The Nikon V1. The perfect street camera? By Gary Perlmutter

The Nikon V1. The perfect street camera? By Gary Perlmutter

I have been doing street photography for around 12 years. During that time I have used various film and more recently digital cameras, in fact too many to list or even remember! One of my favourites some years ago was the Nikon Coolpix 990 with its unique twisting swivel body which was brilliant for getting those candid photos. More recently I owned the Fuji X100 but like Steve found the auto focus too slow and hit and miss for street photography. ( although I am led to believe that more recent firmware updates have improved the X 100 in this area) A shame as the image quality is superb. I realised that for me my priority was a camera with super fast AF and a built-in viewfinder ( I am old school and prefer to hold the camera to my eye not at arm’s length). It was Steve in his Nikon V1 review that brought this camera to my attention and more importantly his comments on the AF. So I sold my X100 and invested in the Nikon V1 system, that is the camera body and the 10mm, 10-30mm and the 30-110mm lenses. I went for the black matt finish, which coupled with its small size doesn’t draw attention when out on the street.

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In the four months since I’ve owned the camera it has lived up to my expectations, in fact the AF has surpassed them. It really is lightning quick to lock on to a subject and I have not had one out of focus picture. In fact it focuses as fast as I press the shutter with no lag, as can be witnessed in the photo of the kid walking towards me holding the bag on his wrists or the one of the men with the ‘i think he’s gay’ t-shirt. In both images I literally just clicked as they walked into frame, no pre or zone focussing here. I like shooting with prime lenses and always thought that 35mm was my favourite focal length. However at present the only prime lens is the 10mm f2.8 which is equivalent to 27mm. To my surprise I have fallen in love with this focal length and the 10mm has become my lens of choice. It is also a very compact pancake lens, making a great combo for the street. In use I have taped down the mode dial as it can be moved too easily. I set the camera to 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 don’t have to worry about what aperture is being set. One final thing… I have fitted the Ricahrd Franiec grip which is brilliant together with a Gordy black leather wrist strap. P.S the Nikon V1 also makes a great travel camera, take a look at Colin Steel’s articles on this website.

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

I hope you like the above article and accompanying photos.

Kind regards

Gary Perlmutter



  1. Yes aad, i dont know what your problem is, why so negative..Ohh yes, your a leica fanboy. I can see from your website that you occupy in the dutch art scene, so i thought you would be more broad minded. It s oke to have an opinion, but you can exaggerated.

    Steve and Gary, you are the beesknees! Keep on inspiring me with your stuff

  2. Oh my god! I never seen so many hateful comments. I was just looking around other people’s photos using a Nikon V1 which I just bought for just £219 (amazing price for a great camera).

    It’s very sad, really, to see that in any kind area everyone takes an opportunity to try and push people down so they can feel smarter or better than them.
    I’m not the kind of person you would consider an expert in photography, and I can’t throw random famous photographers names into the comments, but I can express myself as a person and about what art means to me. Any kind of art is about communication with an audience (even if the audience is just the artist). And good and bad art is in the eyes of the beholder. You can talk technique… but the value of the piece in terms of art value should be in the hands of the audience and in each one… and it’s really true, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

    Anyway, personally, I really like the work shown here. I love the composition. It’s really fun. I loved the “expired” one, but they all work for me.
    I also checked your Flickr gallery… nice work. (love this:

    Keep up 🙂 And don’t let the haters get to you. They are not speaking about you. They are just yelling other problems they have in life. You just happened to be there when they did.

    • Just seen you comment Fausto and many thanks for your kind words. Don’t worry I didn’t take any of the negative comments to heart. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and ‘art’ is subjective anyway, otherwise we would all be hanging the same painting in our homes! Enjoy your V1, I found it a fabulous camera for most types of photography but in particular, street photography.

  3. “More recently I owned the Fuji X100 but like Steve found the auto focus too slow and hit and miss for street photography.”

    That makes me wonder how did Gilden, Winogrand, Meyerowitz ever made it.

  4. The Nikon V1 is a great little camera. I have really enjoyed mine. The FT1 adapter is wonderful! The camera is fun to use, focuses quickly, and the colors + image quality are what you would expect from a top notch Nikon.
    Very happy…

  5. I never paid any attention to all of your street photography, Steve.
    Even your HOMELESS . . . That I suppressed, and I shouldn’t have.
    But looking at the above – it ALL of a SUDDEN GELLED !
    Now, I get it !
    The photographers – SUGGESTION – of a MESSAGE, that he, or she;
    is TRYING to CONVEY. Hoping their audience will ( GET IT ) !
    It demands your ATTENTION, or it is a failure.

    If successful, and becomes ART; it may even define a CULTURE :

    Thanks guys. Now – I SEE…

  6. Wow, I am glad I don’t get comments like this on my site. This has devolved into a slagging match, when we should be enjoying the article and the photography. Keep it nice, people.

  7. Thanks for the observations about the camera–an intriguing option, especially with the 10mm, I tend to forget–and also for the alert observations on the street. Most all of these shots have a kernel of real interest and genuine observation, which is much more than most, unfortunately. And the one of the man resting on his roller bag is a real gem. I don’t think the last one rises to the general standard, fwiw.

    I can’t help but notice that in spite of your avowing to be old-fashioned about looking through the vf, most of these seem to have been shot without looking. Do you let the camera decide where in the frame to focus? Use face detect? I guess it really may not be so critical with the dof you have.

    Btw, I think it is pretty useless to have folks dismissing photos without saying why, what they see or don’t see specifically in them.

    • Thanks Chris for your comments. Three out of the five photos were shot using the viewfinder. Only the women reading the book and the man resting his chin on the case were shot from the hip. I would on an SLR use the just a single centre point to focus, but on the V1 I find the multi point AF works well every time, particularly if I shoot from the hip.

  8. It’s been interesting scrolling down the list of comments, and I’ve had a laugh reading some of the harsh remarks, along with the others!
    I’m just glad I haven’t had this experience in any of my contributions here.
    Posting on the Tinternet, and especially a site as popular as Steve’s is a dangerous and risky affair, as your photographs which you’ve lovingly taken and tweaked are open to criticism of all kinds – step out of line and you’ll be shot down in flames.

