nikon 1-Nikkor 10-100 VR PD-Zoom @ 100mm | 1/250th sec (mechanical shutter) | f/5.6 | ISO-280 | JPEG straight from camera

View full-res on Flickr 

Nikon V1 | Nikon 1-Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 PD-Zoom @100 | 1/250th sec (mechanical shutter) | f/5.6 | ISO-320 | JPEG straight from camera

View full-res on Flickr 


There is a significant amount if visible vignetting. When takings shots of aircraft at an airshow, the vignetting was very noticeable. Shooting planes in the sky is the worst case scenario for showing vignette. Vignetting will not show up as strong in normal photography.

c. Minimum Focus Distance

1.0ft. (0.3m) (at 10mm focal length), 2.8 ft (0.85m) (at 100 mm focal length)

d. Contrast/Ghosting/Flaring/Aberrations

  • Contrast • Very good contrast, even when shot wide-open.
  • Ghosting/Flaring • The 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 PD- ZOOM controls ghosting and flare very well, even when shot directly into the sun. The only time you'll need to be careful is when the sun or a bright source of light is just outside the frame. Loss of contrast, ghosting and flaring will occur at certain focal lengths.
  • Lateral Chromatic Aberration • Very well controlled
  • Coma Aberration • Very little, only at the wide end.
  • LoCa (Longitudinal Chromatic Aberration) • No significant LoCa detected
An example of the 10-100mm VR f/4.5-5.6 PD-ZOOM's flare control when the sun is directly in the frame (JPEG straight from camera):

Nikon V1 | Nikon 1-Nikkor 10-100 VR PD-Zoom @ 43.8mm | 1/125th sec (mechanical shutter) | f/5.6 | ISO-200 | JPEG straight from camera

View full-res on Flickr 

 An example of the 10-100mm VR f/4.5-5.6 PD-Zoom's flare control with the sun just out of the frame @ 100mm (JPEG straight from camera):

Nikon V1 | Nikon 1-Nikkor 10-100 VR PD-Zoom @ 100mm | 1/250th sec (mechanical shutter) | f/5.6 | ISO-200 | JPEG straight from camera

View full-res on Flickr

 An example of the 10-100mm VR f/4.5-5.6 PD-ZOOM's flare control with the sun even further outside of the frame (JPEG straight from camera):

Nikon V1 | Nikon 1-Nikkor 10-100 VR PD-Zoom @ 100mm | 1/250th sec (mechanical shutter) | f/5.6 | ISO-360 | JPEG straight from camera

View full-res on Flickr 

e. Auto Focus

Auto focus is extremely fast and accurate. It's up there with the 10mm f/2.8 pancake, maybe even slightly faster.

f. Bokeh

Bokeh is very neutral and actually very smooth, especially at 100mm and close focus distances. Even with a 2.7x crop factor and the deep DoF that provides, you can still manage to blur the background of your subjects with this lens @ 100mm, shot wide-open. "Cream Machine" this is not, but it's respectable for the CX format. Once Nikon releases some faster aperture lenses, we will start to see deep DoF issues become less of an issue. The FT-1 f-mount lens adapter will also lessen this issue when used with a fast 50mm f/1.4 or 85mm f/1.4.

g. Distortion

I didn't list distortion on any of the other lenses, because there wasn't enough to really discuss. But, the 10-100mm PD-ZOOM has a healthy amount of pincushion distortion, especially on the long end. This is easily correctable in post-production for still images, but not so easy for video footage. This is not a huge deal, but something you should know about.

Sample image below was edited from a V1's RAW file:

Nikon 1 V1 | Nikon 1-Nikkor VR 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 PD-ZOOM @52.8mm | 1/40th sec | f/5.6 | ISO-400 | edited from RAW

View full-res on Flickr

Some additional Nikon 1 samples are available on flickr:

B&H currently has up to $150 instant savings on selected Nikon 1 system cameras (valid till December 31st, 2011).

This entry was posted in Nikon 1, [NR] Reviews. Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.
  • Matt

    Great job!

    • Thanks, Matt!

      • T.I.M

        That was you ?
        I was wondering “who is that tourist with a Nikon 1 camera ?”

      • T.I.M

        Did you go to St Augustine to shoot the Xmas lights ?
        My wife keep bugging me about it, I tell her; “I wait for the D800”.
        I guess it will be for next year !

        • We’re going this week, probably Wednesday night. But, this time I’m bringing a D700 and 14-24 f/2.8 with me. 🙂

    • Jan

      I found the 1’s incredibly large for a ‘compact’ system.
      Really, larger than a nex or the samsung APS one?

  • Rahul

    Great review!
    I think that this system currently lacks a normal prime lens. 18 or 20mm prime would be excellent.

    • I totally agree. Once Nikon and third party manufacturers start offering more lens options and the Nikon 1 system matures, I think most of our issues with DoF and weird focal lengths will be a thing of the past, for the most part.

      • Lonnie Utah

        I’m not sure about the DOF issues. All one has to do is start doing the math on 35mm DOF equivalent with this system and discover that f/2.8 is f/8 on a 35mm FF camera.

        That means a f/1.4 35mm lens on a Nikon 1 gives a DOF equl to a f/4 lens on a 35mm camera. To get a DOF equivalent to a 35mm f/2.8 lens on a 1 series will require a f/1 lens. While technically feasible, it will be prohibitive expensive to make a f/1.0 lens for these cameras. This is something that can’t be engineered away.

        • PHB

          Yes but nobody is going to be comparing a 35mm lens on CX with 35 mm on FX because the equivalent focal length is 13mm.

