The Nikon V1 Video Overview and ISO test – Impressive!

The Nikon V1 1st Look Video and ISO test – Impressive!

By Steve Huff


I really have to tip my hat to Nikon. They managed to create this Nikon 1 system with a new and small “CX” 2.7 crop sensor, and they somehow worked some magic (by limiting it to 10MP is my guess) because the camera has some pretty damn impressive image quality for a camera of this type, meaning, with a teeny sensor (especially when shooting RAW). Ignore my rants in the past about this system as well as any rants by other reviewers who have yet to even hold one (this is not another film era APS disaster imo) because even though it is not a typical “photographers camera” and it does not have any fast glass available, Nikon made sure the lenses they do have for this system are small (well, not the 10-100), SHARP, and really damn good even if they are slow as molasses (aperture wise). They also laid out a plan to release more in 2012 including a fast portrait prime.

Yes, Nikon finally entered the mirrorless market and though I really though they would do it with more of a WOW factor camera, the V1 is a highly capable little solid brick of a camera. Logic would tell you that the Nikon V1 and J1 SHOULD be pretty bad in low light. Well, it is not too shabby and easily beat my E-P3 and gave the the NEX-7 a run for its money for higher ISO! See the samples below.

What I have found in my first three days with the camera is that it is VERY FAST in operation and especially it’s auto focus. After shooting side by side with the E-P3 I can say it is indeed faster to AF than the E-P3 and it is stone cold accurate every time. The metering is the best I have seen on ANY mirrorless camera to date. Period. The color output is also up with the best. Nikon did seem to know what they were doing in regards to image quality and making the best of that 2.7 crop sensor. The Nikon V1 menu system is also very simple to operate. Fast, smooth and slick. This is a minimalist camera. One that is easy to pick up and shoot AND get in focus shots, great color and overall great well exposed results. The battery is the same one found in the D7000 and is a nice addition which keeps the camera chugging along at 2-3X the stamina of other mirrorless cams. The EVF rocks though it’s not as nice as the NEX-7 EVF. Yep, this is a unique camera. A bit odd because I am not sure what market Nikon is really going for with it, but at the same time, it is a joy to shoot with. Everything just works, and works well it seems.

The only negatives I have found so far are that because of the small sensor and lack of fast primes you really can not get shallow depth of field, so a poor mans Leica M9 this is not. I also find that due to the small sensor, there is noise even when shooting at ISO 100. You know, the fine grain stuff you often see with small sensors. BUT you will not notice this in web sized images or even smaller prints.

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My full review will be up soon where I will show my results with the V1 along with the 10 2.8, 10-30 and 10-100 Lenses. I will also be shooting some video with the fancy 10-100 (which is beautiful but HUGE) tomorrow. Take a look at the ISO samples below – 1st there is a side by side with the NEX-7 at ISO 640 in my living room. These are full size files from RAW (Latest ACR conversion for both) with NR turned OFF. Color, metering and AWB is exactly as it came out of each camera. What do you think of the NIkon V1? Feel free to comment below!


OK, 1st here is a full NEX-7 file at ISO 640 – shot with the 18-55 kid zoom at 3.5 – some light was peeking through my closed blinds.. – click image for full size

and here is the Nikon V1. Only 10mp compared to the NEX-7’s 24 but not bad huh? – Click image for full size

and how about a full size ISO 6400 shot from the V1, no NR at all, processed from RAW – click image for full size file

Here is a three camera low light ISO test at 1600 – click for larger size. Not scientific or course, and did not resize anything to match. What you see if what came out of each camera at the resolution of each camera (which is why the V1 is smallest, then E-P3, NEX-7) – I used the 10-30 on the Nikon, 14-42 on the E-P3 and 18-55 on the Sony. One thing I see is distortion with the Olympus and Sony kit zooms (this was a crop from the left corner of a shot)

and three more “processed” shots, most from RAW and all with the 10-100…click them for larger!


  1. I looked @ this camera in a store recently & found it too plastic for me & the fact that it’s made in China still bugs me. Anybody remember Tibet? I know everything comes via China these days, but I do make a conscience effort to avoid ‘made in China’. Rather support Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, etc… even Leica when i can.

  2. Oh well…the technological device is part of the fun… I don’t like the smell of chemicals… I prefer the smell of a new toy every year… 5000 pictures a year is about 2000 $ of development, and 300 hours of scanning and at least 50 hours of rebooting the crashed computer….I prefer to go out and snap with my under performing digital camera… The camera is disposable after a few years but ends up being cheaper than developing film… The look of film…welll, glass plates had a look too, why creating film like look when you can have what you have, crisp, crystal clear pics….I loved film, not because it was film but because it was stopping the blink of an eye, my eye… M8, Nex5, Nikon n70, Rebel xt, d- lux3, aps canon elf…they all did that and I thank them all for that…Nex 7 will do that too… With its own set of limitations…like all the others…

  3. Wow. So much talk. You’d think half the correspondants were seasoned pros pushing the limits and missing out on exhibition space and awards due to their crummy tools. :-S

    The most important thing is how it feels in your hands. How it shoots. When I read threads like this, I remind myself why I still shoot film and use my FM3a and EM’s the most.


  4. Hi guys,

    thanks for the answers. Seems to be a very vivid discussion here.

    Robert, what will be comming out in Feb 2012?

    You made me curious.


  5. This os just to late for me, i already have a d700 sistema and a m4/3 and a Fuji x100. I just dont need This no matter hoy godo The HIGH ISO aré Panasonic Will be there in a year.

