Some low light high ISO snaps with the Nikon V1

Some low light high ISO snaps with the Nikon V1

I went out to a 10 year anniversary party of the town of Surprise, AZ tonight and brought along the Nikon V1 and 10mm lens to see just how it would do in low light without flash AND high ISO. Would the color get degraded? Would the noise overtake the image at ISO 3200? See for yourself in the snaps below. ISO 3200 rocked! I shot these all as RAW and converted them with Adobe Camera RAW with Noise Reduction turned off. So no NR. Colors are straight from camera, no filters or effects. You can click the images for a larger version. I am still really digging the V1 and carry it with me all the time. Instead of getting tired of it, it has grown on me more which is unusual! Usually I tire of new cameras after a few weeks or couple months because I find their weaknesses and this one has been sticking. Probably because there are few weaknesses.

As I shot I used the EVF 100% of the time and LOVED it. I had no issues with Auto Focus and even in these night shots, the AF was quick and accurate. The 10mm is a great walk around lens because it is small, light and sharp. Check out the 2nd shot which was shot at ISO 3200! No NR. It is amazingly detailed. I can not wait for Nikon to release a fast prime or two because when that happens we will be able to shoot in lower light at lower ISO’s and even get some shallow depth of field. I can say this…the V1 beats any compact/point and shoot in almost every area. It beats all other mirrorless cameras in speed, AF, metering and sharpness. It beats them in build and by including the EVF in the body, it makes it my favorite mirrorless to date. I also love the NEX-7 but I have to give credit where it is due. The V1 has faster AF, more accurate AF, sharper images out of the camera and better metering. The NEX-7 is superb though, and has the resolution and larger sensor advantages. The 7 is also more enthusiast oriented with its body and controls. Still, the V1 is damn good! There is some noise in the following images but the noise is not offensive at all IMO.

I also had the M9 and 35 Nokton with me and shot only 2-3 shots with that combo. I put one at the bottom so you can compare the image with the V1 version. Full frame and fast lens vs teeny sensor and slow lens in the same light, same situation. Interesting!


ISO 3200, 10mm – NO Noise Reduction, from RAW – Click image for larger version

100% crop below of the ISO 3200 image

ISO 3200, from RAW, NR turned to ZERO – Click image for larger version

ISO 400

ISO 2500!

ISO 800 – details!

ISO 400 – The V1 metering is amazing!

And one from the Leica M9 and 35 Nokton but at ISO 160 and f/1.2

[ad#Adsense Blog Sq Embed Image]


  1. Any news regarding the New 1 series release? Nikon V3?

    I would love to purchase one.. The only design flaw that is holding me back is the lighting/flash limitations.

    I need one with a real hotshoe that I can use with my ringflash. The V series own speedlights can’t even be used as commanders for Nikon’s own CLS system.

    Once Nikon solves these issues I’m buying one.

    Fingers crossed for a V3 with a hotshoe and CLS integration!!!

  2. I bought a Nikon1 V1. I wanted better than a point and shoot, but it had to be somewhat compact and light due to permanent damage from a fall breaking both my elbows. Weight and lots of extension on lenses is not feasible for me. I bought the Nikon 1 J1/V1 for Dummies book. I also am doing all the reading I can online. I notice most photos are done in daylight or outside in well lit areas in the evening. I would like to be able to make this work in low light events indoors. I did take some tonight using the RAW and ISO 3200 with the only lighting basically coming from the Christmas tree. Have you attempted any indoors low light situations? My favorite time to shoot is low light and the other favorite is closeups. I also really enjoy nature shoots.

  3. Do you believe it would be cost effective to purchase the F mount adapter to use fast primes like 24mm 35mm? Have you tried this? Would you be willing to test them out?
    Thank you.

  4. I’ve resisted digital for many reasons. I been shooting film since the 80’s but the time has come. I have a set of lower priced nikon lenses. I’m thinking of the V1 as my first.

    I don’t want or need the bulk of a dslr at this time and my budget is around 1k – 1.2K USD. Would you endorse this as a first digital?

  5. Steve thanks for these wonderful V1 low light samples, which confirms what a fine camera the V1 is.

    I would always trust camera reviews from real photographers like you, Kirk Tuck, Rob Galbraith and Nasim Mansurov and many others over specification chart testers from electronic gadget review sites.

    I’m also waiting for Nikon to release some of the expected fast f1.4-1.8 primes, which will make the N1 even more versatile.

  6. Steve, is there any delay between the real view of the world and what you see through the viewfinder.Also do you know of any plans to bring out a 35 or 50 mm equiv prime?

