Nikon V1 for indoor sports? By Bradley Husick

Nikon V1 for indoor Sports? by Brad Husick

I tried the V1 system last night to shoot indoor lacrosse and I came away with two impressions: 1) the V1 is a nice camera with the best autofocus of any mirrorless I have tried, and 2) the lenses are so slow that the shutter speeds even at ISO 3200 are in the 1/60 range and every shot was blurred.

Here’s a great example of my results. As you can see the camera nailed the focus (look at the shorts) and the motion blur made for an artistic shot but not very useful as a sports image.

Sadly, the Nikon 1 system is not on my purchase list until they ship some fast lenses. This is a major flaw in my opinion of all the mirrorless camera systems – there simply are no fast zooms. Yes, there are some fast primes, but in many cases a zoom is incredibly useful when you simply can’t use your feet to substitute for a zoom, such as sports.

It is possible to use other systems’ fast zooms on some mirrorless cameras, and I have written an article on one such combination soon to appear here on


  1. Applying a D3 with a 24-70 or an M9 with a “Çron” would be equally useful.

  2. I bought the V1 and three lens kit as it was a great deal, but it is a pain in the rear if you want control. I use it for scene investigations at work, for my son’s outdoor soccer games and that’s about it. 60fps is serious overkill and is a card filler. My first outing to a game filled a card of jpegs in no time and that was a fast lesson learned.. Also, with no way to turn off the auto review, you’re stuck looking at what was… and even for a brief moment, it’s too long to not see what’s going on in a game…

  3. Out of interest weren’t there some focus limitations with the Ft1 adapter? I have been curious about it since the 1 launch about using a 35mm 50mm and 85mm fast primes for 95, 135 and 230 respectively, but I thought there was a limitation using only PDAF with the FT1 but the camera only using CDAF in low light?

    And yes agree the 1 system is a bit sparse for native lenses.

    • I am very interested to know if the FT1 adapter paired with a fast wide angle lens could do the job. Does anybody here have that experience?

    • There are two big limitations with the FT1: it’ll only use the centre focus point, and you only get single servo autofocus, rather than continuous. Maybe those are launch limitations that can be fixed in firmware, maybe they’re hardware. We’ll find out when Nikon issues a major firmware update or releases a higher end 1 series body.

      Here’s Nikon’s info on the FT1:

  4. hi
    i own the Leica M9 which is not a sports camera !!!
    and yet i manage to get some nice motion pics with it
    i prefocus to a desired point and wait. simple as that
    i am sure you know it already.
    why not use it?

    • It is not about focusing it is about lens speed. The V1 can easily focus on moving targets, but lenses are too slow even at ISO 3200 when shooting indoor sports.

      As Bradley says he could only get a shutter speed of around 1/60s which is far to slow to freeze anything that moves quickly. A more appropriate shutter speed would be something like 1/400s or faster.

  5. How about Fujifilm X100 and X Pro1, would them do better then V1? Did you test the other Nikon lens with Adapter FT1?

  6. Tried shooting indoor tennis with my J1 and came to the same conclusion as you.The problem is also that the J1/V1 are not exactly great high ISO performers (compared to a FF DSLR).

    Used to shoot the same kind of photos with my D700 and the 70-200 f/2.8 at something like ISO 3200 to 5000 giving me a shutter time of about 1/400s to 1/500s, but that would be a no go with the J1/V1 due to too much noise.

    You would probably need some really fast glas like f/1.4 to get something useful for indoor sports with the J1/V1 – maybe the new 85mm f/1.8 with the adapter could do it (equivalent of 230 mm)?

