Nikon V1 – Now reduced to $749 with Kit Lens and a follow up to my V1 review

Nikon V1 – Now reduced to $749 with Kit Lens AND  My thoughts after owning the V1 for a while.

The Nikon V1, the camera I expected to hate, has now been in a constant state of price reduction well, pretty much since it was introduced. The camera, which many said was way overpriced at launch and many say is STILL overpriced even at $749 is actually a very good camera and to many who own one, well worth the cost. The fact is that I have been taking it with me more so than other camera recently and the reason is simple. It is fast, it is small, it feels great in the hand and it is foolproof. It never misses focus, never messes with exposure and never gives me funky color shifts. It always delivers sharp images and gives decent high ISO performance, especially considering the size of the sensor.

Here is a file out of the V1, no PP, no enhancements. With the 30-110 lens at f/5.6 at 110. VERY sharp!

Some of you LOVE the V1 as I have some e-mails from users/readers who tell me it is their favorite camera EVER, and this comes from many who KNOW what they are doing not just amateurs. Others hate it because of the lack of fast or great glass for this system, which is understandable. If you love bokeh and 3D effect, the V1 is NOT for you! But for those who like huge DOF and sharp images with some nice looking “grit”, the V1 is wonderful. Those who want a small camera that can give you a great 300mm reach in great quality on the cheap, the V1 may be what you want. The 30-110 lens can be bought for $150 when buying a V1, and  that is a steal of a deal.

The new Sony RX100 is on the way and that has the same size sensor but with more megapixels jammed onto it. I am curious to see how the Sony compares to the Nikon though (and I will do a comparison) as it is even smaller with a built-in fast zoom. The V1 though has a few lenses available, all slow as molasses in the aperture department BUT they are all pretty sharp, especially for the cost.

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As for me, I still like and own the V1. No it doesn’t give you creamy Bokeh. It can’t give you noise free silky smooth images, even at low ISO. But it does deliver in every other area. Size, quality, speed, sharpness and metering and most importantly it is capable of taking beautiful images if you know what you are doing. The thoughts in my review still hold true today. The V1 is a solid little camera all the way around. At $749 with the 10-30mm it is probably $100 above what most people want to pay for it but if I back up to what I said earlier, I use this more than many of the mirroless cameras out today. You can get a V1 with all lenses, even the $800 10-100 and the external flash for under $2000, or the cost of a Leica X2 without EVF.

Will the V1 beat the X2 in image quality? NO way now how! It will not but it will deliver great results. You will just lose out on some of the shallow depth of field and richer color that the larger sensor gives you. In return you get a smaller package in the V1 (the EVF adds bulk to the X2) and much faster AF, processing, and a very good user experience. For most of us, the V1 is plenty camera.

I almost sold my V1 after my X100 and X2 purchases but couldn’t bring myself to do it. It’s a camera I have become a little bit attached to because it has provided me with many memories and also because it is so enjoyable to take with me anywhere and shoot.

The 30-110 at f/3.8 and 107mm equivalent. B&W in camera. Click it for larger.

The V1 can be purchased at B&H Photo with the 10-30mm or the 10-30 and 30-110 zoom AT A $250 SAVINGS. My fave lens is the 10mm and then the 30-110 btw as I use those  the most. In other words, bottom line, I still love my V1! It’s not for everyone but I am a fan of what Nikon did. Could it have been better? Sure, but it has its own character, and it’s a character I like.

Things I noticed about the V1 over the months I have used it:

It has a nice grain and when I shoot in B&W the out of camera images are just right, and they even have a film like grain to them, even at ISO 3200.

The camera can overexpose at times so I dial in a little negative Exposure Compensation from time  to time depending on the scene.

The build is solid and has held up great, never had any issues.

The time it takes to wake from sleep is WAY slow. Was hoping a firmware update would fix this.

The 10mm is really sharp.

The 10-30 is a little softer.

The 30-110 is the best all around lens for IQ out of the V1 at the time of this writing.

I found I NEVER use the silly gimmick modes of the camera. Nikon needs to release a V2 without the motion snapshot or gimmicks. To put it bluntly, the gimmick modes suck and are useless.

Nikon needs to release some fast primes (and I think something is coming SOON)

Overall for $750 this is a great camera and I have not even mentioned the fact that it takes beautiful video as well. With the 10-100 the video is excellent and smooth.  So yes, even today I still recommend the Nikon V1 to those who want small, fast, nice feel, and a no muss and no fuss experience. Just be prepared to see some grain (we see it with film as well don’t forget) and almost zero shallow depth of field.

C;mon Nikon, bring us some GREAT 1 series lenses!