  7. Thank you for your review and continuous interest in keeping us posted on your experience with the V1. Based on your articles, I am very tempted to get a V1. However, I have read that the DxO marks for the 10mm (as well as the small zoom lens) are quite low. How does it compare with the Panasonic 20mm?

    • Then I believe you misunderstood the DXOmark tests of the N1 lenses.

      First, they measure lenses plus sensor performance together at normal indoor light 1/60s 150 lux conditions and normalize the measurements to 35mm. A relative unique way to measure lens performance.

      Second, try to compare DXOmark performance to DX cameras like D200/D300 (similar MP) with i.e. the VR70-200 v1 or VR24-120 f4 lenses, then you will discover how good the N1 lenses performs.

  8. Nikon owes you, Steve. N1, the ugly duckling story. If it was not for guys like Steve and Kirk Tuck, nobody would believe early N1 users how good these little Nikons really are. And by the way, great shots, colors and details are really impressive for such a small sensor camera. To me Nikon is redefining the point and shoot category with the N1. It’s great as somebody’s only system as well as a second system for those with high end aps-c or FF gear. The space inbetween is starting to get tight for mft.

  9. Thanks Steve – your low light shots just sold me on a V1.

    So unfortunately this means bye bye to my Fuji X100 … I just sold mine and will definitely miss those vibrant Fuji colours however camera responsiveness is absolutely paramount to me and learning to use the Fuji’s EVF 100% of the time and zone focusing actually dulled the whole shooting experience for me and seemed to be a compromise I could live without.

    Hoping to place an order for a V1 + 10mm + flash soon … 🙂

  10. Great shots!!! Beautiful deep, rich blacks. I wish I saw these before I went out and bought my EP3. Now Im having buyer’s remorse. Maybe if I drop 500 bucks on the Panasonic 25 mm lens my EP3 will put out better pictures than the Oly 17mm kit lens?

  11. It might be tough for m4/3 to get back into my camera bag. Between the nex-5n and V1, I can’t see a niche where it can survive once the other two formats get more lenses.

    I did end up selling the V1 for now, but I plan on going back. I needed to free up some funds for the highly anticipated e-mount 50mm 1.8 and maybe the zeiss 24mm if I can move a few more items.

  12. Hi Steve,

    Were there any NR setting made to the V1?

    Such great shots I went out and bought the dual kit this afernoon, hoping for a better prime in the near future.

    • No, I turn NR off. Why? Well, when using NR you may get a little less noise, but you lose sharpness and detail and get that NR smudginess that personally, I can not stand. SO I go for detail and sharpness over smudge and less noise. I did not find the noise objectionable for snapshots anyway, especially considering it was night and up to ISO 3200 🙂 Enjoy it!

  13. Steve, as usual excellent paper.

    I got a question for you. Why “technically” turning noise reduction off for these night shots?

    Thx for your time!

  14. Hey Steve, do you still have the Fuji X100? How would that have coped with these shooting conditions?

  15. Hello Steve,
    what do you think about portrait-photography and the Nikon V1? Is any bokeh/low depth of field with this camera possible? Maybe with the 30-110?
    Thanks for your answer and your great website from home of Leica,

    • I go over shallow depth of field in my review for the V1. Basically, it is not a camera you buy if you want shallow death of field but with the 30-110, zoomed out to 110, you can get some shallow depth of field.

  16. Steve, how about an actual comparison of low-light performanceof three ILC cameras: NEX-5N, EP-3 and V1. I think that the first image shows that Nikon looses a lot of fine details in high ISO. But it also seems that colors remain pretty vibrant throughout the ISO range.

    I just get the sense that this article is a little misleading. Nikon stil doesn’t have high aperture lenses that should have been there from day 1. So by no means we should call Nikon’s low light capabilities better than average. Maybe they are good compared to the sensor it has, but that it just a ridiculous way to compare things since there are few viable options to choose from.

    • The V1 does better in low light than any M4/3 I have tried. It does NOT beat the Sony 5n in low light/high ISO but then again, it beats the 5n in usability, metering, focusing, speed, etc. To me, after shooting the V1 at night with these samples I am more than sold on the 1 system. If you are out shooting in this low of light it is for snapshots really. These did perfectly fine for snapshots and I do not go and look at 100% views of shots like this. If anything, personal shots would be printed small if at all. I wouldn’t go out in this light with ANY camera and NO lighting for any kind of serious or pro shooting. I will say it again, the low light capabilities of the V1 are really very good. Better than M4/3 which would have created blobs of noise in this same situation.

  17. The more I read input the V1, the more I want one. It is the polar opposite of my X1. Super fast, fully automated an has the built in EVF. I would miss the manual control dials and shallow DOF, but man, what a camera Nikon have pulled out the hat (taking into account their self imposed limitations!)