    This sistema is not giving me anithing o dont already have.


    Ps i love nilón i Aldo have año fm2 ,f100, f4

  6. If you like the IQ buy it if you don’t pass it by. Cameras are for taking pictures not for arguing over as to which is better, prettier, got this useless featre got that useless feature. Do something controversial….. Take what ever camera you own out and use it to do what it is designed for rather than get hung up over every new one on the market.

  7. I bought the V1 on a bit of a whim and have been using it more frequently over the past three weeks. My first week with the camera was basically “what is this thing?” After the first week, I started to get it a little bit. Now I’ve come to realize it’s about a different paradigm for compact cameras. There are two overriding themes: speed and simplicity. If you wanted to make a camera that’s small, fast and can take thousand quality pictures in a short frame of time, it would be hard to top the V1 today.

    In use, it’s about as fast as a D300 in handling and focus. There are really only two glitches in the speed and that’s when it wakes up from sleep and when it switches from screen to viewfinder. It can take a second or so sometimes to do this. I’m hoping both of these are fixed in firmware releases. Other than that it really is as fast in practice as a upper-mid level DSLR. It’s also a minimalist camera. Very few buttons. The menus are quite well thought out and simple. They also look good. Contrast this to the awful Oly menus for the EP series.

    Finally, the thing is meant to take a lot of pictures. The data that moves through it is amazing. As others have commented, the metering, focus and color is spot on. Did I say it’s fast? It’s truly LOL fast. In short, this is a different camera. Different from what I think all of us expected. But if you spend a little time with it, it’s impressive. It also makes me very interested in how much of the underlying technology makes it into the D4. Sleek, minimal and takes quality pictures. Slap the pancake lens on it and it easily fits into a jacket pocket. I took it to my boys soccer game this morning and didn’t miss my DSLR one bit.

    • Yes. The fastest pocketable AF street shooter, it simply gets the shot and lets you focus on what’s going on. AF speed and reliable accuracy as well as outstanding metering are at a level unreached so far by compact cameras, no matter the sensor size.

  8. The J1 clearly looks more film like than the X100 at ISO 6400 with lots of grain. The X100 is cleaner and retains color better at ISO 6400, but has a lot more chroma noise especially in dark areas.

    • According to Dpreview’s samples, i see much more detail at G3 (downsized) at iso 6400,
      the nikon image has its noise and details blurred away, seems like heavy NR at work

      P.S the G3 is same size as V1, although manages to pack a built in flash+swivel LCD,
      also, the 14-140&14-42 “X” kit zoom lens are smaller then nikon’s 10-100&10-30,
      and the AF is incredibly fast (althou would not track as good as nikon’s)

      here’s crop from dpreview:

      • I agree about details on the G3 image. The G3 has more details, but also a lot more noise, so I think you are right that there is some NR on the V1 output.

        Despite more details on the G3 I still think the V1 image looks better when not pixel peeping, but that is my personal opinion.

        One think that is very strange is the fact that the G3 image was taken using an Olympus 50mm f/2.0 macro lens with an adapter – why didn’t the use a standard kit lens?

        The complete test and image is here, try moving around (also to darker areas of the image) to view crops:

        • Dpreview usually uses macro lens on all internchangable lens camera’s to maximize sharpness,
          i do not know what lens they used on V1, but according to low iso shots the lens is not the limitation.

          about the noise – yes the G3 shows more noise, but it can be easily removed at post processing while the V1 lost detail cannot be added back,

          and if to consider that m43 has smaller lens+more lens selection, G3 is same size as V1 yet it houses built in flash and swivel screen + better DOF control
          + more buttons and better ergonomics + 300$ cheaper…

          How can someone buy a nikon is beyond me 🙂

          • I think it is a matter of taste. I bought the J1 and thinks it is great for what it is. Certainly as good or better than my old E-P2 in almost every respect including low or high ISO capability, AF, metering and video.

            Why do you think the m43 has smaller lenses? the Oly 14-42mm was not smaller than the Nikon 10-30mm as far as I remember and the 30-110mm is about as small as an 80-300mm equivalent can be.

            Your last sentence is a bit funny 🙂

          • I agree with you about my previous last sentence, it is funky 🙂

            About lens size,
            panasonic has introduced a compact kit lens 14-42 “X” which is smaller then 10-30
            while the superzoom 14-140 is smaller then nikons 10-100
            only the 30-110 is smaller then m43 counterparts

            Anyway the most important thing is that your happy with your new camera!

          • Okay I didn’t know that Panasonic has introduced “X” lenses, but I think that it is good news and actually the competition is very good for us all, because we get better and better equipment for the same amount of money.

            Just gave a thought to my first digital camera which was the Coolpix 950 which was a great 2MP camera 10-11 years ago – it was damn expensive – I think the price at that time corresponds to the price of a new D700 today – incredible.

            And thanks, I’m very happy with the J1. It will be my new backup and go everywhere camera instead of my Canon s95.

      • I own the camera with the “fastest AF”, faster than the G3, according to its manufacturer. It’s called Olympus EP3. Trust me, the V1’s AF clearly beats the EP3’s AF and is more accurate. I’ll sell the Olympus next week as I prefer the V1. If I had only one system, I’d stick with mft. But for enthusiats with higher end gear, the N1 offers a very exciting and different addition to their bag, much more so than NEX, NX or mft, which all are trying to directly compete with DSLRs, whithout reaching them but for size. The N1 is different, it does a couple of things better than the rest and a few differently enough to be of interest.

