Dec 052012
 

1 Nikkor 18.5mm f/1.8 lens for CX format Lens Review

By Craig Litten

See his website HERE

 

INTRO

I’ve been looking forward to getting this lens ever since it was announced. Primes are always welcome, and I hope the Nikon will keep them coming. If you’re a regular reader of Steve Huff Photo, then you probably know that I’m a big fan of the Nikon V1. To keep it in perspective though, the Nikon 1 system has its place. It is not necessarily to be used as your main camera, but rather for specific purposes or shoots. But if you’re a street photographer or you travel a lot, the Nikon V1 could very well be your main camera, it’s that good. As much as I wish there was a one-camera solution for every situation, there isn’t. The Leica M has its place, the Canon EOS-1D X has its place and the Sony X100 has its place. All vastly different cameras to fill different needs or desires. The world would be a very boring place if everyone drove the same car wouldn’t it? But we don’t park next to someone at the mall, get out of our cars and ridicule them for choosing to drive a Nissan Cube do we (I think the Cube is cool by the way)? So Nikon 1 naysayers can look elsewhere because you cannot, nor ever will, be convinced. Secondly, the images in this lens review are not a portfolio, but they are meant to show a variety of situations, angles, f-stops, etc. to give you, the one who is considering a purchase of this lens, an idea of what the lens can do. I see so many poor sample photos shot with new lenses on the Internet than I can hardly believe, which is one reason why I personally come back to Steve’s reviews. If he says it’s good and gives it a thumb’s up, then I don’t think twice about it.

So whether this lens is for you or not, you’ll have to decide. But like the wildly popular Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 DX lens, it checks all the right boxes. It’s cheap, light, fast, sharp and a great bargain. When it was announced I immediately pre-ordered it at B&H Photo, but I probably didn’t need to since I don’t think it will be a hot seller like the Sony 24mm f/1.8 E-Mount Carl Zeiss Sonnar lens or other lenses like it, so it should always be in stock. This lens is not exotic, but more of a utility lens that can be used in almost every situation, everyday and especially in low light. As of writing this, B&H has all three colors, black, silver and white, in stock HERE. So, to summarize the above paragraph: if you are a Nikon 1 hater, please be kind or stop reading now. I’ve always been a fan of the underdog, and that’s exactly what Nikon has here in the Nikon 1 System. It’s a camera that caused a big stir, but then was soon forgotten. But at its current price, $299 HERE at B&H, it’s an absolute steal. Yes STEAL! You can revisit my review HERE or other reviews by Colin Steel HERE on this very website. Maybe now that the price is reasonable to the masses, you may reconsider. Plus you can pick up this fantastic, tiny wonder-of-a lens for under $200. (The V1 Ultimate Kit is now half off as well at B&H)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Immediately after taking the lens out of the box and handling it, I noticed how light it is, it’s a featherweight. It feels almost hallow like the lens consists only of the outer lens barrel, the mount and the front and rear elements but is empty inside. But unlike its DX counterpart, it has a metal mount–a must for any lens I own period. So even though it’s light, it seems to be well built. Not Voightlander well built, but this new-day-of-digital-cheap-lenses well built. I also examined it to see if the lens barrel was metal or plastic. Yesterday I concluded it was plastic, but today I think it may be metal, but I’m not 100% sure and Nikon doesn’t say. I did compare it to my 1 Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 lens, which has a metal barrel and seems heavier and much denser. After having the lens sit on my desk overnight, the barrel is slightly cold to the touch, like the 10mm, which makes me wonder if it is metal after all. I also own the Panasonic Lumix Leica D Summilux 25mm f/1.4 for the Four Thirds system, and it has a metal lens barrel, which seems very cold to the touch. Plastic never feels cold to the touch though. Even though all the 1 Nikkor prototypes were in shiny metal, I have a feeling that this lens is plastic. If anyone can verify this, I’d love to know. No matter, it’s still well put together and you can read about the usual specs at Nikon USA.

There’s not much else to say. It comes with the usual 5-year Nikon USA warranty, which is great. It’s solid, light and doesn’t rattle or move when you shake it. It takes the usual 40.5mm filters, which are slightly hard to find, and the plastic Nikon HB-N101 lens hood fits snugly (I can’t say that about all lens hoods for other systems), looks cool and works perfectly.

WHAT IS IT?

First off, those reading this review that are not familiar with the Nikon 1 system may not know exactly what this lens is. The 1 Nikkor 18.5mm f/1.8 lens is for Nikon 1 CX format cameras only. The Nikon 1 camera has a small one-inch sensor that you must multiply a given lens focal length by 2.7x to figure out the exact focal length. So this 18.5mm lens is a 50mm equivalent standard f/1.8 lens.