    I play it safe, I think my photo’s are pretty ‘safe’, just demonstrations as I am a long way off from being anything or anyone who’ll ever publish a book. Whereas Street Photography and reportage is a very unsafe field, it’s probably one of The most difficult themes to get even acceptable photographs, it’s extremely difficult to get or capture anything which will really attract and sway and hold a viewer, hence I tend to shy away from it.

    This is a good reason why gary needs to be commended and applauded for at least going out there to try and capture something with a bit of a story or message behind it.

    Do I like the photographs? At first sight, I’ll be honest and say No, I easily dismiss stuff, but coming back and really ‘looking’ at the photographs i can really see the cleverness and irony and the fact that Gary really scoped for subjects interesting enough to photograph, and am liking them more so!

    Some may criticise his technique, other’s the subjects or the compositions – but this is a very difficult subject to tackle, and kudos for trying! Keep it up man!

    Regards the V1, to be honest, I really cannot see any difference between photo’s taken with that, or M4/3 cameras, or even X100 or any other APS digital out there.

    This goes to show you that if you have some skill or creativity, you can use a digital P&S to get good pleasing photographs and I think Gary could’ve got as much out of a Ricoh GRD or Lumix LX or similar.

    Zeiss stands out because of the contrast, 3D look, pop and shallow depth, and I think Leitz does too, though they tend to have less contrast and pop than Zeiss lenses (well, Zeiss G anyway).

  9. Great Shots Gary !
    I love the humor in them….some people dont understand how difficult it is to capture these type of images.
    Cary on with the great work

    A fellow V1 User

    • Thanks Mark for your kind comments. I know your work as to pay the bills I am also a wedding photographer. Didn’t realise you owned a V1 as well. What’s your thoughts on the camera?

  10. In my humble opinion, I think people photography is first about character, which I think this photographer has captured in spades.
    See people mentioning how ticked off the final guys are? this is something that sticks in viewers mind, and makes them comment. The old man creaking forward to squint through his old lenses at the map? The utterly oblivious deep sleeping guy on the stall – busy day eh?…these things are what I like about them. They take a bit of looking into, but they leave an impression, as I say to me.

  11. I own a V1, and frankly I’m underwhelmed. The focus – its alleged strong suit – is lousy. I recently spent a couple of hours shooting with it, and half the shots were blurred. I’ve used various and sundry cameras over the past forty years, and never had this problem. I plan to unload it.
    As for street photography, it may be legal, but that doesn’t make it right. It’s absolutely an invasion of privacy – period.

    • The AF of the V1 is amazing. Best AF on any camera I have shot with to date besides the OM-D. How are you using it? Your blurred images may be to the shutter speed being too low, not the AF. I have spoken with hundreds of V1 users who adore the camera and agree the AF is it’s main strong point. Sounds like you had a defect or maybe had something set wrong. Street Photography is also NOT an IOP..not even close. It’s public places, always has been legal and still is. If I snuck into your home, or a restaurant and shot a pic of you then yea, that would be an IOP. But snapping shots in public? No, not at all.

      • In Germany for example each of those photos which shows a person could get you sued by the people who are shown without their written agreement. I am not kidding. That also means that the people you have taken photos of in Berlin *) could sue you now. It probably won’t happen because they won’t notice they’re shown online or they don’t mind but street photography can be a slippery slope in some countries. On the one hand that is a good law because noone should be forced to have their photo shown online without their consent. On the other hand it makes an art form like street photography very hard.

        *) Exceptions are if you take photos of a large group of people with a “common goal” i.e. demonstrations, parades etc. or if you take photos of a public building/place and there are people on it which are not the main subject of the photo or if you are creating a piece of art. All of those exceptions are rather blurry of course so you are never really on the safe side.

        On a different note: The technical quality of those V1 photos is really underwhelming. They look like straight out of my 2004 Minolta DImage A1. I don’t see what the Nikon 1 System is good for because the cams are not even smaller than M4/3 and picture quality looks like point and shoot. *shrugs*

    • You may have a camera that has a defect, but “blurred” sounds more like too long shutter time.

      I usually set VR to Normal which I think is better than Active (makes no difference on the 10mm as this lens has no VR), but of course this won’t help you very much for things or people that move. Only solution here is faster shutter time.

  12. My god, what a train wreck the comments section has become. Who would dare post their images in a such a crowd of a&$holes. Creative expression is a fragile thing that can be killed by careless, ignorant comments. Steve, you should moderate with a heavy hand if you expect contributers to feel like this is a welcome outlet.

    I can’t wait to see the brilliant images made by the trolls on this thread…

  13. LOL..I think something about this “aadb guy/gal” is not the “simon cowell” thing but it’s the “youtube” thing where some people leave a rude comment without knowing nothing about somebody’s point of view(at this point its Gary’s)

    Gary: “<— I think he's gay" LOL that's a funny shot

    But cheer up people..aadb might just hate the world or he/she might just being true to him/herself and told us in his/her own way 😀
    To be honest with you, I wouldn't notice anything if I didn't read the comments and sew it twice and let alone several times more(no offense Gary :D)

    When you try so hard to change people's opinion..then you are no different to this aadb guy/gal

    For some it's nothing..for other might be something..

  14. derekdj,

    Where did you get “snark” from in my comment? It was sincere and not meant with any sort of insult in mind. Of course I can never invalidate anyone elses feelings towards the subject matter, as each of us has our own emotional triggers. What I think I was trying to get at, is that some people certainly do feel compelled to comment without any real investment (I’ll say emotional because I absolutely need to connect with a subject on that level AT LEAST).

    To each their own, I wasn’t putting the guy down. I’m betting that he’s got shots somewhere that I’d love. And I’m not one of those saying “this isn’t street photography”, either. I was simply defending a previous commentors rights to their own opinion. Because it seems as though the “non-pc crowd” can not be valid if they aren’t being directly positive.

    I also don’t think that the samples are “crap”, I just don’t feel anything when I view them. I also said that I’ve taken images that make me feel the same way, and those need cullling. The level of defensiveness here is a bit, well.. not unusual for the internet, I guess. See? Now THAT, is what you’d call snarky.