Some images from the V1 – click them for larger sizes


  1. Strange, that you find the 30-110mm sharp at 110mm. Some important tests say it’s actually rather soft. I think it’s soft too.

  2. I compared the Nikon 1 VR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 to the Nikon 1 11-27.5mm f/3.5-5.6 and the latter is visibly sharper at all focal lengths and apertures. It’s a good lens I think, very compact too. Of course you do loose the VR. I also have the 10mm f/2.8, 18.5mm f/1.8 and the VR 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6 (which is just okay, not special). I think the V1 is still the best of the Nikon 1 series. Great battery life and good image quality. Slap a flipbac G4 on it and you’ve got excellent grip too. The V2 is not for me and I doubt the V3 wil be. I’ll have fun with two V1 bodies and my set of lenses.

  3. My buddy and I are climbing Mt. Whitney at the end of September. I’m thinking it would be appropriate for the Sierras (as well as for my health!) to “go Galen” with the V1, and the 10mm prime/30-110mm zoom combo; I wish they offered that combo as a kit. Granted, 27mm equivalent is quite a bit longer than Mr. Rowell’s 20mm; Nikon need a real wide angle, and a fast, 80-100mm equivalent prime, for the CX mount.

    I really hope the V1 won’t end up an orphaned system. The undelivered fast primes and lack of firmware updates concern me.

  4. Hi Steve, I just wanted to say thanks for your v1 reviews. Nice to see assessments based on real world photo taking, that goes for all the stuff you review. I bought the V1 with 10-30 and 30-110 kit and I think that it is great. Sharp, small lenes, the VR is fantastic! low light abilities are amazing. I am really hoping for a 50mm equivalent with f1.4 and VR.

    There are a couple of minor problems, get rid of the silly modes, it would be nice to see what iso the auto iso has chosen etc. nothing major though.

    I disagree that the noise is film like at 3200 iso, it is WAY better! TMZ never looked that good (at 3200).

    The only thing I hope is that in future one models, Nikon concentrate on improving image quality rather than upping the megapixel count. 10MP is enough for family pics! If people really want more MP they can get a bigger camera. Please camera manufacturers image quality and hi iso performance before MP.

  5. Now I am really confused when I add your sterling review of the Nikon V1. What to do? V1, EP 3, X100, E-Md, NEX 5n, NEX 7? What is a guy to do?

    • Well the V1 is great but one thing to keep in mind is the small sensor. You won’t get really shallow depth of field and you can not get 100% clean and smooth files, even at low ISO. BUT the IQ is great and the body is small, built well and is fun to shoot. The sleep/wake issues are there as it takes time for the camera to wake from sleep but I love the V1 though I feel the best bang for the buck right now is the OM-D E-M5. The Sony NEX-5n is also good but lacks the amazing native lenses.

  6. As a Nikon V1 owner (I have the 10, 10-30, and 30-110), I’m considering the RX100 and am going to look at it when I’m near a Sony Store sometime soon since it seems to be shipping.

    Don’t get me wrong – I really like the V1, and think the 30-110 is pretty much the best lens for it, so I agree with Steve’s assessment. I use the 10mm a lot, and it makes for a much better travel solution or everyday camera. I’ve had some good shots with the V1 (including low light) and liked it more than the E-PL1 I had before it (although I do miss the Oly 12mm f2 lens …). The V1 has some definite quirks (such as the EVF behavior when you get near the sensor), but what camera doesn’t? It feels substantial in the hand which is nice. I really have no major complaints. It gets the job done.

    But the V1, for as good as it is and how much more overall I like it better than the PL1, still feels like I haven’t found a camera I want to keep and is that perfect travel camera. I’ll sacrifice some zoom and wide angle if the RX100 is right. The D-Lux4 (nee Panasonic LX3) I had was the closest that came to that. One thing that has me waiting is that the LX7 announcement is imminent – supposedly next week.

    I’ve had a few Sony cameras over the years. My second favorite camera I’ve owned after the D-Lux4 was my old Sony DSC-S75. That had a lot of things right. I would like something closer to the D-Lux4 but a good all ’rounder with the IQ to match.

    So far, I like a lot of what I’ve seen with the RX100. With the same sensor size (1″, 1.0, whatever you want to call it), all things being equal the choice between RX100 and V1 has to do with a fixed lens vs. expandability. One thing that has me frustrated is the lack of a new lens roadmap with the Nikon 1 system, specifically an f2 or under prime that is 20mm or less. I see Steve mentioned stuff is coming, but it may be too little, too late.

    One of the gripes I see people saying about the RX100 is the lack of hotshoe. Now, I will say that I use the EVF on the V1, but not all the time. And while I have the SB-N5 flash, I don’t use it that often. So I don’t see why people are making a big deal over it. I used the EVF on the E-PL1 mainly because the display really sucked.

