Camera Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop worrying About the Sensor and Love the Camera – by Craig Litten
A user report on the Nikon V1
Lightening the Load
I’ve always loved small cameras. Back in the early 1990’s while attending my second photo school I wanted a Leica M6 with a 35mm Summicron (f/2.0) lens, but unfortunately it was way out of reach for me. Many years later, while a staff photographer at my second daily newspaper, I purchased the amazing Contax G2 with the Zeiss Biogon 28mm f/2.8 lens. But unfortunately by this time digital photography had already begun to take over—all of my newspaper gear was already completely digital (the lovely tank-of-a-camera 2.2 megapixel, $11,000 Canon D2000). Back then we never even imagined that digital would be as good as it is now, and that film would all but disappear within 10 years.
I took a photo trip to Alaska back in the early 2000s and agonized for weeks over what gear to bring along. I finally settled on the Contax G2 with the 28mm lens and nothing else, not even a back-up body. My friend took all of his pro Canon gear (film) complete with a 500mm f/4.5L (big white) lens. He struggling the entire trip carrying all his gear, and I never regretted my decision. My love affair with small cameras was solidified.
[ad#Adsense Blog Sq Embed Image]
Who am I Anyway?
Hello, my name is Craig Litten and I’m a freelance photojournalist and documentary photographer from the Tampa Bay area in Florida. I’ve had a camera in my hands since I was 15-years-old, and have been shooting professionally since 1991. I have been a staff photographer for four different daily newspapers, have won state, regional and national photography awards, taught workshops and lectured to college photography students, been published in several hard cover books including America 24/7 and Florida 24/7 by Rick Smolan, have shot for major U.S. and international clients, have photographed U.S. presidents and movie stars, and have covered more than 7,000 photo having over 10,000 of my photos published in newspapers and magazines (not including the Web).
Prelude to the Nikon V1
My first compact digital camera was the Canon G2. Many of you are familiar with the Canon G series; now up to the G12. When the newspaper I was working for bought it, I quickly latched on to it. I though I had myself a Leica (tongue in cheek). Early on I took the G2 with me to a football game on the road at Clemson University, and I decided to cover the pre-game with it. I know it’s hard to imagine now, but digital was still very new at the time and not many people owned digital cameras yet, let alone a smart phone with a digital camera in it. What I discovered as I shot all around the stadium, was that I was almost completely ignored. Who takes tiny cameras seriously anyway? Almost nobody. But tiny cameras are now capable of serious pictures. The G2 was small, light, fun and the image quality was “good enough.” I was hooked! Unfortunately though, I had to wait about 10 years for technology to catch up to my vision.
Along Comes the Nikon V1
Like Steve, who called his original Nikon V1 review: The Camera I Expected to Hate, I originally dismissed the Nikon V1. But I kept reading about it and was intrigued. Before purchasing the V1 though, I purchased and owned three different mirrorless camera systems, and have since sold them all. Each one had its positive points, but there was always something that I couldn’t live with. If you are looking for the perfect camera, it doesn’t exist and never will. Even the mighty Leica M9 has negative points (from what I’ve read even on this site). Is the Nikon V1 for everyone? Of course not! But it’s tiny, powerhouse-of-a-camera that is worth a second, or in this case, third look.
Nikon V1: The Noisy Cricket of Cameras (see: Men in Black)
I love the V1! It’s dynamite in a small package. It’s fast, responsive, has almost clairvoyant auto focus (really) and has a powerful processor. But most of all, it’s incredibly fun to shoot with! Fun, isn’t that why we all take photos? Since purchasing mine in March 2012, I’ve taken more than 13,000 photos with it. It hasn’t blinked, flinched, misfired or failed me once. It has served me well so far and I love it. I can honestly say it’s my favorite digital camera to date bar none, and I’ve owned and used many, many different digital cameras since 2000 when I want completely digital for work.
Not everyone’s needs are the same, but for me, I needed a digital camera that had good enough image quality to be published. Many of the current mirrorless cameras do. I also needed a camera that could perform and handle the stress that I would put it through. This is where a lot of other mirrorless cameras fall short
The features I needed most in a mirrorless camera are listed below in order of importance.
•Completely Silent Shutter – The V1 has a mechanical shutter, that has a pleasant sound and is fairly well dampened (not too loud), but it also has a an electronic shutter. Not many photography forums talk about this feature, but it is completely silent. The shutter makes no noise at all when you take a picture. For the type of photography I do, and for all of you who do street, documentary or photojournalism, this is a huge, huge plus. It allows you to shoot a scene up close and personal, and not be noticed (at least by your shutter giving you away). A silent shutter also lets you shoot more photos of any given moment without worrying that your subject will think you are totally nuts for shooting so many pictures of him.
•Incredibly Fast & Accurate Auto Focus
Steve, and many others, have already written about this, so there is no need to elaborate. The auto focus is so fast, that I thought I’d test it out on a high school football game. High school football is very challenging to photograph, especially as the light is dropping. Shooting Pro football is a total breeze next to shooting high school football (I covered NFL for 8 plus years). The V1’s auto focus kept up (not my best work but you get the point). See them here.
The V1 is super fast–pro camera fast. Enough said. It will keep up with what you shoot. It never lags behind when viewing images, writing to buffer, etc., even when shooting RAW. It’s always alert and ready.
•Small Size Including Lenses
Because of the smaller sensor size, the Nikon 1 series lenses are very compact, lightweight, but very well built.
I can get about 800 shots, maybe more, per battery charge. This is important to me. Also, the V1 takes the same battery as the Nikon D7000 and D800 (and most likely the upcoming D600 and the rumored D400). This is very cool and very unusual. Same battery, same charger as my other gear, nice! Most of the time there is no need for a second battery.
Several cameras now have EVFs (electronic viewfinder). The V1’s is excellent, as is its LCD screen. I also like that it’s very low profile with a nice, built-in cushiony rubber eyepiece. I don’t use it exclusively, but when I need it, it’s there. I live in Florida, a state that has bright sun year round, which necessitates an EVF. An add-on EVF is too bulky and can easily get broken off. When figuring the cost of the V1, remember that add-on viewfinders usually cost about $200 and up.
It’s expandable and takes my pro Nikkor lenses (if I want it too) via the FT1 Mount adapter. Cool, shoot the moon!
As you may have noticed, I never mentioned image quality. IQ is important to me but it’s not the most important thing. I’ll put it this way: the Nikon V1 is light years ahead of the $11,000 Canon D2000 camera that I used for three years a one of the newspapers I worked for. While initially testing the V1, I went back through a lot of film scans that I shot over the years to compare quality. I can honestly say, although film has a different “feel” to it, the V1 many times surpasses the film scans. What more are we looking for? Do I wish it had the IQ of a Canon 5D? Of course. But I have no problems with its IQ at all. In fact, I actually like the very tight grain that the files get at higher ISOs, it’s pretty and ‘more’ film-like to my eyes. I almost never sharpen them either, but had too on both my 5D and 5D MkII. Bottom line: The V1 image quality is very good. I shoot exclusively in RAW and the images are amazingly sharp. Also, the V1 RAW files will take just about any post processing that you can throw at them. I use Lightroom 4.
Currently I am working on a documentary photo project shot entirely with the Nikon V1 and the 1 Nikkor 10mm (27mm equivalent) f/2.8 pancake lens. I’m photographing daily life on a 100-year-old fishing pier along Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. I’m hoping to get the project published into a hardcover book when finished. I’ve shot at the pier 23 times so far since June 1st. I believe that the Nikon V1 image quality is good enough for a hard cover photo book. I’ve also used the V1 for certain daily newspaper assignments. Here is a sample. Pro golf shoot with the V1 here.