 

USING THE LENS

The lens is slightly smaller and lighter than the standard 10-30mm kit zoom, and balances perfectly on the V1. It has just enough size, protruding out from the camera body, to hold comfortably. And it’s light enough not to be noticed.

1. Focus

Focus is instant and silent just like the 10mm f/2.8 pancake lens. It locks on instantly and rarely racked. The focus did rack (back and forth once not multiple times—in other words, it did not hunt) only a few times, and I shot hundreds of photos, but it always locked on immediately afterwards. But mostly because I was putting the lens through it’s paces shooting every type of situation I could think of. The Nikon 1 system is known for it’s incredible fast and accurate focus, and the 18.5mm f/1.8 was in line with the already existing lenses. I did notice that the 18.5mm racked a bit more than the 10mm pancake though, and it could be because the elements have to travel further, I’m not sure. But it is nothing to worry about or even give a second thought. I was a Canon shooter for 11 years and the Canon lenses rack like crazy (sorry Canon shooters, but it’s true), so even top pro systems and L glass rack focus.

Focus is also very accurate. Only on one or two shots did focus not lock into place, and I didn’t notice until I got back to the computer to edit. I don’t look at every photo I shoot while out in the field. I haven’t used the 10-30mm kit lens a lot, but I feel that the focusing on the 18.5mm lens is better that that of the 30-110mm telephoto 1 Nikkor zoom lens. It was able to focus, in complete darkness over a completely black body of water on a string of lights running across the center of the frame. The string of lights was so small in the frame that they almost couldn’t be seen. The auto focus auto point selector picked it out and instantly focused on it. Amazing. One of the shots included in the article was shot on a pier at night under incredibly low light. The focus didn’t hesitate at all and locked in on the subject immediately. So, in conclusion, the focus is both fast and accurate and in line with the Nikon 1 system and the other 1 Nikkor lenses.

2. Handling

The lens handles perfectly. Again, it’s small and super light, so you hardly notice it, which is one of the pluses of the Nikon 1 system. The lens never gets in the way of itself.

3. Sharpness

I’ll let the test images speak for themselves. I have included several full size copies for you to download and examine. NO sharpening has been applied during processing or in camera. All photos were shot RAW+JPEG, but the samples where from the RAW processed though Lightroom 4. There are many samples shot at f/1.8, an f-stop most of us want to know about to see if this lens is worth the asking price. These are sharp, very sharp. Plus there are also samples at f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6 and f/8. I’m a photographer who makes 100% of my living at photography, not a lab technician of a test chart shooter. But I’m personally impressed with the output of this lens. Both wide open and stopped down. I really didn’t notice much difference, but also didn’t spend hours pixel-peeping the files. To me, they look good. This lens, even wide open at f/1.8, is good enough for paying gigs. Enough said.

4. Distortion

In practical use, shooting people and most subjects, you will not notice much if any distortion. But when shooting a horizon such as at the beach, you will notice a slight bend downwards. Also when shooting near a wall. In the photo with the white egret on the black fishing nets you will notice the slight curvature in the barn siding to the bottom left of the frame. You can also see slight rounding on the top and bottom of the night photo of the wooden fish sign shot through a window. Notice the “Bridge Tender Inn” sign at the top and the “fresh fish” sign at the bottom, both have a slight curvature. On the other hand, Vignetting is very slight but I really didn’t “notice” it during practical use. Finally, purple and green fringing reared its ugly head in one photo, the wind chime in front of a screen, shot wide open at f/1.8 and with extreme backlighting. I didn’t notice it any other time though, and don’t think it’s anything to worry about.

CONCLUSION

If you’re a Nikon 1 owner (whether the J1, J2, or V1, V2) this lens is a no-brainer, just buy it. For $186.95 it’s well worth it. It finally gives Nikon 1 owners a fast option for low light. Although I think files out of the V1 are very pleasing up to and including ISO 800, and sometimes even ISO 1600 if exposed correctly, this will give users an option to shoot at much lower ISOs in a given lighting situation, and as you can easily see from the sample photos, some fairly nice bokeh. If you are not currently a Nikon 1 owner, maybe this lens and the currently ridiculously low price of the wonderful V1 will push you over to the dark side. Since I am a photojournalist by profession, I shoot almost exclusively with zoom lenses or I wouldn’t be able to compete. There simply is not enough time to change lenses in this fast-paced profession. So I found it a real pleasure to shoot with a 50mm equivalent prime lens. It is a great focal length and always seemed to be ‘just right.’

