The Nikon FT1 F-mount Adapter for Nikon 1 cameras

The Nikon FT1 Adapter for the Nikon 1-series cameras

I received my Nikon FT1 adapter today. Many of the online shops don’t even list this accessory in their inventory yet, but I was lucky enough to find one at Service Photo.

The FT1 adapter allows you to mount F-mount Nikkor lenses on Nikon 1 series cameras, like the J1 and V1. With the Nikon CX format, you get a resulting angle of view equal to using a lens 2.7x longer.

Given that the whole point of the Nikon 1 system is to go small and light, the reasons for using the FT1 seem to be three-fold:

  • Subject isolation with fast glass
  • Macro (close-up) photography
  • “Digiscoping” with ridiculously long effective focal lengths

Subject Isolation with Fast Primes

The fastest 1-series Nikkor lens currently offered is the 10mm f/2.8 prime. The two telephoto offerings are much slower. The 10-30mm is f/3.5-5.6, and the 30-110mm is f/3.8-5.6. Coupled with the fact that smaller formats increase the effective depth of field, you’re not going to get great subject isolation. Moreover, you’ll be forced to either use a high ISO or a slower shutter speed with one of the slower zooms. For this reason, it doesn’t make sense to me to couple a variable-aperture F-mount zoom to the V1; the 1-series Nikkors are more than up to the task.

I tried out the FT1 with my 50mm f/1.4 AFS G Nikkor lens. With the crop factor, this would be like using a 135mm lens on a 35mm camera. I once again turned to my faithful companion, Otter, for some quick test shots.

Nikon 1 V1 with 50mm f/1.4 AFS G Nikkor, shot at f/1.4

Nikon 1 V1 with 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 lens; 50mm @f/4

Aside from the slight differences in framing, you can see the limitations of a slow lens in the bottom shot. The background elements are more distracting, although the overall sharpness seems better, undoubtedly due to the greater DOF. With the 50mm f/1.4 lens, I was able to shoot 1/200s @ f/1.4 and ISO 1100 (it’s fairly dark in the house). With the 1-series zoom lens, I could only get f/4 at 50mm, so I shot 1/60s @ f/4 and ISO 2800. VR definitely helps in this situation!

Macro Photography

I love my 105mm f/2.8 AFS VR G Micro Nikkor. And when I put it on the V1 with the FT1, I get the equivalent of a 283mm f/2.8 lens. But that’s not all. The 105mm Micro Nikkor focuses to a ratio of 1:1 (life size) on 35mm format. With the added crop factor of the CX format (2.7x), you effectively get 2.7:1 magnification with this excellent lens. Moreover, the added effective depth of field of the CX format means that more of your subject will appear to be in focus… and for macro, that’s usually a good thing. Because the 105mm Micro Nikkor is relatively compact, it would be easy enough to pack it along with the rest of the V1 kit and still be relatively light.

Going LONG… Super Telephotos with extra reach

The other reason one might want the FT1 is to make their telephoto lenses behave as though they’re even longer. Heck, with a 2.7x crop factor, even a 200mm lens suddenly becomes a 540mm exotic telephoto! Keep in mind that when going to extremes, even small lens aberrations are likely to be noticed, so using good glass helps. Also, if your lens does not have VR (vibration reduction), you’ll need to support it as though it was a super-tele. Keep the shutter speed high and use a tripod if you can.

Just for fun, I put my FT1 onto my 600mm f/4 AFS G VRII Nikkor lens. The result: an effective focal length of 1620mm! Holy cow. Here’s what it looks like:

The Nikon 1 V1 mounted to a 600mm f/4 lens

There’s a street sign on the corner about 100′ (30m) away. Here’s what it looks like with a full-frame camera (D3s) and the 600mm lens:

Test shot with Nikon D3s and 600mm lens. Subject distance approximately 30m (100')

Now, here’s the same subject shot with the V1 and 600mm lens:

Test shot with the V1 and 600mm lens; effective FL 1620mm

The image is quite sharp at 1/500s and f/5.6 with VR on. So should you trade in your DSLR for a V1 if your’re a sports or wildlife photographer? Not so fast…

Limitations of the FT1

As with all things, there are some significant limitations to using the FT1 with Nikkor lenses.

  • No autofocus support for D-type Nikkors. The V1 has no internal focus motor, so if you mount a D-type Nikkor on the FT1, you’re limited to manual focusing.
  • No continuous-servo AF. That’s going to be a huge problem for action or wildlife shooters. AF-S mode works well for static subjects, but you won’t be able to use continuous focus mode like you can with your DSLR (or 1-series lenses on a V1).
  • Center Point AF only. Sadly, you cannot change the AF point when using the FT1. That means you’ll need to focus and then recompose to get your final composition. Subject-tracking and Face-Priority AF are also disabled with the FT1.
  • VR is on full-time. Unless you turn VR off on your lens, it runs full-time. That’s going to drain your battery. So familiarize yourself with the VR on/off switch on your lens(es) and switch it on only when you’re getting ready to shoot.
  • Exposures limited to 1/1.3 seconds, regardless of exposure mode. I don’t know why. That means no bulb exposures with the FT1. For me, no big deal.