I did a V1 enlargement test on the mighty Epson 4890 Pro Photo printer. I made a 16”x20” print and the file held up beautifully. Rarely in my entire career did I ever enlarge a print larger than this. Personally I think that a 12”x18” print is the perfect size to frame and hang on the wall. So again I ask the question? “Just how large of sensor do we need?” I dare say that most of us do not print a lot of photos these days anyway, but view and share our photos on a screen. Technology is changing rapidly and it’s exciting. See: Nokia Pureview 808 smartphone or the new Sony RX100 reviews and be prepared to be wowed by small sensor cameras. Probably the one major disadvantage for the Nikon 1 for some photographers is the large depth-of-field the small sensor produces. It’s much harder to achieve nice, shallow bokeh with the one inch sensor. For the type of shooting I do I don’t mind. New, fast lenses will help in the future.
Believe it or not, the Nikon V1 allows me to get photos that no other camera of any kind has allowed me to get. Since I first started using auto focus back in 1986 (Minolta 9000), I have exclusively used only Center Point auto focus (the first AF cameras only had center point by the way). Even with all the pro Nikon and Canon cameras that I’ve used and owned, with their 51 AF points, etc., I only used and trusted the center point. When you make a living with photography and have to get the shot each and every time, you tend not to take many chances because it could mean losing your job. The Nikon V1 changes this. I have my V1 set to Multi-Point AF all the time with face recognition turned on. Again, it’s absolutely clairvoyant, or nearly so. Steve talked about the V1 being the only camera that he has ever tested which nailed the focus every time. This is a true statement. Can it miss? Yes, but very, very rarely.
Another thing I’ve been doing with the V1 that I have never done before is occasionally shoot without looking through the viewfinder or at the LCD. Yikes, did I just say that?! It’s true. I’ve gotten pretty good at framing without seeing. The amazing auto focus and responsiveness of the camera including the large buffer helps with this a lot. You are probably wondering why I’m Hail Marying with my V1. It’s mostly related to the fishing pier project I’m working on. The pier is not very big and has water on all sides so sometimes it’s impossible to get into position and raise the camera up to frame without being noticed. Also, if you’ve ever asked someone if you can take his or her picture, you already know that whatever moment or expression you saw seconds before has vanished. You got to be quick and again, this is where the V1 shines!
Why Shoot One Frame When You Can Shoot Five or More?
I do believe in the decisive “moment” and have made my living capturing just that. But now technology allows me to capture decisive moment(s) with my Nikon V1 (and without the distracting clanking—to the subject–sound of the shutter). When shooting in low light with my DSLRs, many times I will shoot multiple frames of the same moment to ensure that I have at least one good, sharp image. The speed of the V1 allows me to do this too. Experience has shown me that the slight movement of a hand, the mouth, eyes, body, etc. can turn a good photo a great photo. So again, the V1 shines for it’s speed and high frames per second rate to capture not only a sharp image in low light, but the decisive (peak) moment.
I love my Nikon V1 and feel that its simplicity is one of its greatest strengths. It doesn’t have some of the custom control or bells and whistles of other mirrorless cameras, but it has one of the best and easiest to navigate menu systems of any digital camera in my opinion. I purposely didn’t focus on the V1’s weaknesses though. It has a few things that a firmware update could change and make better, but none these bother me during daily use, and none of them are deal breakers. Steve’s two reviews of the V1 cover all of them pretty completely. Or you can easily find them somewhere online. I rarely bump the mode dial, nor toggle the aperture, but it does occasionally happen. My original Canon 5D wonder camera would get turned off all the time when I was carrying it, and I paid over $3,000 for it. My Canon EOS 1D MkIIn would rack focus sometimes at very crucial moments and I’d miss a touchdown play or something important like that. The RAW write times in an Olympus I once owned were excruciatingly slow. The buffer of my $11,000 dollar Canon D2000 would fill up right in the middle of a huge crash at the Daytona 500 and I would miss the peak action. My old $5,000 Nikon D2H looked horrid at anything above ISO 800. And my old top-of-the-line Nikon D4s would only take one film speed setting at a time. So when I had a roll of Fuji Velvia 50 in the camera and walked into somewhere with low light, I had to rewind the film mid-roll and put in some fast (then) ISO 800 FujiPress. Get the picture?
Full Size Samples:
1. Dusty plant shot at ISO 640. It’s an ugly pic but it shows the fine detail and sharpness at higher ISOs.
2. Greeting card shot at ISO 1600, 1/5th of a second with image stabilizer of the 10-30 lens. This is a great example of the beautiful, tight film-like grain which reminds me of Ralph Gibson’s work shot on film of course – http://www.ralphgibson.com/
ISO 640 – click it for full size
ISO 1600 – click it for full size
Chase Jarvis said “The best camera is the one that’s with you.” This is true. A former photo professor of mine, Gary Monroe, said, “You take better pictures when you’re photographing than when you’re not photographing.” Also true. I say, “There is no perfect camera” but the Nikon V1 comes pretty close (for my current needs anyway). A camera is a tool to capture the world, not an idol to be worshipped. Give it a try; great photos are waiting. Did I mention that it’s fun to use?
PS: Don’t be a hater, keep the comments positive 😉
From Steve: Thanks Craig for this GREAT article on the V1! For all of the readers, do not forget to head over to youtube and enter my Nikon V1 set giveaway!
Thank you for this very helpful look inside shooting with the V1. The features you praise are the ones I’m looking for. I’m tired of fiddling with the D7000’s jittery need to constantly test exposure when shooting in varied environments, not to mention the requirement to set AF Fine Tune for each lens. The 7000 is a great camera, but it is not a small, light, invisible shooter. Hurry up, Mr. Postman.
I’m already looking for a second v1 to use with 30-110mm. Such small size for 300mm equivalent. Really love the performance and jpegs. I don’t love the bad low light performance and the inability to support 3rd party flashes though
Was looking for an “upgrade” for my Fuji XF1. Got a GF3 + 14mm f2.5. wasn’t feeling it. No Auto ISO in Manual Mode, can you believe it? That odd shape, no wonder steve hated the GFs. Luickly sold it. Had gas for a GR, still too pricey. Suddenly saw a V1+10mm $200. Ordered it, was worried if I might have made a mistake. This article re-assured me.
That is a fantastic deal! I still have and still use my V1 with the 10mm pancake–my favorite lens for it’s size, form-factor, focus speed and sharpness. In fact, all of the photos in the following link were shot with the V1 and 10mm pancake: http://www.craiglitten.com/blog/2015/1/7/miami-south-beach-street-photography-workshop
I hope you enjoy it and embrace it’s strengths as well as it’s weaknesses. I’ve now owned the V1 longer than any digital camera in the last five years.
thanks craig. received the V1 today. it feels good. everything feels solid. the continuous shooting buffer is jaw dropping.
love the output, love the EVF
however in A mode, shutter speeds seems to be in the low side. do you usually just set to a fixed ISO 100/200 when shooting in daylight ?
Yes, I ALWAYS shoot on fixed ISO. Usually ISO 100 because I live in bright, sunny Florida. I love the way the sensor looks at ISO 800 though when the light gets low. It has a very nice look. Still digital, but more like film than other cameras. I wouldn’t hesitate to shoot up to ISO 1600 for B&W–which is what I mostly shoot. I used my V1 to shoot a job for the NYT and a magazine from Mexico City along with other newspaper assignments.
Hey craig. How do you do?
I’m in love with this camera!
All of the b&w photos except two are sooc jpegs. 28mm Equivalent is great for story telling.
The feel of the camera, the look, the evf, the user interface makes all the difference
So glad! Your B&W look good!
Thank you Noel, I appreciate the response! I hope you enjoy your V3. I’m still enjoying my two V1’s. I highly recommend the 10mm pancake lens (28mm equiv.), it’s outstanding in every way. Tiny, sharp, solidly built and super fast to focus. I wish they’d come out with more lenses soon.
