Nikon Nikon V1 review (done for now)

Armanius

Bring Jack back!
Jan 11, 2011
Houston, Texas
Jack
With the V1, in the long end of the 30-110 and in lower lighting conditions, the AF acquisition speed is definitely a bit slower. The long end is something like a f5.6. So you really need tons of light to get the most out of the long end. That being said, during the skate boarding photo day, I was using the 30-110 exclusively and did not feel that the AF acquisition speed was lacking at all. I thought it was every bit as fast as my pro-sumer K5 with a prime lens (FA35/2). That was of course in good lighting conditions.
 

Armanius

Bring Jack back!
Jan 11, 2011
Houston, Texas
Jack
Pixel Peeping High ISO

Here are some portraits with the V1 at high ISO. The JPG engine does a fair job if there's sufficient light. But at low light conditions, the JPG engine appears to overdo the noise reduction, and things just don't look too good. Steve Huff mentioned that at high ISO and low light, RAW is the way to go with the noise reduction turned off. Turned out to be good advice as I was able to get sharper images (although noisy).

This first photo was in JPG with noise reduction on. Photo was taken with the pancake 10mm, which appears to be the best performing lens out of the three I have (10mm, 10-30mm, and 30-110mm). F2.8, ISO3200, 1/200. For a 28mm EFL lens, the distortion isn't too bad for portrait purposes.

Given the shutter speed (and thus decent lighting conditions), I could have gone with a lower ISO, but I was too lazy to change the ISO, because it takes too many steps to change ISO. And I have no confidence in the V1's auto-ISO intelligence. Hence I left the V1 set at ISO 3200 that night.

Reduced to 1024 pixels in LR3.6, WB adjustment, slight crop and no other processing.

View attachment 46984

100% crop.



The rest of these photos were all taken with the 30-110mm lens, in RAW, at low shutter speeds due to the dim lighting in the restaurant, and at ISO 3200.

@110mm, F5.6, 1/20; no processing (including no NR) other than slight crop and reduced to 1024 pixels



100% crop



@110mm, F5.6, 1/8 (reaaaaally slow shutter speed, and the VR did a decent job, but still some blurring due to movement); also no processing of any kind other than reduced to 1024 pixels



100% crop



This last photo was also taken in RAW, but I tweaked the WB, applied some noise reduction and some sharpening in LR3.6, and reduced to 1024 pixels. @30mm, F3.8, 1/10.

View attachment 46990

100% crop



Moral of the story -- don't expect the V1 to be a low light wonder. But it can render some good images at reduced sizes.
 

Armanius

Bring Jack back!
Jan 11, 2011
Houston, Texas
Jack
AF speed and accuracy

The V1's auto focus is very fast. I don't have the means to perform empirical tests. In good light, in my opinion, it is as fast if not faster than the GF2 and K5. It is definitely faster than the likes of the X100 and X10.

As for accuracy, it was not accurate all the time when using the multi-point AF setting. With the face detection on, it sometimes didn't lock onto the face. But it's definitely good enough for my every day use. Whenever the V1 wasn't 100% accurate, the results were still very good as the accuracy wasn't so bad that it rendered the photo unusable. Most of the time it was not 100% accurate was when I didn't prefocus with a half-press of the shutter button. IMO, the V1's AF system is more accurate than the GF2, K5, X100 and X10.

I was out shopping at the Outlet Mall on new year's eve. We didn't get there until 4:00 p.m or so, and it got dark quickly. The V1 performed pretty well for the most part. I used primarily the 30-110mm again, because it offers the fastest aperture at a somewhat telelephoto range 30mm (F3.8). The 10-30mm lens is F5.6 at 30mm.

The following photos were all taken in RAW and converted to JPG via LR3.6. They were all reduced to 1024 pixels. I cropped some, and applied NR to most of them. The V1's images even at ISO 100 show some noise. The good thing about the V1's noise is that they are a fine grain-like noise. They don't get blotchy.

I did not make any WB adjustments to these photos. And on most of them, I did not do any exposure adjustments either. As noted before, IMO, the V1's metering and auto WB is about as good as they get.

10mm pancake, F2.8, ISO1400, 1/50





30mm, F4, ISO320, 1/200





36mm, F3.8, ISO3200, 1/200





72mm, F4.5, ISO2800, 1/200





72mm, F4.5, ISO100, 1/400





30mm, F3.8, ISO800, 1/200





53mm, F4.1, ISO100, 1/640; got some nice bokeh there ... but primarily because the background was so far away from the subject.

