Craig Litten documents the the old city pier on Anna Maria Island, Florida with a Nikon V1 camera and 10mm f/2.8 lens

Today's guest posts is by Craig Litten who documented the the old city pier on Anna Maria Island, Florida with a Nikon 1 V1 camera and 10mm f/2.8 lens (click on images for larger view):

I started shooting this project named “Microcosm” with the Nikon V1 at the beginning of the summer (2012), and have since visited this location 47 times through August. I’ve only been out to the Anna Maria Island Old City Pier a few times since then. It’s a vastly different place once September hits and school is back in. It will pick up again when our tourist season hits January through April though, but it’s a very different crowd. It will then slow down for about a month and then full force tourist season again through the summer. The pier is located on the tip of Anna Maria Island, in the city of Anna Maria, in southwest Florida just below Tampa Bay. It is a very historic place and a slice of what little remains of old Florida. In fact, Anna Maria Island itself, which is world famous, is a slice of old Florida all on its own. The rustic fishing pier is over 100 years old and there is nothing like it left in any part of Florida. I’m pretty certain of this because I’ve photographed every inch of Florida’s coast and beaches for another book project in 2006-2009, and I’ve lived in Florida for over 20 years.

I moved my family to Anna Maria Island in 2006, and I’ve visited the pier countless times since then since it’s only a few miles away. Most times it was just to snap pictures since I don’t fish (too impatient). But until I bought my Nikon V1, I never really thought about doing a long-term photo project of the pier. It’s a fascinating place and a vastly different world at night than during the day. Only serious fishermen venture out there after midnight mostly fishing for sharks. It’s dark, eerie and very interesting. Almost anything strange type of fish can be caught since the pier is in saltwater. It is technically in Tampa Bay, but it’s on the end of the island where the Gulf of Mexico flows in very close by.

The pier is not a very large place, and when out there shooting for several hours at a time, it’s pretty easy to be noticed. This is one reason that a huge DSLR just isn’t up to the task, since it truly sticks out like a sore thumb. Yes, many, many people have cameras but the vast majority of cameras are now smart phones or point-and-shoots. The typical crowd during the summer includes families from every part of the globe and the U.S. A DSLR pointed at children is also sometimes misunderstood. We as photographers think nothing of it, because we are photographers. But others are sometimes intimidated or threatened by large, serious cameras wondering what we are up to and why we are taking their picture. So, because of its small size, the V1 was a perfect candidate. I shot the entire project with a Nikon V1 with the 1 Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 pancake lens attached. Again because the pier is a relatively small sized area, and I’m circling around and spending time shooting almost continuously, I needed a stealthy camera. The V1 has an electronic shutter that can shoot totally silently. This is one of the reasons I picked the V1 over a Micro Four Thirds or Sony NEX camera. I owned an E-PL2 along with the Panasonic 20mm f/2.0 lens, but sold it. I also purchased a NEX 5N with a Voigtlander 21mm f/4 (an approximate 32mm equivalent) lens and sold it. Many people, even Nikon shooters, do not take the Nikon 1 system seriously. But to me the quality is amazing (especially for such a tiny camera and tiny sensor), the size is perfect, and the V1 offers some features and technology that no other mirrorless camera can match. I believe it’s very misunderstood. Part of the misunderstanding was many people’s initial pre-conceived notion of what Nikon should have produced. Maybe Nikon should look into a more viable mirrorless system to compete with m43 and Sony for enthusiast photographers and pros, but I don’t think they should discontinue the Nikon 1 system.