    I’ll see what I wind up with – which even includes just staying with the V1. I’m in no rush to go spend another $600 – $700 (since I figure the LX7 will be in the same area price wise if it is in the running) on a new camera; I want to make an informed decision.

  7. I’ve had the V1 for about 7 months. Overpriced to be sure. Like you, I keep going back to it. Its design grows on me. It sort of looks like a building in which Morlocks might live.

    Don’t buy it with the idea of changing settings often. Instead, buy it knowing that if you trust the camera, it will deliver fantastic pictures. It’s smarter than I am.

    I heard so much good about the Olympus OM-D that I bought one of those, too. It is very nice. But it’s certainly not as fast as the V1. I thought I might be selling the V1 once I got the Olympus. Now it looks like it might be the other way around. I find the one to be as overrated as the other is underrated.

    Don’t care about the RX100, no use for a very expensive P&S camera without an eye-level finder, it ain’t what I call rock and roll. Moreover, the speed of the V1 is intoxicating, I think it has spoiled me for anything but the real big FF guys.

    Incidentally, I have no idea what “creamy bokeh” means. I understand creamy tonal ranges in black and white. But out of focus is out of focus. The adjective “creamy” in this context I don’t get. And the use of the term ‘bokeh’ too mean out-of-focus is jargonistical.

    • “Bokeh” is easier to write and say than “out of focus area” IMHO. I think what is meant by “creamy bokeh” is that it is the opposite of “nervous bokeh” which means that the out of focus area is distracting to look at instead of having smooth transitions between the elements and color patterns.

  8. Mine will arrive tomorrow.
    I sold my x100 to purchase the 1 V1.
    I don’t care about ‘creamy creamy bokeh’ nor do I care about super high iso, tons of nobs and dials, or the size of a lens.

    I just want a quiet, neat camera that shoots quickly and easily. From what I’ve seen in store and read online, Nikon have delivered and it makes me happy.

  9. “C;mon Nikon, bring us some GREAT 1 series lenses!”

    This was the main thing that drove me away from the 1 system. I was looking for a interchangeable lens system because I wanted to have the choice of lenses … which is not delivered by nikon. If there where some kind of lens roadmap for the nikon 1 system, i would have waited a bit longer but having zero information about the future lenses frustraded me so i stoped waiting.

  10. No thanks. I will stick to my D700 😛 as my everyday camera as the D800 replaced the D700 as the field tool. The new Sony does look very interesting though. My D700 focuses faster, less noise in low light, real viewfinder, and creamy creamy bokeh. Plus they can be had as low as 1.5k now in awesome condition.

  11. Hi Steve,
    I keep on following your Nikon 1 V1 updates, I had the opportunity to use the Nikon V1 and it is an absolutely an awesome camera. The price fall in the camera is very welcome. I nearly purchased the camera but at the last moment I brought the Canon G 1X and dont regret it. I use it as a backup camera with my 1D Mark IV and the 7d and the accessories match, that was the deciding factor for my purchasing the G1X. However I love the Nikon 1 V1 for the movie snapshot feature which however many people dont seem to like. I have enjoyed shooting with this feature so many times and probably buy the V1 for this one reason apart from the other features of this camera.Thanks Steve keep on giving us those great posts.

  12. Vi is a very nice camera. My most used camera. A good traveling camera for child photography, nature photography and landscaping camera. The autofocus is the best and fast of this class of the compact camera. That is why I don’t missed shots. The 10 frame/sec is just good for photographing children playing. Nikon may soon be releasing newer faster lens I think. Anyway I am having really so much fun with this simple advance camera that can take very good super macro and very good super Telephoto. At the new price I am sure you don’t missed the fun. I am not a professional but it keep my equipment small and lightweight. I like Olumpus OMD micro 4/3 but it does look like an SLR but just slightly smaller size which make no different compare to an SLR. When travelling people won’t take notice when I am using a V1(compact) because they think that you are just a tourist but what it can do that you are taking fast autofocus shot. That helps.

  13. Steve, what you write about the V1 is quite true. It has the potential to be the general go-to camera for many of us. But I must admit that I am one of those held back by the price. The other thing that keeps me from pulling the trigger is the menu-heavy control interface. A few more external controls would be nice. Maybe the V2, eh?

  14. Hi Steve,

    Re fast primes you say:

    “Nikon needs to release some fast primes (and I think something is coming SOON)” is that just a hunch or do you have some recent (last few weeks) information of rumour?

    I’ve been using a Pentax M 50mm which works quite well for portraits but I’d love some automation.

  15. I don’t know whom you trust, George, but the Imaging Resource review is detailed and you can make useful comparisons on the site. Not as nice as the DPR comparison tool, but revealing. Sony seems to have a winner.