          And the DOF at infinity of a 13mm f/1.4 CX will be exactly the same as that of a 35mm f/1.4 FX because optical systems are scale invariant. A guy called Newton worked that one out a while back. Whatever your Web script is telling you different, they are wrong.

          The reason almost all the Web script DOF calculators are dead wrong is that they don’t adjust for the difference in the focal plane distance which is very different on CX since it is not an SLR format.

          Think about it this way, move the focal plane back so it is twice the distance from the focal node. The image will now be twice as large. Now why would you expect the DOF to change as a result?

          The DSLR optics are constrained by the fact that the back element of the lens cannot be inside the mirror sweep. That makes it difficult to have the focal node any closer to the sensor (but not absolutely impossible if you want to go for a really exotic design.

          The first generation lenses are not terribly fast so they are not going to have great DOF. But an f/1.4 on CX format should be much cheaper than for the equivalent FX lens.

          For example, take the 50mm f/1.4 and you have a 135 f/1.4. Or take the 85mm and you have a 200mm f/1.4. Neither lens even exists in FX, nor are they ever likely to. But you can get the DOF characteristics on the CX.

          Besides which, even if DOF was a shot that only DSLRs could deliver you don’t have to make every shot a wedding shot. DOF isolation is only one effect, if wears thin after a while. I think people like it because it shows off their pricey gear.

          • DigVis

            For example, take the 50mm f/1.4 and you have a 135 f/1.4

            That is not correct. DOF is as you say independent on the sensor size, but very much dependent on the aperture diameter. A 50 f/1.4 would have an aperture diameter of 35.7 mm. Its 135 mm equivalent would therefore be 135 f/3.8.

            • PHB

              It is correct for infinity, the problem is that you also have to adjust the distance to the subject if you are not at infinity.

              In effect the DOF chart gets compressed horizontally and you get the DOF you would have if you were 2.7x further away.

              I just ran the numbers in a spreadsheet. If you have a subject at 10ft (say) then a 50mm equivalent lens will give shallower depth of field than the CX equivalent. BUT if you have the same lens on both cameras you will actually get a smaller DOF on the CX than on the FX due to the circle of confusion being smaller.

              But to get the same shot with the longer lens you would need to be further away. So it is not a direct equivalence.

              I ran the numbers for CX 85 f/1.4, DX 135 f/2 and FX 200 f/2.8. OK, the last does not exist as a prime but if it did it would be roughly the same price. Guess what, the DOF charts for all three are absolutely identical.

              Bottom line is that if you compare similarly priced telephotos you can get the same effect with either system, albeit you might need to be standing in a different place and that could hurt (or improve) perspective.

              You are not going to get 85mm f/1.4 results with the introductory lenses, that is for sure. But if you have either the adapter or a high end CX lens (yet to arrive) then it is certainly possible.

              These results would not hold up for wide angle lenses though. On an SLR a wide angle has to be a retrofocus design and so quality suffers and price goes up. On the CX format, a 10mm f/1.4 can use the same short focus design that you would use for a normal lens on an SLR. So even though a 28mm f/1.4 is a $2500 lens, a 10mm f/1.4 on CX would be a $500 lens and have less distortion. There is a good reason Leica stayed with the rangefinder design.

            • preston

              “In effect the DOF chart gets compressed horizontally and you get the DOF you would have if you were 2.7x further away.”

              PHB, that’s where you’re getting confused. The whole reason for comparing “equivalent” focal lengths is so that you can stand in the same spot and have an equivalent field of view with both cameras. So you are not going to be 2.7x further away!

              Since your distance to subject is the same and focal length doesn’t affect DOF, the smaller aperture size of 3.57mm of the 10mm lens at f/2.8 than the aperture size of 10mm of a 28mm lens at f/2.8 mean that you can attain less DOF with the FX sensor than with CX sensor with everything else being equal.

    • T.I.M

      it need a moderate wide angle (35mm film equivalent) with aperture f/2

      • Duh

        That’s what the 10mm f/2.8 pancake lens is (practically).

        A bit faster lens would definitely help (although the reviewers photos are beautiful, due to his POST shot editing — in reality your photos wont be nearly that nice).

        I found that in-store, 9/10 shots are blurry (I tried two different camera bodies). So the AUTO setting is not necessarily your friend — and I wish NIKON gave this more pro settings in submenus, even if hidden away.

        • Duh

          Sorry, didn’t really explain that for you — 2.7x crop lens x 10mm = 27mm f/2.8 lens.

        • jodjac

          What’s up with that? Duh? 9 out of ten? I tried one in the store, a J1 with the 10-30 and it was dead on, fast and very sharp. I think Nikon has a lovely camera system with the CX line. I especially love the slow motion portrait feature. Just lovely. One thing I didn’t like, the smart photo feature. The camera I had was full of photos someone else had taken using that feature. It was essentially full of the same image, 30 of them, several times. Easy way to fill your cards with junk.
          The Nikon 1 is a wonderful compact camera. I hope some of this tech makes it to the pro line. Yes, face detection. Yes, slow motion portraits! Yes, silent, truly silent autofocus. Boatloads of processing power, YES !

          • Duh

            First of all, I love Nikon products — but yes, that camera BLURS. Its not a point and click and I easily could have made the images sharper by increasing shutter speed.

            The in-store speed of the camera on AUTO resulting in blurriness.

            Not my fault — just reporting the facts. I assume the same will happen if you use it in your house.

            • In full AUTO mode, the camera does allow shutter speed to fall to about 1/60th sec before it starts to increase ISO. I was able to get very sharp results at very slow shutter speeds, especially with lenses featuring VR. The VR in these 1-Nikkor lenses is actually very good, especially if you have it in the correct mode. There are 2 modes. Normal and Active. Normal is ROCK solid for hand-held shots. For panning and video, the Active mode is preferred. I honestly didn’t get very many blurry and/or mis-focused shots with the V1. It was extremely rare and I spent almost 2 months with the camera and put almost 3,000 clicks on the camera.