  9. I see someone gave a heads up to the boys at the m4/3 forums at DPR. The war wagons have circled. LOL. Guys you should understand that camera can take photos and it’s much more enjoyable to go out and shoot than it is to fight on the forums.

    Personally I love my V1. Not a toy but superbly built compact, picture taking machine. Image clarity is super and I’ve made perfect 10×15 prints with the V1’s Jpegs. Since I don’t print larger than that the V1 is really the only camera I need to carry for most things I shoot. AF is rocket fast and this little camera is offering up the best metering I’ve ever experienced.

    Two nits from me. First the rear dial gets moved into the wrong mode too easily too often and yes there’s that DOF thing. Then again huge DOF is blessing as well as a curse at times.

  10. Hi guys,

    another review of a very nice camera (not quite as nice as the x 10 but very close) but again a bit disappointing;

    Let’s dream about a camera with these features:

    full frame (ok at least APS-C sensor)
    interchangeable lenses
    Prime and zoom (that’s for me)
    can use Leica lenses (that’s for you)
    fast AF
    ISO 3200 without noise
    Size and style somewhere between M 9, x 1, x 100, x 10 or Pen
    View finder
    articulated LCD (belief me, it is very useful in some situations)
    Non scratching glass for the LCD without 500 euro extra
    no AA filter

    If this camera would be available tomorrow I would pay 3000 $ for the body! Who else wouldn’t join me?

    I think that this kind of camera would technically be possible to be developed now. I also think the price range would make sense for a company to do it.

    So what’s the problem?

    Maybe it would be the only camera most of us would buy and we would stay with it for 10 years, never thinking about one more or replacing with a better/newer one etc.

    Most of us have more than one camera – that’s the problem!

    The camera market is HUGE (just look st these news about Olympus – ever thought so much money could disappear and it’s not car/weapon or drugs related?)

    So I need a Nikon 5 100 for the night, a Lumix for the day to carry around, and soon hopefully a Canon
    D 5MK1 (second hand) for shooting my wife in our garden.

    Ok, it’s also fun playing around with gear and going shopping for it (that’s why girls have more than one T shirt and pair of jeans)

    Best regards

    • Yes, so many nice cameras to choose from, and yet they’re all frustrating in one way or another. I use a D3X (for landscapes), D700 (for travel, street, etc), and Canon G10 P&S (for hikes and bike rides). But what I really want is one camera for all things. I travel a lot these days, and it’s always tough figuring out what to bring. So I’d love to simplify, travel lighter, and not feel that I’m compromising for doing so.

      I had high hopes for the NEX 7 for awhile, but so for I’m not impressed by what I’ve seen. If only they had used the NEX 5N 16 MP sensor, I might feel better about it. The lenses are so big, they offset the small size of the body. And the 1.5x crop makes using a few great (and tiny) Leica lenses less desirable. Sigh.

      The V1 interests me, but only as a G10 replacement. If only it were a bit less expensive, and had a selection of fast primes (I know they’re coming, but who knows). Even then, it wouldn’t be anything more than a G10 replacement, which still leaves me no better off (it actually leaves me worse off, because now I have two lens systems). Sigh.

      The M9 would be ideal – small, light, great sensor and lenses – except for the range finder focussing. The need for periodic calibrations, and difficulties in using the patch alignment method in some circumstances, bothers me. I hope the M10 features live view with focus peaking in a hybrid optical/EVF viewfinder. That would probably do the trick for me. But I hear the M10 is at least a year away, and who knows if it’ll have those improvements I’m craving. Sigh.

      I could go on and on about most other systems out there, I suppose.

    • Heiner – that’s a great target for a camera that I think many would enjoy – particularly if it came at a bargain price. A focus on quality and useability – not gimmicks!

      I wish ALL the major camera companies would concentrate on releasing cameras with top image quality foremost …. and leave the small, novelty items to the wider consumer market. Most of the latter only want a cheap zoom compact anyway – why try to convince them otherwise?

      Far too many “… me too! …” products (like the Nikon 1 series) that clearly do not float the boat of the serious/enthusiast photographers. Japanese manufacturers seem to have forgotten the lessons of the 35mm film format ….

      The great thing about the 35mm film format was the constant nature of it’s capture medium, but also it’s variety: you could buy a hulking great SLR … or a petite rangefinder … or a tiny compact (with or without zoom) …. even novelty cameras, knowing at it’s heart was the same ‘sensor’ – a piece of 35mm film.

      They tried introducing smaller APS and 110 film – disk and instant film even – but nothing altered the dominance of 35mm film …. until digital arrived.

      The current continual attempts to create or carve out a new market sector are the primary reason for the Nikon 1 and many other smaller formats – to the detriment of concentrating on image quality.

      I genuinely believe enthusiasts are never going to get the cameras they desire, until the manufacturers stop dicking around with silly cropped formats and go with at least an APS or larger format.

      You can’t argue with quality – no matter what pixels it has or has not got! Having said that – I’ll be waiting for the backlash on these comments from all the ‘small camera’ guys!

      • Yeah, sure, I remember the great old film days with the high end pocketable 35mm camera systems, RF or not, with interchangable lenses, provided they were 50mm (to keep it with Henry Ford, you could have primes in any focal length unless it was not 50mm) with brilliant viewfinders and blazingly fast AF. And how could I forget the unreached noise free rendering of ASA 1600 film. DOF control was better, that one I give you :).

        • Aaaahhh – nothing like a bit of ol’ cynicism mixed in with nostalgia!

          p.s. Noise-free ISO 1600 – ever use Ilford XP1 & 2/Delta?