Conclusions

The Nikon FT1 F-mount adapter is a nice addition to the 1-series cameras. It’s built well, and has a tripod mounting foot built-in. For photographers wanting to use their Nikkor lenses on a 1-series camera, this is the must-have accessory. In my opinion, the best use for the FT1 is with fast primes, like the 50mm f/1.4 Nikkor or the 85mm f/1.4 Nikkor. These will make excellent portrait lenses and deliver great subject isolation with the V1. You can also use the FT1 with your longer telephotos, but the focusing limitations mean that you’ll need to be shooting relatively static subjects. Hopefully, Nikon will release a firmware update to offer continuous-servo AF with the V1. If they did that, then a lens like a 70-300mm or 70-200mm could be a great wildlife or sports option.

 

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34 thoughts on “The Nikon FT1 F-mount Adapter for Nikon 1 cameras

  1. Thanks, Jason

    I am considering the ft-1 to use with my old 35/2, 55 micro, and the 70-300 Ed.

    Any thoughts regarding the ability for these lenses to resolve with the v1?

    With the kit lenses (10-30, 30-110) and these old lenses I could have portraits,macros and very long reach.

    Thanks in advance for your comments

  2. I don’t have the old lenses to test, but my feeling is that for the kinds of shots you’d typically make with a V1, they’d do fine. Of course, you have to use them in MF mode. I have an old AIS 50mm f/2 that I can try out and see how that works compared to my 50mm f/1.4 G.

  3. Hi Jason,

    I dropped by from NikonCafe to read your FT1 review. Great points and helpful info. Thanks for that.

    I just wanted to note that when I first looked at your shot of the 600/4, I almost missed the V1 on the end of it :-)

    Thanks again, D.

  4. thanks, Jason – i am going to “try” to hold off on the FT-1 – unless I make it some place cool to shoot eagles or other critters that like to be a long ways away.

    I will be taking my V1 kit with me to the National/State parks in southeast CA the end of the month (as well as the D700 and bigger glass) – I doubt i’ll need huge focal lengths in death valley. I excited to see how often I grab the little camera versus the bigger one.

    Thanks for you reviews. I know it takes a lot of time – it’s appreciated.

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  6. Jason,
    Thanks for your reviews. After reading your site I got an FT-1 and took it birding with my V1 and 70-300/5.6 VR on a monopod. I was very pleasantly surprised with the image quality. AF was poor with the slow lens but it was well worth the trade-off for a lightweight, inexpensive “800mm” lens. One question – the FT-1 manual states that VR will work, but I do not think VR was working while I was shooting (VF image not stabilized and no “VR” sound from the lens). Have you been able to get VR working on your set-up?
    Thanks again for your great blog,
    Gary

  7. Gary-
    VR operates just fine on all the lenses I’ve tested so far. Make sure that you enable VR both on the lens and on the body (via the shooting menu).

    -Jason

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  9. Hi Jason,

    Will 3rd party lenses work with the FT-1? I have the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM. My FT-1 arriving tuesday will go well with my Nikkor AF-S 60 and AF-S 105 micros. Finally, I’m wondering how fisheye’s will behave on the FT-1, specifically the DX 10.5mm AF-S lens.

    Thanks,
    Brian

  10. Hi, I really enjoyed your review and agree with all your observations. As a long time Nikon user, I really appreciate the FT-1 as it means I can use virtually all my existing Nikon/Nikkor lenses. I particularly like it with an 85mm f1.8 attached – great for stage photography, and with the 18-200 VRII, my V1 handles beautifully while being up to almost any task – great fast auto focusing too!

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  12. Hi Jason, will the Nikon 1 V1 using F1 adapter continually focus in video mode and do you have the ability to take stills while videoing with F mount lenses?
    Thanks Jay

  13. Currently, the FT1 does not permit continuous AF in any mode. I’m hoping Nikon changes this feature to support AF-C focusing with a future firmware update. All camera functions are retained in terms of image captures when using F-mount lenses, so yes, you can capture stills while recording video. Not that the stills captured while recording movies will be 16:9 aspect ratio.

  14. Do you know what the slowest shutter speed is on the V1 with the FT-1 adapter? We sold our only FT-1 adapter to a customer who wants to use his 17-55 2.8 lens on his V1 to shoot night photography. It seems to only go down to 1 second. We have nothing here in the store to test it out with at the moment and cannot find any mention of it on the internet so far. Thanks,
    Kim

  15. Kim-
    I just tested mine, and it looks like it maxes out at 1/1.3s no matter what exposure mode is chosen, even Manual. Thanks for pointing this out; I’ll be sure to add the information to my upcoming Nikon 1 guide.