ACCESSORIES

As I’ve already mentioned, the Nikon HB-N101 lens hood, designed for the 1 Nikkor 10-30mm kit lens, works perfectly on the 18.5mm lens. But the Nikon HN-N101 metal lens hood, designed for the 1 Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 pancake lens, works well too with no vignetting in the corners. The metal hood is very low profile and will most likely not give you the coverage that the plastic bayonet hood will. I use the metal hood exclusively on my 10mm pancake, and have never had any flair issues. This entire review was shot with the metal hood on my 18.5mm lens that I borrowed from my 10mm pancake. I just ordered a second one that will live on the 18.5mm lens. I love it because it can also be fitted with a screw-on metal lens cap (which I also own), the HC-N10, to make it a tiny, low profile package but still offering the protection of a lens shade. Nikon also makes a very nice, inexpensive lens pouch, CL-N101, that will easily hold the 18.5mm, the 10mm pancake, the 10-30mm kit zoom and even the new 11-27.5 pancake zoom with hoods attached. It features a stiff, padded bottom, a drawstring interior, and a Velcro flap. It’s also very soft, flexible, easy to store and comes in red, black and white. But for some reason the red and white versions are more expensive.

Craig’s Website is HERE

Craig’s Street Shooting Workshops can be found HERE

  89 Responses to “The Nikon 18.5 f/1.8 CX Lens Review for the 1 Series by Craig Litten”

  1. Great review and wonderful shots. I am getting tempted to pick up the V1… very tempted.

  2. Best review of this lens I have seen. I too am very tempted to pick up the V1 now. Although Sony’s RX100 is more compact, has a zoom lens and it focuses fairly fast. Decisions!

    • Get a V1 now before they are gone, and next year, when the RX100 goes down to nill, get that too for a pocket cam. That’s my plan ;-)
      I recently attended my brother-in-law’s retirement party but decided to not carry a camera. Even as small as the V1 is, it won’t fit into your pocket. The RX100 will, and that is the perfect scenario for the RX100. I’ve been wanting a high quality pocket camera for a decade, but won’t pay $600 for it.

  3. Good work Craig, thanks.

  4. Craig, just curious – what other cameras do you use? I don’t own any Nikon glass and although the V1 is the right price, I feel silly getting a system I know I won’t invest in (lens wise). I plan to either go NEX or m43, both of which have a better lens line up than the CX system (not counting using Nikon lenses with an adapter). What is your “high end” camera if the 1 Series is your casual camera?

    • I’m not crazy about the V2, but the V1 is a steal currently. But then you’d still have to buy one or both of the primes, so I totally understand. I was hoping for an X1 really. I wish Nikon would have taken the improvements on the V2 and done that to the V1 body. Although my only real complaint, having the image come up each and every time in the viewfinder, is an easy fix that Nikon doesn’t recognize as a problem. Oh well. I still love my V1 and still want to get a second one before they are all gone.

      I used and owned Canon digital for 11 years. Before that Nikon film. And after Canon Nikon digital. I currently shoot with the Olympus E-5 because the lenses are simply magical. I’m hoping for an E-7 with an upgraded sensor.

  5. Love my V1 and got this lens right away! Agree with all that’s written and shown here.

  6. Great shots and commentary. I’ve wanted the V1 ever since I handled one in a local camera store, but spent my money on other photographic “needs.” At $299, I could no longer resist and will have the V1 tomorrow. After I put it through a few days of shooting, I have a feeling that the 18.5 will be mine also! Thanks again.

  7. Which L lenses you used that are racking back and forth when focusing??? It is the first time I am hearing about it. My 24-70L II and 70-200L II never rack and go immediately straight to the point in any light. And I’ve owned many other Canon L lenses before….not sure what you are talking about. Other than that, good review

    • I’ve used and owned just about every Canon L lens from the 14mm to the 600mm. And just about every Canon pro or semi-pro camera including the film ones. They all rack at times. It’s just the way Canon’s focus system works, it’s not a flaw. I won’t say anymore because I don’t want to offend. But I can easily say that I’ve shot about 500,000 exposures or more with Canon gear.

  8. The photo of the young girl looking down is just wonderful.
    Great pics showcasing the ability of this lens.

  9. Small tip.
    You can find out if it’s plastic or metal by touching it lightly with your teeth. :)

    • haha, yes, I’ve tried it several times but still couldn’t figure it out. But then left it in my car overnight on one of our cool Florida evenings, and when I retrieved it, it was cold. So, I guess it’s metal. Someone else also confirmed it has a metal barrel. Must be made of a aluminum Coke can ;-)

      Thank you!

  10. Very nice colours! It’s almost unfortunate that there are so many b&w images and so few in colour.
    Really very nice shots.

  11. Thanks for doing this review Craig. I had been thinking of getting this lens but was waiting to see some sample output. I think your review has sold it to me.