I recently travelled to Europe. I went to 5 countries. I carried 3 cameras. A Hasselblad H3d-31, a Canon EOS M and the Panasonic GH4. The GH4 I used for videos and on occasions walk around shots. the Hasselblad I used for the family Portraits that I took in the Hotel in the old country. Carrying it outside was painful. the most used camera was my EOS M. I mounted the 11-22 lens on it. It was the lightest and the most user friendly of the cameras of them all. Why am I not writing about the Nikon 1?
The EOS M made me realise that I cannot carry around large cameras with me. Yes, the large cameras are brilliant image quality but they are annoying to have with you. If you are with your family or friends, they are the “excuse me” camera. “Excuse me I want to take a photo”. You can imagine what the outcome of those photos are. That said, taking photos of non living things like car, landscapes and buildings where the subject that does not notice you, the bigger camera does do really well. You still have to carry it. Ouch. Have you seen how Gypsies in Europe watch you if you carry something that looks expensive? It is worrying.
Nikon in Australia had a special on the Coolpix A. I bought one with some hesitation. It is the best little camera I have ever used. Small enough for my pocket with a DSLR quality. It’s 28mm equivalent makes it more useful, I think than its competition that insist that 35mm is the fixed focal length to have. Are they serious. It goes with me everywhere. I want to sell all my large cameras because I do not need them any more. I do not need a 28mm lens for my SLR. The 28MM SLR lens isn’t any better than the Coolpix A.
Now I get to the Nikon 1. I just placed the order for the Nikon 1 V3. I did it because I read your article and agree with everything in it. I love film. I love photography. I played with a Nikon 1 and it has that special something that makes me want to use it. I saw it first in Helsinki. I didn’t get to play with it there. I came back home to try it out. i wish I bought it when I saw it in Helsinki.
I haven’t seen its image quality up close but everything I have seen so far is promising. i wanted an EOS M replacement. i know no reviewer loves this camera. I do because it’s everything a big camera is but in a small package. It’s just slow but delivers outstanding results even if you can only use the EOS M lenses. You can miss the odd moment with it because it can be a little slow. Not always though. No slower than a DSLR that can’t find the focus. i recommend it to anyone that wants to pay $500 for a new camera and get quality that blows everyone away. The Nikon 1 I am expecting will do the same.
Thank you for your outstanding article.
Hi Tim, glad you like your V1! You must get the 10mm f/2.8 (27mm equivalent) too. Trust me on this one. This lens is tiny and sharp and so fun. It’s also the fastest focusing lens in the lineup as far as I’ve tested. (I have not yet tested the new 32mm f/1.2 nor the two newest zooms–but I doubt a zoom will focus faster). And the 18.5mm lens is a no-brainer (see my review on this site). It’s fast (f/1.8), a very versatile 50mm equivalent, and very light.
I’m also a photojournalist covering assignments and I remember back to the film days when I had all prime lenses. I had a 24mm f/2.8, a 35mm f2.0, a 50mm, and 85mm f/1.8 and a 180mm f/2.8 as well as a 300mm f/2.8. The 300mm got used for sports, and thing far away of course, and I used the 85mm for basketball and some portraits, but for 85-90% of my assignments, I had a 24mm on one camera (Nikon F4–my favorite film camera ever), and the 180mm on the other (a Nikon N90s). I didn’t miss zooms because the good, fast zooms were still not quite up to snuff yet–most people don’t know nor understand this, and didn’t need them. The 24mm was such and incredibly diverse lens as was the 180mm. That being said, I’d recommend ditching your zooms and getting the 28mm (even more diverse), the 50mm and the 85mm. After Steve’s review today, I may check out the 85mm myself which is now the longest lens I would own (I no longer shoot sports).
I just picked up my second V1 today used from B&H for around $180–a real steal. It is just like new although they rated it as a 9.
Thanks for your comments.
bought this at a mid-year run-out sale for 200AUD (110GBP, 190US) twin lens kit recently, excellent back- up for my d3200 and primes (35mm, 50mm) only started taking photos a few months ago; but very happy with what I am learning with. Especially for the price I paid for, certainly no complaints. the 10mm & 18.5 are 200AUD each, I might take the advice from above post and try something new…cheers!
I think you’ll enjoy it immensely and find that it’s a lot of fun to use. Enjoy and thanks for writing!
Just picked up a V2 on Friday and covered three assignments with it over the weekend. Two long parades and one medium size concert. Needed something smaller and lighter than my D4/D700’s with zooms, especially for Sunday’s parade where I walked seven miles in the baking sun.
Well, 1500 images later, I have to say I’m very impressed. Used only the kit 10-30 zoom. Will probably pick up the 18.5 for a little shallower depth of field, and I do need to read/understand more about the way the camera shuts itself off and how to quickly turn it back on (almost missed a few shots), but I am very pleased with the way the whole system works. It really is a miniature D4 w/24-70. And as Craig mentioned, it really does hold up to the demands of professional use. The camera and I baked in the sun for hours on Sunday, and even got hosed down by an over-enthusiastic party float. Wiped us both off and we were back shooting in a matter of seconds. And as Craig mentioned, got about 800 images per battery charge.
Not the ultimate in image quality (for that I use the D4), but certainly good enough for the publications I shoot for. And the size allows me to get in very tight without being threatening to the subjects, like sometimes happens with my big camera gear.
I love the V1, but now I’m waiting for the V3, which would have evrything I want. To start with, it wouldn’t have a screen. At all. Because I never use the screen, for anything, because the EVF is so good, and I’ve always preferred a viewfinder. And that would mean that the finder could be moved down and put in the corner of the camera, a bit like an SP. For me, also, it could lose the mode dial, as I only take stills, but others may find the novelty exposure modes interesting. The multiwheel could move to the top of the camera (or maybe to a dedicated vertical position at the front, again like an SP), and the menu etc. buttons to the back top edge, and that would mean that it would fit in a proper case, that went all the way round the camera, and didn’t have a big hole in the back. In terms of exposures I’d be quite happy with aperture priority automatic with + or – 3 stops over-ride. The rest could stay as it is, and the V3 wouldn’t have big ugly lumps sticking out of the top and the front like the V2. I doubt I’ll see it though.
Wow. Missed the boat on this kit. Just picked up a new one for $299 out the door! Thank you, Steve, and Craig, for the great pics and heads-up on the V1! Coming from the X100, this should prove to be an interesting new POV to explore.
No, all were shot with the 10mm f/2.8 pancake lens. It’s super tiny, metal and well-built, and fast focusing. But the kit lenses are very good, especially the 30-110. I sold my zooms and only use the 10mm and the 18.5 (28mm and 50mm respectively). You can read my review of the 18.5 here on Steve Huff Photo. I’m not really a zoom guy by preference, but I do use them.
The sensor is better in the Sony NEX 5n, I used to own one before the V1, but the V1 kills it in every other way except for video. There is STILL nothing in the Mirrorless world that can touch the Nikon V1/V2 for sheer performance. This is fact, but whether its the correct camera for you will have to be determined by your individual needs. I’m a journalist so quality of image comes second to content of photo. If you go to my website or StreetPhotoWorkshops.com you can see a lot more sample photos from the V1. On my website (my name .com) the project called Microcosm was shot entirely with the V1. On my other site, street photography, all of my Daytona Bike Week photos were shot with the V1. Thanks!
Hi, love the article and great photos. I’m thinking of stepping up from a 6 year old cybershot to a more advanced camera and this could fit the bill. Am also considering a second hand 5n. I want a good general purpose camera and I also do a lot of hiking here in New Zealand so enjoy landscape photography also.
Where your photographs shot with the standard kit enses?.Thanks
Awesome review, I just ordered one, can’t wait!
Thank you, you’ll love it!
Craig, the butcher is not shot with a V1. I posted a detailed reply on the contact page of your site. I forgot to link to two very different pictures I actually did take with the V1 to test its abilities.
Hey Alwin, Thanks for the comments. I love the photo of the butcher! Was that shot with the V1? It almost looks like film. Please contact me through my website, I’d love to post that photo. http://www.streetphotoworkshops.com
You brought trouble 🙂 . Now I have to justify the V1 with 10 mm I just got new for EUR 300.- alongside the Nex and the old 5D, and an army of analogue Leica’s and Rolleiflexes. It was the last V1 they had though.