      • Right. Guess you missed the 645 4×5 8×10 discussions. Haven’t been on the medium format boards much have you? Why not try to evaluate the camera on the basis of what it purports to solve. In this case it is speed and simplicity. The IQ is better than expected for a compact and close to m43. It’s faster than any camera but high end dlsr and it amazingly simple to get good images. Question: have you actually used a V1?

        • We all know that the V1 is small – therefore you claim it purports to solve the issue of ‘speed and simplicity’. So does my phone camera – it also genuinely fits in my pocket … oh, and I can call people up with it and tell them what I just shot …. AND …. I can send them the picture immediately.

          Does that make it the greatest camera in the world? NO!

          What the V1 does not offer – and you emphasise it yourself – is great image quality compared to other cameras, i.e. your comment “… better than expected for a compact and close to m43 ….” Close – but not better than.

          The beauty of the internet is that everyone can have an opinion. If you read my entries in this thread, I’m constantly answering replies like your own – ‘it’s small, it’s handy, it does a good job for it’s size, etc.’ – as if that excuses it’s deficiencies. It does not do anything I want – I state that quite clearly in my critique of it’s failings – why is MY opinion lesser than those who do like it?

          My Fuji X100 is small, very handy and I have to make NO excuses whatsoever for it’s image quality at any ISO rating. Ditto my Nex. My Canon 5D – equally blame free in that department.

          I think the sign of a poor camera is when users have to go out of their way to make faults into virtues, then relentlessly harangue anyone who dares disagree.

          Just because it is small and cute does not excuse it’s limited performance.

          No, to answer your question – I haven’t used the V1 – why should I – it’s not going to enhance my life one iota. If people like Steve et al publish their images on the internet for evaluation and test printing, then why do I need to use one to confirm it’s IQ in MY hands.

          After printing others poor/limited IQ results I’m unlikely to want it because I’ve handled it and I’m smitten just because it is ‘cute’ or some equally fatuous reason!

          In addition to a competent digital stable of 5 cameras, I’ve tens of different film cameras (including LF and MF) that have yet to be matched in IQ by ANY digital camera. Quite why I’d want to buy something that offers less than I already own is beyond me ….

          • Your camera phone is small and simple and very slow in very aspect. This is where the v1 has made huge improvements. Hard to get a feel for it. You should try it!

  11. With a last name of Mueller, I’m going to wait for the V2 while I enjoy my new X10. Thanks for your great, practical reviews!

  12. I’m quite amazed by the level of hate swirling around the web over this camera. Most of the negative commentators seem to have never even touched the thing, and yet they’re willing to condemn it sight unseen. And most of the negative commentators on this thread apparently haven’t even read Steve’s first look comments above. Why bother posting something if you haven’t even read the mini review? I think there must be a huge amount of insecurity in this world!!! That’s the only explanation I can think of for this behavior.

    So lighten up, folks. It’s only a camera. If you don’t like, don’t buy it. It’s that simple.

    • I agree. This sort of subject in a thread brings out the usual zealots, who have opinions that are immobile in the extreme.

      If Steve were to do a V1 vs M9 comparo, the opinions then voiced would be even more heated.

      Anyway, comparing the “shirt” pics I was pretty impressed by the IQ of the V1.

  13. I’ve had a play with the J1 and I was really suprised how good it felt and performed. The V1 will be even better! Just a shame this camera doesnnt have more manual features at hand.

  14. interesting little unit which i have handled but not purchased…waiting to get my hands on a nex-7…in todays “world of cameras” we have a plethora to choose from, and they are all good and serve a purpose for each individual.
    ….but if this V1 unit had the “Red Dot with L” on it, the internet dribble may be reviewing it differently….and thats why i come here for a decent review. cheers and thankyou.

  15. Well, tomorrow I’ll test it myself. (Will try to make a picture with a 1.2 50mm nikkor if there is an adapter, equi 135 1.2 / dov equi 3.2)

    But I agree with Mark. Be happy that there is a real choice now compared to 2 years ago.

    This camera could be very interesting as a family friendly camera; well build, capable of using fast moving objects (Kids and dogs in the back yard), easy to use (an UI understandable for the whole family), a prime at first introduction (great first camera for serious ‘youngsters’ shooters), IQ good enough to make nice fotobooks and medium sized prints.

    Down size; high introduction price and not looking very ‘sexy’.

    • My first impression:
      – Small
      – Ultra light
      – Fast
      – A bit to small for my hands although the handgreep should solve the problem. (Fuji X100 is really ok, Pen’s & Pano’s way to small)
      – The looks are much better in real than on the internet photo’s
      – The attachable flash is very useable; nice soft light and no red eyes
      – Intuitief operation, you don’t need any kind of user manuel.
      – High priced bodies, but reasonable priced lenses and accesoires.

      The adapter will not pickup your old Ai(s) lenses, the camera will give an eror.:-(

      For big prints (A3/A2) you’ll need optimum circumstances. The people from Nikon told me that the prime (and coming primes) can reach that level under more difficult light.

      The camera is designed to make easy photo/videeo fotage at a level never reached before in small camera’s. Ease of use is important.

      Last but not least; Nikon has given young designers full control in the proces of developing this system. (Not an selling argument for most, but I like it)

  16. I was impressed with the quality of the Nikon 1 JPG’s you posted earlier and I like the ergonomics of the Nikon 1 compared to some of its competitors, but from a consumer standpoint the problem with this series is: 1) It’s overpriced, 2) You are forced to buy a slow-aperture kit lens. If I want the 10mm pancake, why should I have to buy it in a kit with a 10-30mm kit lens? That makes no sense.