  7. I couldn’t agree more Kris. One solution if one really wanted to use a V1 for this sort of work is the FT1 adaptor and use it with a faster Nikon SLR zoom lens. Plus the 2.7x magnification factor will do wonders if you are stuck in the stands far away from the action. Otherwise stick to travel and street photography for which this camera is simply superb! for examples see examples here:

  8. with all my respects, but what would you expect at 1/60? I have the V1 , always put it on manual mode, and I can assure you, even with the slow kit zoom lens, I can nail great sports action shots . The auto focus is incredibly fast, electronic shutter, continuous burst, speed at minimum 2 or 300 and aperture wide open. Pin sharp! The only thing i have to do in PP is take the grain away.(at 3200 it has a lot of noise). For me the V1 is the best small fast lightweight camera on the market at this moment. but please, don’t compare it with a D3s !

    • I didn’t expect great results with a shutter speed of 1/60, but I thought it would be informative for people who are considering the camera and who want to shoot indoor sports like basketball, tennis, volleyball, hockey, box lacrosse, etc.

      To quote Scotty from Star Trek, “You canna change the laws of physics!” If the available lighting requires ISO 3200 and the max aperture is f/3.5 then the fastest shutter speed is 1/60 regardless of the mode in which you shoot the camera. Something has to give in order to get shutter speeds up to 1/500 – either you need more light, higher ISO or a faster lens. I think the V1 is a very nice camera and has a great autofocus system but it could benefit from some faster glass.

    • hi, kris, can you show me your settings for your V1 in manual mode, or any other settings im having problem with motion blur also specially in moving kids, i already sold my J1 for that prob and im keeping my V1 hoping the best. thanks in advance…,

    • I have found when using the V1 for indoor sports is to use s mode, focus center, that way it’s focus is on your subject and use the customize option and I am getting very good indoor basketball shots.

  9. Would be interesting to see your follow-up article on using fast zooms (with the V1 again?) juxtaposed with my recent article on the NEX-7 and fast primes for sports. 🙂 Though I have to wonder, would the size of the sensor really see the benefit of the extra light from an SLR f/2.8? I’d assume that the sensor would already be fully covered by the time you opened a lens like that up to f/4. Any more wide and there’s no benefit? At least, this is the case when many try using the ultra-fast aperture primes on an APS-C camera, the sensor sees no light benefit past f/1.4 (DoF notwithstanding).

    On another note, it does seem very odd that Nikon would have such a fast autofocusing mirrorless, and NOT have any form of a fast zoom for it, or even a fast telephoto prime!

    • Absolutely, it would. You have glass in there that refracts and focuses the light. Think about it: stopping down to f/22 doesn’t create a tiny pinprick of an image circle. Rather, aperture affects light intensity, and how bright the image in said image circle will be. Cropping a portion out of the image circle has no effect on the overall light intensity.

      I’m curious about whether you’ve actually experienced the f/1.4-on-aps-C sensor phenomenon, and what reasons there might be for that. I’ve used f/1.8, f/1.4, and f/1.2 lenses on my micro four thirds camera, and there is a noticeable effect in each case.

  10. Yet another mount was their huge mistake in my opinion. Why they did not go m4/3 I’ll never know. I think they would have had a winner that would have been good for a broader range of buyer demographics.

    I love my Olympus PEN because it affords me some control and I have an interesting lens selection. A friend who bought and knows nothing about cameras likes it because “it’s easy to use and the pictures are nice”. So there you go.

    • If, If, If, If Canon makes an interchangeable lens version of the G1X and adopts the m43 or 4/3 lens mount. Nikon will end up with nothing other than FF in a couple of years.

    • If, If, If, If Canon makes an interchangeable lens version of the G1X and adopts the m43 or 4/3 lens mount, Nikon will end up with nothing other than FF in a couple of years.

  11. Probably a lack of fast zooms because that isn’t the primary target marker for Nikon with this camera. It’s a versatile camera indeed, but I think the vesatility is intended for travel and street photography. Sports is perhaps the most demanding kind of photography there is, and an area for DSLR’s.

  12. Yep, community arenas are difficult to shoot in, don’t go with anything slower than 2.8…

  13. i have try shooting indoor soccer using (35mm 1.8g x 2.7 ) at iso 3200 and i can get nice shutter speed

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