The V1 gives me a different take to street. In stead of the deliberate approach that leads to more “posed” shots
(example here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/photomensch/3796423662/in/photostream )
you can fire away silently while chatting with your subjects without much worry about proper focus.
Still getting my feet wet on a camera that is totally different from what I am used to but when I get the post processing right it may become my take anywhere camera.
Best review I have read on a platform, honest and suitably qualified author who did not get bogged down on the tech B.S that some wanna be “experts” like to drone on with.
I may be a little one eyed as I also enjoy shooting with this camera and do not expect DSlr super zooms etc out of a micro camera. Good camera that captures exactly what I compose (even when that is not very good)
Great review. I just received mine yesterday (only paid $257w/shipping *NIB not a refurb* from BensOutlet). So far I love it.
WOW! Does it have the Nikon USA warranty too?
Big price drops in the UK combined with this super article makes me very likely to purchase the V1. Great that I could use my D7000 battery and lenses. Very excited! Your images are amazing by the way!
Thank you so much!
I bought a brand new V1 one as well recently with 10-30mm. It’s performance surprise me , the only concern of mine is on high ISO end, so I am very conscious in lowering down the ISO not over 800 unless it is necessary. I am really looking forward to have the 18.5mm f1.8 and hope Nikon will issue fast ultra wide zoom/prime as well as faster tele-zoom (may be 70-200 f2.8, 135mm-equivalent). Craig, your photo with V1 really inspire me. Will you post a review on the 18.5mm lens as well? Really looking forward to. Good job !
He already wrote a review on the 18.5 a couple weeks back here on this site.
You don’t have to convince me, bought one already 🙂
It’s a really a powerful tiny camera. One thing they have to fix is the variable ISO mode. It tends to be set on the highest (I prefer ISO 100-400 only because high ISO will have some noise)
Beautiful article and beautiful website!
I just bought V1 few days ago due to a big price drop. Initially I thought I made a big mistake after reading all the negative reviews about V1 on the Internet until I stumbled upon your website. It is a superb camera considering the price so much cheaper than J1 & J2 and half the price of RX100.
The V1 is a steal right now, well worth it and a great camera.
I bought a Nikon V1 about a month ago and I love it! I just like shooting with it and I absolutely agree about the incredible AF. I just took some close-ups of sun falling through leaves and as much as I love my other camera (a Ricoh GXR) I never got it to focus where I wanted it to (or only after lots of hunting). With my V1 there was no problem, it focused exactly where I wanted it to – and FAST. So now I have two cameras (I never thought I’d see the day…) and am as happy with them as I can be. No, there is no perfect camera, but for me and my “needs”, these two together come close…
Awesome! I just bought the new 18.5mm f1.8 lens, and should receive it early next week! I’m still LOVING my V1!
All good posts, where I have a problem is now Nikon has cut the price on the V1 by $500. to release the V2. I find this as a slap from Nikon. When I asked them about the drastic price drop they didn’t even respond back. I would be hard press to do business with Nikon again. I understand cameras loose value and new models are released but not this drastically and this soon.
Yes, I agree. It’s sick! Panasonic and Olympus (most point and shoots and mirrorless camera bodies) seem to to nearly the same. I’m eyeing an Olympus E-P2 for only $200. I believe that camera was over $800 when it was released. I guess the name of the game is to buy it if you like it, but sell it before it looses it’s value if you change your mind. I just read a post where the Leica M9 is now selling for around $4000-$4200 used on eBay, about 1/2 price of what it was just a few months ago. Scary but fun if you wait and buy a camera after 6 months. The new cameras of 2012 are so good now that there is less and less reason to upgrade.
I still hate the Nikon 1 series and would never buy one, but I really enjoyed reading this long review and it makes very clear why others would love this camera, for a good reason!
Thanks Thomas. If you’re ever in the Sarasota, Fla. area stop by and I’ll take you over to Anna Maria Island and you can shoot with mine 😉
Interesting article; I never taken Nikon V1 seriously… I did look at Nikon J1 at a store but the camera felt so uncomfortable in my hands, I put it back on the shelf in less than a minute. But what you write about AF is intriguing. I thought my Olympus OM-D had the fastest AF on earth (at least thats the claim) and it also nails every shot, and has great face recognition feature, and also a tilt screen, a great viewfinder, and is very small, and has great low light performance. I did have all the Sony NEX from 5n to 7 but AF sucks big time in comparison with my OM-D. But your article is intriguing, I might check V1 out once the prices for it hit rock bottom!!!!!
LOL, they HAVE hit rock bottom. Go to Steve’s Amazon link in the right column and check it out. I think it’s worth what I paid, but at the current price, it’s a steal! I recently used my V1 and 10mm pancake lens to shoot 50% of a recent shoot for an international fashion magazine on the upcoming Presidential election and the current state of the American Dream to be published next month. The camera is silent, produces very good results and nobody notices it. When I bought my V1 I also purchased an $11 rubber, clue-on grip that made a huge difference in the feel of the camera. Also, don’t make the mistake of comparing the J1 with the V1. They have nearly the same internals, but the V1 is built like a solid metal brick! I LOVE this camera still!
Lovely stuff Craig, thanks for your article and images.
Fantastic review, thank you. You just sold it to me. I have been thinking about getting it since first coming across it in the shop and picking it up and looking through the viewfinder. Since then I’ve been going round the houses on sensor size, other alternatives etc etc, but keep coming back to it. My view now is – it’s a good compromise for small great shooter and sensor size. Before this I was looking at the Ricoh GR digital iv which has an even smaller sensor! My most favourite ever camera was a little Contax T – the original one – and I got pics with that that no-one else did – even at big events. I think this Nikon V1 might just be my next most favourite. I sold my Contax G1 kit about 2 years ago but still haven’t found anything I want to buy that I will love. (Been using other peoples’ cheap compacts and my stepsons VTech kidizoom!).
By the way I’ve had some nice shots with the VTech Kidizoom (Buzz Lightyear version) – has two great handles for steady shot and in good light is impressive!
That’s just awesome! Go for it, you’ll love it. I’d wait until September though, you never know, they just may update it too. I don’t think the camera needs an update though, just the firmware and some fast lenses! Thanks!
I’m going to London in October. Last time I carried my D300 around for seven weeks but decided to travel a lighter this time. I’ve taken around 1000 shots with this little marvel and so far am quite impressed with it. It isn’t up to my D300 standards, but I can easily deal with minor shortcomings. The biggest deal isn’t the photo quality but how easy it is to move the little rotary switch that switches between video and still modes. I’m going to fix that by hot melting a little cover over it so I can still move it but won’t move it accidently.
I just did a family reunion where I used both cameras. Editing in Lightroom proved that each was a little bit different in color, shooting raw, but I would be hard pressed to guess which ones came from which camera. I’ve always said that its the photographer, not the camera that makes the difference. The V1 doesn’t get in the way like a typical point & shoot held at arms length would. Battery life is adequate and I always carry a spare anyway.
I have limited experience with video but what I’ve done looks pretty good. All in all, I’m satisfied with the camera. I bought it for a specific reason and it certainly fulfills that need.
A brilliant review with the pics to back it up. Thanks for posting this solid piece of work. I’ve never been too convinced by Nikon’s products but I’m going to give this one and the 10mm f/2.8 a closer look. Really like the pic of the two young fellows with their sunglasses, and the one with the greeting card, but it’s the diving pelicans that highlight the amazing capabilities of the camera itself.
Thanks very much. I felt the draft of that bird 😉
You’ll love the camera, especially if you like B&W.
I agree. No reviewer seems to mention that this “toy” can also do 30 or even 60 frames per second, albeit for 0.5 seconds 9of course no AF). I haven’t found a use for it yet but it is an astounding feature! The lower speeds that maintain AF throughout put just about every SLR to shame too.
