Regardless of the camera format that I’ve owned I’ve always preferred to use zoom lenses for still photography. Since I now shoot exclusively with the Nikon 1 system I thought it may be fun to write an article on my pick of lenses for an ‘unofficial’ Nikon 1 trinity.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
In my mind the Nikon 1 trinity would be composed of three great Nikon 1 zoom lenses: the 6.7-13 mm f/3.5-5.6, 10-100 mm f/4.-5.6, and the 70-300 f/4.5-5.6.
All are joys to use and combined they provide Nikon 1 owners with the capability to shoot from 6.7 mm to 300 mm, or an equivalent field-of-view of 18-810 mm when compared to full frame gear.
I know… I know… some folks are thinking that none of these zooms are constant aperture so they can’t be compared to the ‘real’ Nikkor pro zoom trinity (i.e. Nikkor f/2.8 professional zooms).
Let’s set the perspective of the article upfront… this is NOT a comparison with the Nikon full frame pro trinity. It is simply an article that focuses on what I believe are the three key Nikon 1 zoom lenses to own in terms of getting the broadest functionality along with solid image quality. Many photographers who prefer using zoom lenses, like I do, could find that this combination meets the vast majority of their imaging needs.
In total all three of these Nikon 1 zooms weigh 973 grams, or about 2.15 lbs. This is less than many full frame zoom lenses weigh individually. At full list price in Canada, this combination of lenses currently retails for about $2,250, which is below what some single full frame zoom lenses cost.
I appreciate that this is not an inconsequential amount of money for most people. Before investing in camera gear we all need to think long and hard about our needs and what camera format, brand, model and lenses best meet our needs. For those of you who may be at least considering the Nikon 1 system hopefully this article will be of interest.
Let’s start with the ‘core’ lens in my ‘unofficial’ Nikon 1 trinity, the one that most folks would likely use most often, the 10-100 mm f/4-5.6.
When Nikon first introduced this lens I was very sceptical about it since I already own the 10-100 mm f/4.5-5.6 PD zoom and I wasn’t sure that it would make sense to invest in one for my business.
After shooting with it for several weeks and capturing a few thousand images I became a convert. I really grew to appreciate its smaller size and lighter weight when compared to the PD version. The focal length is exceedingly practical, enabling users to capture a wide range of subject matter.
Another benefit of this particular lens is its relatively short minimum focusing distance. This makes it quite handy photographing flowers and small birds and animals at zoos and similar facilities.
I found the focusing to be quite fast and accurate and the lens performed pretty well in lower light conditions. The VR works well likely adding about 3 stops. Using extension tubes works fine with this lens although I do prefer the 30-110 mm f/3.8-5.6 lens for that application.
At the long end of the zoom when fully extended this lens, like many zooms, is a bit soft. Not distractingly so and certainly doing some work in post helps.
In Canada the 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 retails for about $600 and provides a lot of flexibility and good image quality for the investment.
If you are considering buying into the Nikon 1 system and are unsure whether to choose a kit with the 10-30 mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom or the 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 I would definitely recommend the 10-100 mm if you have the extra money.
12 thoughts on “Zoom lenses to create a Nikon 1 Trinity”
Hi, instead of 10-100, what about 30-110 + 18mm prime? Of course, i am talking about 4 lenses combo.
Going with a 4 lens combination is something that I often recommend to Nikon 1 owners, especially if they bought their camera with one of the 10-30mm kit lenses. The 30-110mm is a great, affordable lens that provides more reach than the 10-100mm and is better optically. It is also a great lens to use with extension tubes for close up photography. The 18.5mm is a very practical lens that can come in very handy when in lower light conditions. Adding the 30-110mm and the 18.5mm will give your kit more overall flexibility for less money than the 10-100mm. The only real downside is having a four lens kit, rather than three. Folks that want to pack smaller and lighter would likely choose the 3 zoom lens option.