    • It’s no more a toy than an X100, or any other small mirrorless camera. Just because you don’t like it, don’t try to impose your judgement on others. If it doesn’t work for you, that’s fine. There are choices and options enough for everybody.

      • I agree with your statements. It is not at all a toy camera but a serious imaging and video capturing device. @Johnny: this is not to be compared with M9, D700 or similar but holds up nicely against Micro 4/3’rds.

      • I’d say it is more of a toy than the X100… the X100 can produce serious results in many situations that a small sensor camera will fail.

    • I genuinely think it is a ‘toy’ …. in the sense it is something you play with – and I’m happy to play with toys. But things go awry when cameras ruin a shot – I’ve read countless reviews of great cameras – usually shot at 100 ISO or only used at high ISO in studio conditions.

      Some internet pundits however are touting it as a serious photography tool. One recently suggested he’d been able to cover a prestigious marketing event with this Nikon – why had he bothered carrying a big 5D MkII and expensive L & Zeiss lensed outfit, he asked?

      Fine fare for those with blogs to write and make money from … but not when it deludes buyers into paying out THEIR good money, only to see the blogger move on to the ‘next, best, thing’ in a few days time …

      Steve’s blog at least contains genuine real life images – his viewers/readers can judge for themselves and part with their dollars.

      Some bloggers/fanboys are all … WOW! COOL! BUY IT! Next week, next month, next blog entry, they are dissing it and praising the next item off the production line.

      There is no ‘perfect’ camera (never has been) but lets stop this ‘… it’s new, so it must be better than X …’ routine.

      • Troll on.
        The N1 is my first Nikon ever. And it is great for what it does, and not for what it isn’t. In a few areas, it sets new standards among mirrorless systems and “larger sensor compacts”. My other cameras are M9, GXR m-mount and X100 and the little Nikon complements the other three nicely, for obvious reasons.

        • Not Trolling – just trying to introduce some sanity into this equation. Too much WOW ….!!!!! – not enough appraisal of real results from real photos.

          Steve tells it like it is by publishing real photos. Make of that what you wish.

          Nobody is telling anyone not to buy something – you are free to do as you want with your money.

          Some of us are just trying to point out that based on results, this – like many other cameras – is not the greatest thing since sliced bread. I cringe every time someone says something crass like ‘ …. this is an M9/D3/5D etc. substitute ….’ about every new or current compact or mirrorless camera.

          It’s a tiny compact camera – have fun with it …. but certain pundits should cease saying that it’s something it’s not. Ever heard the phrase – Just for Giggles – that’s the new Nikon 1 series.

          • So what your saying is it’s not capable of producing quality images. And you sort of laugh at the results from this camera. I get it.

            You contend that a camera should have a minimum size of sensor, like APS-C or FF? So your saying that all cameras with smaller sensor (and lets be real, this sensor is not teeny like I keep reading) like the V1, Canon S100, Ricoh GRD IV, Fuji X10, are “Just for Giggles”, not serious tools, and shouldn’t be treated as such.

            Did it ever occur to you that there are different types of cameras for different purposes? Some days I don’t feel like carrying my 5D, so I bring one of my smaller cameras.

            It’s actually cringe worthy every time I read camera arguments like these where everyone seems to be an “expert” on sensor technology. Making sensor size THE deciding factor in whether or not a camera is “worthy” is incredibly shortsighted as it doesn’t consider that sensor technology is improving and most cameras have fairly decent low-light performance relative to 5 years ago.

            Much like the Pentax Q, his little Nikon seems to have inspired true hatred online, but all I keep seeing are nice images from it.

            Enjoyed your mini-review Steve.

          • What’s a quality image? Are we talking quality of content & technical execution of the shot? That is in the hands of the photographer and not the camera – in that sense ANY camera can deliver ‘quality’. Or are we talking ‘in camera IQ’ … the ability of a camera to render a scene via software/hardware? If the latter, then yes, I don’t think the Nikon offers the highest image quality per dollar/euro/yen, etc.

            Minimum sensor size is not a factor, nor is it the issue I addressed. What is pertinent is the number of pundits claiming a certain camera is offering results equal to those of more ‘capable’ equipment. I’ve seen better results from my 8mp phone camera than evidenced here. Plus, my phone genuinely fits into my jeans pocket – something few compact or small format cameras do.

            As Steve points out (and is also obvious to anyone clicking on the photo to view a larger image) the Nikon has visible noise at very low ISO levels. You don’t see it? You genuinely think Nikon has utilised ‘5 years’ worth of advancement in sensor technology wisely? If so, then you and I are poles apart in what constitutes ‘quality’.

            Sadly – until someone re-writes the laws of physics, big sensors outdo little ones in performance (however you define it) – in the same way that larger format film always beat smaller film in resolution terms. If APS and FF cameras (M9/X100/Nex etc.) can be physically little larger than smaller format items, what is the benefit of a smaller (inferior) sensor exactly?

            I don’t hate the Nikon 1 series, but I do dislike those claiming it is greater than it is, or better than the sum of it’s parts, or even ignoring the relatively poor results it churns out. Too many Nikon fans (like Rob Galbraith for instance) praising it to the skies, when it really only matches their own personal criteria – certainly not an evaluative critique of it’s abilities.

            The UK phrase ‘just for giggles’ seems not to have translated too well into other languages/cultures. Seems you didn’t ‘get it’ ….

