Initial Impressions of the Nikon V1


The Nikon 1 system is the company’s entry into the compact mirrorless class. The system includes the cheaper and simpler J1 and the more complex and bulkier V1. Both cameras are targeted toward users who want a higher quality camera without the bulk and complexity of a single lens reflex (SLR) camera. The Nikon V1 can use any of the proprietary lenses made for the Nikon 1 system, or with the help of an adaptor, the majority of Nikon’s F-mount lenses. It also has a proprietary flash and a proprietary GPS unit that can be purchased as accessories. Atlantic Photo Supply received four V1’s recently and I was lucky enough to take one home to report on my initial impressions.

The first thing I noticed when I picked up the Nikon V1 was how solid it felt. Although bulkier than other similar cameras in the mirror less compact class such as the Panasonic GF2, it felt as though I could drop it and it would fare better than most other cameras. On top of this solid feel to the camera, the lens mounted with a satisfying click that put my mind at ease.

Initially I was a little concerned about the lack of controls directly on the back of the camera. Coming from the SLR world I’m used to have a lot of control directly at my fingertips. The Nikon 1 system is designed for ease of use and thus does not have an intimidating array of buttons to choose from. There is full manual mode for those who are so inclined, however, it is a little tricky to use and I found myself just wanting to keep it in automatic.

While in automatic I noticed a few things. Firstly, the autofocus is very quick. I was taken aback with how snappy it was. Secondly, I noticed the minimum focusing distance. With the 10mm pancake lens mounted, the minimum focusing distance was quite close. I measured it to be around 9 centimeters (3.5 inches) from the subject while still being able to focus. Both of these features really impressed me, but I was really impressed by the next two features.

The V1 has the option of using a mechanical shutter, and electronic shutter, and an electronic shutter on “Hi” mode. When in “Electronic Hi” I was able to hold down the shutter and take roughly 35 exposures is about 4 seconds, which translates into roughly 9 frames per second. Although the camera sounded like a little “ray-gun” from some old sci-fi movie, I found this feature to be quite good on such a small camera.

The final remaining feature that really caught my attention is the smart photo selector. When in this mode the camera will use the electronic shutter to take 20 photos at 30 frames per second. It then chooses five images that it considers “the best” and deletes the rest. If the image is blurred or something else is wrong with the picture they wont make the cut. The really interesting thing about this feature is how quickly it happens. I timed it a few times and the average time was around two seconds to take the images and write them to the memory card. That is pretty dang quick!

All in all, the Nikon V1 is a very interesting camera that would be a fun addition to and existing photo arsenal, or a great first camera.

gearJonathan Reid2 Comments