              Maybe the camera you were using had issues?

  • dbltax

    Gotta say, I was a bit sceptical before about the tiny sensor… But having seen that ISO 2,000 JPG I can safely say my fears seem unfounded! Would love to give one a go.

  • Toad

    Thank you for this review, and the work that went into it.

    I do have one criticism. Please memorize this:

    “It’s” is a contraction. It is short for “it is.” It’s not a possessive. The possessive is “its,” with no apostrophe.


    Correct: “It’s a good camera.”
    Incorrect: “Its a good camera.”

    Correct: “Its performance is excellent.”
    Incorrect: “It’s performance is excellent.”

    I know it sounds like a quibble, but it’s not one. The frequency with which you make this error, especially early on, makes your article quite annoying, and detracts from its content.

    • DO

      It’s not “Toads a d-bag”

      It’s “Toad’s a real, giant d-bag”

      • jorg

        intresting. usually the trolls are ignored. in this review there is a punch-reply within half an hour…

    • Ken Elliott

      I make that mistake all the time. I have no excuse and English is my native language. Well, to you Brits, I speed American…. ;D

      • Ken Elliott

        Damn….. not “I speed American”, it’s I speak American.”

        And I almost put “its”…..

  • Adrian

    If you don’t reach top score on we are disappointed, you are fare behind with picture quality. Others take over the leadership in this discipline which is most important. Please come back to the leadership.

  • ATK

    Great camera, but no thank you.

    I can do the same thing with my P&S compact with less $$$

    • Roy

      This sort of comment is just irritating. I’ve shot a wide variety of P&S cameras. I have owned the E-P2, E-P3 and NEX 5n. I have shot D70, D90, D300, D7000 and D700. First, all those I listed except a few of the DSLRs are absolute slugs compared to the V1 where AF is concerned. And none but the NEX and the DSLRs can compete in picture quality. So why do you bother typing ridiculous statements like that? If you have a gripe with Nikon just say it.

      • PHB

        Faster AF is maybe not such a surprise.

        Smaller parts need to move less far and have less mass to move.

      • ATK

        Sorry to irritating you.
        I shoot D700, D300, D90, AW100, fuji X10 EP1, EP2, NEX5. I donot have problem with Nikon.

        Just want to say
        Next generation of P&S will focus super fast also. The technology isn’t own by only Nikon.
        Next generation of 4/3 will provide better quality. Why bother compare with EP3 with old technology since EP1. DOF still can’t compete with larger sensor. We can’t change the laws of physics.

        For me no more toy camera, FX DX or P&S.only.
        Interchangable lens P&S (J1 and V1) is not my option.


    • Poch

      If you mean you can take pictures with either this or a P&S, then I’d agree with you. But, I don’t think you can say that you can do the same things with this camera and a P&S. For one, even with a really small sensor when compared to a DSLR or m43, it’s still quite larger than a P&S’s.

      A P&S just can’t compete with image quality, given the sensor and the lens/es alone.

      • Bob from Ohio

        I have a 6 year old Sony R1 (point & shoot) and it will compete with the V1 in overall image quality. Of course it has a 1.5x crop sensor and a brilliant lens. But because it does not have an interchangeable lens, it’s still considered just a “point & shoot”.

        Now, having said that… I think I might just buy a V1 for travel. I love it’s low light capabilities… and it appears to take beautiful pictures. I also love the color and the dynamic range that I am seeing in those images.

        I agree many of the other posters, the system is similar to the NEX system, in that it just needs a half dozen really superb lenses, and it will be a real winner.

  • ATK

    Why Vignetting so strong in all pictures ????

    • Bjrichus

      I took a second look and now I can’t help but notice the Vignetting on some of the samples that I had just skipped past on first pass.

      Not the first one, that is deliberate, isn’t it Cary? Isn’t it??

      • Some of the edited shots (from RAW) have a slight amount of vignette added in post-production. The unedited shows as just that, unedited. The 10-100mm PD-ZOOM showed the most vignetting.

        • ATK

          Thank. It would be nice if no edittion in the review especislly vignetting. It makes pictures no difference from iphone pictures.

          Did you attach any filter on 10-100mm ?
          10mm 2.8 from JPEG (chicken one) also has a strong vignetting. Did you attach a filter?


          • There are edited shots and unedited shots (This is stated at the bottom of each image). The edited shots are……edited. The non-edited shots are not edited in any way. At no time did I use a single filter on any of these lenses.

            • ATK

              I know and I saw it.

              A Edited shot means from a tiny adjustment to extremely modified pictures. Who knows ? what did you add in reviewing the camera?

              Just curious the chicken pictures and some others why the vignetting is so strong even with no filter? You said “JPEG straight from camera”, but you said there is hardly visible vignetting. What I saw is huge vignetting ?

              Wrong label ??

            • The chicken picture has zero editing. The label is correct. Vignetting can occur when shooting the 10mm f/2.8 wide-open, as well as the other 1 lenses. Scene lighting can bring out vignetting in certain shots, if the lens exhibits any vignetting. It’s not uncommon for a lens to have a slight amount of vignetting, especially wide-open.

              Again, if the label said no editing “straight from camera”, the image wasn’t edited in any way. Why would I add extra vignette to “non-edited” shot anyway? Why would I intentionally make the non-edited shots look like they had more vignette?

  • FX DX

    I would love to buy this as my pocket camera with 10mm f/2.8 and Nikon adapter to use my Nikon F mount lenses when I need to make video and slow motion, but Nikon killed it for me with its ridiculous prices. I just bought a S95 on amazon for $229 to use as my pocket camera. Didn’t want to do it, but Nikon is not really giving us a lot of choices.