            Just for Giggles …. is not laughing at something …. it’s not even rubbishing or dissing something – it’s just ‘hey, it’s no big deal, get over it’ – I know I have.

            If anything, that totally sums the Nikon 1 initiative for me. It’s not the ‘system camera’ step forward many Nikon fans expected – I suspect many of them will fear it is just a cynical attempt to carve a rival niche market – rather than the competitor that many hoped for.

            Anyone remember that other big success – the Nikon Pronea ….

      • It is fine to read comments from both haters and fanboys, that is at least what I do, but I think you should always make the final decision and judgement yourself.

        It is very easy to judge for yourself when enough images from a new camera are presented by different sources.

        I have hardly ever read so many hate comments about a new camera and they were all wrong.

        The J1/V1 camera has a small sensor which was the main complaint, but it stands up very well to micro 4/3’rds which was a big suprise to many (me too).

        Another complaint was build quality, but the V1/J1 has better build quality, auto focus, metering and high ISO capability than many of the competitors – again big suprise.

        Lenses are really good – again big suprise.

        Anyway, I bought the J1 as can’t afford a serious toy camera like the M9 🙂 and it is really cool with great IQ and colors especially in raw. Also the built-in flash is a lot better than I thought it would be. It will for sure complement the x100 very well.

      • Meaning no disrespect, I find your comment above regarding the “photo blogger’s” posting on the conference and his use of the V1 somewhat overblown and your characterization of him at least incomplete, if not inaccurate.

        I read the same posting. That photo blogger was Kirk Tuck. He’s a working professional photographer who makes his living using multiple photgraphic tools in multiple suituations based on what works for him empirically. He has written and had published 5 photographic books. He bought the V1 with his own money, uses no other Nikon equipment currently, and doesn’t make a dime on his blog.

        He did say that he found the V1 surprisingly effective in shooting at least portions of that conference, given its size, speed, high image quality, and silent shutter. In his very next post, however, he described working in such dim and difficult light that his 5D Mk2 and 85/1.4 lens were the only tools for the job and that the V1 stayed home.

        There is no camera that you can say anything in favor of other than it does a good job within it’s limitations. Allowing some license for the writer to write interestingly, I don’t think Mr. Tuck said anything else. I’ve no particular use for the V1 myself, but have been impressed with the quality of the images so far published from it, including VSL’s and Steve’s.

        • I didn’t want to name Kirk – he’s not the only one lavishing praise on the camera and I thought it unfair to single him out. He (usually) talks a lot of sense photographically, but the little Nikon clearly fits right into his frequent recurrent blog theme of ” …. ‘aint small cameras great …. ”

          He certainly did use other (FF) cameras on that shoot, true, however he gave the impression that pros and amateurs would be fools to ignore this camera, and most importantly, that it’s capabilities were far greater than it’s abilities.

          Kirk loves his Olympus Pen cameras (old and new, film or digital) and there is nothing wrong with that – nor in his wanting a return to ‘sensible’ sized (small) cameras – particularly ones with a touch of nostalgia thrown in.

          He admired the Fuji X100 some months ago for similar reasons, but didn’t get on with the camera ….

          It’s capabilities would have been more than up to the role in which he used the V1 on that assignment, but …

          …. he doesn’t own an X100 – he has stated he doesn’t want one. I suspect because it does not fit into his smaller, Olympus-centric view of compact equipment.

          All well and good – but giving someone the false impression that their future potential purchase is a pro-DSLR killer (in certain circumstances) is just not kosher!

          Remember David Bailey – the Olympus ads? Bailey could take superb campaign shots with an OM SLR, not simply because the camera was great, but because HE was great!

          Bailey’s first love was/is large format – many of his classic shots are on that large medium. His personal project work is on large format – but he still gets wheeled out occasionally by Olympus to promote stuff – despite his criticism of digital imaging. Sell out – or shrewd business acumen? You decide.

          Kirk may not monetize his blog per se, but he uses it to publicize his (five) books and a commercial photography business. All of the well known blogs work by finding a niche – that builds their audiences – and, in this case, indirect revenue!

          Small cameras are great – in some situations – but as I’ve repeated in a number of comments in this thread – I don’t think the Nikon is anything special. If it was Casio or Vivitar that had launched it, I doubt it would have raised half the fuss it has; but because it’s the first Nikon mini system, well ….

        • Further to my previous reply, Kirk himself stated: “… I’ll do my next interior conference with the V1 system and take the EP3 as the back up. Everything else can stay home … These little cameras are high enough quality to do the job …”

          I don’t think my comments regarding “…. his use of the V1 (to be) somewhat overblown …” nor that my ” …characterization of him (as) incomplete, if not inaccurate …” to be true.

          Sounds pretty accurate I’d say – confirmed by Kirk in fact.

          The guy states the conclusion cited above and he himself breaks down his use of cameras at the event thus: V1 – 40%, EP3 – 40% Canon DSLR – 20%.

          Where is my reading of that event and Mr Tuck’s views, ‘overblown’?

          • It was not and is not my intent to argue the point. And actually, after the fact I had rather wished I’d said overstated rather than overblown, but alas, I’m sort of stuck with the more connotative word now. My intent was to provide some counterbalance since my reaction to the posts you referred to was markedly different from yours.