    • Hi Doug,

      The snark was referring to earlier comments in the chain. I don’t want to beat a dead horse, everyone has their own opinions. The great thing about Steve’s site and other photography forums is that it allows for photographers of all skill levels to share and gain useful critiques. My point was to elevate the level of discussion and not let it disintegrate into the usual Social Networking bash feasts. It’s just too easy for folks to sit back and trash one person’s art without providing useful insight. That is the biggest thing I’ve learned in photography school and in 30 years of working with art director and editors, providing explanations for your critiques helps the creative. If you don’t like the work, provide no tips to improve it and just use sarcasm then it’s not useful and is just noise.

      Also, my referring to famous and established photographers, especially in the area of reportage and street photography isn’t just name dropping. It’s to provide a frame of reference, while it is true that creatives can work silo’d for years and develop their own vision, it is generally useful to have an understanding of those who built up the genre in order to develop skills and provide genuine critiques.

      Anyway, like I said before I don’t want to write a dissertation on Street Photography (I did enough of that in college) and I don’t want to beat a dead horse on Social Networking behavior. My only wish is that the conversions on sites like this remain at level above the usual noise out there (especially for people who choose to share). Then again who am I to say this is Steve’s site after all.

  15. Nicely done. Like you, I think the V1 is a great little camera for street photography. I also use it for hiking and travel. It’s basically my carry everywhere camera, for when lugging about the bigger gear is just too impractical. It does need faster primes, and I hope they’re still coming, but in the meantime the 10mm is a sweet lens.

    • Despite all the uninformed comments by the V1 haters, image quality is just fine. You just have to recognize it’s not a replacement for a DSLR. My V1 replaced my Canon G11, and the V1 is vastly superior to it. I too used an X100 for awhile, and in the end was happy to get rid of it. Image quality was good, but focus and operation weren’t up to par, and too many shots were ruined as a result. But to each there own.

      • Interesting Mark that we both got rid of our X100’s and purchased the V1. Other points I forgot to mention in my article was the incredible battery life (unlike the X100!) and how solid and well made the V1 is.

  16. I think we need to separate the camera and the photos. These pics are very different to what I might take and I enjoy being able to see the London through a different viewpoint – London to me is annoying place that I travel in to meet people or to work and then to get out of. I like picture 3 in particular, with the others I can see what Gary is doing and trying to do and its a difficult skill to get spot on – thats why Henri was so feted.

    For these kinds of pictures, I don’t think technical image quality is important and if the camera suits Gary that is fine, in fact I wouldn’t see the point of an M9 in these situations.

    I tried the V1 for a day and gave it straight back despite the speed , the image quality (for my purposes) was incredibly bad, I wouldn’t waste my time editing an image , let alone printing one out but then I do a different type of photography. The X100 is my pocket / travel / family camera and for that it is great.


    • The IQ od the V1 is quite good actually. Ive had nothing but good results with it in all aspects. The key word is “I tried it for a day” – what did you shoot? How was the light? What lens did you use? Did you learn how to set up the camera for best results? The V1 is fantastic if you do not want shallow DOF. Period.

  17. funny pictures.
    no, but who cares.

    i use my v1 like gary.
    same configuration incl. wrist band, taped dial, 10mm pancake.
    i higly recommend the portrait-af.
    the v1 is the perfect street camera.

  18. Why are some people getting so worked up over a bit of criticism ? Folks are entitled to their opinion,provided it’s expressed in a civil manner.
    I feel 98% of the people who post or contribute here are not pro’s in the true sense of the word.
    Most, like me, are rank amateurs !
    All poor Gary is guilty of is using his V1 with his personal level of competence,within the constraints of his camera.
    There is a lot of humour in his shots and I really don’t find them too grainy or out of focus.
    Anyway, having visited London over 30 times, I feel I can say ” Ich bin Londoner” and so, shots of tube stations and Oxford street ( last one with John Lewis,) bring on fond memories and nostalgia.
    BTW, the “expired” shot; is it at the Camden flea Market ?
    Bash on regardless , Gary old chap ! Good work and keen eye!

    • Hi James, ‘expired’ was taken at the famous ‘Spitalfields Market’ in Shoreditch. Loads of old film cameras for sale there on many stalls worth a visit!

  19. Hi,

    I enjoyed all your photo’s. To me you have demonstrated what street photography is all about. The little V1 is a great little camera. My wife has both zooms and I’m hoping for a couple of fast primes to justify my purchase of a V1 as well. Her Billingham camera bag on holiday was a lot lighter with this camera than with a D200 and 18-200 zoom.


  20. To me street photography is primarily about content and capturing moments. And these images are filled with interesting content. Any image that surprises and shows interesting, and often funny details is a successful image IMO. To some they may look like snapshots but that is only because you “snap” view them rather than ‘look’ at them. However, i suppose photography is subjective and not all images will appeal to all people. I think Gary has a good collection here

  21. Whether a critic likes or dislikes an image, isn’t it beholden of him to express why? “Fantastic” or “crap” doesn’t really help the dialogue.

    Gary, judging by the comments above, it seems as if people respond favourably to the content of your work, but not so much the form. Maybe that indicates your strength and weakness on the street. It’s a big debate as to which is the most important – and it is decided by the photographer, not the audience. You have the choice to play up the content, and/or work on your form and composition.

    Or not.

  22. I admire Gary Perlmutter for taking the time and effort not only to contribute a post to Steve Huff’s blog free of charge but to suffer gratuitous criticism in the bargain. He does, after all, have his own blog and seems in no great need of validation from anonymous commenters. In my opinion the gracious thing for Steve to do would be to delete gratuitous criticisms of a guest blogger’s work, unless of course the guest invited critiques. To me this is not censorship but simply good manners; no different from making it clear to the children that they are not to insult guests who are invited to visit the parent’s home.

  23. So.. as I didnt finished the text, Gary, you are a great photographer, keep shooting and improving your skills and you could become a absolutely stunning street photographer. You have the “eye”. Ps. I shoot street with the J1 and 10mm 😉

    • Thanks so much Danonino for your very valid and positive comments, on which I couldn’t agree more.