  16. Hi Jason,
    Thanks for the informative blog.
    I have the Nikon 1V1 and want to use it with the Vortex Razor HD scope (which comes with a 20-60X zoom eyepiece) for digiscoping. Vortex have a camera adapter which utilizes the filter threads on the camera for attachment. I am not sure about the stresses to the lens and camera from hanging the camera body off the lens thread.
    I would welcome any advice about using the 10-30mm V1 lens for digiscoping as some comments I’ve read don’t recommend a zoom lens.
    Much appreciate your input.

  17. Well, I bit the bullet and ordered my FT-1 today. I am anxious to try out my lenses and see how they work together.

    Specifically the 18-200 (perhaps the perfect lens on a V1 for a trip to the zoo) ;)

    Also going to try out my older ED lenses and of course the big 2.8 lenses and 1.4 primes :)

  18. Jason,

    I am so embarrassed to ask this. How do I doa simple focus and recompose on my v1? I have done this on my D300 and D700 for years and will need to do this with the v1

  19. This information on the mount adapter was most helpful, especially your confirmation that I cannot move the focal point. Thanks and regards

  20. Hi Jason,

    Do you know whether all the limitions you list are still present with the V2?

    Thanks,
    Colin

  21. Hi Colin-
    The V2 has the same focus limitations as the V1 did. One improvement, however, is that with newer firmware you can now capture up to 2min long exposures with the FT-1.

    -Jason

  22. Can’t find the FT-1 adaptor in South Africa at a reasonable price yet, so hopefully I’ll get one from Hong Kong Nikon soon. Can’t wait to test my old 105mm lens on my new J2. Thanks for all the information on this blogg?

  23. I guess many of you know by now that the new firmware released this week for both camera and FT-1 adapter make it possible to use the continuous focussing AF-C; it is not “the state of the art” at this time and won’t work well if you try to keep focus on a flying bird (too slow reacting), but it is at least a step forward coming from Nikon…

    Thanks to all

  24. Hi All,
    I Purchased FT-1 at one camera store, and as recommended by the store manager, purchased one Tamron 18-200 to pair with it.
    Updated firmware for V1 and FT-1 to the latest versions (as advised by the store manager) but unfortunately the autofocus didn’t work well. It didn’t stop at the focus point.

    Any suggestions…?

  25. This is probably because the Tamron lens isn’t completely compatible with the FT-1 mount. 3rd-party lens manufacturers have to use reverse engineering to make their lenses compatible with Nikon/Canon/Sony cameras, and there can be glitches. Try using a Nikkor lens and see if you have the same problem.

  26. Thanks for the review… it convinced me that this is not the option for me. I was hoping for a way to extend my 300 f/4 for birding and I am thinking this won’t cut the mustard due to the AF issues. Guess I’ll pick up a used D7000.

  27. Nice review. Question: when going the super-tele route with the FT1 how do you think the IQ compares to just using the same tele lens on a full frame SLR (say D600) and applying a 2.7x crop after the fact?

  28. I haven’t done a true comparison, but you’d have more megapixels with the V2 using the FT1.

  29. Hi . I have read most of the cmments about Nikon 1 j2.
    I have just bought one in the hope that I can use it purely manual and use lenses like Tamrom which are relativly inexpensive.
    I purchased a Nikon1/Tamron lens converter but i am confused in the respect that which Tamron lens can I use. ( converter Nikon 1 – Tamron ). I see that many people say that with the Nikon 1 FT1 converter there were problems @ $270 I decided to buy from Ebay @ $13 but it doesn’t have the lens contacs its just purely an adapter. What Tamron lens can I use and what are other readers opinions.

  30. This is Part 11 of kevin Johnson.
    Readers might say why did you buy a Nikon 1. for the first part I wanted a camera that would be quite portable and fit in my pocket but I hoped that I would be able to use this manually go of sightseeing and take some good pics from a long distance.
    I used to have a non digital camera and i had things like x2 converter with a lot of patience I managed to get some really nice pics. May be I have bought the wrong camera. Kj

  31. Hi recently I posted some comments on using Nikon 1 j2 camera using the Nikon FT1 adapter. I am able to buy one but nobody seems to want to install the upgrade program for me . My laptop is a little , I can download the program but cannot transfer this to my camera.

    I am willing to spend 8000 bht on the adapter and a further 6000 bht on a lens . we only have big camera here in Thailand and they are worse than useless not offering any information or help when you buy products from them. Any ideas please. Can I use a thumb drive instead of a micro SD card ?

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