Nikon 1 Improvement Wishlist

The FT1 is really great, but why did Nikon cripple its focus and exposure performance?

As you might imagine, I’ve spent a LOT of time with my Nikon 1 V1 camera over the last few months, learning all of its features and quirks for my Nikon 1 Guide. I’ve used it so much, in fact, that I think my DSLRs are getting a bit jealous! A lot of what I wrote in my initial review series still holds true, but I want to address a few of these head-on; things that I’d really like to see Nikon address. While I do point out these limitations book, I didn’t feel that a user guide should be an editorial piece. We have blogs for that.

What Nikon Should Address Right Now

The following camera limitations would make the Nikon J1/V1 a better camera for all users, not just advanced users:

  • Option to disable auto-image review. There’s nothing more frustrating than shooting action, taking a burst of frames, and then seeing an image review in the viewfinder instead of your subject. Given the large buffer of the V1/J1, I suppose you could just shoot longer bursts, but that goes against my training.
  • Minimum Shutter Speed for Auto ISO. The Nikon 1 exposure programming favors low ISO over shutter speed. So much so, that shutter speed drops to 1/15s in some cases. My Nikon 1 guide has the exposure plots to show this behavior in Aperture-priority exposure mode. Please, please… add this function!

 

What Nikon Should Consider for Advanced Users

Nikon tantalizes their existing user base by offering features and accessories that would appeal to current Nikon owners. Why, then, do they offer the FT1 Adapter if it won’t work in a way that advanced users are used to? The following features are things I’d really like to see added/fixed, even though I don’t need these features when I’m using the camera as a traditional compact.

  • Auto Exposure Bracketing.With film we bracketed exposures to make sure at least one exposure was good. With histograms and LCD reviews on digital cameras, we can check exposures without needing to bracket. However, creative photographers use bracketing to create HDR sequences, and the menu-based controls of the J1/V1 just don’t let you make fast exposure adjustments. Adding auto-bracketing would make a lot of creative photographers happy.
  • Improve exposure programming with the FT1. I put my 24mm f/2.8 AFD Nikkor on my V1, and when I’m using Program Auto exposure and auto-ISO, it sets the aperture at f/8. Indoors. As if 1/8s is good enough for hand-holding? That’s an oversight that needs fixing.
  • FT1 long exposure limit. With the FT1, you can’t set exposures longer than 1 second (1/1.3s, to be exact). You also can’t use bulb. Again, this isn’t something that most people will often use, but why the limitation?
  • FT1 Autofocus. With the FT1, you’re limited to AF-S (single servo) and center point focus, or manual focus. I don’t believe that Nikon can’t add in AF-C and adjustable AF areas with the FT1.
  • 120s Bulb Exposure Limit. The Nikon manual describes bulb exposures as ideal for capturing star-trails. Well, that’s true, assuming you can get exposures of 10-15 minutes. The Nikon 1 cameras time-out after 120s (2 minutes). That’s not long enough.
  • CLS Support. The SB-N5 is a nice little flash, but imagine the possibilities if you had a CLS-compatible commander for the V1. The face-priority AF is so good for portraits, but remote flash control is rudimentary with the V1. Nevertheless, I can still trigger my SB-900′s remotely with the V1, just not as well as I’d like to.

Conclusions

For the most part, none of the fixes I list above are things I perceive as “deal breakers” from a typical user’s viewpoint. However, the fact that Nikon has a significant base of advanced users, it would make sense for them to put at least some of these features into the 1 System cameras. My hope is that there will be yet another Nikon 1 camera designed with enthusiasts in mind, one that has the external controls and features that we like on our DSLRs, but in a smaller package. I’m totally happy with my Nikon 1 V1 as a walk-around and family camera. I think that with the right improvements, it would be even better for enthusiasts.

Do you have your own suggestions for Nikon 1 J1/V1 improvements? Leave me a comment below.