  24. Hm.. many people say they dont like these images and that they are not street photography.. No wonder that all the street photography -groups on flickr is filled with so much CRAP! This is what street photography is! Most people today dont even know what street photography is, but the guy writing the article has a clue, and he will take better street photographs then any of you morons ever will. Actually I commented on an image the photographer called street photography on Flickr a few days ago. A shot of a totally uninteresting guy just walking.. It was taken with 135mm (ff equivalent). I wrote “great that you are into street photography, but an uninteresting image of an unintersting subject sneakingly shot with a tele-lens is NOT street photography” AND I WAS FLAMED by alot of people, they could not understand what it was that wasnt street photography with that shot, they thought it was excellent stunning street photography.. And I guess, if its that kind of boring images you call street photography, then I understand why you dont like the author of the article´s street images.

  25. Great street photography, to me, is when the photographer notices the inconsistencies, ironic contrasts, or simple alignments between seemingly unrelated things… AND CAPTURE IT. For that, I think Gary’s 12 years of experience has trained him well to spot these decisive moments and the V1 is demonstrated to be a good tool. Great job! Not everyone will notice such things while walking on the street, but if you still don’t catch them after it’s been photographed and presented to you, then I’m sorry. It’s like the joke is already lost if it had to be explained to you. Maybe it wasn’t very funny, or you don’t have the sense of humor.

  26. I really love your sense of humour. It’s nice that someone has the guts to post photos based on content (that isn’t – based on these comments – too obvious to see) and not just on technical perfection.

  27. What a shame we can’t enjoy reading an article, anywhere it seems, without that spinning “Slow Mac” ad drawing our eye away. I know you have no control over ads but this one has become completely unacceptable.

  28. Richard, at least the guy’s got the guts to post his pics up…where are yours?

    • That’s unfair. I very much disagree with Richard, but you don’t go telling “where are your films?” to the film critic.

      • So hes a film what? There have been critics since the beggining of art. There are music critics, fine art critics, movie critics. Critics are just that, critics, Some of them are well informed, some are not…some are famous, most are not…but in the end, the artist makes the craft. ANYONE can be a critic, not everyone can be the crafsman.

        Iam not saying what Richard said was wrong in context to the pictures, what I didn’t like was the sarcastic put down manner in which it was said….and it smelled of a bit of arrogance. Granted , until WE should all show some humility when it comes to what great art is. There are very few of them around…Da vinci, michaelangelo, Titian, Bruegel, Van gogh, Picasso. Even Bresson paled in comparison to them…and we all pale to Bresson, even Richard. Do most people understand what is great art? No.But that is a question for time to sort out, as the artistic educational schools today arent going to do otherwise.

        Someone once said ” I dont care about art, because anything can be art. I care about great art.” There have been critics and artist since the beginning of art. there have been a ton of lousy artists, many mediocre ones, a few good ones, and very very very few geat ones.The same goes for critics, and since critics arent event he ones to make the stuff, you can see my admiration for “critics” is not very high.

        My painting teacher once said” when you go over to Europe or “Asia and see all the great painters, WE all pale in comparison.” So Felipe, when I ask Richard to show us his stuff, I dont think I was being unfair, do you know why? Because WE all pale in comparison to the truely few great artists. And Richard is a “critic” so I never expected him to have any work to show anyways. Im sure Richard knows something about what makes great art, as do I. Problem is…knowing what makes great art as wonderful as it is, is not the same as the seldom few who actually make great art. Roger Ebert is a great movie critic, but Roger Ebert is just that…a critic. there is a big difference bewteen a craftsman and a critic.

  29. Hi Gary, I really love the way you look at things! Very nice caputered with a good sense of humour! Keep up the good work and thanks for sharing:-). Cheers!

  30. Hi everybody from Spain,

    Critics can be helpfull but direct attacks are distracting and useless. Despite the photo of the kids, I think that the rest of the photos make perfect sense from the point of view of street photography. The kiss “observed” by the models, the woman in a London train reading “the London train”, The siesta guy with an “expired” headline suggesting how he looks like or the fantastic t-shirt image. Of course all of them are coincidences. The merit is on being there, shooting it, and being aware of the story or the beauty of that image. Thanks Gary for the report and your images and to Steve for this geat blog.


  31. I don’t think the comments have been harsh, or that Gary is being trolled – I know the general spirit of this site is a positive one (which is great) but after opening with the line “I have been doing street photography for 12 years” I think it’s ok for readers to say whether they do or don’t like the work. Personally I don’t think the examples are great either (sorry Gary).

  32. Don’t get put off by the harsh comments Gary. I get the idea of the review, obviously some don’t. Keep taking pictures and develop your own style. If you try to emulate someone else then you lose your own integrity. Stick with it.
    btw Would be nice to see some of the CRITICS shots instead of hiding behind a keyboard.
    Well done.

    • Zakk he’s had 12 years developing his his style on the streets… 12 years!!!

    • Thank you Zakk, my thoughts exactly. So many of these people who leave negative comments just have nothing more to do than troll and leave nasty comments. Where is their work? A critique when asked for is one thing but an uninvited negative comment is another. Anyone remember the old saying, if you don’t have something good to say, don’t say anything. But if you’re being asked to critique, then go for it…with constructive criticisms.

      Gary, thanks for the post. I’ve looked forward to someones impressions of that camera on the street, thanks for sharing yours.

  33. I’d just like to point out the authors purpose was to show the validity of the V1 as a street camera both in writing and in pictures. Whether one loves the composition of the photos is not the point of the article. I think he did a rather good job explaining his love for the camera and I appreciate the photos he inserted into the article as the back up his thinking. I know i’t a hard concept for some but not everything in this world is about you. Hard handed critiques belong in the section of ” Please critique my work”..then have it, theres plenty of them out there.

    • Thanks John for your support, you ‘hit the nail on the head’. My article was as you say on the validity of the V1 as a street camera with examples. I was not using the article to showcase my work, but if people like them then great and if not everyone is entitled to their opinion (within reason :-))

  34. Love your work- Hate the negative comments some have left.
    The woman reading is a gem, with the book title. Brilliant stuff.
    I admire your daring and style and think your experience shows in your pictures.
    Hope to see more of your street work.

  35. Rule of thumb if your going to levy that kind of patronizing review

    A) Better have a link to your portfolio up so people can see how to do it proper.

    B) Be a well versed student in the histories of photography.

    Even then you’ll still sound like an asshole but at least your backing it up.