  16. I’ve had the V1 since early on, and my experience mirrors yours, Steve. I do have the FT1, and love shooting with the 35 f1.8. I’m always shooting the grandkids, and they’re a lot less camera shy than with the DSLR — plus, the fast autofocus/exposure means I always get the shot. And yes, I’d like a fast series 1 prime too.

  17. I’m having a hard time figuring why I would buy this camera instead of the sony rx100, I do see the advantage of this camera in comparison as a go to camera, but I don’t think this would ever be my main camera, I feel like this would be my in the pocket/car/pack always camera, the one I turn to when I can’t have my full size many lens camera. I think for me the sony looks to be a better fit, although I have yet to see a full fledged review on the RX100 by a person I trust. So I will have to wait for those results and maybe trying it out for myself before I make the dive. Very crisp fun photos though, I must say its cool to see nikon trying something a little crazy.

  18. Great shoots. Shows what the sensor is capable of.

    I’m not using sleep mode, but just turns it on/off. It takes max. 1 sec. to start up if turned off.

    My experience with the J1 is that it is just a great and fun little camera to shoot with. It just works very well and gets out of the way so that you can concentrate on taking pictures which is a great thing. The IQ is easily on par with the older generation of 4/3 cameras (at least the Pen series) and works much better in every respect.

    Looking forward to the RX100 comparison, but as Nikon usually gets more out the sensor than Sony even with a Sony produced sensor, I would be surprised to see the RX100 being any better than the J1/V1.

    • Btw. the FT1 adapter is great with some quality Nikon glass. The output is nothing short of amazing if adding a 24-70mm, 105mm etc. And the nice thing is that AF still works with this adapter when using G type lenses. D type lenses can still be used but with manual focus only.

  19. Looks like you were able to get some nice separation when shooting macro like in the fence shot and lemon. I guess that goes from most cameras with macro but I really like the look it provides in that area. I just wish Leica would come out with a camera like this as it seems like perfect step between the X and M.

    Thanks for sharing:)

  20. The other day I saw the J1 with the kit-zoom for 399€ on sale. That’d be a pretty nice price … if the Nikon 1 were the only CSC on the market, that is. But it’s not. I paid less for a NEX-3 with kit-zoom over a year earlier! MFT cameras and lenses aren’t really much bigger than the Nikon 1 system, yet in the same price range as well. Compared to other CSCs, the Nikon 1 just falls really short in my opinion. Maybe if the price was 299€ for the J1, but at price parity I’d always choose the competition over this camera.

    It’s kind of sad because the J1 was definitely cute, but it’s just too little, too late. If anything it competes with point and shoots, but even there the RX100 and EX2F look more promising to me. The Nikon 1 reminds me a lot of the Pentax Q.

  21. Great summary Steve – I’ve been enjoying my V1 as well. It’s the ‘little camera that can’

    I’ll be going away for a week’s vacation soon, and my plan is to take both my D700, and Nikon V1.

    Most of the time, I’ll have the 35mm or 50mm on the D700, and the 30-100 on the V1 and will just switch between the 2 bodies depending on the shot.

    I think these two will compliment each other well (while still being a small-ish kit)… but I’m sure I’ll just go out with the V1 alone (and a couple lenses) on some days, when I feel like traveling really, really light! It’s nice to have options!!

  22. I tried the V1 for two weeks and returned it. My main issue is the incredibly slow metering in changing light conditions. It takes the V1 2 seconds to get the correct exposure in changing light conditions, more than my cellphone or any camera I’ve ever owned. It made me miss shots that were not difficult.

    Nikon doesn’t seem to be issuing firmware updates for the 1 series, I might reconsider if they do.

  23. Hi Steve,
    you confirmed my experience. I like the 30-110mm most, too. That surprised me, as I guessed that I will use the 10-30mm more often. But I like performance and possibilities of the 30-110mm more. Coming from a D90 I had one bug in my brain: I compared the 30-110 with the 70-300 an forgot that the D90 makes it to a 105-450. So the 30-110 that results to an 87-297 and is exactly that bit shorter that makes it usable often, when a 105-450 is already to long.

    With the 30-110mm I also can deliver nice creamy bokeh, if I use long end and have enough space up to the background ->

  24. I take it that you don’t have the FT1 adapter, but have you tried it, or ever cross your mind to use or get one?

    I really want to like the V1, but the high price of admission(relative to its class), and to a lesser extent native lens selection, has me staying with m43 despite an AF not as good. I think it would do Nikon well if they can at the very least add a touch screen(for focus selection a feature I love on my G2) in the next version, and bring out a 8mm lens in the under f2 range.

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