There is indeed something almost spooky about the AF. I was shooting yesterday in a fast moving environment and suddenly realised no matter what it was I wanted to focus upon, the V1 just flashed up the focussing squares on the screen and nailed it every time.
Yes the AF is truly amazing! I’ve used ONLY center point AF since the mid 80’s and have never trusted anything else, ever. Not the case with the V1. I never even think about focus anymore which frees me up to just take pictures. No worries on AF, no worries on exposure (most of the time) no worries about sound, etc., etc. Just a true extension of the eye.
I tested out the 30 fps a few days ago with my son, and ended up with an amazing sequence of him dancing with 36 frames before the buffer filled. The time sequence took one second. Watching it back in Photo Mechanic using the arrow key (as fast as I can press it), it almost looked like a video!
Any one care to comment on how the newly announced Canon EOS M might compare to the Nikon V1?
I’m very interested in the V1 right now, but don’t know if I should wait for reviews and opinion on the EOS M.
I’d probably have to wait awhile since it isn’t released, maybe should even wait for the 2nd iteration of the V1.
Well, the Nikon has a built in EVF, sexier design…but Canon has the faster prime, larger sensor.
See my comments on reasons I chose the V1 and the title. The V1 is aimed, whether intentional or not, for serious street/photojournalism, etc. photography. It’s simple and near perfect. Evaluate what you will shoot. Don’t wait! Something better is always coming. Buy, enjoy and sell later. I don’t plan on selling mine. I’d sell my DSLRs first.
I really enjoyed reading the article. Thank you Craig.
Thank you for commenting and taking the time to read it. I was out shooting again with it yesterday with a friend that also purchased one. She loves hers and is very glad she has gotten it. She shoots Canon DSLR but is considering switching over to Nikon because of the V1.
At long last, we’re moving out of those turbulent waters that surrounded the launch of the V1 and have finally reached a sea of calm where the sun shines and reason prevails – – thanks to you and Steve.
Yes, the V1 is a brilliant camera — if Cartier Bresson were alive today, this would be the type of camera that he would be very happy with. Why? Because it quietly and efficiently lets you capture the ‘decisive’ moment. It never misses a focus point, it’s fast and the images are superb.
I\Nowadays, I have two cameras that are my constant companions — a Leica X2 (recently upgraded from the X1) and the Nikon VI. So here’s the truth, the image quality of the V1 is superb. Where the V1 falls behind a camera like the X2 is when you have to crop, and blow up a small area, the X2 has much great definition, however, since I use the 10 – 30 on the V1, I have the ability to ‘crop’ as I go so the need to extract images through cropping is greatly reduced.
I’m a professional photographer and as such, need ‘the’ shot to make my money. Sure, when needed, I carry around my Canon 5D MkII but you know what, these ‘when needed’ moments are getting less and less and like Steve, I find myself grabbing my two ‘little friends’ and heading off on an assignment with not a worry in the world.
I have heard that Nikon will soon release some stunning primes — perhaps a 35mm f1.0? Can’t wait!
Thanks Craig – – well done!
Excellent. A few faster lenses and I may just buy a back-up V1 and use it for more and more assignments. People don’t give you a second look while carrying it.
Ridiculously late post, I know. However, I have to say that as I was reading and scrolling down I was thinking ‘nice shot, mmm another nice shot’ to myself and being pretty impressed. Until I hit the pic with the blue-grey sky, the green sea and the yellow dress. Then I went ‘WOW’. WOW shot. Seriously WOW colour shot.
(Still keeping the OM-D and patiently waiting for the MM to ship though…)
Thanks very, very much. I’m glad you enjoyed them. I hung around the lady in yellow for quite some time, and I don’t think she ever realized I was taking her photo even though I was backed up against a wall just a few feet away. I’ve never seen the bay (Tampa Bay) go that color before so I had to keep shooting until the light changed and the storm finally hit.
I love the OM-D but will wait it out maybe until early next year when the black lenses arrive. I need stealth. I’d love for the OM-D to replace one of my DSLRs.
Thanks for reading and enjoy your Olympus!
blame you for this review 🙂
made me walk to my local dealer and grab one.I really had no clue about this wonderful little gem.
It’s marvellous and so much lighter than my D3 …
AWESOME! Enjoy!!! Let me know when you want to sell your D3 😉
Great POV. I have moved from a huge load of Nikons (photojournalist/sports) to an M9 and a few lenses. It has been a soothing experience for me, instead of looking for a lens I’m now looking for an image. Great thinking, its like playing hockey and then taking up yoga, I love every minute of it. V1 might be another step.
Thanks Steve for encouraging this kind of conversation,love it.
This just made my day. Brilliant.
Oh how I wish I could do likewise. Maybe one day. Good for you man, I bet it’s like rediscovering photography again. Enjoy!!!
As an experienced and quite happy Nikon V1 user myself, the only thing I can think of that might add value to this excellent review is to emphasize that the V1’s silent mode (electronic shutter + shutter click sound off) is not just quiet, it’s dead silent and totally vibration free–so much so that the only way to tell whether you’ve actually released the shutter and captured a photo is when the review image appears. Many photographers, myself included, rely on tactile+auditory feedback to tell when the shutter has released and whether they’ve captured the moment they intended. This may be less of a concern for Craig, who apparently prefers to shoot sequences rather than single frames. It can be disconcerting, however, if your senses are telling you the shutter is not working. The good news is that V1 shooters have a choice, and even the mechanical shutter is damned quiet.
Great feedback on the shutter. This is important information for a would-be buyer. Thanks!
As for me, I love shooting silent but found that unless it’s on single shot, I usually end up with two or three shots and not even realize it–it’s that fast and, like you said, completely silent and vibration free. I don’t want you to get the wrong impression, I don’t spray and pray for a good photo. It’s just adapting to the V1 which is a new animal, and a very different shooting situation than any camera I’ve ever used. But experience has shown that the slight movement of a person within the frame can change the entire composition of a photo and make an ordinary moment great.
You could spray and pray to a goat for all I care. Just keep producing great work like this.
LOL! Thanks. Maybe soon I’ll finish updating my website to give you more to view. http://www.craiglitten.com
I am always surprised how everyone always goes goo-goo,gaa-gaa, over these new little technological marvels without ever questions the effects of their buying dollars. Meaning, I personally make a concerted effort to avoid products ‘made in China’, and that’s damn hard, I do have an iPhone & Mac. But when there are options, please utilize your buying power! Amazing how we’ve all forgotten about the people of Tibet & that China is a communist regime. Oh, but it’s ok, just as long as I can buy a fun little toy cheap. Maybe Nikon should consider creating some jobs for Americans. I’ve heard many people there are having a rough time, as well as the crashing economy. My cameras are made in Germany (Leica) and Japan, Panasonic & Fuji (X100). Take a stand people…….. I will not buy a Nikon V1 even if it could make my morning coffee!
I don’t understand the ‘but’ here?
Maybe some companies should start creating jobs in their home country – but maybe they don’t want to share a bite of the apple 🙂
Yeah I know, capitalism is a bitch, isn’t it… I mean, capitalism is the main reason why companies have factories in low cost countries like China. So really it is capitalism that drove Nikon to China. And yet you are complaining about communism… 😉
Thanks for a great article. My experience with the V1 mirrors yours — it just gets the shot every time, and it’s pure fun to shoot. I love shooting the 35 f1.8 (using the FT1) wide open with the grandkids and the shallow DOF, at least until Nikon comes out with some fast glass for the 1 System.
Thanks. Can’t wait to try that lens.
very well done article and you obviously know how to make great images. Its not the camera its the man or lady for that matter. As my my 5d’s get older I wonder if a small camera will replace them?
superb read and images.
you’re seriously skilled, mate!
Thanks very much, God has given me the eye to see light and composition.
