Final Thoughts on the Nikon 1 V1

Putting the 105mm f/2.8 AFS G VR micro-Nikkor on the V1 gives you a fast, sharp 280mm lens that can focus as close as you want.

I’ve had my Nikon 1 V1 for less than a month, and I’m very pleased with it overall. I guess I should have titled my original review “The Nikon V1, Or How I Quit Worrying and Learned to Love CX Format.” Well, not exactly… Keep in mind that my overall opinion of this camera system has not changed. It’s an excellent family compact camera that delivers substantially better image quality and performance than its Coolpix peers. It’s not a camera that’s going to go head to-head with the image quality of larger sensor mirror-less models. With that in mind, here’s where I think Nikon has room to improve upon the V1, and the Nikon 1 System.

Improved Exposure Controls

Fundamentally, the Nikon V1 does a great job getting exposures right. But there are a few things that bother me that a firmware update ought to address. First off, when using auto ISO, the camera prioritizes lower ISO settings over shutter speed. While we all want the best quality images with the least amount of noise, the Nikon V1 allows shutter speed to drop to a very low 1/15s before it starts boosting ISO sensitivity. This behavior occurs in all exposure modes except Manual and Shutter-priority. In earlier DSLRs (the D2x, for example), I had the same problem. What good is auto ISO if you can’t set a minimum shutter speed? Especially in Aperture-priority mode. If my P7000 has this feature, surely Nikon can add it to the V1. Lastly, as I mentioned in my earlier review, Nikon would do well by adding an auto-bracketing mode on the V1. Again, this is a feature found in the P7000, so I can’t imagine that Nikon couldn’t add it to the 1-series cameras.

More ISO Range Options

The V1 allows fixed ISOs to be selected in 1-EV increments. In the future, it would be nice to be able to set the ISO in 1/3 EV increments, just like on Nikon DSLRs. Moreover, there’s an obvious gap between Auto 100-800 and Auto 100-3200. How about an Auto 100-1600 setting? Lastly, I’d really like it if the camera displayed the ISO value in the on-screen display during shooting so I can see how my settings are being dialed in. Currently, the V1 only shows “Auto ISO 3200” (or whatever range you’ve chosen) in the display, and you can’t find out what ISO was chosen until you review the image.

Disable Image Review in EVF

The electronic viewfinder in the V1 is actually pretty darn good. However, there’s currently no way to disable image review in the EVF. This means that if you shoot a burst of images while tracking a moving subject, once you finish your burst the image in the EVF is the last frame shot, not your subject. That can be particularly annoying if you are shooting action. Currently, the only workaround I’ve found is to quickly half-press the shutter release after taking your last shot in a sequence to exit image review mode.

More Nikkor 1 Lenses

The three 1-series Nikkors I have are small, light and do a decent job as all-purpose lenses. But only the 10mm (27mm equivalent) pancake lens is even moderately fast (f/2.8). Given that the 1-series is an entirely new Nikon line, I’m hoping that they offer a few more lenses in the future. Specifically, it would be nice to have one or two fast primes; perhaps a 30 or 40mm f/2 “portrait” lens, and/or a 40-50mm f/2.8 or faster macro lens. Because the CX format offers extra depth of field compared to larger sensor cameras, macro is one area where the 1-series might excel. The FT1 adapter is a good option, but is too limited for serious telephoto action work (lack of AF-C). More 1-series lenses would help out in this regard.

Real Hot-Shoe Accessories and CLS Compatibility

The AS-N100 hot shoe adapter is a real disappointment. It’s just a cold-shoe that lets you mount things to the camera. Other than the possibility of continuous LED lights for video or Nikon’s dedicated video microphone, that’s not a lot. If Nikon were to add a real hot shoe with iTTL/CLS capabilities, the creative options for users would be expanded tremendously. I realize that the average shooter isn’t looking to use their compact camera to do off-camera flash, but existing CLS users are. And the availability of iTTL/CLS accessories on the V1 would make existing Nikon shooters think twice before buying a different brand.

Final Thoughts

My opinion hasn’t changed about the Nikon 1 V1. It’s an excellent alternative to a traditional point and shoot compact camera that delivers fast performance and great image quality. I find it much nicer to use than the P7000 I had before it. But Nikon has chosen, for the time being, to limit its software features by not including some of the “DSLR-like” functions that its top-end Coolpix models (P7000/P7100) offer. While the real market for the 1-series may well be people seeking a point and shoot alternative, there are enough crossover features to warrant marketing the camera to existing Nikon DSLR owners. Why offer an F-mount adapter if your users aren’t going to get some of the features they expect from their other Nikon bodies? The more accessories that Nikon makes for the 1-series cameras that allow existing lens/flash, etc. users to take advantage of their existing gear, the more likely these users will embrace the CX format for their personal use. Even if we mainly use the V1 as a compact point and shoot, just knowing I can toss the FT1 and a short telephoto in my bag gives me an option that I can’t get with Sony, Leica, or Panasonic. So with a little thought outside the “consumer” box, Nikon could really boost their image with their own user base by making a few small tweaks.