            Now that he’s named, anyone can go to Mr. Tuck’s site (if interested) and decide for themselves the relative merit of the posts. But come now, tell the truth, you really have secretly put a V1 and 10-100 zoom on your list for Santa, haven’t you? 😉

          • Nor I greg – camera choice is a personal issue. I was just pointing out that Kirk is a small camera afficianado and he did himself claim this type of small camera did 80% of the assignment.

            Like yourself, if my comments – and Steve’s visual evidence of noise – prevent someone buying a camera that doesn’t deliver what many are claiming for it, then my job is done.

            In other posts, Kirk HAS explained that for some of his work (web and small biog portraits in literature, a full blown FF DSLR camera is overkill – with which I can concur. But he certainly didn’t emphasise that the Nikon is NOT a ‘universal camera’ in this post.

            The V1 and lens is certainly not on my list to Santa! (But an X100 with interchangeable lenses is on my Birthday list – Jan. 30th if anyone is interested !)

          • Ha! I hear that about the interchangeable lens x100. I myself am exploring the GXR M mount at the moment. but so far suck at manual focus (too long out of practice and old eyes). But the files w/o the AA filter !!!!

            I also am concerned that our posts not dissuade someone who would be happy with a particular camera system from looking at it by being too negative. I like Kirk’s blog and I think his series of posts on the V1 is reasonably balanced. He does like his small cameras but I think is careful to say (as is Steve in his reviews) that if you have the skills, you can get good results. Skills, yes, about that manual focus business…:-)

  17. Can’t see too many takers from the ‘noiseless’ photo camp. It’s good IQ for what it is – a teeny sensor – but ‘yo never ever gonna get great shots from a very small sensor in low light’.

    I used to love my little Panasonic LX3 (similar ball-park sized camera) but only in good light – poor light conditions saw excessive noise and ‘banding’ … god knows what it would have produced in the sort of near-darkness conditions my X100 @ ISO 1600+ simply laughs at.

    One ruined low-light shot too many proved the Panny’s undoing – I could imagine something similar happening with this brace of Nikons.

    Nice toys (if you have the money to spend) but NOT the universal, quality, ‘pocket’ camera everyone apparently hankers after!

    • People keep harping on the small sensor, BUT the pixels on this thing are almost the same size as those on the Panasonic G3 M4/3 sensor, and nobody complains too much about that. It’s a 10 MP sensor, which is a sane number of pixels IMHO, and is the reason why the pixels aren’t as small as people think, and better than most expect.

      That said, this isn’t intended to replace pro DSLRs. It’s never going to replace my D3X or D700, for example. It’s basically intended to be a fun snap shot sort of camera. As Nikon stated, their intended customer is someone who wants to upgrade from a point and shoot. Myself, I’m considering it as a replacement for my Canon G10, which is what I carry with me on hikes and bike rides. Compared to the G10/G12, etc, the V1 should be a HUGE improvement.

      There are lot’s of neat small cameras coming onto the market lately. But like any camera, they ALL are compromises. NO camera is perfect. The X100 isn’t. The NEX 7 isn’t. And the V1 isn’t. But given the fact that they’re all different, and all optimize different things, we all benefit by the choices provided. So people should be joyful in the variety, rather than feel they need to run down any camera that they themselves haven’t chosen. There are all kinds of people, with all kinds of needs, and what works for one won’t work for another, and vice versa.

      Thank you, Steve, for telling it like it is, rather than succumbing to the internet negativity. I’m looking forward to the full review. I haven’t bought one of these yet, and am still mulling it, along with the NEX 7. But regardless of which route I go, I’m glad for the wealth of choices we have.

      • I think the internet negativity is beginning to change as more photographers are buying this little Nikon, including a few pro photographers who have taken it out in the field and have sung it’s praises – you can’t just judge it purely on the specification sheet.
        Nikon have spent four years on developing the V1/J1 camera system, and I feel it will be a big success for them. It is not designed to replace a large camera system, but to complement it – a small, fast focusing and well built camera with good image quality.
        Like, Mark, I am looking forward to Steve’s full review, and mulling over whether to purchase the V1, as it is fairly expensive, and at the moment there is a wealth of choices out there.

      • Assuming indentical sensor technology, sensor size, not pixel size, determines the lowlight performance from camera images that are viewed at the same size. Pixel size may influence which looks better when viewed at 100%, but that has little relevance in photography, where one compares various cameras for their intended personal use at like output sizes.

        Of course, while we’re at it, it only makes sense to compare cameras at the same exposure, meaning shutter and aperture, because, if not, you’re relying on the inconsitancies between each cameras metering and ISO gain amount.

        • Err – wrong DF … pixel size IS directly related to how many you cram onto a sensor (as marcus says above) i.e. it is physics, not just arbitrary figures conjured up by marketeers.

          Cramming 10mp on a tiny chip is making photo-sites – the ‘receiving’ bit that actually constitutes an individual pixel – VERY VERY SMALL. This is not a good thing …. at all …. never, ever.

          Small photo-sites mean light needs to be amplified far more than that falling on far bigger photo-sites – always resulting in noise.

          Whilst sensor technology has advanced rapidly, you can NOT defeat the physics – 10mp on a BIG chip means BIG (less noisy) photo-sites/pixels …. 10mp on a SMALL chip means SMALL (more noisy) photo-sites/pixels.

          As with film, where an average Medium Format (BIG medium) negative/slide always contained more physical info than 35mm (or smaller formats) so does a big sensor of equal technology always beat a smaller one.

          No matter what constitutes your ‘pixels’ (silver halide or silicon receptors) a bigger medium will always offer enhanced, less noisy/grainy images.

        • Nope, the total sensor size has nothing to do with the result.