Thanks, Craig, for the rapid response! My old 18-70 has been retired, as has (more or less) the new 55-200. The 70-300 is my favourite, after the 30-110, and as you I haven’t found any great difference in sharpness, but I do love the 35, 50, and 30-110, plus the 70-300 (if I need that long a lens). Not yet become a fan of the 10, nor the 10-30, but I am learning!
Have you tried the FT1 adapter, and any lenses?! As yet I’ve tried 35/1.8, 50/1.4, & 18-70, plus a few longer lenses …
Would love your comment!
Yes, I bought one. I wished I’d had it for my last golf assignment with maybe a 70-300, that would have been ideal. I have an old 18-70 too and did a side-by-side comparison with the 1 Nikkor 30-110 and couldn’t see any difference. Actually it seems that the 30-100 was sometimes better. It wan’t an extensive test, I’ve no patients for that, but just around my yard. I’ve also tried an old Nikkor 180mm and found pulling focus on the FT1 was easier than on a standard optical viewfinder. Can’t wait to try it more. Thanks!
Excellent images and narrative! Thanks for sharing them with us!
While not at the top of my wish list, the V1 remains a consideration due to its usefulness and long battery life, plus the battery and charger being the same as my wife’s D7000, and the ability to use Nikkor lenses with an FT1 adapter. Your review reminds me of the usefulness, and your images demonstrate that it is the photographer who really makes the images.
For those who have not handled a V1, with the 10mm “pancake” affixed, there is something VERY special about that combination, in my humble opinion.
Great article. So I guess it’s not just amatuers like me who are liking this tool so many call a “toy”.
Thanks for sharing your experience with the V1
Very nice shots! Just goes to show what ANY camera can do in the hands of a talented photographer.
I own way too many cameras (like most of us, I think), including the G11, GF1, 5D III…. They each serve their purpose but the one that gets used most often is still the GF1, because of its perfect combination of image quality and compact size. I’ve made beautiful 13×19 prints from its RAW files, no problem.
Now if only it would give me the same shallow DOF as the 5D III, life would be perfect…
I’m not sure if there’s a Contax adapter for your V1, but the Contax G2 lenses are AMAZING on NEX and m43 cameras… if you still have all your Contax gear, you may find yourself quickly hooked on using your old manual lenses with mirrorless cameras. You might look into what’s available for you V1.
This is a great article that could easily drive you to spending the money for that V1 system, which I’m sure it is well worth it. I have taken a somewhat different approach to this issue, but pointing in the same minimalist “with me all the time” general direction. Having just received my D800 (also have an M9), I have shifted away from heavy zoom lenses to the much lighter primes. What’s more, I have been buying the new Nikon 1.8 primes (85mm & 28mm) because of their light weight and compactness. Now I only walk around with three primes (28/50/85) and my life is a lot better. What’s funny is that I haven’t missed any photo that I have wanted to take and I keep my camera bag with me all the time. So, consider me to be a recovering GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) patient. And yes, considering cameras like the V1 and the technology they are bringing to the market, this D800 may end up being the last big rig I buy in my life. Let’s see what happens in the next few years.
I agree on the primes. I need the zooms for my paid work currently but primes one day. I think I could do 90% with a 28mm and a 50mm. Thanks.
Great story Craig, well written and inspiring, and great images too. I’m starting to recognize the V1’s image quality now due to all the exposure given to that camera on this blog; sharp, realistic, good colours and that depth of field.
Thought-provoking article and great images. Thank you!
I cannot be but very humble after reading your great article. With your service record, I even was in doubt wether or not daring to respond. But I want to, because I really was moved by the way you go so much further than I do in chosing your equipment by focussing on the simple logic of what really matters. It makes so much sense! It learned me never to doubt to go ALL THE WAY, when having a believe or a feeling. You really made me very curious towards the V1, while I’m already very happy with the size and feel of my NEX-7. (I chose this one because I CAN use it in a very simple way, forgetting about the complex menu layout. And I’m really happy with it, using it for manual focussing only.) Also, the way you use autofocus also makes me wonder wether or not to give it a try. As far as now, I only focus manually, what I think is a lot of fun. But indeed, I regularly miss a shot. Being a real enthousiast, I shoot just for fun. While my job doesn’t depend of it, missing a shot is never a desaster. Still it can be “such a pitty” not having nailed a great moment…
Anyway, I wanna thank you so much for writing this article. For people like me, it’s offering a clear, so easy to understand and very to the point synthesis in a nutshell of a lifetimes experience by a real pro. GREAT JOB, Craig. Priceless!! This is worth several seminars. If you have more inspiration, please don’t hesitate to share. 🙂
(If only there were more guys like you, wanting to share their knowledge to us enthousiasts… Hey guys, this is a call-up!)
And thanks very much. I’d say stick with the NEX 7, it’s an amazing little camera. I owned the NEX 5N and two Voigtlander lenses. The IQ far exceeds the V1. If you don’t already own it, I highly recommend the Voigtlander 35mm f/2.5. It’s tiny and razor sharp! Also cheap and built to last a lifetime. I was very sad to sell it. I loved the NEX but manual focusing was a challenge for sure. But it is fun and rewarding, like in the days-gone-by for most of us. On my first newspaper staff job I had a manual focus 300mm f/2.8. I had to use this for sports which was a real challenge but I learned and adapted. I think today we tend to jump ship when the next big thing comes along. The image quality on the NEX cameras will not be surpassed for years in my opinion. Sure more bells and whistles and maybe a stop better high ISOs, but if you don’t shoot in the dark without a tripod and you don’t shoot children laced with sugar and caffeine and sugar, get a few nice lenses and learn how to shoot with that tiny wonder that you have; you will be well rewarded.
Thanks for your reply, Craig. As a matter of fact, that was exactly what I had in mind. There is one more lens I want to buy, and that’s a Voigtländer 35mm. I’m in doubt for the Nokton 1.4 because it’s also very compact and still offers some shallow DOF. The DOF of the 1.2 is even more tempting, but its size isn’t at all. Since visiting Steve’s site, I got addicted to shallow DOF more and more. At first, I didn’t agree with him on several points, because of this DOF matter, but in the meanwhile, he changed my mind greatly. Isn’t it great to go for new directions? I wouldn’t go for the Voigtländer 2.5 because of DOF reasons, when there is the 1.4. You agree? In the meanwhile, I got addicted to buying some primes. I shoot with three ZM Zeisses (28/2.8, 50/2 and 85/4mm), than I got some old Canon FD’s from my A1 days (17/4, 20/2.8, 24/2.8 and 50/1.4). I just bought a fabulous Canon FD 85/1.2 and yesterday I ordered three Jupiters on ebay (50/1.5, 85/2 and 135/4) that I’m really excited about. That’s plenty for an enthousiast. But it’s a passion. In general, I think I’d still prefer the NEX-7 over the V1 (although the NEX has too many pixels and too many functions), because I really can use it as if it were a classic manual camera: simple. And yes, I love the IQ. Still you made me wonder how the Zeiss 24mm/1.8 with autofocus and face recognition would work on my NEX-7 for street shooting… It’s a never ending story I guess.
Shallow depth of field is beautiful indeed, but it’s only ONE technique in photography. Over use it and it gets well, over used and boring too. Like shooting with a fish eye lens all the time. Or always over saturating your images in Photoshop, etc. It’s nice but has it’s place. Good photography is some about technique, but mostly about the subject. Happy shooting with your new Jupiters!
Thanks for the advice, Craig! Indeed, everything has it’s place. I’ll try to keep this in mind and balance it to the best of my abilities.
BTW, I hope the Jupiters won’t have technical issues…
You are most welcome!
You’re going to love them (the Jupiters)
Great article! Definitely best of its kind this year!
Hmmm… let’s see. I have a Panny GF2 with the Pan/Leica 25 1.4 permanently attached to it. And the Fuji X100. Yet, this review has me thinking maybe i should try this system as well =o] Great shots!! The shot with the Pelican dive bombing you is great =o] Perfect timing on that one. Are those in camera B&Ws or PP?