12 thoughts on “Final Thoughts on the Nikon 1 V1”

  1. Good series, thanks for your observations. I am eager to see what Nikon brings out for an enthusiest version. I think the 1 series will be on a faster upgrade path than dslr’s.

  2. Excellent summary. I’ve only had my V1 for a couple of weeks and haven’t done a lot of shooting with it but already I know your points are right on the mark. Initially I wasn’t interested in this system as both a M4/3 and NEX user but the V1 did win me over. What I like the most is feeling like I have the power when I need it. I’m defining power here as the ability to do a good burst and not have to wait on the camera.

  3. Very nice reviews. Thanks. I really like my V1. It’s the first compact camera I have owned that I don’t worry about the responsiveness.

  4. The whole hot shoe issue is a real head scratcher. I would think at a minimum an SB-400 would make a great companion flash for this camera. I enjoy using the 400 on my P7000 when I want to take the flash quality up a notch. It’s size also puts it in the same league as the Nikon 1. While using anything from an SB-600 and above is downright goofy, it would be nice to have the option of embarrassing your family members (especially teenage kids) with this configuration if the situation presented itself.

    Thanks for the insights Jason.

  5. Imho a P&S camera is like a Lumix LX series or Canon S series etc. This Nikon V1 is a mirrorless system with CX sensor. Nice, but when I have to bring a V1 body, FT1 adapter and at least one lens, well I can skip the FT1 and take a ‘simple’ DSLR and one lens….. et voila much better IQ and much more flexability for about the same price. So I still don’t get it, what is Nikon telling us with this (expensive) system 1?

  6. You wouldn’t. I would say that 99% of the time you use the V1 as a compact camera that delivers the kind of responsiveness that before you could only get in a DSLR. However, there could be times where you could use the FT1 plus a telephoto lens on a trip where otherwise you’d have to bring an entire DSLR kit.

    Consider something like an Alaskan cruise. 95% of the time, you’d be taking wide shots, scenics, or “people pictures.” But every now and then you’d go somewhere where having a telephoto lens would be useful, like whale-watching. You could pack the FT1 and a 70-300 VR Nikkor for just those times where having the extra reach would give you shots that you couldn’t otherwise get with a traditional compact, but you wouldn’t need to carry a full DSLR kit, either. A 70-300mm lens on the V1 becomes an effective 189-810mm VR lens…

  7. Jason, I have the V1 and the FT1 adapter, just trying the FT1 I can see an image on the LCD screen with my Nikon 600mm, but there is an overlaying image that says I have to attach a lens, and nothing works on the camera.
    Without the FT1 the camera works fine, is there a special setting for the FT1 to work?

    Just tried with my 50mm 1,4 G type and get the same result.

  8. William-
    I’ve not seen that… if it’s happening with ALL your lenses you may have a defective FT1. First thing would be to clean the electrical contacts with either a pencil eraser or some Deoxit. If that doesn’t work, then I’d ask for a replacement unit from your dealer.

  9. Hi, you need to update your firmware to 1.10 to get support for the FT1. Perhaps that is the issue.

    Regards, Robert

  10. I bought my V1 several weeks ago, and the 2 things mention & I think need including in a firmware update are: to include bracketing and to NOT have image review always come up.

    Where do we start a petition to Nikon? 😉

    I had William’s problem also until I updated the firmware… I love the results with my 50mm f:1.4.

  11. I agree with those points, too, Larry!

    I definitely think that Nikon seems to think that V1/J1 users have no need for these functions. Either that, or they are afraid of eating into D3100 sales and such. My hope is that the V1/J1 cameras are just the tip of the iceberg for the 1 System and represent what will eventually be the low-end CX format cameras.

  12. I love my Nikon1 V1… I was a NEX3 user but just couldn’t get on with the composing on the backscreen I need a viewfinder and I wasn’t going to pay £1000 for the NEX7 body. Also it hit me one day – Why have I got two systems? (My Nikon DSLR kit and the Sony with the same senor size as it turns out). So, On that the Sony NEX 3 was traded in for the Nikon 1 V1 with 10-30mm lens and the adapter FT1 will follow at a later date to tie all together – Neat.
    What would I like upgraded – well bracketing would be nice – but if you shoot in RAW you can copy and adjust files in Lightroom with different exposures +/-. So its not that important.
    Nb. thanks Jason for answering my earlier querries on this camera it was a great help…

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