The Nikon 1 V1 is perfect for street photography or for projects like this because of the camera’s blazingly fast and very accurate auto focus. I’ve been using auto focus cameras since the mid 1980’s, but have always and only used center point focus until the V1. It’s auto selection point is almost clairvoyant always picking exactly where to focus and rarely, if ever, making a mistake. Now keep in mind that the 10mm is a wide lens, so a mistake in focus point selection is not as crucial as it would be on an 85mm equivalent. But it is amazing thus it’s all I use. Not only is the auto focus amazing, but also the camera’s meter is as good, or better, than any Nikon made. The V1’s meter acts more like that of a video camera than a DSLR. It’s live, because of the EVF, and ever changing to what it ‘sees.’ I’ve learned that if I go from an extremely dark scene to an extremely light scene, the meter/camera takes about a second to adjust. This usually only happens during extremes in lighting condition but it’s not the norm. I also find the V1’s image quality, when exposed correctly, to be very good even up to and including ISO 800. Even above ISO 800 it is good. I shot with a pro DSLR Canon D2000 from 2000-2003, a $15,000 camera, and the V1 beats it in every single way. Most of us are just spoiled and others haven’t been shooting digital long enough to realize just how far digital technology has come in the last decade. The V1 is a tiny miracle able to crunch 40 RAW shots in one second and not even hesitate, but ask for more. What other camera do you know that can do that? Anybody? NONE (big smile).

Should you sell your DSLR and run out and buy a Nikon V1? Well, no, but at the current price of $299 (at B&H Photo), it’s well worth the investment. Buy the V1 if for nothing else than the fun-factor. Yes, fun! The Nikon V1 is the most fun camera I’ve ever shot with, and I’ve shot with a lot of cameras. It is solid as a brick, well built and never fails to respond. It instills confidence unlike a point-and-shoot or an iPhone, because it produces high quality images, perfectly exposed, perfectly focused and without any though. You just shoot and concentrate on your subject matter. The V1 will produce files worthy of framing and hanging, or good enough to sell or be published. I have used the V1 several times for real paying newspaper and magazine editorial assignments.

I wanted to share this project with NikonRummors readers to show you that the Nikon 1 system really is a viable option for certain types of work, and can be used to supplement your pro DSLRs. Personally I think it also makes a perfect family camera too. You can read my prior review here at Steve Huff Photo and you can view more photos from my project “Microcosm” HERE at my website. My hope is that these photos and this short article will inspire, encourage and empower photographers to go out and create with whatever tools that are at your disposal. Gone are the days of a one-camera-for-every-situation scenario. More and more photographers are embracing brands and cameras they never thought they would use to get the job done.

If you have any interesting ideas for a guest post, you can contact me here.

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  • whmitty

    Outstanding! Although I “think” B&W from time to time these images have definitely motivated me to seriously do some B&W imaging.

  • Paul

    Awesome captures. Beautiful! The V1 is obviously a great tool for you (and me, too, although I just sold the V1 and picked up the V2). Looking forward to your thoughts of the 18.5mm. This, and the FT1, are the only “lenses” I now own for the Nikon 1. I have to say that, like you, I found the V1 to be extremely fun and high quality. I have a D4 with the full suite of TCs and a couple long lenses, but I was always grabbing the V1, especially for long shots. Would you have been more comfortable with the 18mm on the pier? Thanks for sharing.

    • watchfan1

      very interesting project and thank you for sharing…..To be honest though when you mentioned that “I
      shot with a pro DSLR Canon D2000 from 2000-2003, a $15,000 camera, and
      the V1 beats it in every single way.” and that “V1 takes 40 RAW images
      per second” – all your credibility vanished for me. I see nothing here
      that Canon S100 (also for $299), smaller, with more features and better
      high ISO capability could not do.

      • Craig

        Let’s see you mount a 600mm f/4 on a cell phone and shoot three NFL seasons with it. What an unqualified comment. The D2000 WAS the latest technology at the time, and almost nobody but professionals could afford one. The point was being made of just how far and how cheap digital cameras have come in such a short time. I’ll also inform you that the D200 shot only 3 fps, had a horrible shutter delay and a buffer of 12 jpegs. Only professions could shoot professional sports with such a “dinosaur,” which is probably why you didn’t own one. You surely allowed your true self to shine through and you cannot even use your real name. Sad.