View attachment 47091
 

Armanius

Bring Jack back!
Jan 11, 2011
Houston, Texas
Jack
Final thoughts ... for now

When the Nikon 1 system was first announced, I wanted to hate it. Then after seeing it briefly in action, I wanted to love it. And then after using it for three or so weeks, I am not quite sure what to make of it. Is it really something for P&S users to upgrade to? Or is it more than that?

If it is for P&S users wanting DSLR-like AF performance, then Nikon has almost succeeded. I say almost, because the Nikon 1 has an illogical Auto-ISO implementation, which keeps the ISO as low as possible without regard to the resulting shutter speed and its relationship with the focal length used or what the camera is being used for (at least in my experience). In short, the resulting shutter speed is often less than ideal. Consequently, users will get camera shake induced blur and/or subject movement blur. I hope Nikon issues a firmware upgrade, which: (1) uses the focal length to choose the ISO; and (2) also allows the user to set a bias of the Auto-ISO logic system to either "slow", "medium" or "fast", similar to the one on the Pentax K-5.

For enthusiasts, a better implementation of Auto-ISO may not have been necessary, if the user had better access to ISO controls. Unfortunately, it takes way too many button presses to reach the ISO controls. In order to get around the ISO issues, I found myself using M or SV mode a whole lot more than AV mode, which is generally my preferred PASM mode.

As an enthusiast, the lack of direct controls along with the Auto-ISO issue are my biggest gripes against the Nikon 1 system. The V1, which is geared towards the enthusiast, is really a less compelling product than the J1. Priced at $300 more than the J1, the capabilities of both cameras are basically the same. Other than the EVF, mechanical shutter, and larger buffer, the V1 is basically the same camera as the J1, with the same user interface. Thus, in my opinion, the V1 is not an enthusiast camera at all. Rather, it's just a camera for someone that wants an EVF.

The image quality of the Nikon 1 system is good. Shooting RAW, it is on par with m4/3. The Nikon 1 is also on par with m4/3 when it comes to high ISO stuff when using RAW. The Nikon 1 offers less DOF control with its smaller sensor, and will require some very fast lenses to give the user real DOF control.

When it comes to AF, the Nikon 1 feels a little bit faster and more accurate than any of the m4/3 cameras I've used. More importantly though, the Nikon 1 destroys any m4/3 camera in terms of AF while tracking moving subjects. In fact, the V1 is on par with the Pentax K-5 (a semi-pro/mid-level DSLR) when it came to tracking moving subjects, and perhaps even slightly better than the K-5.

At the end fo the day, the V1 is not staying. It's all packed up and ready to go. If Nikon changes the Auto-ISO implementation and releases a camera with more direct controls along with two or three fast primes (35/1.4, 50/1.4, 90/1.4 in EFL), I would definitely adopt the system. Or if the prices drop on the J1's (to ~$400 with kit lens), I may pick up one of those. Until then, the Nikon 1 is not for me.

ps: With Canon entering the "serious compact" race and gearing the G1X seemingly towards enthusiasts, I hope Nikon will respond with a "real" enthusiast level Nikon 1 camera.
 

Armanius

Bring Jack back!
Jan 11, 2011
Houston, Texas
Jack
Thank you for sharing all your thoughts. I'm of a different mind -- I'd like to see m43 adopt the Nikon AF approach :)

Cheers.
Oh, I'm 100% with you. The Nikon 1's AF system would be a welcome implementation on just about any camera system out there short of the likes of the Nikon D300s, Canon 7D and the professional level DSLR's.

I dream of something similar to the Nikon 1's AF with the Fuji X100's image quality ... to die for!
 

retow

All-Pro
Jul 24, 2010
Oh, I'm 100% with you. The Nikon 1's AF system would be a welcome implementation on just about any camera system out there short of the likes of the Nikon D300s, Canon 7D and the professional level DSLR's.

I dream of something similar to the Nikon 1's AF with the Fuji X100's image quality ... to die for!
But then I thought the iso change/control implementation of the X100 is a dog as well:wink:
 

Armanius

Bring Jack back!
Jan 11, 2011
Houston, Texas
Jack
But then I thought the iso change/control implementation of the X100 is a dog as well:wink:
It is! :)

The separation of the Auto-ISO (on/off) from the ISO control is mind boggling to me on the X100. But I'm for the merging of the Nikon 1's AF with the IQ of the X100. I'm sure we can all think of a better body to make our Frankenstein camera!!