  12. Fabulous shots! It is a remarkable series of beautiful, inspiring photos of various situations! I’m encouraged and inspired by looking at this wondeful work!
    Thanks so much for letting us enjoy! Craig

    • Wow! Thanks Dr. Egon, I very much appreciate the comments. Nothing more needed really. That is why we take pictures really, to show the world’s beauty so that other people can enjoy it. ;-)

  13. Mine came in yesterday and I have to say “I Love It” Period. Your review was right on. Thanks.

  14. Wow – fantastic photos! Nice work, and great review!!

  15. Always enjoy your photos and reviews, Craig. Mine came in last week, and I agree: it’s sharp, has good contrast, and can be shot wide open all day. I suspect it will be on my V1 most of the time from now on.

  16. Great review. The only thing I “hated” about the V1 was it’s original price-but that’s certainly fixed now! As far as your images go (which is a long way), I am particularly impressed with the monochrome result. Can you share a little more about the work flow for these?

  17. Thanks Craig ( and Steve).

    I purchased the V1 and 10mm 2.8 after reading your review some time back on that combo. Love the shot of the girl with the paint roller. I definately am interested in this lens, especially with no release date that I am aware of on the 32mm f/1.2.

  18. Craig…nice pics and write up as always. Personally I would never buy into this system but no one can argue with the results you are getting!

    Slightly off topic here but I had to laugh seeing the pic of your Nikon taped up so as to hide the ‘Nikon’ and the ’1′. Is it just me or do others out in the i n t e r n e t s find this to be a bit…well..pretentious. I’ve heard all the arguments for doing this (to be discrete, because Nikon/Canon doesn’t pay me to promote their gear etc etc), but it just seems kind of silly. Sure, a smaller camera will help to keep you a bit more discrete in street shooting, but taping up the logos??

    • I tape over the camera name because I don’t want subjects squinting to try and read the brand name or forming judgements about the camera I’ve chosen for the day. It just helps keep one more potential distraction at bay. For me, flashing the big white Canon logo on my 5D3 (or other cameras) seems more pretentious than having it blacked out. Either way, it doesn’t really matter that much.

    • Three Answers that should please almost anyone (tongue-in-cheek):
      A. “Well, maybe I won’t tape it up one day when I can get a Leica.” or
      B. “I didn’t used to tape up my cameras when I owned a Canon.” or
      C. I used to feel the say way that you do when I ran into this back in the early 2000′s, but I think it is really just about one less distraction or thing be noticed by my subjects. When I shoot, I truly like to be as invisible as I possibly can (not for this review but see my website and other work). Anything that I can use that is going to help, including a small thing such as this, I will use. If you view my work, you will easily see that my subjects, for the most part, do not even see me. When my subjects do not see me, then I can get the photo I want. Also, you may be a portrait photographer of a landscape photographer, I do not know. But I’m a photojournalist by trade and a street photographer in my heart, and this is very serious business. On the same line of logic that you are using, I personally think it’s over the top to put camouflage on your lenses while shooting wildlife. But it must help, or companies wouldn’t be selling that stuff right? Hey, thanks for the comment and for taking the time to read the review. Keep shooting!

      • Hi Craig, interesting answer. I get the whole being discrete thing, but I guess I just wonder if something like this helps, or maybe it’s just a psychological advantage. I dunno..just seems so petty in the big picture of things.

        Anyway, love the pics on your site,awesome work!

        • Petty? I have experienced street shooting where someone stared at the camera and then said to me, “Oh, a Nikon.” Well, in his doing so I lost a shot of a few people that I wanted. Taped up the Nikon name that night. I don’t think it’s a petty thing to do at all. I think it can be important in some situations. One man’s opinion.

      • Forgot to mention..for me I would notice that someone taped over their camera where I wouldn’t look twice at a Canon logo:) I guess how ‘discrete’ you are really depends on who you are shooting.

    • Oh no, not the ‘to tape or not to tape the logo’ discussion, again! Yes I think that taping the names and logo’s does make your camera more stealthy. Also, I don’t like to be a walking sign for any brand.

  19. Thanks Craig, great pictures as usual, your pier shots are really nice. 18.5 is on the list.

    B

  20. How does the V1 perform in high ISO low light situations?

  21. hi Craig,

    Funky little system that I actually, in a brief & weak moment, considered aquiring as a mobile phone camera-substitue with the little 10mm pancake, AFTER it went on ‘supersale’ worldwide… I have held on to my hard-earned cash though for now;o) The images, at least on screen look, neat though and for what I have seen from Colin Steel as well can be even pretty impressive… This is most likely due to the photographer though;o)

    Anyways, one thing that really stuck with me was Your remark in Your opening of the review: “If he says it’s good and gives it a thumb’s up, then I don’t think twice about it.” That sounds to me a little bit over the top… I dont think, no matter how honest, passionate, enthusiastic etc Steve is coming across he will be able to susbstitute Your own direct hands-on experience before an eventual purchase with any of these cameras/lenses/etc he reviews… Well, thats just my two cents on the matter.