          1) One can never assume identical “sensor technology” because there’re differences of sensor performance within a manufacturer line-up, and add to that different manufacturers — each with its own manufacturing techniques (Nex = designed and made by Sony; mFT = designed by Panasonic or partially by Olympus, made by Panasonic; Nikon 1 = designed at least partially by Nikon and made by Aptina).

          2) For a given display/print size, the result is a combination of “how many”/”how wrong” the noise dots are (== sensor’s pixel size, small gives more noise), and “how big” each noise dot is in the final display/print (== number of pixels, more gives finer pattern). For example, 2 small dots of red noise in a blue sky may be less visible than 1 big dot of green noise because of size (even though red is “more wrong”), or vice-versa.

          Because of that, the only valid comparison is “real world”, i.e., at same display/print size; it’s difficult to predict the results; and it’s also partially subjective (some people’re more sensitive to colors, others to pattern or pattern size).

          • Identical sensor technology = silicon wafer technology (unless someone invented something else) and the laws of physics obeyed by those materials. NOT individual differences in chip manufacture.

            All current sensors work on much the same technologies – how you design and amplify the individual photo-sites on a sensor (i.e. the physical pixel) is the true key factor, but you can’t fight physics. Small receptors perform less well than big ones

            No one manufacturer has the edge, or employs radically different technology to another, so therefore all generationally equivalent sensors ARE, essentially, identical.

            Mega-pixels are calculated by how many individual photo-sites you put on a sensor …. period.

            10mp on a teeny compact, or 4/3rd, always means smaller (noisier) photo-sites, or receptors, than 10mp on APS or FF sensor (bigger receptors). If you start with a small sensor, then smoother, less noisy, more detailed results, are always gonna be an uphill struggle … particularly in low light.

      • 10 mp on this small teeny nikon is not the same as 10 mp on 4/3. Please get your facts right. There is nothing great about that noisy image, grain or not. physics is physics, tiny sensor sucks no matter how they package it. Nikon v1 is just a poor attempt at toppling the 4/3 dominion which has larger sensor (much larger) and will trash v1/j1 at low light.

        • Simply not true. The Oly Pen series, at least the E-P2 which I owned had bad noise in high contrast scenes already at ISO 200 and ISO 1600 was just really bad. I think the V1/J1 IQ is really good and at least as good as E-P2 in normal light and a lot better in low light.

          • True but I found out that I can avoid the low iso noise of my E-P1 by overexposing all pictures 0.3ev. It seems that by default the E-P1/2 underexposes. try it!

          • Well, I first owned the E-P1 and then sold it to get the E-P2 with a viewfinder.

            I just looked at a well exposed and not too high contrast scenewhich I took with the E-P1 with the sky and a grass field.

            At ISO 200 the darker parts is pure “grainstorm”. There is a ridiculus amount of noise in the picture ín the darker areas while the sky looks ok and this is at ISO 200!

            The same thing goes for the E-P2 and that is the reason why I also sold that camera.

            But thanks for the tip anyway.

      • >> Mark: the pixels on this thing are almost the same size as those on the Panasonic G3 M4/3 sensor, and nobody complains too much about that.

        Actually NO.
        The Nikon V1/J1 sensor is twice smaller than mFT and 3.2 times smaller than Sony’s APS, so Nikon 1 10 Mp == mFT 20 Mp == Nex 32 Mp.
        G3 is “only” 16 Mp (with good results).

        >> Mark: It’s a 10 MP sensor, which is a sane number of pixels IMHO, and is the reason why the pixels aren’t as small as people think, and better than most expect.

        What is sane is changing quickly, but here, IMHO, the pixels are better than what most expect because (1) there’s constant progress in sensor design, and 6 months since the G3 have narrowed the gap (that might be 1 year of sensor development, because Panasonic wasn’t in a hurry but Nikon is); (2) Nikon has proven in the past they can design good sensors ; (3) Sony is no longer ahead for noise (mFT 16 Mp == Nex 26 Mp, and G3 is considered OK while Nex-7 is considered too much).

    • Fact is that this camera has a sensor with twice the surface than the one in the Fuji X10 (the latter is being received as if it was the greatest thing since sliced bread) plus 20% fewer pixel on top, So do the math concerning pixel size. And compared to G12 or LX5 and the likes, the difference is obviously even bigger. What difference pixel size can make is also confirmed in the NEX5N to NEX7 comparison.

      • The math is how big individual photo-sites are … unless you use the Sigma x3 math which makes their Foveon sensor ‘appear’ bigger …..

        Critics of the Nikon are not comparing cameras/sensors – just stating it’s not that good, so why all the fuss?

    • You are right. “Like film grain” that is what I see too, also at lower ISO settings than 6400 – very nice grains indeed when shooting in raw. I like that type of grains a lot.

  18. Hi Steve,

    Thank you for another nice article, I love your reviews!
    Just wanted to suggest to make more “resized to match” ISO comparison, because in “real-world”, I won’t display/print my images bigger just because the sensor has more pixels 😉
    Seems logical, but you’re so far the only website where I’ve seen “resized to match” comparisons, and they’re great and make a big difference (at same display/print size, more pixels means “smaller” noise, and this sometimes compensates for the higher noise).

  19. I shoot with my V1+10/2.8 since two days. It just feels good, feels right. This minimalist camera is never in my way to get the picture i saw in the great VF. The RAW files are outstanding. They are sharp and well metered. It isn’t a camera for people who like to fiddle with knobs, it’s a camera for people who just like to take pictures.

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