  18. Steve is this place far from you house? You seem to find some cool events to go to…. Does the V1 have centre weighted metering as an option? Or are we stuck with “I’m smarter than you” matrix style?

  19. Every time I look at your shots, I am tempted. I have to adjust for the fact that you are a much better photographer, but odds are that if you like a camera, I will like it as well.

    The high ISO in this looks a lot better than I would expect. Is this a camera you would recommend for “sports” type photos?

  20. Hi,Steve!
    Descovered recently your website trough The Online Photographer…And read a lot of your great tests…
    Two weeks ago, bought a V1 for my wife…(I’m a Canon DSmkII-Leica X1-Canon S95 user)
    I wanted (still want) a Fuji x10, she wanted a white V1…I tried to explain her, that Cartier-Bresson, never wanted to use a white camera…that black was more discret…Anyway…Bought the white V1 with 10-30…
    And yes, I confirm: The V1 is an impressive, fast and acurate camera !
    It gives a lot, in a very easy way, even in very,very bad lighting conditions!
    Haven’t tried Raw yet…
    Wait for a fast 50mm equivalent…

      • Thanks. Still considering the 10mm with all this talk about fast primes in the future, but I guess fast primes will be a lot bigger and more expensive, so I might get the tiny 10mm anyway.

  21. Well Kirk Tuck has been telling all who will listen that the V1 is a stunner for weeks so this test confirms it. In “real world” terms it is obviously one heck of a camera. Like so many others I too doubted it would be but I am glad to be totally wrong. 😀

  22. I am up in the air about this camera (Nikon V1) and wonder how it you would rate the X10 when compared to it as a “walking around camera”? There are a lot of things that I liked about it and appreciate your impressions from using it in very real world situations.

    • Well I would choose the V1 over the X10 anyway. I shot with both, side by side on many days and the V1 beats the Fuji for me in build, EVF, AF, metering, and low light. I liked the X10 as well but like the V1 better. These days just about any camera over $500 you buy will be really good. What it boils down to is personal preference in features, feel, etc. Go with whatever pushes your buttons.

  23. Good work Steve, very impressive results!

    People are still saying this little camera is over priced.

    Well , here is more proof that it is a bargain .

    Try and find another camera at any price that does as much as good as the V1.


    Seems this tiny sensor does things even the larger ones can’t ! Although it isn’t really that tiny.

  24. Thanks Steve! Seeing all these pics further strengthen my belief that the Nikon 1 System is a viable system to get into. I am planning to get a J1 for my wife 1st then a V1 for myself. From all that I have read, the V1 is a very responsive and enjoyable camera to use. I recon you like it even more than the Nex 7 now?

  25. Demonstrated that it is more important to the photographer that the camera

  26. Not bad for a sensor this small, looks comparable to µ4/3. Still notably worse than APS-C (NEX for example), so I still think it was a mistake for Nikon to go this route.

  27. Thanks Steve for trying out the V1, then sharing with us your enthusiasm going against the grain. That’s what I love about your site.

    Question: Which type of light metering did you use most — whole scene, centre weighted etc?

    BTW I attempted to try out a V1 at a local independent electronics store (the only one with a V1) and the sales person told me it was rubbish because of the reviews and directed me to Sony. He wouldn’t even replace the battery in the camera so I could turn it on. I tried telling him it was getting good reviews too but he wouldn’t listen. So I left the store…

    • Used matrix metering. The salesman obviously never took the V1 out and used it himself. At first glance many think it is rubbish due to the specs. Small sensor, 10MP, slow lenses. Thats is all some people need to hear to dismiss something. But when you go out and use the camera you realize it is fast, accurate, and feels GREAT shooting with it. Cant wait for faster lenses though…

  28. Color me impressed. I too was a skeptic, but this little Nikon seems to be going toe to toe with even some of the nice APS-C cameras. If only the Nikon V1 was priced lower, and offered better DOF control I would have been looking at one as a walk around/social camera to supplement my Panasonic G2. Maybe for the next gen they will add some of touch screen features Panasonic offers at a price $100 lower.

  29. I can only say that the V1 produces output way beyond what I was expecting at the time it was announced. My hat is off to Nikon. Still I should think that Nikon should bring a few fast fixed focal length lenses (equivalent of 32/1.4 ot 50/1.4 or such).