Will you stop using the Nikon 1 System too?
I have absolutely no plans to stop using the Nikon 1 system. Having shot with APS-C, full frame, and briefly with M4/3 I have discovered that Nikon 1 is simply the best system for my needs. I have been adding some additional bodies to my kit over the past 18 months or so in order to ‘future proof’ my Nikon 1 gear should Nikon discontinue it. I estimate that even if Nikon 1 was discontinued I have enough gear to shoot for about 5 more years. After that I may need to reassess my camera needs as I’ll be in my 70’s.
I currently use Nikon D800, D7100, Fuji X-T1, many lenses plus Sony Rx100 mark III. Obviously, I need to downsize and streamline my gear.
I tested Nikon V1 with 30-110 zoom for sports (soccer), but was not happy with AF.
How much better is AF with V3 or J5 vs V1?
Can J5 compete in Sports with AF of D7100 et alii?
Can the sensor of J5 compete with Sony Rx100?
Thanks in advance
I’ll do my best to answer your questions…
1) AF with V1. I haven’t shot with that particular camera so I can’t comment on that model specifically. In my experience the V2’s AF in terms of acquiring initial focus is a tiny bit faster than both the V3 and J5.
2) Shooting moving subjects with a Nikon 1 camera does take some changes with technique. I’m not sure of your settings etc. when using the V1. I use AF-C with subject tracking for moving subjects and I find this is the best setting. I also make it a habit of trying to pre-focus the lens that I’m using. In terms of acquiring focus quickly your D7100 will likely outperform a Nikon 1 camera, especially in lower light conditions. Where Nikon 1 shines is with its frame rate in AF-C once focus has been obtained. Also, the buffer on a V-series camera like a V2 or V3 is about 40 frames when shooting jpeg fine + RAW.
3) Personally I wouldn’t use the J5 for sports. The camera does not have a viewfinder, although you can likely mount a Hoodman or something similar. The buffer is only about 20 frames and it is extremely slow to clear. As a result you may find the J5 a bit frustrating to use for sports.
4) DxO rates the sensors in the J5 and Sony RX100 almost identically so you should have very similar performance in terms of dynamic range, colour depth and low light performance. Although not everyone has had as positive an experience as I have had…but I really like DxO OpticsPro 10 as my RAW processor for Nikon 1 files – including the PRIME noise reduction function.
I have been using this trinity with a V2 as my work travel kit and couldn’t be happier. I especially love the 70-300 at sporting events!
Great to hear that you are happy with your ‘trinity’, just like I am!
Awesome list Tom! It is super awesome to have three lenses in a small bag that cover that range. Impressive.
You know I am waiting for faster glass, my one ask is a 9-30 F1.8-2.8 and I am a happy camper.
I really enjoy the under-rated 30-110mm a sharp TINY piece of work for those on a budget. Don’t underestimate this beast!
I love the 30-110mm just like you do!!! I think it is a wonderful lens and I think it is the best Nikon 1 lens to use with extension tubes. I chose the 10-100 f/4-5.6 for my ‘holy trinity’ selection due to its broader focal length coverage allowing for seamless Nikon 1 coverage from 6.7-300mm.
Like you I arrived at the same conclusions for the same reasons. Three great lenses that really add some fun to shooting my V2 and J5…..oh and the J5 is a great complement to the V2 as the tilting touch screen really comes into its own for low down and close up work – buy one, you know you want to! :))
Also ( like you) I keep the 30-110 lens as a ‘macro’ lens which I use with my FOTGA extension rings.
I do have the 18.5mm and 10mm primes and would love to own the 32mm one day but the lenses I use most are the three in this article.
I imagine that most photographers who have tried the Nikon 1 system and like it would share our passion for these three zoom lenses! I have the three Nikon 1 primes but basically only use them for client video work. Once I stop doing client work I’ll probably contemplate selling them as I use them so infrequently…although all are quite good lenses.