Hmmm ... that sounds like a very interesting thread for someone to start -- what parts of each camera system would you merge together to come up with the "ultimate" serious compact??
 

Tord S Eriksson

Regular
Aug 16, 2010
Gothenburg. Sweden
I love my V1 (which began as a gift to my wife, who instead opted for the OM-D), but it isn't perfect, in any way. The three Series 1 lenses have been found exceptionally sharp, the tiny flash works surprisingly well, but the arrangement of the buttons is pretty unique: For instance that the thumb wheel often does nothing, a wheel that I like to work as a button that changes aperature settings in A mode with, but not on this camera - instead you use a little toggle in the upper right corner, quaint, but not me ;-)!

The actual results with the camera is quite stunning, as long as the light is enough, as already been pointed out by others. The tiny (optional) flash helps a lot, but drains the battery a bit.

I have had lovely results after adding a Canon 500D close-up lens to both the 10-30 and the 30-110 (you need a steeping ring, or two, to get from 52mm to 40.5, but that's the only complication. I've also used the TF1 adapter with success, using both AF-S lenses and the classic 80-200, which Ken Rockwell considers to be best Nikon zoom ever.

Much of the time the Pentax gear (K-5, and some lenses) stays at home, and I bring the NEX-5N (with the Zeiss 1.8/24, and its viewfinder) and the V1 with the 30-110, and possibly the TF1 and the AF-S 50/1.4G, and the Canon close-up lenses (52mm, and 58), of course. If I really need something wide, the K-5 goes along, of course!

I didn't really think I would become so attached to the V1 as I have, but it has become my poorman's Leica. And it is built like a tank!

These I took today (totally unedited, but shrunk in size - click to enlarge! All taken with the 30-110, many with the Canon 500D lens attached):











 

Andrewteee

All-Pro
Jul 8, 2010
I just got back from a week in Maui with the V1 (and Ricoh GRD4). The V1 worked out great! The flash worked well for me too, with some learning about how to get the most out of it. Took all 3 lenses, but mainly used the 10-30mm. EVF was critical in bright sunlight and the LCD is squeaky clean even after being smashed against my sunscreen impregnated face.

A great, light kit for many purposes.
 

BillN

Hall of Famer
Aug 25, 2010
S W France
Bill
Has anyone used the V1 with the FT1 adapter and a long Nikon AF-S lens - i.e. the 70 300 vr or 300mm prime

If so, can you post images please
 

Andrewteee

All-Pro
Jul 8, 2010
Has anyone used the V1 with the FT1 adapter and a long Nikon AF-S lens - i.e. the 70 300 vr or 300mm prime

If so, can you post images please
I've seen posts on DPR with those lenses on the V1, with images. Do a search there and see what you can find. Folks seem happy with it. Of course, it becomes a sort of super-tele.
 

BillN

Hall of Famer
Aug 25, 2010
S W France
Bill
I've seen posts on DPR with those lenses on the V1, with images. Do a search there and see what you can find. Folks seem happy with it. Of course, it becomes a sort of super-tele.
Thanks Anfrew

quite a few examples - (very) impressive with longer Nikon af-s lens
 

Tord S Eriksson

Regular
Aug 16, 2010
Gothenburg. Sweden
I agree with Nic that I couldn't think of a single reason to own both a MFT camera, like my wife's soon-to-be-delivered OM-D, and a Nikon 1 camera, but my what things you can do with a V1! Accodring to test sites, like Photozone.de, the kit lenses are among the sharpest there are on the market, and with the TF1 adapter you can use any normal Nikon lens, and, as long as it is a 'G' series, autofocus works perfectly, and if it has VR that works, too! VR (SR, or OIS, to you used to other camera systems) works just fine, but old manual lenses works very well, too!

Picture-quality-wise, it is as good as many a APS-C, if not at higher ISO levels (keep under 1600 for next to nil noise problems). For instance, I can't really see any difference in resolution if I take a shot with my K-5 and reduce the size to V1 size, that is, 10MP, or my NEX-5N, and reduce those files to V1 size (the Pentax, and the Sony, use almost identical sensors, the latter of a later sub-type, though).

Already mentioned is the lightning fast operation, but that's not all: White balance is close to perfect in any light, and the camera is VERY quiet, and discrete. One thing that annoys me is the button arrangement; in short, pretty messed up. For instance, you very easily turn the little wheel on the rear so that you record video instead of take stills, and so on. Some tape the wheel down, but then you can't ever take nice video in AVCHD format!
 

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