Again, lovely shots!
Really nice article about system, which looks strange from basic point of view, but as I can see it’s interesting and capable of great results. In February I was deciding which small system to suplement my dslr kit. I was interested in Nikon 1, but then I decided to go m43, because I’m little bit bokeh addicted and love fast primes. This is what I still miss in Nikon 1 and if they will produce some interesting primes, system will go upwards and I’ll be more and more interested because I like the form factor and design of V1. Just I think that it tooks so much time from Nikon to present new lenses.
Great article Craig… Im also a pro working in the UK and the V1 neve leaves my side
Would love to hear what settings u use…. I originally shot manual, ten moved to AE and its jus so perfect
All the best
WOW! Top notch work! I’ll be passing your site along to a few photog friends of mine to enjoy! I can’t wait to spend some more time on your sight. I commend you for having the courage to shoot B&W! It appears you are doing exactly what YOU want. Many times as we move along in our careers we end up doing what others want thus become unhappy with our work.
Thanks so much for sharing your link!
PS: I’m 85% AE myself, for decades now. I use manual only when:
1. The light is not changing or changing just a bit (like at night in low light with lots of darks that fool the meter.
2. When the meter can easily be fooled
Excellent article Craig, thank you so much. What intrigues me about this great little V1 is that you can’t seem to express your love for the camera without talking about your photography first. This makes glowing V1 stories usually much more dimensional than, say, their D7000 or 5D Mark III counterparts. Yours is no exception. Thanks again for this very entertaining read!
Thanks for sharing! I somehow regret going for the J1 and not the V1 for its EVF, but owned a Micro Four Thirds kit at the time I bought it, and wanted it more as a P&S replacement. It’s really great for it’s size and I recently added the 30-110mm to my small Nikon 1 kit. Love the silent shutter – makes my X100 seem noisy! 🙂
Have fun with the J1! I’d love a silver J1 for family pics and to put some of those cool, retro stickers on like Steve featured a few days ago. Maybe a Z1 will come out next year and your J1 can be your back-up 😉
Very well done article. It was great to read your working pro perspective. Loved your comparison to all the cameras of your past and their individual limitations. Ain’t it the truth. Sometimes we are too harsh in our judgements of current technology. My V1 has quickly become my everyday, grab first camera. The results are always good. It is all of what you have described. That quiet shutter feature is absolutely the best. Sometimes good things do come in small packages! Thanks again.
An inspiring article. I had the V1 with all three lenses. A great camera and the best compact AF street shooting and travel solution. I love the files and colors it produces, they have a certain “bite” to them. Too many cameras so it had to go, but articles like yours give me GAS. I think Nikon’s marketing team did a lousy job when trying to position the V1/J1. They are great for pros and enthusiasts as a second or third system rather then for consumers steping up from p&s cams.
I guess Steve wasn’t exaggerating one bit when he said he had a killer review coming up for the Nikon V1
I read every letter of this review. Didn’t skip over anything. You got my attention that’s for sure.
I have to admit I’m a Nikon 1 system hatter. But after reading this, coupled with Steven’s openion on it, I’m starting to respect this camera.
Nice work. Thanks a lot for it.
Thanks very much for your honesty. I try not to hate any camera because I consider them as just tools. Every camera has something good to offer, even the Pentax Q, which I also owned. The Q is a masterpiece of workmanship in my opinion. I have gaffer’s tape all over my V1 and nobody even knows what I have. I’m not a huge fan of Sony as a (camera) brand, but the NEX cameras produce incredible files and they are excellent cameras. I owned an NEX 5N but because of the lack of lens support, I sold it (this was before I bought my V1). It was a difficult decision though. The files it produced were better than the V1 hands down. But the user experience with the V1 is so effortless, for lack of a better term, and nearly foolproof; it’s just a pleasure to use and very solid and well built. If you look at a camera as your tool to produce photographs, that may help. Nikon, Leica, Canon, it really doesn’t matter what it says on the front as long as if does what you need it to do.
One of the best posts ever aired here with wonderful pictures. One small typo “Nikon D4s” should be “Nikon F4s”.
Ha, you are correct. Hard to break that ‘D” now after so long. Thanks!
I didn’t know about the MP AF. I will try that 🙂 and thanks for this great article! “Why Shoot One Frame When You Can Shoot Five or More?” I was thinking this exact thought last night 😀
I love that the V1 has been getting so much attention lately! Before I purchased my V1 I was basically shooting everything with either my iPhone 3GS or my Panasonic DMC-FP8. So for me, the V1 was a huge improvement in IQ but I was still able to use auto modes and gradually move away from them as I learned about photography. Shortly after purchasing the V1 I was sort of doubting my decision on investing in it (I bought the 10mm and 10-30mm kit) since there were many people dismissing it and saying it was a waste. Luckily I stuck to my guns and decided to continue shooting with it. After experimenting with various modes I found my favorite options that usually always get me the shot I’m looking for. I ended up buying the 30-110mm lens and bounce flash and am completely happy with the camera. Even if I choose to bring everything with me it fits in a small bag. Usually I just opt to bring it with the 10mm on the body and the 30-110mm in my bag next to the flash. In any case, I’ve been able to get many wonderful pictures on my recent travels without having to be bogged down with the weight of a DSLR. After traveling through most of the Western US, Japan, Hong Kong and Macau (especially the last three locations where you walk everywhere and use the mass transit systems) I couldn’t imagine having a bigger camera. Maybe I’ll send Steve some of my photos so he can showcase what an amateur can do with the V1. Thanks for the great article, pictures, and reaffirming my decision to stick with the underdog.
sorry folks- but it’s like a glorified iphone..
Coming from somebody who hasn’t shot with one, no doubt.
Ha ha. Yes, it’s just an iPhone – a very, very, VERY FAST iPhone. While the iPhone shooters are tap-monkeying for a few pics, the V1 will shoot 100 and they’ll all be in razor-sharp focus. That said, I bought a new Nokia PureView 808 for $140 in January 2016 for the amazing camera, but it’s several degrees of order slower than the V1, poorer in low light, and can’t match the V1’s focusing accuracy.(I got my V1 in Dec. 2015 for the current wonderful used price and am continually amazed by what it can do. Sold off my D7000 and lenses.
nice post man.. yeah I’m still thinking (and saving) about getting myself a V1 too 🙂 at first, a J1 is far more appealing (considering the price level),, but naah, I could wait a lil bit more for a V1
I’m a compact lover.. for now, I mostly shoot with my X100 and NEX-3. I’m just a hobbyist, not a pro who earns money from photograph, just enjoying it soo much.
keep posting, your article here helps me soo much. thanks for sharing
Thanks very much! Get the V1, it’s like a solid brick and you’ll regret not having the EVF (electronic viewfinder) when you need it. Plus it has some features that the J1 doesn’t. Image quality is the same. I see them used here and there too. Go to Steve’s links to B&H and Adorama and go to their used department. No worries either, they back their used stuff.
Great article Craig. Nikon did a great job with the V1, which is pretty amazing being the first generation of a new line. Oops, talking about gear again. Off to some shooting myself!
WOW-what a great review on a camera that so many have panned!! Terriffic images to say the least!! I have tried this camera and it’s AWESOME!!! So very fast!! I was in NYC recently and left my Canon 1Ds MK2 at home in favour of a Canon G10 with the same philosophy as you had left your camera at home. I was so happy that I did. Interesting thet you have printed to 16×20-was this at 300 DPI? I have made 20×30 prints from my Canon G10 printed at 150 DPI and they look quite nice. Also, the image of the two boys at the pier-does the Nikon give that saturation or was there some post processing
Thanks again for a wonderful read and allowing us to see some amazing images
Thanks very much for your kind comments.