  • Absolutely Awesome!!! I’m from the Bradenton area, so as soon as I recognized the pier “I FREAKED!!!!” I’m just getting into financial position to buy the D600 very soon and seeing images like these gives me great inspiration and hope for next summer to do a summer project on Florida’s clouds and summer storms. Great to see someone from the Tampa Bay area make the NR headlines!! Great Work!!!

  • AnthonyH

    Thus proving wrong those naysayers that the Nikon 1 system is not professional. It’s the photographer who makes the difference.

    • This is the hidden message in this post. We often get carried away with technical specs (that’s ok – this is the main purpose of this site), but it’s nice sometimes to stop back and see what photographers can do with the “not so good” Nikon 1 V1. I will try to have more of those in the future.

      • Plug

        It’s hardly hidden! Yes please, more in future.

  • desmo

    nicely done,
    Black andwhite is cool touch.

    just shows it’s about the photographer ,
    not the camera

    • Camaman

      yep it really shows its about the Photorgarpher…

      That watermark really becomes a part of his art.

  • Spy Black

    Yeah, I dunno. Nikon 1:

  • Michael Choong

    high contrast black and white photos always identical and look cool~~

  • Garry

    I enjoyed that. Great images

  • bossa

    Most of these shots are seriously brilliant.. Thanks for the article. BTW, WTF is that person doing with that bird?

    • PAG

      It’s a Pelican, and they can be a serious problem for fishermen. It probably grabbed somebody’s bait or catch and got itself hooked.

      • Sebastian

        or maybe rather the fishermen are a real problem for the pelicans.
        But apart from that: these are really nice images. In particular the first three are amazing.
        On a technical note: wouldn’t it be great if Nikon made a monochrome version of the camera? Quantum efficiency of the detector would be up at least three times, probably four. That’s two stops darker that it can get at the same iso.

  • John Richardson

    Well done. There are seriously cool shots here! The right tool for the job is always a huge plus. In your case the V1 allowed you to do as you please and get the results you were looking for, what more can anyone ask?

  • a

    great example that digital B&W usually looks terrible.

    • Remedy

      Great example that even stupid people can comment on the internet.

      • a

        don’t be offensive. I think it is hard to get decent B&W from digital. This is just a matter of taste. If you like those b&ws – go for it.

        • EGGZZ

          I think your initial comment was offensive

          • a

            compare calling someone stupid and Statement that b&w co version is terrible. lol

    • jack

      To make a judgement on the tonal quality of a B/W image based on what you see on the computer screen is just a reflection of your ignorance. This post is not about high quality B/W tonality and impeccable shadow detail. It is a documentary project about life on the pier and how the Nikon V1 is a good tool for photographers that do this kind of work.

      • a

        good tool… as any other camera. it proved nothing. i will say again that good Picture can be killed by terrible post processing. and this is Great example. at thesame time there are a lot of good examplrs in the net how nice bw can look like. keep in mind that i can have opposite opinion to yours and we can still respect one another 😉

        • Arkasai

          I would’ve processed many of these images differently but I still think you’re being a bit melodramatic by saying this piece is a “great example” of terrible editing. Really? Open any top shelf main stream magazine and you’ll find images that fit your definition of terrible editing.

        • Hendog

          What about the post processing in your opinion makes it “terrible”? Please elaborate? Or provide a link to your good examples?

        • Jan

          Mr. anonymous: you insult the photographer right out of the blocks, and then cry out for respect???

          The “post processing”: you are dead wrong. The sensor in the V1 delivers a different look than other sensors do. I shoot JPEG with my V1. The tonality of my pictures are pretty much the same as what you see here. Right out of camera.

          Some people love this look, other do not. Simple as that. Or is it rather: you do not like them: you are an idiot! And please do not dare to insult me in any reply to this comment, I demand your respect for MY opinion!

    • David Kasman

      How so? Please explain.

  • Eric Duminil

    Very interesting post.

    I think the one company that Nikon should compete with on the mirrorless market is Fuji.
    Sony & Panasonic have just been doing more of the same, while Fuji really innovates.