  36. Wow…there’s sure a lot of jerks tearing it up today. The V1 isn’t my favourite camera, but give it a break already. This site isn’t the Barnack Award….and NONE of you is any type of jury. Sharing one’s pictures doesn’t automatically mean they should be torn apart and criticized to death. Certainly feedback is welcome, but no one asks for this crap.

  37. Nicely done feature! I like the guy on the bus. For me tells a story and provokes questions. Is he pondering something? Did he sit on something sharp? Did he rip one? Ok, you get my drift…I wonder what is happening in this scene. Bravo to you!

  38. I really like the sleeping merchant the best… Hope he was just sleeping .

  39. I feel the V1 focus is too sharp. since I can’t afford a Leica, I’m wanting a X100 for the image feeling, but i’m worried about its quirks and slow AF that I read about, including the OP’s comments.

  40. I have found the combo of Olympus EPL3, 14mm (28 eq) lens and 28mm Rikoh viewfinder has the same speed and quality as possible with the Nikon. It is also lightning fast and has a swivel LCD. I can focus on moving subjects and with a simple button lock the exposure when in difficult lighting. Best of all it is totally one handed which makes it miles better than the Leica. I find two hands on a camera helps to draw attention. For me it’s the perfect street cam right now. Cheers

  41. The V1 has very fast focus in bright sunlight situations–less so in overcast situations. It’s not as good as the Sony NEX system in low light, but is a good choice for fast action shots in bright light. It is a good travel camera, and a fun system for street photography. Just my 2 cents…

    • The AF is faster than the NEX in low light, I have verified this by using them side by side. Never had the V1 fail on me in any light, AF wise.

    • I got the J1 and it literally nails focus 99.5% of the time in almost any light which is pretty damn good. Uses both contrast and phase detection which is probably the reason for the good AF. It is also one of the cameras I have had the most fun with for the last 6 month. I just regret that I did not buy the V1 instead due to the view finder.

  42. Nice article Gary! I really enjoy your street photographs – not only the ones you posted here but also many others on your Flickr. Keep up the good work and I look forward to more of them!

  43. I have to admit, i don’t think those pictures are that good. IQ seems average. Some of them look noisy even in B&W. Are they jpeg, RAW, processed or not? It definitly needs more contrast. Thanks for sharing anyway, you are more courageous than me 😉

    • On the contrary some of them (2 and 3) need less contrast for my taste, but if that’s Gary’s taste its fine.

  44. The recent hubbub about the 1 system kinda intrigues me. The camera’s never really interested me before. It’s crop factor is huge, the images have a weird look to them… almost TOO artificial. Though it does seem like a pretty fun camera to play with. Might try one out if I can get my hands on one for free/a low price (maybe if a friend had one?)

    On the subject of the bashing of the photos, though… why does everyone think they’re a pro? I personally enjoy photos with a little more interaction between the photographer and subject, but I think gary did a decent job. I’m in Hong Kong for the next few weeks… where pointing a camera at the wrong people can lead to you getting your belongings taken and getting sent home with nothing but bruises. Most of the people here will tell you off for even holding up your camera. Its understandable why people might be scared to engage their subjects. And if you’re going to critique someone’s work, at least provide a little of your own to back up your talk. At least Aad provided a link to his flickr (on which I found “nothing that engages the viewer, nothing graphically interesting”, save a shot of the strangers in istanbul surrounded by pigeons.)

  45. I think the biggest problems with these photos are (1) that you said you made them with a V1, which everybody knows cannot be a good camera because the sensor is so small, and (2) that you said that you sold your X100 and like the V1 better.
    Everybody who knows anything about street photography knows that the X100 is perfect and the V1 a failure, so you cannot be any good as a photographer. So there is no point in looking at the pictures, trying to see the expressions on people’s faces, or the interactions between them and their surroundings. We know there will be no DoF and no DR, why bother looking. Just call you random and uninteresting.
    Come back when you have acquired a proper camera.

    • Got HCB The Modern Century from Moma – very, very few images with shallow DOF. Not that HCB is god or anything or that shallow DOF can’t be nice, but isn’t a bit overrated? Don’t see many of the great painters in history using shallow DOF either, do you?

    • I do find the images interesting and yes it is street photography , maybe because i tend to shoot similar kind of subjects (eg interesting t-shirts, kids, ppl in trains/subways) and i know the excitement in getting nice shots like these.

      on the other hand….

      the pictures lacks details and yes, its typical of V1, i own one so i know the problem is that taking street images with it is often wasted, the quality of the images are just too lacking. I took the GXR to the street using snap focus or fully zone focusing to 5 meters and the images are TONS better in quality and i dont even need to use the EVF, just shoot from the “hip”.

      On the V1 however, shooting on the hip is next to impossible, the AF is crap for that. If you can put your eyes to the EVF and shoot, i guess any camera today could have done the same thing and the 4/3 system would blow my V1 out of the sky.

      • I always shoot raw and use Capture NX2 for the conversion and the IQ is very good with the kit lenses. With the adapter and a high end lens like 24-70mm or 105mm the IQ is just fantastic.

        IQ is different than 4/3 but has its own quality that in no way is inferior to at least the older generation of 4/3 and with an AF system that is a lot better.

    • Wow. A “proper” camera. What’s wrong with you?

      Thanks for sharing your well seen shots, Gary. Some comments let me feel ashamed.
      How about zone-focussing with the V1?

      • Sascha, thats the beauty of this camera, you really don’t need to zone focus (something that I often had to resort to with the X100 however). Just let the camera do what it does best and that is focus at lightening fast speed thanks to it combination of contrast and phase detection.

        • Seems to be an alternative to my trusty Ricoh GRD III. Relation between sensor size, speed and dof is well balanced.
          Would you take it into light rain?
          Thanks a lot for your instant reply and sharing your impressions!

          Best wishes from Germany

    • bollocks, how’s the V1 a ‘failure’?
      There’s no difference between them, they’re both digital cameras with same-ish looking images.
      And it’s up to the photographer to make the image into something worthwhile and NOT the camera!

  46. I’m selling my V1 to finance the purchase of the Zuiko Digital 14-35 f2 for my Oly E-5 – one of the best lenses for one of the best DSLRs on earth.