  • Ken Elliott

    May I suggest a minor change in the review?

    >> “The other issue I have with the V1’s video is lack of DoF (Depth of Field).”

    The phrase “lack of DoF” is confusing. The J1/V1 have too much DoF. And DoF is not “wide” – it is either “deep” (like small aperture) or “shallow” (as in a f/1.4 aperture). From the perspective of the photographer, the DoF is measured front-to-back (AKA the Z-axis) not left-to-right (wide, AKA the X-axis) or top-to-bottom (tall, AKA the Y-axis).

    Other than that minor detail, the review and photography is outstanding.

    A friend purchased a J1 and I’ve been much more impressed than I expected. I knew it was a good fit for her (upgrade from a Canon Elph) but did not expect that I would like it so much. If they update the firmware to all me to turn off Picture Review, I may have to get a V1 for myself.

    Good work, Sir.

    • Yes, I’m very familiar with what DoF is. It was bad description/terminology and I’ve since fixed it!

      Thanks for the kind comments, though! Glad you enjoyed the article. 🙂

  • Theo

    There should be structure to the review and some sort of conclusion for all items, no time to scroll and read everything

  • broxibear

    Interesting article Cary,
    You wrote “Nikon’s reasoning for the Nikon 1 design is now clear and actually quite brilliant, considering the 1’s target market.”
    Which parts of the Nikon 1 design do you feel make it brilliant, and what do you think the target market is ?

  • Frosti7

    Thank god no one is comparing the nikon to its direct competitor, Panasonic G3, and instead everyone are comparing to the Olympus EP-3 with the terrible 3 year old sensor and no EVF

    • broxibear
    • Worminator

      Or the GX1 for that matter.

      Whatever, I would prefer that reviewers – and everyone else – just take the Nikon 1 for what it is and let it rise or fall on its own merits rather than reaching for comparisons all the time.

      Especially if the reviewer isn’t remotely interested about being objective in his/her assessment.

      • broxibear

        Hi Worminator,
        Kai over at digitalrev did a hands on test of the GX1
        I know some people don’t like his reviews but I like the real life tests, and even though he’s calls himself a Nikon and Leica fanboy, he doesn’t hold back criticism if he feels it’s deserved as in his V1 review here
        “Especially if the reviewer isn’t remotely interested about being objective in his/her assessment.”
        You might be right about this, which is why it’s always a good idea to read/watch as many reviews as you can to help make a better informed decision.
        Sometimes it’s difficult to tell apart an advert from a review…sometimes it’s very easy ?

  • Lonnie Utah

    Give me a NEX-7 all day long over this camera.

    • Roy

      Go get you one. And then try to focus on a moving subject, particularly when there is no chance for a do-over. You will throw that thing in the pond. Don’t talk to me about pixels and IQ unless you are ready to talk about focus accuracy. The NEX 7 can’t even keep up with the AF on an E-P3.

      • Lonnie Utah

        AF? Who cares? I’ll be using manual focus legacy glass anyway, something that the 1 series will NEVER be able to do give the crop ratio. And I’ll counter that the AF isn’t even that great on the v1. It’s a smoke and mirrors “trick” given that 35mm equivalent DOF at f/2.8 is F/8 on a Full frame 35mm camera. Of course everything is going to be in focus. All you have to do is run the numbers thru a hyperfocal distance calculator to see that.

        AF isn’t everything I’ve shoot high school football games using my Nex-5, so yes it can be done. (I used to do that 30 years ago too before AF so no big deal). AF is a specification that can be improved upon over time as technology improves (In fact NEX users can get lighting fast Phase detect AF using the LA-EA-2 adapter right now). However the 2.7 crop factor due to the 13.3 x 8.8mm sensor can’t be engineered away.

        Have fun with your toy cameras. I’ll be using a real photographic tool.

        • Rich in TX

          how about that.. a tool using a tool

          • Lonnie Utah

            Jealous much?

    • Lobo Blanco

      The Nex-7 just fell into bits on my last off road motorcycle adventure (in a foam lined Pelican case). This was never the case with my Nikons.

      This little camera is just what I need. Weight is the enemy during dessert rides.
      Many thanks for the review. Ranting Thom Hogan can take a slice from it.

      Enjoy yourself

  • I suppose if Toad picked at your grammar, we should correct your metric conversion: 1/4 inch = 6.35mm 🙂

  • PeterT

    Thanks for your time and effort. Very interesting article.


  • I think I was one of the few people around me that really liked the V1. Sure it has some short comings but I’m excited for what this will mean to future releases.

    I would love a V1 and if the price were just about right, I’d snap one up but if I am going to be paying DSLR prices I want a camera that is at least more P7100. Heck I’d even take a P7200 that had the sensor and capabilities of the V1 in a P7100 body with all the manual control goodness. I wouldn’t miss the interchangeable lenses at all.

  • Martin

    Hmm, seems like me and Nikon are going in different directions. I need a LARGE sensor in really a simple camera. Not a small sensor in a cam overloaded with features. I want to take photos, not play. I could take photos in ’85, with one AF spot and low fps and no face recognition and no video… but I had 36x25mm of photo-sensitive area for a few hundred bucks.

    I want a simple FX DSLR for below 1500 and/or a compact mirrorless FX cam with a couple of fast prime lenses… Who do for me? 🙂

    • Been there guy

      Right on. +1.

      BTW, the pictures that guy showed can be done with a few Cameras out there with a lot less $$$!