  • Remedy

    Wonderful shots and great reportage overall. That’s exactly how you do it. I hope all those who thought this camera is a joke can see this. Once again great job sir!

  • Cam

    Great shots but then after 47 visits I would be really worried if you didn’t get any. All in the eye and not the camera. Just one other thing what is it world famous for exactly?

  • RedTheLobster

    I recently brought a discounted V1 on a 2-week business trip to Qatar in the Middle East. Hauling around a big DSLR in public places doesn’t go over too well there. But the V1 was great because of it’s size and appearance as a goofy looking large P&S.

    My overall impression using the V1 is that it has the handling of a DSLR with the image quality halfway between my Canon S95 compact and the D300.

    At the price before the recent discounts forget it, but at $299 now at places like B&H, this thing is a steal. It’s just fun, great camera!

  • deltagee

    Like 99% of B&W images, these would be better in color.

    • David Kasman

      Really? I totally disagree.

      • deltagee

        Every picture leaves me wondering…. what color is that fish, what about that dress, the sky, the water?

        • David Kasman

          Well, art is subjective. I would have composed/cropped a number of these photographs differently, but I still like a number of them.

  • Reilly Diefenbach

    I guess Silver EFX Pro really is worth two hundred dollars (sigh)

    • Joe

      BTW: Nik sells Apertrure and Lightroom-Editions of their Complete Package that costs not so much more than a Silver Efex alone. Good value!

  • BdV

    Delicious ways of catching life and light.

  • bagina

    Nice job… some of you are saying the old “it is not the camera it is the photographer” saying. I suspect that the post processing plays a big part in this too. These images are simply not SOC B&W and I would venture to say that some time has been carefully put into each image. With the current digital technology you would be surprised the amount of “atmosphere” you can add to many pictures. However, I am not trying to downplay the photographers efforts. I am just saying there is always more to it.

    • People who use DSLRs post process their shots as well.

  • `/1nc3nt

    I think 1 will slowly catch people’s eye and earning respects in the new photography mindset.

    1 system is a product of careful thoughts, any single thing there has a meaning (if you know Nikon well, they always do that).

  • V1 or M9-P

    Most camera outfits do well in broad daylight.

  • pianowerk

    Er whats the point of comparing the V1(2012) with a 2mpx D2000(2000-2003)? If any 2012 digital camera (dslr,csc,compact point n shoot)is not better than that dinosaur, I’d be surprised. So if you comparethe V1 to the equivalent Canon (or Nikon)DSLR of today, does the V1 stack up? Its like comparing the Ford Model T with any car made in the last 50 years- of course they are all better than the Ford Model T.

    It’s interesting to see the quality achieved on the V1, but I don’t suppose its any better than most current CSCs.

  • jsilva200022

    Great pictures indeed. I am thinking of buying a Nikon 1 V1 as walk around camera. Now it is very cheap after discounts.

  • jack

    Well done. Documentary projects like this are very difficult and the effort you put into this project shows in the images you produced. Seeing work like this is truly inspirational.

  • Rob

    Shooting in summer of 2102. Time machine successful.

    • eric

      You realize that different parts of the world have different seasons…. right?

  • Suwanavi

    I love these images! As a native Floridian, I can appreciate the “Old Florida” theme. I own a V1, and as a novice photographer I’ve managed to take many (IMHO) awesome shots. I thoroughly enjoy this camera, and will keep it around when I expand my equipment to include a DSLR.

  • Fabio

    Llovely pictures but it’s all about composition, light and post processing. Nikon 1 plays a little role in these great shots

  • Awesome shots!!! I ordered my $300 v1 yesterday from B&H. Unbelievable deal for an obviously capable camera. I must confess though, I mocked it when it came out. nom nom nom … humble pie.

  • Aaron Shepard

    I bought a V1 recently, with the discounts. I found the image quality to be decent until you shot long-distance. With any serious cropping, the image just broke down. Since I mostly do long-distance candids on the street — and since I was losing shots to poor image quality — I just set it aside. Maybe I’ll try again with a next-generation model and a longer Nikon 1 telephoto, when it comes out.

