USER REPORT: The Nikon V1 goes to Venice by Gary Perlmutter

USER REPORT: The Nikon V1 goes to Venice by Gary Perlmutter

Hi Steve, I have really been enjoying all the articles on your website of late and it was thanks to your ‘real’ review of the Nikon V1 and that I value your opinion that I recently sold my Fuji X100 and bought the Nikon V1 together with the 10mm, 10-30mm and the 30-110mm lenses. I sold the Fuji reluctantly because although the IQ is incredible, the AF being so slow caused me to lose so many street shot opportunities. I decided that for me at least, fast AF was crucial, so on your recommendation the Nikon V1 it was!

Although my real passion is street photography (see Daily Inspiration 301) I have just come back from Venice in Italy where I was lucky enough to spend a few days during their carnival. This gave me the perfect opportunity to put the V1 through its paces as not only a street camera but also a travel camera system. My first impressions were how perfect this system is for travel. Professionally for my wedding photography I use the Canon 5dMk11 with a number of lenses and this fills a Thinktank travel suitcase alone, never mind the bulk and weight. The Nikon system with all 3 lenses and spare battery fits into my Thinktank Retrospective 5 with room to spare and is so light, that after a whole day walking around Venice, I didn’t even notice the weight!

In use like you I found the AF never missed a shot and the metering was spot on each time. I set the camera up in shutter priority and auto ISO, mainly because this got round the problem that many have reported of the camera selecting too slow a shutter speed in aperture priority mode. With such a wide depth of field due to the small sensor, I didn’t worry about what aperture was being set. However for all you Bokeh lovers out there, the 30-110 zoom can produce some great shallow depth of focus images as can be seen below. Maximum usable ISO I find is 1600 although at a pinch I’ve used 3200. Incidentally I always shoot RAW, as this gives me plenty of scope for adjustment if required.

Apart from that, like Colin Steel in his articles on the V1, I too have taped out the mode dial on the back to stop it accidentally shifting to video mode. (Nikon should have got this right in design). I also fitted Flipbac’s excellent G4 grip and their flip up mirror, which not only acts as a rear screen protector but also allow me to take waist level shots, great for street shooting when you don’t want to be noticed.

So to sum up, so far so good with the little V1. I love the EVF, fast AF, great image quality for such a small sensor and the whole kit so compact it fits in a tiny bag. Can’t wait for Nikon to bring out some fast primes as promised!

You can follow me on Twitter @gazonthestreet or see more of my work at Flickr:

Kind regards




  1. Wow. I am very impressed with the pics coming out of the V1. Obviously your skill mattered more than the equipment. I guess this post just shows that almost any modern camera can produce outstanding results if the guy behind it knows what he is doing.

  2. Noticed that SLR Magic site is asking for input regarding preferred mounts for their lenses. Are they planning to release lenses for Nikon dslr’s? Any one heard any rumors? Steve maybe? Also does anyone know of any nikon 1 lenses that are soon to be released? I’ve been waiting for better lenses for my v1 and don’t want to get the nikon adapter–too big!

  3. Wow! This camera is a little jewel. I bought the Nikon Lens adapter and stuck several of my high end glass on it along with the collection of AIS lenses and it does not disappoint. Extremly fast AF and the quality of the pictures is very good. I just recently sold the Fuji X100… I loved the camera, but I had a love hate relationship with it… mostly to do with the AF.

  4. Great article and great photos. It really shows the capability of this small sensor camera. So much so that I went out and bought the full Nikon V1 kit this week. I’ve invested heavily in Nikon pro lenses and even a D3s but find that more often than not it stays at home or in the hotel because the kit is just too heavy. Also after a careful review of my favourite photos in my Aperture library I realized that most of my favorites were family vacation shots taken with my D-Lux 4 because it was always with me.

    I can’t wait for my next vacation to test out the Nikon V1 kit. I’m sure it will be great. I already really like the solid feel of the camera and the AF speed and metering seem excellent.

  5. Lovely pictures…I have a V1. I love it too. Takes beautifui Macro photography with my AF 60mm Micro lens, takes lovely bird photography from my 200mm lens. So versatile camera. Thanks for sharing.

    • Kim, can I ask you a question. In order to use the AF60mm and 200mm do they have to be AF-S lens types? With the adaptor would I be able to use say my 180mm AF 2.8 which is not AF-S? What I mean if the lens does not have it’s own motor can you focus manually or are non AF-S lens’s not compatible?


  6. Lovely photos! Thanks for sharing.

    I had the V1 for about 3 weeks, and the AF speed and accuracy are excellent. I’m just hoping that Nikon will either issue a firmware that allows for enthusiasts to really customize some of the buttons on the V1, provide for a quick access to the menu (much like all their DSLR’s and even some P&S), and either allow user customizable parameter changes to the auto-ISO or simply change the auto-ISO logic to the 1 over 35mm equivalent focal length rule. With a couple of changes, the V1 could be the ultimate street shooting camera.

    • There is nothing in this camera that prevents you from taking great photos as is, except maybe in your own mind.