    • Ken Elliott

      >> “I want a simple FX DSLR for below 1500 ”

      Ah, you are the market for a used D700. I’m guessing sometime after the second shipment of D800 bodies initial demand will be satisfied (end of shortages) and used D700 prices will drop to your range. I bet you’ll see a pile of Canon 5D MkII bodies dumped as well.

    • Claustral

      Or a 2nd-hand Sony A850. This was the cheapest “high” resolution FX camera until it was pulled from the market. It’s poor sales suggest that what you’re looking for is not especially popular.

  • Ken

    The quoted is just another Canon sponsored review! There will be more to come.

  • John McCormack

    Maybe I’m missing something but there seems to be no auto-bracketing feature. This seems to be a gross oversight for an enthusiast camera.

  • Been there guy

    So Nikon goes to CES next month.

    From now on, Nikon should be regarded as a consumer electronic company that makes fancy digital cameras with lots of functions and what not. Five years from now, thier digital cameras would join the rest of electronic trash heap waiting for recycling. Nice move!

    • Frank

      I suspect this is the fake “Tom Hogan” again.

      Perhaps you should just leave the site if you hate Nikon so much. Why come here and just complain. Are you that lonely?

    • Molesworth

      Well….CES and PMA have combined for 2012. That was announced back in May.

  • It will be very interesting to look at the samples with adapter and 50/1.4 or 85/1.4

  • AM

    Nice review.
    Although, this only confirms what I already thought about the Nikon 1: it is an overpriced system.

  • JPUser

    Wow! Great review! Thanks a lot !

    I want to buy a V1 for bird-watching, due to the crop factor, although I still wonder about the quality of v1 + f1 adapter + 28-300mm or 80-400mm. Any comments?

    I guess IQ will take a hit using my 80-400 lens at 400mm x 2.7 crop factor = 1080mm Although 1080mm sounds so useful for birds.

    • AM

      You’re better off with a D7000 + 80-400mm and cropping on your PC.

      • OleThorsen

        If the same focal length lens is used on V1 and D7000, the D7000 cropped to V1 FOV is 5MP compared to V1’s 10MP. You should use really high ISO before that advantage disappear.

    • Ben

      It’s a crop alright, but the lenses are much smaller too, so that does not means the crop is relative to lens size. The focal length should not be that different from the regular crop factor.

  • emilien

    Thanks for the extensive review, many things to read and learn…
    However, I would love to see some video footage of the camera, outdoor and indoor.
    Did you try this function? Could you post some videos in full quality?
    Many thanks!

  • Paul Rivers

    You know, I’m afraid I actually rather agree. It’s exact marketing PR.

    It starts off with the “Gosh guys, I was totally in your boat, very skeptical” – it’s always like this “I heard some bad things about it, but then I tried and gosh silly, it was amazing!”. It’s very PR-ish.

    Then it goes on with –

    “Nikon’s reasoning for the Nikon 1 design is now clear and actually quite brilliant, considering the 1’s target market.”

    Their target market of people who don’t want better image quality with a larger image sensor! Yaaaaah! Oh, wait, does that still *not* make sense? Yeah, that’s right, it still doesn’t make sense. Marketing and PR though, is all about little things like facts to try to convince you something with no explanation doesn’t make sense, but everyone else has figured it out so just don’t worry about it.

    At least this review posted full size pictures. But take a look at them.

    The review gushes “Notice how there is ZERO noise in the blacks, even at ISO-3200. (JPEG strait from the camera)”. Yeah, my Canon s100 can do the same thing with a much smaller sensor, it’s not difficult for noise reduction to eliminate noise in an all black sky.

    You want to see some noise though? Take a look at the chicken at full size at iso1,100. Or any of the other pics at full size, and there’s definitely noise – even at 1,1000.

    They mention that in the future post, they will compare it to an Olympus ep-3. Well gosh, what a coincidence that they’re comparing to a m43rds camera with an older sensor rather than the newer Panasonic sensor in the g3 and gx1! I’ll tell you what the conclusion will be right now – Nikon’s very latest newest sensor meets or exceeds the low light performance of the older m43rds sensor!! They’ll call it “amazing”, and launch off in a big emotional paragraph associating Nikon and “fantastic, amazing, exceptional, etc etc”. Meanwhile ignoring that you might already be able to get better sensor performance from a g3 or gx1.

    • Andrew

      “Their target market of people who don’t want better image quality with a larger image sensor!” – wrong! This camera has sensors that are 4 times larger than most compact cameras.

      Plus, these cameras are targeted at people who want better image quality – and that is why they limited the sensor’s pixel count to 10 MP. What use is a bigger sensor if the manufacturer spoil’s the ISO by packing 16 MP in it? Nikon is not marketing this camera to people who want bigger everything, but to those who understand image quality, and want it in a small package.

      • Paul Rivers

        Omg, that is hilarious. Yeah, the above is exactly the kind of non-sensical marketing P.R. that I’m talking about.

        “wrong! This camera has sensors that are 4 times larger than most compact cameras”

        Yes. Don’t mention any of the cameras it actually competes against, just mention cameras totally, totally different! It’s sensor is better than a compact! shhhhhhhhhhhhh…we can’t mention any of it’s actual competition when it comes to sensor size.

        “Plus, these cameras are targeted at people who want better image quality…but to those who understand image quality, and want it in a small package.”