 

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23 thoughts on “Nikon 1 Improvement Wishlist

  1. For most shooting situations, it’s merely an annoyance. And you can easily get back to shooting with a quick half-press of the shutter release. But yeah, Nikon really should fix that feature.

  2. Would like:
    1) one button push to get to the ISO.
    2) And on display-when in Auto ISO would like to see the actual ISO the camera pics on the display.
    3) easier access to exposure compenstion and to see the compensation without having to hit the ok button.

  3. I’d love to see: the auto-iso function, some user programmability for the fn button, live histogram, faster start up from snooze.
    Hardware would be to make the mode dial have a definite click so it couldn’t be moved so easily/accidentally, FT1 to give AF-C on AF-S lenses

  4. I am curious if you feel this new technology will evolve enough, soon enough, that the D5 will be mirrorless? There has just been so much hype about this that I would love to hear your thoughts after spending so much time with it. After all the D5 is about 4 years away from announcement if they stay on the same schedule.

  5. I think the J/V 1 are what they are but the V2 or X1 or whatever you want to call it:

    Nikon really needs a 18mm f1.8 small prime for this system

    Give it three programmable wheels like the NEX7 – iso, aperture, shutter

    programmable auto iso like the D4 that will account for focal length of the zoom and let you set the minimum shutter speed

    upgrade the evf to match the NEX7

    standard hotshoe, absolutely, and wireless CLS. The Nikon flash system is a sure way to better photos and locking customers into Nikon cameras.

    1080 60P video and use all the sensors to get it, like the Canon C300 – add some higher end video features like zebra stripes or false color exposure viewing and this might be one of the best camcorders less than $5K

  6. From my end, I use a “dumb” adapter (for leica M in my case) and I want a firmware update to gain access to metering in manual mode and to aperture priority, as well as to magnifier. That is purely a firmware thing. I doubt I’ll get it though as I am sure that Nikon intentionally crippled the system from that point of view.

    I’d also like “focus peaking” like Nex and Ricoh, but that might be a hard wired sensor capability (not sure).

  7. The exposure bracketing for my HDR photography was the deal breaker for me on the V1. I use my GF-1 and it’s so easy to set up. My D300 is great for bracketing. In fact all Nikon DSLR are. That’s why I was disappointed with the V1 and the lenses or lack there of except the 10mm.

  8. While I wish the V1 had bracketing (and I’m hopeful that a firmware update will add it), I’m fine not having it for the way I primarily use this camera.

  9. The image review and delay when the the EVF is kicking in is really quite an annoyance with the V1. Losing to many shots waiting for the camera to catch up.
    Sure hope Nikon addresses this before the new Olympus OM-D hits the streets otherwise my V 1 might be finding a new home.

  10. 1) Change the composition help grid from quarters to thirds of the viewfinder
    2) Minimise delay between two shots to a D300 level
    3) Provide a real grip for one hand operation
    4) Most of the other points already listed above :)

  11. In addition to the points you have made, can I add a few practical issues?
    1. The accessory cover is just crying out to get lost. This definitely needs to be improved
    2. It’s just too easy to rotate the multi-function wheel by mistake. This needs to be improved.
    3. Ability to add as you have mentioned an external flash such as any of the SB series as the additional flash is very limited and has to be use with the “hand” as a hand held deflector. It does work but looks very odd.
    4. Faster lens

  12. I’d like to see a Nikon 2 system with a decent-sized sensor.
    All I want is a cheap, basic interface: Compact body, 20+ by 30+ mm (preferably FX) sensor, irrelevant MP, no shutter-lag or start up time in MF mode (on lens), no menues to scroll through for the basic functions. A dial for shutter speed (with real B, or T setting) and aperture priority, lenses with aperture ring, a simple switch for Raw and Jpg hi and low, a simple dial or +- button for bracketing and ISO. A built-in flash that runs on M or i-TTL. A tripod socket. Perhaps a DOF preview option and an easy to remove clip-on optical chimney- or optional prism finder for the 1MP+ LCD.
    As another optional extra, a remote with built-in self timer and perhaps interval and time-lapse.
    That’s it.