  47. Oha, Gary is getting trashed for writing a report on his camera and showing his images. Tough crowd. Personally I liked reading about the camera and will try it out if I get a chance. So far I heard a lot of good things about it. I agree that the compositions could have been stronger in some situations, but that is up to Gary’s style and taste. To me it is interesting to see the tones, the crispness, and to learn about the responsiveness of that camera. If I like Gary’s compositions or not won’t influence my impression too much as long as I get an idea what I would do with it. And just based on these images I think that the camera could be a good street photography tool. Thanks for sharing Gary. D!RK

  48. I really enjoyed looking at Your photos and I don’t care with which camera they were shot. I think it’s not that easy to get interesting shots in an environment that’s constantly changing and requires a good eye and quick decision making.

  49. This camera would be perfect……if it soaked light better…too much to ask…I would love to casually shoot get togethers with one but even the nex 5n has trouble with bigger flash.

  50. Thanks for sharing your images, and your 1 V1 settings. A 1 V1 is still on my “possible” list, especially if it I can find one being sold body-only, or only with the 10mm 2.8 lens. Its ability to use my existing Nikkor lenses, via adapter, and share batteries and chargers with my wife’s D7000, make the 1 V1 a practical choice.

    I might have tried composing some of the images differently, but I enjoyed each image, in some way, and I like 1, 3, and 4. As I am still trying to develop the skill and confidence to shoot street images in a busy city, I seem to learn something from every image, and appreciate each effort. This is not a “PC” response, as I normally choose to remain silent if I do not like images.

  51. But the pictures are out of focus. Look at the faces of the men in the last picture. The author says no pictures out of focus. Strange.

  52. These pictures make me wonder about the whole idea of street photography. You are taking pictures of people who are just going about their day without their permission or knowledge (hence the use of the tiny black camera) and posting them on the web. It might be legal but I think its an invasion of privacy and I don’t see how this is a good thing for photography. Would you like to see these kind of photos of you or your family turn up unexpectedly on the web?

    • I wouldn’t want to live in a world where street photography was outlawed. Can you imagine the up-shoot in glamour shot kiosks if that were the case? Now there is a real tragedy…

  53. Like the couple kissing and the guy sleeping (with the expired brochure in the window). Great.

  54. Thanks for sharing!

    I love all the trolling critiques, there was a great social networking study recently, where researchers presented one of the most “critically acclaimed” and most expensive Henri Bresson prints to an online audience (without telling them the image’s bona fides) and had them critique the shot. Surprise, surprise most of the online trolls trashed the shot and called the photographer a rank amateur.

    I won’t going into a dissertation on what street photography is, I like to follow Bresson and Capra’s philosophy, it is the act of doing and not telling what other people say it is. Keep on shooting Gary, enjoy photography.


    • I’m pretty sure your ”online audience” was the idiots of the Flickr ‘delete me’ group not recognizing an HCB iconic photo.

    • Comments like that are (IMHO) a bit of a cop-out. Dropping names like Bresson’s does nothing to add to the legitimacy of one’s argument. I could care less if you showed me a print by Bresson, Sclmotz or Strand… if they don’t hit an emotional nerve with me, then what more is there to say or prove at that point.

      People are entitled to their opinions, and I think that so long as they’re coming from a sincere place, and not just trying to be sideline jockey’s, who are you or anyone else to call them a troll? That said, I might have really liked the first photo, but the composition kills it for me. As for the rest, I guess they don’t do much for me either, as I don’t “feel” anything when looking at them.

      But guess what, I’ve likely got thousands of photos of my own, which I’d likely feel the same about if I were to really examin them. If many people told me that they weren’t connecting with my shots, I’d likely go back and re-examin them and try to determine what my motivation for taking them was at the moment. If I don’t connect with them at that point either, then it’s time to cull.

      I think it’s more insulting to placate for the sake of being PC for the masses, while all that you’re doing is giving the photographer a false sense of accomplishment. We learn from others when they critique or opine on our subject matter. We learn nothing from “yeah, great” or “fantastic”. Again, that’s all my HO.


      • I guess I missed that day in photography school where snark and insults are constructive criticisms. I agree that saying “fantastic” when you don’t mean it is a disservice to the creative, but what if they actually mean it, you’re assuming that they’re being PC. Which means you’re invalidating other’s opinion.

        If you say you want to be constructive and helpful then provide some more than snark and it “doesn’t connect”, that just means it doesn’t connect with you.

        I’ve sat through years of face to face critiques from professionals and amateurs, I just don’t have patience for online snark.

        • like they say…opinions are like a-holes..everyone has em. Photography is subjective…I don’t care what the pixel peepers and photography nerds say about a picture being technically perfect to be a work of art..or “emotional”…….in the end, someone either likes your stuff or they don’t…..everyone views a picture differently. I’m sure in his heyday, Picasso had many snark comments from people.

          • Let’s not go to far over to the other side and say that photography is “subjective” Ive been in quite a few classroom art critics myself but even I wouldnt go as far as to say that art is subjective. It creates this impression that art is “all” subjective when it is not. They say there are no rules in art. That is true, but there is a degree of craft to be learned, and once a person is lucky to have learned it, they go out on their own and do whatever they want to, using those tools they have learned as a backbone.You wont find that craft today in schools because it is lost. Gone are the days when even da vincis and Titians apprentices were great as well. That is because there are NO great painters today to pass on craft…being that Picasso was the last great artist.

            Picasso was a great painter and a great artistic innovator, but dont forget that the man can also draw. He was also a draftsman as well.Vangogh was a great painter and he could draw as well, but Vangogh was no draftsman. Ive seen alot of copying during my art school years but i rarely ever say a good drawing. I also saw alot of chicken scratch art students would pass off as “subjective.” I have also come across artists who have more of an emotional attachment to the side of a washroom wall than a great painting from an old master. the challenge in modern times is not just a lack of real artistic education, but the lack of willingness from many to learn. Hurt feelings and being PC and “subjectivity” prevent many from learning. If one does not know what great art is, than how does one go about trying to make great art? It’s like the blind leading the blind, no ones stuff is bad and everyone is great. We are living in times were the philosophy is ” well, it’s great as long as i say it’s great” That started long ago with the New York abstract designers like Pollock and the likes of Rothko as examples. We live in times where people can stand before a Pollock and wet themselves in some orgasmic manner but have no idea that it is just an abstract design. We have gone from one extreme, academic art to the other extreme, the stuff you see on ones paint pallete.Francis Bacon once commented on a Pollock and said it ” looks like old lace” But essentially thats what his work looks liek right? Of course, NY abstract art proponents and critics will of course disagree. After all, when someone spends millions to buy practically a blank canvas , who is going to say that it’s bad art? the ones buying it? Nope. The ones selling it? Nope. The ones who want to profit from it in the future? Nope.To them its all “subjective.”