As for the print size DPI, I’m not too sure but I know it wasn’t 300 because I didn’t interpolate the image. I don’t print very often since most of my work ends up in a newspaper or magazine or online. I was amazed and pleased by the results though.
Oh, sorry about the shot of the two boys. All my other shots are lightly toned in LR4, but I hit that one heavy just for fun. I think I moved the Clarity slider over pretty far. I should have re-toned it for the article. I love the colors though.
thanks for your reply!! the shot of the two boys REALLY POPS!! It’s my fav of the ones you posted
Haha, thanks. I like it too.
Me too), just remembered this shot after year, today went to see explanation how it was done. I like your work.
Nice words pics. I hope you get your project published! Sounds like a fun project.
I mistakingly let some folks talk me out of a V1 when it was first announced. After shooting something else for some time, I recently tried then purchased, a used v1 kit. I love it for every single reason you write of here. My D7000 has not gone into my backpack since I picked it up.
As a side note, the little flash is a gem too. Super compact and pretty darn functional.
Thanks very much, that’s very kind of you. Yes, I couldn’t resist buying the flash; it’s just so cute! Functional too. I used it to fire my SB 700s in a studio once for a test. It was amazing. I need to get it out and experiment more. Thanks!
I like your pictures, and I appreciate the review.
I had heard people say that the V1 is not for me because it defaults to slower shutter speeds to keep the ISO noise down. Looking at your High-school football pictures, though, it seems like you had no trouble with shutter speed. Did you over-ride the default shutter speed? If so, was it troublesome, or were you happy with the ease-of-use?
I was having issues with the slow shutter speeds being selected but after reading an article from this website I took the advice to use shutter priority mode. For the most part this greatly improved my ability to capture low light moments and once I got used to the shutter speeds I could usually pick a balance between fast enough to not blur and slow enough to keep the ISO down. I still shoot in Auto ISO 3200 but usually my photos don’t go above 800. In some situations the ISO is higher of course, but it’s better than not getting a shot at all.
I went back and looked at the files and found that I was shooting in Shutter Priority and Auto ISO to keep the shutter speed high enough to stop the action. When the light started dropping I switched to Manual Mode and Manual ISO setting to 1600. In manual mode I kept the aperture as wide open as possible, and the shutter speed as fast as possible. I started at 1/1000th of a second and went down as the light dropped more. At the time I shot the game, I hadn’t had the camera very long so I was still experimenting. For this fishing pier project, I shoot almost exclusively in Aperture Priority mode at a set ISO 100. Raise to ISO 200 when the light drops, etc. I usually keep the aperture at f/2.8 to f/5.6. The pancake lens is sharp wide open, so it’s not really a worry. For my newspaper work, my telephoto zoom never leaves f/2.8 so I’m used to it.
PS: I rarely worry about too slow of shutter because I’ll make up for it with the fast frame rate. Remember: Why shoot one frame when you can shoot five 😉
Thanks for the response. You seem to have a good feel for how to get the best out of this camera, but it sounds like you only use shutter priority if people are literally jumping off the pier.
You mentioned that the footbal pictures were not your best work. Do you think the camera (or just shooting in shutter priority) may have influenced that?
(My D70 is having some problems lately, and I want to replace it. But little cameras scare me.)
Just enjoy your M 43 whichis a nicely maturing system with lots and lots of options and great image quality. With more goodies to come In September!
No just not a great game. Although the V1 can focus fast, it’s not a sports camera. A shallow depth of field helps in sports a lot. The image popping up in the finder makes it difficult to track the play.
Excellent article and wonderful photographs! You made me head straight to B&H for pricing…
What’s up Bruce!? When you coming to Florida?
I’ll be there late afteroon on November 3rd. Flying into Ft. Lauderdale and setting sail on November 4th. As I sit on deck sipping my margarita, I’ll be thinking of you… 😉
I think they have a hurricane planned for that week so I’m heading to Kansa where it’s safe, LOL!
You mentioned you now use the multi-point focus. Is that just for people shots? Do you still use single-point focusing for landscapes and non-people shots?
I use multi-point AF for everything. It actually seems faster than single point. Thanks!
A review like this could get me spending…! I also really like using small cameras, from point n shoots, to m43rds, as a break from my work kit of a D3, D300 and all the extras. The image quality from most small cameras is astonishing, especially if you go back to film days and even the D2h…
The V1 was way too expensive at launch, but has now dropped to a (UK) price that is far more reasonable. It’s on the edge of being a proper, small pro’ camera.
Bottom line is, don’t write off the latest generation of small sensors, unless you are a pointless pixel peeper comparing against an FX Nikon!
Or you could WIN one here 😉
Craig, is their a competition link? Where is it?
BTW, love the blog.
Here on Steve’s Site. He’s giving one away. You have to subscribe to his Youtube channel and upload your own video saying you want to win the V1. He will pick the winner at random.
Here’s the link:
Really glad to see someone from Tampa posting here! …and I was convinced Tampa had possibly the smallest portion of decent photographers of any any city I’ve lived in. haha Really great street/documentary shots here! Another way of looking at the small sensor conundrum would be that the very deep depth of field offered is really really true to life. Excellent work!
Thanks Stephen! I don’t think the photographers at the Times would appreciate that 😉
Hey, if you live in the Bay, come on over to Anna Maria Island and shoot the pier!
What a great article/review and really some great shoots.
Thank you very much! When the camera you are using is fun and doesn’t bog you down, you’re free to shoot. For some reason when I’m using the V1 I let go a little more, relax and get what I get. I’m not too worried about it. I just enjoy it. I don’t feel like I’m woking as I do with my pro stuff. It really has brought back the joy of shooting which I haven’t felt for quite a few years. I think that alone is worth the price of admission don’t you?
Hi Craig, yes you are absolutely right. I got the J1 and have the same experience as you – when the camera gets out of the way it is much more fun to shoot.
great review …
there is one problem with the 1 serie : NO WIDE ANGLE LENS …
a quote from the professional i love : “The rifle is the first weapon you learn how to use, because it lets you keep your distance from the client. The closer you get to being a pro, the closer you can get to the client. The knife, for example, is the last thing you learn.”
that’s the same thing with photography … first the tele … last the wide angle lens.
I am assuming you mean ULTRA wide? The 10mm (27mm equiv) is considered wide angle. I believe a wider angle is in the pipeline…
How about a more versatile all in one lens, While traveling in Italy this summer with my V1 i found I always needed to switch lenses. Currently, I have the 10-30 and the 30-110. Would their be any chance they will come out with a 18-200 lens.
Thanks for the great review. I really like the V1 and its compactness. what do you think about the other features like the 2 sec moving photo and the multi shot give you the best 5.
The 1 series already has the 10-100 lens which is the cx equivalent to the dx18-200. You could also throw the dx 18-200 lens on there with the ft1 adaptor if you absolutely needed that focal range on cx.
Really nice article. Nice images too!
Kick ass article of the year!!! Makes me really interested in the v1, but i recently moved over to micro 43s after blindly dismissing it over the sensor size for years.
you nailed it craig.
for me also the best choice i’ve made.
my v1 and the 10 pancake is with me 24/7.
For me the V1 has become my poor-man’s Leica, and not least my preferred camera when I’m using long lenses – as yet I’ve tried all combinations I can think of, including an old Nikon 400/5.6, with a 1.4X converter – great shots (but you need a sturdy support!)! So in one small camera I have almost anything I need, and indeed it is amazing, and it was Steve that got me hooked! For really wide shots I use my NEX-5N with Sigma 19, often with a Pansasonic wide attachment.
Oh so true. A review about a camera by a photographer and not a camera bore!! They aways go on about grain, anyone ever seen Tri X pushed one stop.
Great post Craig I enjoyed it very much. As a M43 shooter (primarily) I can appreciate the compactness of your system. I”ve only heard great things from V1 shooters and it looks to be quite a powerful kit. Lovely set of images. Thanks for sharing that nugget on the Face Recognition, that’s alway a positive feature.