    • FlamingLiberal

      I hope this doesn’t sound like trolling because answer would help enlighten others here….did you try using the F-mount adapter? The big side benefit of the Nikon 1 was that you could use your F-mount Nikkors and take advantage of the 2.7 multiplier factor so that an 85mm lens gives you the reach of a 225mm lens or a 70-200 becomes a 189-540mm. Does that work in real life?

      • Aaron Shepard

        I did buy an FT1 adapter, and it worked fine for wildlife shots. But the main point of buying the Nikon 1 for me was to do street candids without being obtrusive. Putting a DSLR lens on it defeated that purpose.

        Actually, the FT1 didn’t really do it for me, either, because I bought it to shoot local swans but found that the dynamic range of the camera wasn’t wide enough to handle their white feathers, even on a cloudy day. So, it was a wash all around, for my specific uses.

  • Evilsivan

    Nice post, great pics. and a nice review of the camera. I want one 🙂

  • Damanto

    Outstanding photos! Once in a while, it’s good to read an article here on NR that makes the point on the only important thing: no matter what camera you use, photography is substantially all about vision!

  • Steve Wakeman

    Wow, very impressive set of monochrome work!

  • RamesesThe2nd

    Great shots. DOF of Nikon 1 is insane. Everything is focus in every pic, but may be that’s what Craig had in mind.

    • This is definitely an advantage of small sensors for PJ work.

  • TheLiberal

    WOW. Just wow.

  • Unfortunately I don’t live in the states and the 299 dollar deal is only open to people in the states it seems. What a pity.

  • Naotoco

    I think this will be gone way better if the photographer uses a dslr. There is really nothing you can compare about.

    Btw, some of photos I would say are way off for me.

  • Was these shots taken originally in B&W mode or post processed afterwards?

  • Amazing use of the camera, great black and white processing, excellent review

  • I love the Nikon1 (and Sony Rx100, FYI) sensor size, functionally the same as 16mm for those who used to shoot motion picture film. It is a great format with todays high-resolution, high-sensitivity sensors. I have the RX100 and love working with its silent shutter. I have to second the suggestion that I saw posted here of a Monochrome-only premium edition of the V1, perhaps with a very fast (f1.4 or below) 10mm or 12mm. Nikon could definitely do more to get this into the hands of pros- not every project needs a D3s or 1DX.

  • rkas

    Uh, the smaller pictures look ok, but the bigger ones doesn’t look good at all. Lots of details are gone for some reason and he’s using way to big radius on his sharpening. For example, look at the leg of the guy touching the manta, the hair is just blurred out. And the second picture, the guy got a fat white outline, to wide sharpening!
    Ah well, guess I’ll just look at the smaller versions instead…

  • 103david

    2102? Looks like the time travel module is finally available. How much from Adorama?

  • Warm beer. Lousy food!

  • watchfan1

    very interesting project and thank you for sharing…..I enjoyed the images as I am local and visit the pier a few times a year, To be honest however, when you mentioned that “I shot with a pro DSLR Canon D2000 from 2000-2003, a $15,000 camera, and the V1 beats it in every single way.” and that “V1 takes 40 RAW images per second” – all your credibility vanished for me.

    FYI, D2000 is a 2MP dinosaurs from 1998 and any current phone will kick its as$ (especially in daylight as majority of your project pictures.

    Enjoy your V1 but, while being a huge Nikon fan and owner of several of their cameras, I see NOTHING here that a P & S like Canon S100 (also for $299), smaller & more incognito, with a zoom lens, more features and better high ISO capability could not do.

    • Jan

      Well, I’m puzzled.

      Why would his credibility vanish for stating a few facts?

  • The D600 is impressive. It is a slimmed down D800 and a beefed up D7000.
    For those of you who have waited to get into the full frame market at a
    considerably lower price than the D800, this has a lot to offer. The
    only camera that seems like a close match is the new Canon 6D.

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