            Art is dying in these “modern” times because very few know what makes great art, and fewer have learned it, and even fewer can teach it. It’s just like the 3 blind mice,. the blind now lead the blind. Only in art can one hide behind “subjectivity.” In all my years at art school, many moons ago, there was just one teacher who knew what great art was, who made very good art himself. I was lucky to have had him as a teacher. The other teachers had no clue, and who can really blame them when they had no one who knew. Students become teachers and if they are not taught something, they will also teach nothing. Great art is lost because people have lost the knowledge of what great art is…because everything is now subjective. It’s the ” if i dont like Picasso than he is not great to me” mentallity.Remember, if nothing is bad and everything is great, than everything is neither.

            Having said that, some the comments made towards Gary were uncalled for in its tone and sarcasm. Gary, if you want to learn more about photgraphy and art, I suggest you travel to Europe and Asia and have a look at the greats. You will learn more about great art there than by any critic on internet forums or websites.

          • Europe, yes, but I can’t name any Asian ‘Greats’ – I’m talking fine art here.

            As regards architecture, now, there are loads of Asian Greats!

            I agree though, Art is dying, or rather, art has mutated into bollocks

          • Western culture centers around itself. You live in the west, so all you learn is about the west, which is fine, but not the entire picture. Because one does not understand Japanese does not mean that the langauge doesn’t exist.Many painters in France like Lautrec and Van gogh were influenced by works from Eastern masters like Hokusai. Cezanne was the called the god father of modern art, his landscapes disregarded nautral perspective in many ways, but the Persian Artists threw perspective out in their works long long long before Cezanne came along. There are many master Chinese painters i’m sure many in the West have never heard of, unless you study them. Iam sure there are great Western architects as well.

            For thosuands of years, western art has been about realism whereas in the east, it was about representation.Western paintings not too long ago was about realism,light , shadow, natural perspective. in the east the emphasis was about representing something, a line or two repesented a tree trunk, certain line represent the leaves, etc. Not one is right or wrong, just different philosophies. the craft of art and of its principles remain.there is craft there, and mastery.i’m sure it must be hard to paint like an old master painter like Titian with all those glazes the masters used but conversely, in the east, to pick up and brush loaded with running ink and make images from lines that seem to come to life is not any easier either.

            Today with modern education and hindsight, you would think understanding great art would be an ease for humans living today…but sadly it is not. We live in a world mostly without craft or we are bound and inprisoned by craft. There are no rules in art but there is a mastery to learn, but many have learned nothing or they are slaves to what they have learned.
            Academic painters were bound and slaves of technique, the point that their works were all stale, whereas New York abstract designers like Rothko and Pollok where on the other end of the spectrum.
            I suppose everythign worthwhile is somewhere in the it usually is.

          • Hokusai and Hirosige to mention two. Way ahead of their time, and much copied in the west.

      • I agree that the composition on the first photo may be a bit problematic, but I still like it. A picture does not have to be perfect to be likeable in my opinion.

    • Is this a reflection on those that made it a “critically acclaimed” picture? Or a reflection on the commenters of today? There are many “great and classic” pictures that I have seen and they did nothing for me. Is that a reflection on the photographer or a reflection on me. Probably just a simple “not my cup of tea” but for many they may be great.
      I see some great shots here on Steve’s page. I see some that are far to contrasty for me but get good comments. I see some that are, well, what are they? There is always something in a picture that is positive, but sometimes, one really has to search and other time one thinks the shot is great then some one writes how bad it is……
      I think the page on the guy who was reinventing sports photography for himself was great (Matthew Gurr. ), he is doing with a camera what is a lost art and doing it well. He does not do it for a living but probably knows more about his equipment than many who comment here. Yet many derided Matthew for his efforts, yet he is what photography is all about.

  55. I like the V1. Can you buy a adapter for ex lenses? might buy the upgrade if Nikon get serious and make this camera a EX format sensor.

  56. I am always fascinated when people resort to black and white to cover lack of IQ or colours, the masters of street photography did not have autofocus at all, i will take the X-100 anytime sorry!

    • Sometimes the truth is unpleasant. But he does have a point. It’s all just so random. Nothing that engages the viewer, nothing graphically interesting. It’s easier to sit on your hands and type nothing. Because we’re taught to be nice. But nice leads to no new insight or progress. Maybe some harsh reviews will actually be more valuable in the end than the compliments that are politically correct. But the OP went public with these photos, so the public has the right to express what it thinks of them in honesty. And imho they are random shots of random people in public. No thought, no compassion, not much to them.

      • It’s possible to be completely honest without being an a$$ about it. That’s where the “constructive” part of constructive criticism comes in. I guess that’s a lesson some people haven’t learned. Or perhaps some just get off on the “thrill” of anonymous cruelty.

      • These, aadb, are jokes! Gary shoots jokes. Look what’s IN the photos:

        No. 1: The guy in the poster is looking at the kissing couple.
        No. 2: The woman in a London train is reading a book called “The London Train”.
        No. 3: The sleeping (dead?) man has an item displayed prominently on his stall which reads “Expired”.

        We’re not looking at ‘art’. Not all photos have to be Art. These are visual puns. Gry uses a quick-focus small camera to capture what his quick eyes see as puns, jokes, peculiar moments.

        Gary has his wits about him, sees a moment, and snaps it! Faster than most.

        They’re not just “..they are random shots of random people..” ..look more closely the images..

      • You’re not even seeing what’s in the photos.

        That’s why it’s best to be nice. To save you looking like even more of a moron later on.