    Happy shootin’
    klehmann

  22. Amazing shots Craig, what Jason Howe does for the Leica Monochrom, you do for the Nikon 1. Great work and great review.

  23. I really like the portraits.

  24. Mr. Huff

    I have lurked on your site for some time now. But today, I ordered a V1 through your link for two reasons. 1) you deserve the business, and 2) at $299 this is a freaking steal, are you kidding me? Mr. Huff, I hope you keep the site maintained, I have contributed in the only way my limited budget will allow me. I hope you continue to offer your perspective.

  25. Very impressive shots Craig! I especially like the portraits.

  26. Great pictures, Craig.
    On a side note:
    “But unlike its DX counterpart, it has a metal mount…”
    Ff you meant Nikon’s AFS 35/1.8 DX, it, too, has a metal mount, I am holding it in my hand right now…

    • Hi, if Steve or someone else can help me I would be much greatful (sorry for my English in advance). I am torn between getting the V1 and the rx100.

      1. Would the v1 and this lens provide better IQ then the rx100?
      2. Is the low light capability with this lens on par with the rx100.
      3. Can the V1 with this lens fit into a coat pocket?
      4. With the announcement of the v2, will the v1 become obsolete?

      Thank you in advance. Originally I was for sure going for the RX100 but with the price decrease i am very tempted for the v1

      • The RX100 will give you better IQ IMO. It is smaller and pocketable. The V1 feels like a little brick, great EVF, and also very good IQ. Depends on if you want a built in lens or IC lenses. At $299 the V1 is really a steal. I ordered one again after giving my whole V1 set away here in a contest months ago. At $299 it will be worth just to have here for video or when I feel like shooting the V!

        • I was torn myself, but at half the price of an RX100 with more flexibility (interchangeable lenses), it was hard to pass up.

          I have my iPhone 5 if i want something really pocketable.

  27. I’m just curious to see how much difference, in proportion to the expense, generally it could be possible to get with a full frame and a relative lens, in an exceptional picture quality as the first portrait. I know there is, but apart from an extreme bokeh and some more DR, what difference 99% of the people would really notice?

  28. So, why would I want to get this camera when I can get the vastly superior Panasonic G3 for exactly the same price!! And, I can get the insanely good 19mm Sigma for $150. That combo is actually cheaper that the V1 and 18.5 lens.

    I appreciated the review on this wbsite, but one should do their research before they blindly trust someones opinion.

    • Well, it is all personal pref. The G3 is not as “Vastly Superior” as you may believe. I chose the V1 over the G3 easily. It is smaller, built better, nicer shape, faster AF, better battery, I prefer the V1 video, and images. The V1 is not about having perfect smooth images, it has its own “look” and character that many really like. I prefer it to the Panasonic G3 which renders file in an overly smooth fashion. The V1 is not as digital looking with the images. Also has better AWB and AF. But again, some will prefer the G3 over a V1 and vice versa.

      • Steve, I’m debating whether to sell my EPL2 for this. What’s your take? Oly has great JPEGs – how does the V1 compare?

        • V1 is different. Sharper images, a little grit, great color, AWB and exposure. MUCH faster and polished than the EPL2 – but different look. Read the reviews, look at images and decide from there.

          • And quieter–not as clunky. I owned one with the Pany 20mm f1.7 and sol it because of lens chatter, loud shutter, cheap build, no EVF, rear LCD was never really off even when off and the files have a digital look whereas the V1 files do not.

  29. i’m really not sure to which segment is nikon targeting this camera ?? if it has a smaller sensor than mft … then y does it need such huge lenses. this system may be good at taking pictures … but it is loosing out on the size factor. wot’s the point in having a large body and a small sensor. the panny gf series and oly e series with its lenses look more compact than the nikon v1. it could have been a winner if it was at least near as small as rx100. its price may b its only advantage … at the moment …

    • I’d certainly hoped that it could have been more “pancake-like”, but I think costs may have come into play. I’d rather pay under $200 for this lens than twice as much for a more compact solution.

      I would love to see a 13mm f/2 (35mm equivalent) pancake lens. The 10mm pancake is a bit too wide for my style of shooting.