    No white balance, no-in camera cropping, no saturation mode, no video, I don’t even necessarily need AF. No VR, no HDR, no funky modes, no bracketing, no stitching. The basic body without accessories for $349 max. Chimney finder for $49, Prism finder for $169. Deal.

  13. With 60fps and bracketing, you would be able to take handheld HDR in daylight without any problem at all. Nikon cannot allow this, because the DR would beat the D800. Simple. Thats why bracketing is NOT implemented.

  14. I agree. I would definitely like to see:-

    Option to disable auto review. I have missed some critical action sequence shots because of this.

    Auto Exposure braketing would be nice although I don’t use it too frequently it would still be nice to have the option.

    FT1 Autofocus improvement to enable continuous autofocus using any focus point would be great.

    Integration of Nikon CLS would be fantastic.

    I don’t understand why Nikon can’t deliver these changes. I would have thought they are mostly just firmware updates. I really wish camera manufactures would do more to enhance the camera firmware after the initial releases and only release new cameras when new hardware justifies a new model. At present it seems like every week there is a new mirror less camera thats either got different (not necessarily better) firmware and new styling. The hardware upgrades seem to be becoming incremental and its all about styling and software.

  15. I got one of these little wonderboxes for myself for Christmas and I likee. A couple of changes I would like to see:

    1/ Trickle charging through the USB connector – I have to take the battery out to recharge it? Huh? Why?

    2/ When I connect it to my Windows computer, it brings up an Explorer like interface that has some crude photo manipulation functions but all you can really do with it is preview what you have and copy the images someplace – compare and contrast with my GoPro interface, which simulates a disk drive – infinitely better, I can run any program on the images in the camera and I can copy things to the camera.

    3/ To update the firmware, I can’t do it through the USB connection. Why the heck not? I have to find an SD card reader and use that to copy the firmware upgrade to the card. Fortunately I remembered that my GoPro could do that (see 2/ above)..

    4/ The software that came with it took hours to load – it’s most likely the junked up state of my computer but I add it here in case others notice the same thing.

    5/ PC connection for flash

    6/ An interface to old style, pre-digital, strobes. Actually, I’d really like an interface to my Nikonos compatible strobes but that’s just me and I know that won’t happen.

    Thank you for the effort you put in to this website, it’s very informative.

  16. Hi Jason,

    This is a comment about your Guide to the Nikon 1 V1 (I couldn’t figure out how else to pass this along, it doesn’t need to be added as a comment).

    In the Exposure Compensation section (Page 134), you mention pressing the right (+/-) button then use the up and down buttons to set the exposure compensation level.

    Could you also add that you have to press the right (+/-) button again to activate the change. It took me a while to figure that out.

    It’s a good book so far.

    Cheers, Neil.

  17. 1. Show the actual ISO being used, not the max ISO available.
    2. Programmable F button to allow quick access to PASM and/or ISO settings.
    3. Auto ISO option of 100-1600 in addition to 100-800 and 100-3200.
    4. Adjustable min and max in auto ISO (would solve above issue).
    5. Adjustable minimum shutter speed in auto ISO.
    6. Option to disable auto-image review.

  18. Thanks for the feedback, Jeremy. Some of these items are in the new V2, including #1, #6 and (sort of) #2.
    I still want to see Auto ISO 100-1600 range, and a customizable minimum shutter speed with Auto ISO.

  19. That auto-image review is a deal breaker.
    there is nothing more frustrating with a camera waiting around for the camera to get around to allowing me to take the next shot.
    That auto image review thing is insane not to allow to be switched off.
    Nikon got a lot right with this camera. If there is one thing that Nikon got completely wrong it is the auto image review. You MUST be able to switch this off.
    Quite frankly, I’m faster with my old Nikon FE2. Now that is really insane.
    Built a great camera, then slow people down so they can’t use it.

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