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.
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.