    I just can not stop thinking how would the output files look if the V1 had been an APS-C camera 😉

    • I have owned this baby for only two weeks, and I completely agree with Steve, it’s amazing and a definite keeper for me! I’ve owned the E-P2 which yielded some excellent results, however didn’t cut the mustard in low-light. I downsized from DSLR’s a while ago as I wanted something more compact and fast to use especially on the street! I’ve been through the LX3/5 which again were excellent, albeit a little slow to change settings – my low-light shots never ceased to amaze me (and it was only 10mp). I upgraded to the NEX5n as I wanted a larger sensor in a compact body – the quality is definitely amazing, but switching between spot focusing and aperture settings was a little slow as was the autofocus. That’s now gone – so all I have is the V1. So I hear you all berate why has he ditched the 16mp sensor for a 10mp? I was like many of you a little concerned looking at the specs, but like Steve was pleasantly surprised. The focusing is fast and spot on, the aperture toggle means that I no longer have to take my eye from the EVF which is awesome and just as good as the EVF for the NEX5n. It’s also solidly built, ergonomic, feels great to hold and smaller than the NEX range, but more importantly delivers amazing results and because of the speed of it’s operation helps me concentrate on capturing the moment!

      Sorry, just wanted to put my views over and totally agree with everything Steve is saying – people criticising the V1 couldn’t have used one! Even as a second body I feel it’s a must for all serious photographers, besides aren’t we all supposed to be after that winning shot!

      In answer to Matus if the V1 had an APS-C sensor it would be bigger, have larger lenses and would totally defeat the object of a compact with interchangeable lenses. People just need to overcome the psychological megapixel hangup they may have – just like I have.

  30. The color, metering, and focus are indeed nailed, and some of these look like some really difficult lighting situations. The quick and somewhat rough shadow detail fall-off in the first shot (an awesome shot, btw) is the only thing that bugs me, but given the sensor size it’s a pretty impressive performance overall.

  31. Real great post Steve, thank-you.
    Your enthusiasm is infectious, and your real world images are refreshing. Studio shots? I don’t use a camera for studio shots. 🙂

  32. Good to see these results, Steve. Can you comment on how you metered these and what exposure modes you were using? I’m still assessing what automation can be trusted in these little cams, and I haven’t had an opportunity to do much low light with my own V1 yet.

  33. Steve, based on your comments above, am I correct in assuming that you prefer the V1 over the Ep3?

    • Well….I LOVE the E-P3. I sort of bonded with that camera and it has given me so many personal keepers. Images that I have never posted anywhere. But, the V1 beats it in many areas. Speed, metering, high ISO, EVF, low light in regards to color, etc. The only area where the E-P3 beats the V1 is in lens availability IMO. Better and faster lenses are available for Micro 4/3. In use though? I prefer the V1.

      • That’s amazing, based on your review of the e-p3. Have you hd a chance to try the nx200? The lack of a evf aside, it seems on paper to look quite food, with a large selection of primes.

  34. Impressive. I’m most struck by the color, which holds even at ISO3200. I have the Canon S90, for example, and the color is blech anywhere over ISO400 and even that is iffy. Basically, you should shoot it at base ISO80 only.

  35. Steeve, you might want to send email to dpreview saying they have to replace their V1 camera – as dpreviews studio comparison tools shows clearly that the nikon’s resolution in high ISO’s dosnt come close to any M43 camera.

    • Seems that would be a jobs for Nikon’s marketing dept, not Steve. I don’t think Steve has any personal stake in how a given camera fares or doesn’t fare on other websites, just his own usage and testing.

      Why should Steve have to go around and make sure that other review sites show a given camera in the best possible light unless he’s actually making money off the sales of those cameras and as such as a vested interest in perception and sales.

    • I really don’t want to discuss other sites test pictures here, but now you mentioned the dpreview studio scene, I feel I should give a short comment on this.

      It really depends where in the dpreview studio scene you compare. I’ll bet you only compared where the M43 were sharpest and V1/J1 were most unsharp i.e on the Martini bottle. In the same way I could say the Olympus PEN E-P3 loose details at RAW ISO1600 and above i.e at the robot, in the hair, in the shadow box, on the paper clips etc.

      It should also be mentioned that all dpreview M43 studio scene test pictures are taken with the magnificent Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 50mm f2.0 Macro lens (not a M43 lens), while the V1/J1 pictures are taken with the 30-110 kit lens.

5 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. I like Nikon » Blog Archive » Nikon Pro Magazine for iPad; High-ISO V1 test shots - Keeping tabs on all things Nikon
  2. Camera - DSLR or New Canon ELPH 510 HS - Page 3 - Dodge Challenger Forum: Challenger & SRT8 Forums
  3. 'A Few Nikon 1 J1 Shots'
  4. Nikon 1 V1 Review -
  5. Nikon V1 – Low Light Samples form Steve Huff » Richard Ella Photography

Comments are closed.