      • well … my point is not against its image quality or its handling as a camera, which, i’m sure must be fairly good from reviews here and else where. it seems like it has a fairly fast and accurate focusing mechanism in place and its image quality is nearly as good as sony rx-100. i say “nearly” because some reviews on youtube showed up a better performance by rx-100 but anyways that’s not very imp and not the point.

        two points,

        first, i’m not entirely convinced that the images shown here are because of the tool. the output is probably more because of the artist (Craig Litten) rather than the tool (V1). i’m sure its fairly possible to replicate most images out here with compact like fuji f31d just as well … maybe you u won’t get the shallow DOF but fairly close. my point is that while V1 mayb a great camera … it’s certainly not outstanding. you only have to look at it sitting next to panasonic gf and oly e series in a window shop and it’ll make you wonder …

        second point,

        it seems like this camera is coming from the marketing of nikon and not the engineering dept. the engineering guys seem to have done their homework well and then it looks to me like the marketing guys came in and messed up everything big time. it seems to me as if the marketing is telling the photographic community “look !!! this is the camera u need”. well is it? i feel like saying a big NO to them. its high time that nikon begins to think about getting into some serious innovation as well. guys like sony, oly, fuji and panasonic have all been doing a great job with innovation but nikon, canon and pentax seem to be resisting the innovation bug. canon has realized its mistake and is now coming with m series but nikon, it seems, is still stubborn and arrogant. so, in my opinion, buying this camera will be akin to submitting to the views of marketing dept of nikon by the photographers.

        now, there may be a very good segment for 1″ sensors as well between mft and 1/1.7″ inch sensors. and interchangeable lens cameras may also do well here. i think sony has made it in this round … but nikon still needs to do better. a very well built compact ilc that feels like a precision instrument may do well here …

        to sum it up i feel we must reject this camera as it seems to be coming from the nikon’s marketing dept and we need to tell them to come back with something better …. jus my opinion.

        • All cameras come from marketing departments. Even when you buy them second hand they still come from marketing departments. It seems to me that you simply don’t like it. Which is fine?. Did you try it?

        • Hello, I simply have one comment: “Have you shot with one?” If you do, I mean really shoot with a Nikon 1, you will erase 90% of what you’ve written. I don’t disagree with you though on Nikon’s stubbornness, that is true ;-) They do, in some respects, need to wake up. The problem with the Nikon 1 system is that it is simply misunderstood. I’ve been an Apple user since the mid 80′s, and I can say that for decades I had to take the constant abuse of Apple haters. They were in the dark though. Have you been in an Apple store lately? You can’t even move it’s so crowded. Yes, OS X is way better than OS 9, but it’s essentially the same thing. And yes, I’m also aware that Apple has more now than just computers, but I’m seeing friends and family members all, and I mean all, switch over to Apple.
          (I’m not comparing Apple to Nikon but the fact that Apple had a great product, as does Nikon, but it was misunderstood, like the Nikon 1 series).

          • Craig– I share your sentiments.

            Sandeep– Camera sensors for the most part have gotten so good that the only thing that stands in the way of quality images are skills and creativity of the photographer (to your point). I’ve seen iPhone photos from skilled pro’s and amateurs that would blow away many of the images I’ve seen from a newbie with a D800 or D4 on some forum sites.

            As Craig states in his review, every camera has its purpose (and characteristics) so you have to choose accordingly. If I’m shooting for extreme shallow depths of field or wide angles, the Nikon 1 isn’t going to be my first choice.

            Rather than focusing on camera specs, you need to consider what your creative vision is and then choose the tools to achieve that.

  30. Craig;
    Excellent review. Just recieved this lens It is what I have been waiting for in this camera. Fast, great depth of field control. Took some potrait shots and they were great. I hope nikon gives us some more prime lenses that go into 90 – 100mm range. I typically shoot with Nikon D90.

  31. I have just bought the V1 yesterday and am satisfied that it was a good choice after looking at the results with the lens you reviewed.
    It is rare for me to experience the “Wow” factor from a lens review but yours gave it to me, thanks.

  32. Hi Craig,

    Great photos. I have a V1 and love it. The 30-110mm is an awesome lens. The 10-30mm is just so-so and only shines when its really bright and sunny. I find in most conditions it is flat and soft. In truth I am a little bit disappointed with it. My current one is my second copy and is a little bit better than my first but never the less – i find it wanting. The 18.5mm seems to be my answer and I will get one soon – especially after seeing your examples.
    On another note, regarding your black and white shots; are these post-processed? They seem to have more punch and contrast than the standard setting. What in-camera settings do you use for your black and whites?

  33. Craig, your black and white’s are wonderful!
    It’s a great inspiration to me, thank you!

  34. Hi Craig,

    Thank you for your review of this lens. And thank you Steve for your reply. I finally gave in and am ordering from your link. What really tipped me over was those photos from Vietnam. The colors…wow. My question is was those out of camera or was there pp involved.

    Also, I live in NYC if I order online can I pick up directly from the B & H store? Doesn’t say on the website.

  35. I bought the V1 less than two weeks ago and have been enjoying it very much, though the 10-30mm is only fair lens. Well, my 18.5 arrived today and WOW! Thanks for the review…thanks to Steve also…thanks for the V1 price Nikon. Gotta run, there’s a camera itchin’ to get back to it.