        Ahahahahahaha….yeah…this is exactly what I mean, you’re just parrotting back the official Nikon marketing and PR b.s. Do you know why they need to always claim it’s for people who “care about image quality”? It’s because all of the people who really genuinely care about image quality looked at the specs and it’s smaller sensor and said “well that is really, really dissapointing”. Have you ever noticed how tv ads always come out when something newer and better than the product they’re advertising comes out? When I got new contacts a different company had come out ones than the old ones I had, and immediately they started advertising the old ones being wonderful and fantastic – something they didn’t feel the need to do when they were actually the best wonderful and fantastic lenses out there. Recently there have been Ford Fusion Hybrid commercials out talking about how much better mileage it gets than the Camry Hybrid – do you know why? Because the new Camry Hybrid that’s coming out is as good or better than the Ford Fusion hybrid in fuel economy. That’s why they say “people who care about image quality” 5 bazillion times – because the people who actually care about image quality dismissed the camera based on it’s sensor size.

        People who “care about image quality and small size” don’t buy a camera that –
        1. Has a smaller sensor than it’s competition
        2. But is still the same size as it’s competition
        3. And still manages to cost more than it’s competition!

        To be fair, the Nikon system does have some interesting things about it – it’s completely silent shutter (the NEX is apparently louder than a dslr), it’s incredibly fast fps rate, it’s ability to look like an apple product lol…

        “This allows the sensor to collect more light and give us a higher ISO performance – Nikon, simply brilliant!”

        lol, I see you’re part of the Nikon hype machine, like I said “They’ll call it “amazing”, and launch off in a big emotional paragraph associating Nikon and “fantastic, amazing, exceptional, etc etc”.

  • Andrew

    Whatever. But the pictures don’t lie… pictures paint a thousand words. Instead of packing 16 or 24 MP in the Nikon 1 sensor as some competitors, Nikon took the wiser step of giving us a 10 MP sensor (note – the vaunted D700 has 12 MP). This allows the sensor to collect more light and give us a higher ISO performance – Nikon, simply brilliant!

    • Lonnie Utah

      Better ISO performance than who exactly? Not the NEX line…

      Also please explain how a camera with a SMALLER sensor can collect MORE light than a larger one? That’s unpossible. (My apologies to Ralph Wiggum…)

      • PHB





        It is the aperture of the lens (in mm, not the f number) and the degree of acceptance of the lens that determines how much light enters the lens and then how much of that light will fall on the sensor.

        The degree of acceptance is determined by the focal length of the lens and the RATIO of sensor size to the distance between the focal node and the sensor. Move the senor closer to the focal node and the sensor can be smaller.

        You can’t change the distance between the focal node and the sensor in the F-mount, so the only way to extend the degree of acceptance is to have a bigger sensor. But CX is a totally new format.

        The only advantage of a larger sensor in a rangefinder format is that it allows for a larger maximum resolution. Those ultra compacts claim 12MP or more but the pixels are close to a wavelength of light across so they don’t perform that well. The FX format could in theory deliver up to 200MP while CX cannot deliver more than 50MP. OK there is a diffraction issue there but these cameras are not designed to be megapixel monsters.

  • rosco

    Would be nice to see the camera in the hands of a creative photographer….

  • Frank

    What’s the point of complaining that this is a “Nikon sponsored review”?

    Seriously? The review has every single thing a potential buyer would wish to know, along with realistic photo samples.

    Even if Nikon DID sponsor this review…( which it didn’t) …where’s your beef? You clearly aren’t interested in this camera, so why woudl you bother to waste your time writing such a worthles statement?

    if you don’t like the camera, DON’T BUY ONE!!!! and leave the rest of us alone.

    We don’t want to know your thoughts!

    • Dan

      Amen to that.

  • kaze kaze

    Thanks for the time and effort, it was a fair review. It sort of boiled down to that, it is the “lens” that’s the denominated factor for IQ, having a good body design (sensor) is a bonus. By the way, me speak “In-ka-lish” too…

    • Bjrichus


  • Paul

    Nicely done. The lack of fast < f/2.8 primes is what's holding me back from purchasing a V1. The 10mm does seem great though.

  • ok

    looks good for a 299 dollar camera. not what nikon is asking for.

    • Boing Wronkwell

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHA… Nicely put.

      I think it would be a killer even for something with a $499 price tag, but I’m not so sure about the price being asked for it.

      Get a couple of lenses and you are into D7000 territory.

      As said, “for the target market”, i.e. it’s for those with more money than sense…

      • jodjac

        I saw the J1 at Target with the 10-30 for $599. That’s a decent value. I like the camera, it’s fun and easy to use, plus it puts out nice images. Some people complain way too much. Bitter, like they have something bitter in their mouths.

  • Bjrichus


    I note you don’t say how you arrived at the Dynamic Range numbers, did you defer to DxO for those too or are they taken out of a Nikon document?

    • It says at the bottom of those figures that the DR numbers are derived from DxO.

  • Gort


  • Jabs

    Nice Review with a lot of content to read and compare plus a few grammatical errors, but who cares!

    Thanks for the valiant effort and the information passed on to us Nikon shooters.

    This camera system has been selling really well and sometimes a polarizing System maybe due to people from other Camera Manufacturers coming here to stir up trouble/dissension or people unable to change and/or adapt to new directions.

    Many seem to want a small camera with high megapixels and small lenses for little money – all seemingly contradictory goals.

    A few points!
    1. How are you going to mount a large focal length and huge F-stop lenses on that then?
    2. Where do you expect to put all those controls on a small body plus now where do you put your hands?
    3. Why would you expect many to want a smaller bodied replacement for a DSLR when the body and lens are a combination that needs to be balanced with each other?