      • Yes, the truth is unpleasant many times but it is how you go about getting the point across that counts . You dont need to sugar coat your message but you should not destroy the will and self esteem of the individual as well. Nobody wants to “listen” when people are yelling into his or her ear, do they? We all know that overfishing is not a good thing, but to go and berate the fisherman who has to feed his family sure wont get him to stop catching the last school of fish from the seas either. We need to educate more rather than to patronize guide people to seeing great works and when people see great art, they will be motivated to learn and hopefully grow. We should educate people on what makes great art, so that they have a bar and path they can walk trhough, should they chose. To put people down is only going to turn them off to art, and may ultimately cause the recipient to just close themselves off to knowledge and have a backwards view of art in general. God knows we need less and less artists out there who have a view that if you dont agree with their work, it’s cause you dont “understand” the work.

        We live in a world full of people uneducated in the field of art. They are everywhere, from the gallery owner to the buyer to the critic to the artist. Each of them got their views and education or lack of from somewhere. Sadly or ironically, the beginning of the end of the craft of an art like painting probably started somtime suring the genesis of phtography. After all, why go through the trouble of painting a landscape when the camera can copy it with one “click”? It will be even more sad oneday if some photographers start calling themselves” digital painters.” I hope i wont be around to see that world.

    • Ashwin, I feel you. It’s becoming more common these days… from the same people that made Simon Cowell famous in more than one continent. I believe our friend Jono said it best: “posting the pictures always leads to a little heartache”.

      • Hi David, yup, I do feel the Simon Cowell effect at play…probably why I never really watched American Idol or any of his other shoes….

        Jono is a wise man…

    • That’s what I’m thinking. Being critical is one thing. Being a jack— is another.

    • I agree, really nice work and some very interesting photos on flickr profile, good timing and composition, don’t let the comments discourage you, I guess critique is always welcome as long as it is constructive which isn’t really the case in most of the comments I saw here

    • Thanks Ashwin, Mika and Ricardson for your kind comments. I don’t mind criticism of my work on long as its constructive and not just malicious. However the article was mainly a sort of mini review of the V1 as a street camera, with some examples to validate it.

    • Really? “Fantastic”? I that what they are? If these are “fantastic”, what superlative would you use for Bresson, Winogrand or Vivian Maier?

      • I think your questions provides me with my answer. I don’t care to reply any further to this type of inquiry, as it is in poor taste…

        Suffice it to say, I find the images fanstatic, for many of the reasons stated above and below…

  57. Sorry but to me these are not ‘street photography’ just photos that were taken on the street, also I don’t see any difference between these shots and those of any other small sensor compact, I know this Nikon can put out some nice colour files though, but as they say it’s just a tool, any eejit can bang on about autofocus etc. and they’re usually the same ones who end up missing the point that it’s the image, not the focus, brand or technology that matters.

    • The difference between these photos and snapshots of my cousin’s 1st birthday, is that at least someone will care about the pictures of my cousin’s 1st birthday. These pictures….who are they? Does anyone care? I don’t think street photography is meant to be holding your camera and clicking away randomly. I think it is the in vogue thing though to say “fantastic images” with just about any post put on here. This isn’t the website for real critique.

      • Richard (and others) I hope you guys are still around to read my post since it’s over a year ago you posted your immature pov. Would you make the same comparison between your snotty cousin’s birthday snaps and the work of Cartier Bresson’s? Or that of a Vietnam war journo, who’s shots ended up on the cover of Time Magazine? Please give us a break! What if the kissing couple were gunned down just after the shot was taken? Or the train was in a head-on collision right after the shot was taken? Or a terrorist bomb exploded killing the man sleeping at his stall? Now imagine if the man was a cousin of the terrorist who did not listen when told to stay away from work that day. Or the woman on the train is your sister or the guy kissing the girl is your son’s school teacher…

        Street photography is about documenting real life. And we humans are fascinated with ourselves so all these images are valid, they are just terrific fun! Apart from the obvious, they can mean what anyone of us sees in them and should simply be admired for moments in history they document.

        Well done G. Awesome images!

  58. The last one is focused on background far behind the subject! and the street texture totally washed away!

  59. Really like the “London train” image. Well spotted with the map above her and her underground. Looks like a couple in the reflection too? Nice work.

  60. Excellent! I’ve never been much of a street photographer, but I’m starting to see it. #1 and #3 are framable!
    Since nobody, (at least with any class), is going to start pixel-peeping this kind of pictures, the V1 does seem to be well suited to the task.
    It helps to get the point across that it’s the quality of the image, not the image quality that makes the photo. But, the IQ seems pretty good….
    Very nice.

  61. Really nice content Gary.
    Photo one looks like the guy in the poster is looking at the kissing couple. And as for photo three, has the old film stock expired or the stall trader ?????
    Very stealthy shots…great stuff.

    • Too bad. I see something worth looking at in all of them. I see mom’s camera in the window, a blemish on the girl’s face, and other elements that catch my eye. It doesn’t have to be art, it just has to be anything but boring.

    • Hehe, reminds me very much of when this camera came out and a rather large photography site mixed up some of the photos from the review of this camera and an article on the Leica…. people spent a lot of passion explaining in detail how crap the pictures were.

      I wonder if you had been told that these pictures were taken with a Leica, would you feel differently?

      • I wouldn’t, I find most Leica photos to just have a really lot of bokeh and an uninteresting subject 😉

        But there’s enough fantastic photography around taken with all sorts of equipment anyway. And taste is entirely subjective – I’m sure as you’re hinting at, a lot of people really do love the Leica render, real or imagined.

        But there’s nothing wrong with it being completely subjective. It’s passion. It’s art.

  62. I think you ticked those guys off in the last photo. That’s why I’d rather shoot quickly and covertly with a flip-up screen (such as on the NEX-5n and Olympus epl3) as to not ruin candids with frowns and suspicious looks. Just my thoughts.

  63. I think it may be the perfect street camera, but only if you have the pink one…

      • Absolutely. Who wouldn’t want super fast auto focus – especially on the street?

        The X-100 isn’t known for its AF, in fact many consider that area to be the Achilles Heel of the X-100. Of course that is assuming you haven’t suffered from the infamous sticky aperture blades, which is even a worse problem. The X-100 is a cheeky geeky camera.

        • You do realize that after the firmware updates that X100 actually has a faster AF speed right?

          • I think what he means is that the X100, after the firmware upgrades, now has a faster AF than it did before. Yes, the V1 is faster than the X100, but the X100 is now perfectly suitable for street photography. Its AF is quite good. I can confirm all this since I have both cameras. (For those of you that sold your X100 cameras – big mistake.)

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