  36. I like in Hong Kong and cant buy this lens anywhere! Its either very popular and sold out or there is a world-wide shortage

  37. Thank for the great article. I purchased the lens and was wondering how manual settings you used in Lightroom as there doesn’t appear to be a profile for the lens yet. Thank you sir!

  38. Hey Craig,

    Thanks for ur review and all your posts! Your pics are awesome. I am transported to places when i look at ur work. I just picked up a V1 with the 10mm lens, and I love it. I was just wondering if u use a filter with the metal lens hood, and if so, could you please recommend a good one?

    Thanks

    Kind

  39. Hi and thanks very much. I use:

    HOYA 40.5mm HMC UV(C) Multi-Coated Filter THIN

    You can get it on eBay for about $15 new. I normally always use a B+W but couldn’t find one at B&H. The B+W is thicker though so for these tiny CX lenses I prefer the thin Hoya. Thanks!

  40. The lens barrel is metal.

  41. Funny how professional camera reviewers are quick to knock the V1 because of sensor size. They say “size does matter”. Funny that photo journalists who actually make a living photo shooting are crazy about the V1. You and Snapchick on Youtube kept their V1 as part of their collection. After all, “its not all about size, but how you use it”. The so called small sensor is not just an off the wall sensor but a custom designed sensor made specifically for Nikons application. Nikon is busy building an arsenal of CX lens that is tuned for the ‘little’ sensor. Be patient before jumping to conclusions.

    This 1.7 Prime lens would bring noise levels down in low light shooting since no longer having to shoot at 1600 iso to capture that memorable moment. Yeah while the larger sensor cameras have an advantage at these higher iso, but at 400 iso not much so.

    I was seriously looking at the Panny GF5x as Groupon has it at 1/2 off. The Panny has all of the bells and whistles with similar performance as the V1; that is until I saw how much they wanted for their Prime lens (and their Prime lens is several generations old so af is a bit slow and noisey) . No thank you, I will stick with the V1.

    On the other hand, Nikon’s Nikor 1 lens are more reasonably priced.

    As an interesting side note; both Panny with their GF3KK and Nikon V1 both came out with designs panned by the media and within the same year both made substantial changes to their design to appease them. Feature wise they both succeeded. Looks wise meh.

    Thanks for your review; definitely swayed me towards the V1. Ordered mine in mid december and still waiting for it to be shipped ugh

  42. I love my V1 and it is actually becoming my main camera. When I read here about this lens, I just had to buy it. Thanks for this article! It arrived today and of course I took it out and shot it as soon as possible. It’s a great lens! My other lenses for the V1 are the 10 – 30 mm and the 30 – 110 mm. Together with this one, I’m now quite happy. Actually I can’t stop grinning… On a side note: Many people write that the 10 – 30 mm isn’t very good… Well, it isn’t very fast, okay, but I still like it and use it quite often. You have to be prepared to do a bit of post processing, but I happen to love that part as well, so that’s no problem for me. And it’s amazing what you can do with the V1 RAW files… I’m such a fangirl, I know, but I love my V1! And I love to shoot it, which is what matters…

    • Hi Nadine, I’m so glad you read the article and like your 18.5mm. I love mine and haven’t taken it off of my V1 yet. That says a lot. Enjoy it!

  43. Craig,
    I really appreciate your review of this lens and the camera.
    What is great about your review is your enthusiasm for this camera and most importantly your talent is using the camera to produce exceptional shots.
    So many reviews of lenses and cameras have such crappy uninspired samples that you really learn nothing about the abilities of the camera or lens.
    But you have tried to show case what it does.
    As a result of your reviews I was able to find a V1 and buy it.
    Since the V1 was discontinued it is very tough to find one, but I was lucky to order a new one today, 02/13/2013, an interesting date!
    Once I get the feel for this V1 I know great shots will follow.
    Thank you again.

  44. Hi Steven, thanks very much, I’m glad I could help! The V1 is the most fun camera I’ve ever used. Enjoy it for what it is, and try not to make it what it is not. It’s super fast, quiet, light and fun. It’s focus is nearly fool-proof (use all point focus and let the camera select it–it really works). Enjoy!

  45. Hi Craig,

    I think the lens is a bit soft as opposed to sharp as you indicated. But soft is perfectly ok for portraiture I suppose. I prefer to soften it in post processing if I choose to do so.

    A question for you. I love to take portrait photos. I have a V1 and am debating between getting the 18.5mm f1.8($200) or the FT-1 Adapter($200) with a regular Nikkor AF-S 50 mm F/1.8G FX Lens ($300). I think with the larger glass, the later would give a nicer picture quality and shallower DOF(nicer bokeh) with an extra $300. The adapter can also be used with others Nikon Lens also. The 50mm f/1.8G is not that big so it’s still portable. What do you think? Do you have this setup that you can do some picture comparison?

