Doubling Down on the 1 Nikon CX 70-300

Many Nikon 1 owners have been in a quandary for the past several years, unsure of what to do with their camera gear given the uncertainty that has surrounded the Nikon 1 system. Some people are taking a ‘wait and see’ approach. Other photographers have sold their Nikon 1 gear and moved on to a different system, frequently migrating to M4/3. Some folks have decided to add to their Nikon 1 kit to try to ‘future proof’ it as best they can. There is no right answer as everyone needs to make the best decision based on their specific camera needs. I’ve been adding to my Nikon 1 kit for the past couple of years and I’m doubling down on the 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 zoom lens.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-400

As regular readers know, I’ve been shooting exclusively with the Nikon 1 system for almost 3 years now, after selling my D800 and all of my full frame lenses in July 2015. That switch-over decision wasn’t taken lightly as I had to consider the potential impacts on both my industrial video business and on my personal photography needs.

Nikon 1 V3 + Nikon 1 CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 254 mm, efov 686mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-200

Looking back on that decision almost three years later, I can say that I have not regretted it at all. The Nikon 1 system is simply the best solution for my specific needs. Since finalizing the switch-over I haven’t seen any other format or brand of camera gear that has tempted me in the slightest.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/1000, ISO-1600

So, I’m doubling down on the 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 by purchasing another copy of the lens. I was very fortunate to find a Nikon certified refurbished lens that was in excellent condition.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/50, ISO-3200

The refurbished CX 70-300mm has a 12 month warranty on it, and I was able to purchase it for a reasonable price so it did not seem like a risky decision to me.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 178mm, efov 480.6mm, f/5.6, 1/100, ISO-800

Many people view the 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 as an ‘expensive’ lens. And, that’s true when we consider that it has the highest price of any 1 Nikon lens in the product lineup with a list price of $1,100 in Canada. I’ve always viewed ‘expensive’ as a relative term and I see the CX 70-300mm as a great value, even at its $1,100 list price.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/1000, ISO-640

I had a look at other ‘super telephoto’ zoom lens options for comparison purposes. For example, I used to own the first version of the Tamron 150-600mm. The Canadian price on the new version of that lens is about $1,380. A Sigma Contemporary 150-600mm is roughly $1,400. A Nikon 200-500mm is $1,800. A Panasonic 100-400mm is $2,400.  A Canon 100-400 is $3,220. So, when it comes to ‘super telephoto’ zoom lenses, reach comes at a price regardless of the system and camera format that one uses.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/2000, ISO-1000

When I decided to shoot with Nikon 1 exclusively, I accepted the trade-off that one needs to make when shooting with a 1″ CX sensor camera system in terms of image quality. Dynamic range, colour depth and low-light performance do suffer when compared to larger sensor systems.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/2000, ISO-2200

On the positive side I have a system with which I can shoot in full resolution at wonderful continuous auto-focus (AF-C) frame rates. For example, 15 frames per second with a Nikon 1 V2, and either 10 or 20 frames per second with a V3. I have the option of also shooting at 30 or 60 frames per second with full resolution in situations where locking focus based on the initial frame isn’t an issue.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/10,000, ISO-2000

The Nikon 1 system also gives me shutter speeds up to 1/16,000 of a second when shooting in AF-C. Plus, I have a small, lightweight system with an equivalent field-of-view of 189-810mm that I can use all day long without any fatigue…even at my advancing age.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 189mm, efov 510mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-250

If the internet is to be believed, Nikon is likely to announce a full frame mirrorless camera sometime in 2018. Whether Nikon will launch an additional mirrorless format like APS-C is unclear. We also don’t know if the uncertainty surrounding Nikon 1 will be clarified. So, there’s lots of questions that may give people pause, which may be the best decision for them.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 70mm, efov 189mm, f/5.6, 1/2000, ISO-800

For my part, I’m not sitting around on my hands waiting around to see what will happen.  Life is too short not to focus on having fun with what I already own and love using! I’m sure there’s a lot of folks out there that feel the same way about their camera gear, regardless of the format they use, or the brand they own.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 291mm, efov 786mm, f/5.6, 1/2500, ISO-500Technical Note:
All photographs were captured hand-held using Nikon 1 gear as per the EXIF data. All images were produced from RAW files using my standard process of DxO PhotoLab, CS6 and the Nik Collection.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to learn more about the Nikon 1 system, you may want to have a look at our eBook, The Little Camera That Could. It illustrates the capability of the Nikon 1 system through hundreds of original photographs. There is also commentary and tips about the Nikon 1 system.


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6 thoughts on “Doubling Down on the 1 Nikon CX 70-300”

  1. Hi Thomas,

    I agree with you about how well this Nikon1 works.
    The 70-300mm CX lens on the tiny body V3 works so well.
    I have now bought a second used V3 camera.
    I also use the V3 + Nikkor 200mm F4 micro for macro photos.
    It’s manual focus but it works well because of the magnification of the objects which makes it possible to focus where I want.
    Using the extension tubes has a limit. The Nikon 1 lenses are all down to F16 where the Nikor lens works down to 32 or 40.

    Let’s hope the gear will last for many years.
    Thanks for all your reviews.
    Best Regards,
    Steen Heilesen

    1. Hi Steen,

      Thanks for sharing your experiences with your Nikon 1 gear! I was just out yesterday photographing ducks in flight with one of my Nikon 1 V3/1 Nikkor 70-300 CX zoom lenses. Nikon 1 is a terrific kit for all kinds of subject matter where a photographer wants to use a small, light and capable equipment.


  2. Hello Tom
    Good idea. I think you wrote once, that youhad to send your lens for repair before.
    Although my reasoning is a bit different from yours – I use both formats, FF and Nikon 1 – I did double almost everything in
    my Nikon 1 drawer since they stopped the line. 70-300 is the proverbial exception to the rule, but not for long. It is a stupendous and practical lens.

    1. Hi Robert,
      I’ve had my CX 70-300 repaired twice under warranty for a ‘shudder’ that developed when the lens is extended to about 240mm and was unable to focus. Since I use the 70-300 extensively I thought buying a Nikon certified refurbished lens was a good addition to my plan to extend the life of my system.

  3. I’m not a Nikon 1 user – but I reckon that’s a sound decision to make, Tom … given, as you say, that you’re very happy with this gear (as the quality of your images confirms).

    I bought a second copy of a Sony RX10 ii some while ago – for similar reasons. Meanwhile, I’ve been waiting for a Sony FF mirrorless to come out with some specific features I wanted – and I reckon that’s now the case with the new a7 iii.

    Enjoying your posts …

    1. Hi John,
      Thanks for adding to the discussion and sharing your decision to buy a second copy of the Sony RX10 ii. I’m aware of a number of other folks who really enjoy that particular camera. I’m glad you’ve been enjoying the website!

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