    A few comments:
    1. People have become rather lazy and reckless with their expectations as they now expect higher performance and lower price to automatically come about. Maybe they are smartphone users who have become jaded by progress in that area and now expect this to translate to all of photography.
    2. There is a point of diminishing returns on body size, especially as you try and mount large lenses or try and use longer focal lengths, as larger bodies hung at the end of a camera system acts like a pendulum that absorbs shock and adds stability to the shooting experience therefore stabilizing your gear as you pan.
    3. Many want lens choices, body stability (especially important in Video) and small sizes to the point of being unusable and thus maybe they need to buy a smartphone or not be so idealistic and LAZY!
    4. It makes no sense to request a smaller body with higher megapixels and then also expect lower cost from a miniaturized system, as making it smaller makes it costlier and not cheaper usually.
    5. Complaining about camera weight often means that you might be weak or lazy as most camera bodies are quite light and it is the long lenses that are heavy, usually.
    6. Until we have newer Technology, lens of wider maximum aperture and longer focal lengths have bigger glass elements and longer bodies resulting in higher weight and costs, so perhaps you tame your desires with some reality.
    7. The Nikon 1 System is tailored to people who seem to want to point and shoot with a little more flexibility than the average point and shoot and so far, I have not seen one point and shoot camera that can equal much less surpass it.
    8. Change is always coming but often people are so stuck in their own desires that new ways evade them and they die like Kodak is now doing. Embrace change and then learn a work around, as often change involves a few steps forward and even a few steps backwards.
    9. Quit complaining so much and learn to improve your photographic skills with the tools currently available, as this shows your firm grasp of today’s reality versus the promises of tomorrow.

  • InfraRed

    Thanks for the report.
    “As icing on the cake, we will pit the Nikon V1 against one of its main competitors, the µ 4/3rds Olympus PEN EP-3”
    I would welcome a comparison with the NEX5n which seems to get favorable reviews and Just like Nikon 1 has the benefit of getting access to a broad (!??) base of lenses.

    Like many of us, I may consider buying an EVIL camera for days where I have no room for a DSLR and just enough space for an EVIL. Needless to say that M9+Summilux is not an option.

  • Art

    I was visiting PictureLine (SLC Utah) the other day and was looking at the N1. I didn’t have much appreciation when I started looking at it but I sure did when I finished. You have to realize, much of the photography I do is for promotional material for my business. There are some really neat things about this camera. Sure, there are some downsides. However, consider this: You could pack your entire camera kit in a fanny pack. This is much more easy to haul around than my current situation of carrying my D300, 80-400, 105DC, 28-70, Macro, etc etc etc in my LowePro backpack which is quite frankly, very heavy by the time I’m done.

    On the other hand, if I had to choose between my current set-up and the N1, I would still carry my current kit. On the other hand, as I climb a mountain in Venezuela hauling my heavy pack with a (hopefully) D800, I might just be tad envious of those next to me who can carry their entire camera kit — plus a bag lunch — in a small, light fanny pack.

  • Blob

    ‘Fewer’ grammatical and spelling errors is what I’m sure you meant to say… how embarrassing…

  • Bigfoot


    Piece of advice for all those who’re criticizing the V1 – I was one of you till about a week ago. Tried out the beast in Thailand, and it’s absolutely incredible. It is WAY more camera than most of us will ever be able to make complete use of in this lifetime.

    The AF is spot on, and the camera is super slick to use – no delays, nothing! Yes, the image review is annoying, but that’ll get taken care of soon enough. Personally, I would have liked a command dial like the dslrs have, but maybe in a future model 🙂

    The images out of this camera are nuts. Go try it out and then see if you’re a believer!!


    • Bigfoot

      And my regular setup is a D7000 + Nikkor 35 f/1.8 + Nikkor 70-300

  • Nikon 1 is really good camera for non-professional, I loving it. 🙂

  • Bernard

    Great review ! Thanks !
    I’m sure that Nikon will issue a new firmware to avoid these two second lapse between shots very soon. When they do that, I shall buy a V1 🙂
    And I hope the V2 will have an articulated screen (or EVF)…

  • John Richardson

    Great review! My wife has been bugging me for a camera so slip in her purse for the 8,000,000 holidays and parties we have here in Ukraine. This looks like the ticket for her. If the software allows the language to be switched to Russian then it is even better.

  • fifi

    Nikon did it again!!! They forgot about us in Europe, maybe they just ignore us…. I WANT 1080 25p!!!! Is that really so difficult? Oh, yes and I want it for my D 7000, too!

  • Lensshifter

    Still don’t get the point of this camera. Played with it recently, I think the camera is HUGE, almost as big as a D3100, the difference being too small to be significant. Especially with any other lens than the kit lens. Much bigger than most of M43 crowd. Add to that the smaller sensor, which surely performs well give it size, but why not integrate a bigger and better sensor given the dimensions of the camera?
    Considering the price, think this should be an enthusiast camera, but it lacks sufficient direct access controls.

    • OleThorsen

      Lensshifter wrote:
      “Still don’t get the point of this camera. Played with it recently, I think the camera is HUGE, almost as big as a D3100, the difference being too small to be significant.”

      You have either smoked some really funny stuff, or have a very bad memory about the D3100 kit size, or just expected to carry the V1 kit in your tight jeans pocket. Here is a comparison between the D3100 with 18-55 kit lens versus V1 with 10-30 kit lens (identical FX equivalence)

      That is a significant difference in my opinion.

      • Lensshifter

        Exactly what I say, the body is roughly the same width and hight. Sure the grip id producing more. The rest is a question of lenses.

        • Dan

          “The rest is a question of lenses.”
          Well, I don’t know about you, but I like to have a lens mounted when I’m out shooting; so it’s the total package including the lens that matters. I think OleThorsen’s linked photo says it all.

          The photo also illustrates the kind of choice a lot of us have when considering size/weight versus image quality when choosing a travel camera. I think the V1 has very good potential for a travel camera and I might well choose a second generation version, especially if it has an articulating screen.