    Thanks,

    Hai-Ho
    [email protected]

    PS: anyone have any setting tips for taking nice photos with the V1 for different situations? I found out that with the indoor during the day the auto mode gives a really cold color photos whereas if I put it in Aperture mode and set the exposure to ‘shade’ it gives a really nice warm tone.

    • I personally would go with the 18.5mm lens, but that is because for me the less gear the better. I did own the adapter and found pulling focus very easy. The 18.5 is cheap and feather light offering very good performance. Nikon has an 85mm equiv. f/1.2 coming soon. That might be the ticket for you. I’m thinking that it may be very high end and hopefully affordable.

  46. Hi, Craig!

    I love the photos you took using this lens! I also found your review to be very helpful and quite understandable for a camera noob like myself. I have the Nikon J1 and I’m seriously considering getting this lens now. I mostly shoot landscape and food for my blog. Would you recommend this lens to serve that purpose?

    Your reply would be greatly appreciated. Thanks very much!

  47. Hi, and thanks for writing. Yes, this would be a great lens for shooting the food for certain. I find the 50mm focal length very versatile, even for some landscapes. But mostly for the food shots. I’ve had to shoot lots of food for the daily newspapers I’ve worked for over the years. The lens also focuses close and has decent bokeh. Thanks!

  48. Hi Craig,

    Great review and a great lens.

    But (there’s always a but!) it seems to me that Nikon is missing the boat. In this day and age, I would’ve expected some form of lens stabilization/anti-shake to be part and parcel of a quality prime. Now, I love low light shooting and find that 10-30 is perfect for this because its limitations (speed) are, for the most part, negated by the incredible lens stabilzation system which gives me a minimum of three stops advantage. Whereas, I find my 10 pancake is basically useless at slow shutter speeds due to camera shake. And please don’t tell me to use a tripod – - where I shoot, you can’t take tripods. To tell the truth, when it comes to low light shooting, I leave the M at home and take either the Nikon 1 with 10 – 30 or my EM-5 with a Panasonic prime. Why? Because both combos are stabilized. So c’mon Nikon, how about just one stabilized prime – something like an equivalent 35mm f1.4. That would sell like hotcakes!

  49. Hello there,

    i’m a amateur photographer from germany, since my teenage days.

    Great Review, i’ve bought the Nikon 1 V1 this April, and mostly used the supplied 10-30mm VR Lens.

    Since today, i got a 2nd V1 Body, because i got it in excellent condition at a bargain price, and today also
    my 18.5mm/1.8 here arrived – after some dozen test shots i can say the lens is really tack-sharp out of the box,
    even F1.8 seems to be pretty useable, but F2.8 is a bit better when stopped down to this aperture.

    Anyway, what set’s me a bit up is the something high CA with this lens, and also the slightly barrel distortion -
    but therefore are 2 hints: for the distortion i use the way great PTLens Plugin (it’s bargain for the given price -
    and the license lasts for a lifetime!), and i easily get rid of the CAs in PS or CNX2, for example.

    Now i’am waiting for my HB104 Lenshood, it’s just a shame Nikon doesn’t include it for the given price -
    especially when you consider the 35mm DX/1.8 is sth better, and also got a dust seal at the metal mount.
    (using it all the time with my Nikon D60, my D90 have the Tamron 17-50mm/2.8 always Non-VC Lens
    always mounted. (ANII Type).

    Sometimes the less gear you’ll carry is really more important, or better than the last bit of IQ,
    so my Nikon 1 V1 & 18.5mm/1.8 Setup is much smaller than my D60/35mm DX/1.8 to carry everywhere.

    Hint: i’m using UV Filters on all my lenses to protect the front element, the 40.5mm UV Filter XS Pro with
    nano coating from B+W seems to be an excellent Filter, have it on both the 18.5/1.8 and 10-30 VR lens
    mounted. Also, if you’re using the V1 bodies like me, the GGS V1 Glas Protector comes in way handy to
    shield the display – must have for the V1. :-)

    Greetings,
    Marc

    • Thanks Marc! I also just purchased a second V1 body used at B&H via Steve’s link. I just returned from a vacation where I shot with one V1 and the 18.5mm lens ONLY. Will have a review soon on my site, which is linked above.

  50. hey Craig, just read this great review and heading out to see if I can find one of the little beuts in Singapore. you show it at its best, thanks Colin

    • Hey Colin, good to hear from you! Loved your latest review with the little GR, which I’m very tempted to buy. Have a great day, and I hope you found an 18.5mm. Also glad to hear that you are sticking with the V1. I picked up a second in mint condition for under $200 USD a few months ago, before they all disappear. Here’s hoping for a V3 in like manner to the V1.

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