      • Not sure where that came from. Wake up on the wrong side of the bed? Do you have Nikon stock and believe that my wish list will somehow lower Nikon stock? Good grief. This isn’t DPR forum here. Or at least, it shouldn’t be.

        • I’m just saying that the camera works fine as is.

          Every camera could be better in some way or another, but the most important things are already implemented in the V1 like great AF, metering and color etc.

          The rest is just very minor stuff that in my opinion should not prevent you from getting great shoots.

          • Gotcha. Please note that I never wrote that it would prevent me (or anyone else) from getting great photos.

  7. Very nice shots. This past Christmas I spent a week in Venice myself shooting with both my Leica M9 and Nikon D300 (alternating days) and like you discovered the virtues of smaller cameras when traveling light. And even when I pre-ordered the D800, I feel like may other people out there: that tis may be my last DSLR. When the time for a refresh comes in 3 or so years the new mirrorless wonders and their new technology may be at the point where bulky DSLRs will no longer be worth the investment.

    At present, though, while I am extremely impresses with these new cameras when it comes to specs, the optics are simply not there yet. In fact, I do get the impression that the savings these cameras are affording consumers today come from the manufacturer’s ability to cut a few optical corners. Great promise, but until the day comes when photographers are not “waiting” for so many of these optical promises to be realized, the mature DSLR will will continue to dominate the professional and prosumer market. Three or four years from now, that may be another story. Exciting times we’re living.

    • Ric,

      I agree with you about future purchases. I have had great use from my D200 with 17-55mm but with this lens it is pretty hefty. I really miss using my FM2/F3HP with just a 24mm or 50mm, mostly because of the increased size and weight. I accept that the 17-55 2.8 is a big lens and there are alternatives. However, the wife’s new V1 has excited me and whilst I had deferred buying a D300 preferring to wait for a D400 (if and when?) or a secondhand D700 I am tempted to just get a V1 instead. If Nikon produce a couple of fast primes I might be very tempted.

      The V1 was bought primarily because of the weight/bulk particularly for travelling which is where my wife takes most photos. she trooped around Vietnam with a D200 18-200 and a 300mm (hardly used), Speedlight (never used) and vowed never again.


  8. Wonderful pictures. Love the colors; subtle pastels, but not dull or desaturated.

    Is that the way they came out of the camera?

    • Yes they were almost as they came out of the camera, I wanted to show what a great piece of kit the V1 is.

  9. Great shots and good write up on why you chose it. I totally agree – AF speed is key. It has pro-dslr like speeds (and even faster in many situations) and I think that makes it a wonderful easy to use camera. I loved the IQ of the Leica X1, but using it for anything that moved was out of the question. I hate disconnecting myself from the place I am at when I have to fumble around with the camera to get it to do what I want. Like you wrote in your article, just set the V1 to shutter mode and shoot fast without disconnecting yourself from the moment.

    • Thanks Jason, it’s my favourite too. I annoyed a lot of photographers who were trying to take her photo at the time!

  10. Oh Venice, been there twice and on both occasions I missed the carnival.

    I like your photographs and am really surprised what you can achieve with V1.

  11. Great series. Great work with the Nikon V1. It is a very capable camera and has seemed to me to be put on the shelf as something that cannot produce excellent images.

    Fantastic Photo’s

    • My first thought too! I’d rather save weight with less lenses (one fast prime?) on a larger sensor.

    • I was just going to post that question! And like Don, I’d rather stick to my M with a couple of small primes (like a VC 15, Elmarit 28 and Summarit 50) in my pockets.

      • I think the “great shallow depth of field” perception comes from the fact that these photos were cleverly taken where the subject in focus is quite far from its background.

        Photo # 6 – the face in the mirror is in focus, so the mirror is slightly out of focus and of course the distant background.
        Photo # 7 – between the subject and the blurred background, I’d say at least a good few meters.

        • Fair point re picture 6 but number 7 does demonstrate that with careful composition DoF can be limited. Hopefully Nikon will produce a couple of fast primes. I want a 50mm equivalent but at least as fast as my Nikkor 50mm 1.4 AIS.

  12. i have owned the v1 for a while and i fully agree, it is a great little camera; if it wasn’t for the lack of good prime lenses (only one available as of now) – along with the fact that i did not feel like building up yet another system – i would have happily kept it as a superb travel camera.

    thanks for the images of venice; even though i used to live in the region, i always avoided the city during carnival, way too busy for my taste 🙂

  13. As a owner of a Leica S2 and M9, I was really impressed with what I was seeing with the V1. So I picked one up. I have to say, I think Nikon has done a great job with the camera.

    I think the are going to have a winner.

      • I think it’s very common for photographers to have several cameras. Enjoying one doesn’t mean you like the others less.

        Besides these are very different kind of cameras.

    • As full range Leica owner, I suppose you missed V1’s biggest problem – its price.

      J1 V1 are fine little cameras and will sell like hot cake if you remove the price factor.

      • V1’s are a lot less then when they came out and I feel the price is good value now for what you get (built in EVF for example).

      • I agree about the price of the V1 per se. However, my wife imported one from Hong Kong V1 with 10-30 & 30-110 for £600 (Pounds UK) which makes the whole kit good value for money I think.

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