        • preston

          “Sure the grip is protruding more”

          You say this as if there’s the option of removing the grip from the D3100. It’s part of the body and is the reason the camera can’t fit in a pocket (without lens of course), so you can’t just dismiss this fact as if it doesn’t matter.

          • audio

            plus there is the built in flash on d3100. and for lenses: the nice thing about the nikon 1 and it’s smaller sensor is that lenses does not have to be that big. the 18.5mm for example: light as feathers… that’s the reason i went with V1.
            if that guy is not a troll, he might not see the practial use of a small camera to carry around with… i do and i am happy with it

  • JorPet

    Awesome review. Thanks for the time and effort you put into it. Will take a couple times through to pull out all the information there.

  • PAG

    It seems that some people don’t understand what the Nikon 1 is targeting. If you don’t care about size, buy the Sony NEX (or better yet, a small DSLR). If you compare the Nikon 1 30-100mm lens to the Sony NEX 55-210mm, the size issue gets pretty obvious.

    Sony NEX vs. Nikon 1
    55-210mm (82.5-315mm) vs. 30-110mm (81-297mm)
    f/4.5-6.3 vs. f/3.8-5.6
    12.1 oz vs 6.2 oz
    2.5″ x 5.25″ vs. 2.4″ x 2.4″
    $350 vs. $247

    The Nikon 1 is competing with P&S cameras. The Sony NEX seems to be competing with DSLRs. As the lower end of what are now DSLRs go mirrorless, both Nikon and Canon will have a line of lenses that works across all their bodies with a larger sensor (yes, I believe both companies will have these one day in the not too distant future) and Sony will have two product lines that crash into each other. And the E-mount lenses is too big to provide a basis for a smaller interchangeable lens system.

  • Cass Roads

    “Ranting Thom Hogan can take a slice from it.” Really? I like how Thom Hogan doesn’t pull any punches. His reviews never read like a press release from the manufacturer. I have a Fuji X100, and his review really nails the issues and strong points of that camera. Ditto with my GF1 and D200.

  • KL

    How can you make the below statements, what I see is that color sensitivity decreases by 30% in the native ISO range. It does not “holds on” at all.

    “Color sensitivity is good at base ISO and holds on throughout the native ISO range in a very linear fashion. Nothing to be too concerned about in this dept.

    Nikon V1 Color Sensitivity:

    ISO-100 • 21.3 bits
    ISO-400 • 18.7 bits
    ISO-800 • 17 bits
    ISO-1600 • 15.7 bits
    ISO-3200 • 14.3 bits
    ISO-6400 • 12.6 bits”

    But in general, after having used the V1 for over a month, I love it and have sold my EPL1. It’s just a fun and responsive camera to shoot with. The picture quality in general is slightly better than Nikon D80, significantly worse than D7000, which is enough for me.

    • “holds on throughout the native ISO range in a very linear fashion”.

      “Very Linear Fashion”. Graph the data and you’ll see what I’m saying. “Linear” being the key-word.

  • Peter Bendheim

    After living with it, I don’t think the V1 is as well made as I would have liked. The flash cover is poorly designed and falls of at a moment’s notice. The rear of the camera is all plastic as is half of the base(why?) so its not all magnesium alloy. I suspect the top is magnesium alloy and the front aluminium but I’m not sure yet. But your can’t advertise a camera as magnesium alloy when half of it is plastic — or can you?

    The rear buttons are shiny, cheap and nasty even compared to the entry level D3100 and do not inspire confidence. The rear viewfinder is plastic not glass – it’s very difficult to access to clean and scratches very easily with fine hairlines – its very soft plastic. The viewfinder/LCD sensor is recessed and difficult to clear gunk out of.

    But overall its a great camera that takes excellent images. If Nikon had just spent a few more dollars on the build instead of cutting corners it would have the feel of a D700 with that tank build. Why scrimp?

    • Couple things. The rear of the camera is actually magnesium alloy as well, it just has a different finish. The chassis is entirely made of magnesium alloy (including the back). There are no plastic body pieces – they may feel plastic, but magnesium is very light and can sometimes feel thin and plasticky. I know it’s magnesium, because I scratched the bottom of back body piece and it’s definitely made of magnesium allow. There are several images of the V1 body striped down and you can clearly see the body is made of magnesium alloy.

      I agree about the hot-show cover. It’s actually something I meant to include in my review, thanks for reminding me. It’s very poorly designed.

      The rear buttons do have a slightly “cheap” feel to them, but that doesn’t really bother me at all – just my opinion.

      I don’t have any issues with the viewfinder. I kept it clean with a LensPen and had ZERO issues.

      • Peter Bendheim

        Rear plastic? I thought it was alloy until I read Thom Hogans review. Then I looked closer and saw some mold lines and it feels warm to the touch not cold like the front half when its been sitting in an aircon room for a while. But Hogan could be wrong!

        Would love a definitive answer to this!

        • No offense to Thom, but he got this part wrong. I know for a fact the V1’s bottom and back panel is made of metal. The paint wore off the little “feet” on the bottom of the camera as well and the bare magnesium was exposed. I can’t speak for the J1, maybe the J1’s bottom and rear is plastic and he got the two confused?

  • Thinking of returning my NEX-5N and getting the V1.

    Question: how does the V1 do indoors, medium- to muddy-light, no flash? That’s where a lot of photography happens. Of all the reviews out there, this is one aspect that’s not covered.


    • audio

      well, images come out nice and shooting without flash is do-able. i like the even high iso pictures in b/w out of camera, but that’s persnal gusto.
      for really low light you might want to consider the 18.5 mm lens, which is around 7 stops fastern than the 10-30 kit lens at around 19 mm. works well for me but i don’t consider to have premium photos.

  • which raw converter do you use for the v1?

  • Back to top