Ever since Nikon announced the introduction of the Nikon 1 V3 back in March of 2014 the camera has been met with mixed reactions. Some of the design choices made with this camera left many photographers scratching their heads wondering what the engineers at Nikon were thinking when they put the concept for the Nikon 1 V3 together.
Specifically many people questioned the use of a microSD memory card, making the EVF and grip detachable, introducing yet another new battery, and coupling the Nikon 1 V3 with a new 10-30 PD zoom that does not accept filters.
As a result many people simply dismissed the Nikon 1 V3 out-of-hand and did not give it a serious look. That is unfortunate since the Nikon 1 V3 actually is a very good camera that brings a lot of new features and capabilities to the Nikon 1 system. It’s too bad that the camera did it in a three-steps-forward two-steps-back kind of way. Had Nikon not made those rather quirky design choices I think the camera would have been met with a much stronger and more positive reaction from the marketplace.
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Handling and Controls
Let’s have a look at the Nikon 1 V3 in terms of its physical layout and functionality. With the detachable EVF and grip installed the Nikon 1 V3 is physically larger than the V2.
I originally thought that some of the design choices that Nikon made were due to trying to achieve production efficiencies with the Nikon 1 J4 by making the body panels the same size. I since checked the physical dimensions of the two cameras and they are indeed different so there is no apparent reason to me why the grip and EVF on the Nikon 1 V3 needed to be detachable.
From a handling standpoint the Nikon 1 V3, with the grip and EVF installed, delivers the most DSLR-like shooting experience of any previous Nikon 1 camera. With the grip attached users have 4 camera control buttons and 5 camera control wheels. All are positioned on the right-hand side of the body.
The main ‘F’ function button displays all major camera settings including shooting mode, shutter speed, aperture, ISO, white balance, picture control, metering mode and auto-focus mode. This is similar to the ‘F’ function button on the Nikon 1 V2, but the V3 has a larger, easier to read display and shows 8 camera settings rather than only 6 on the V2.
The other three function controls (Fn1, Fn2, Fn3) can all be assigned any one of 7 different functions (exposure compensation, metering, white balance, ISO, picture control, AF-area, and movie record button) so owners can customize the set-up of the Nikon 1 V3 to suit their specific shooting style. This really adds a lot of flexibility and functionality to the camera.
A separate AE-L/AF-L button has been added to the rear of the top panel of the camera and is very conveniently positioned for thumb activation. This is much better than having this control included on the rear wheel as it is with the V2.
AF modes can now be adjusted from the rear wheel of the V3 making this adjustment very quick to do, thus improving functionality.
There is a control wheel on the front panel tucked in between the lens and grip of the V3 that adjusts aperture. I found it awkwardly placed and inconvenient to use, but it does add to the overall functionality of the camera for those folks who can get accustomed to using it.
Overall, the Nikon 1 V3 provides a very pleasant shooting experience, giving users a wide range of external controls that significantly reduces the need to go into the menu to adjust settings. This will really appeal to folks who enjoy shooting with a DSLR. In fact, I think the V3 may have better external controls than many consumer DSLR models.
In addition to all of the external controls the Nikon 1 V3 also incorporates touch screen controls. These enable users to adjust various camera settings, choose the focusing point in the scene, as well as activate the shutter. Again, this adds to the overall functionality of the camera.
The V3 is the first Nikon 1 camera to incorporate a flip screen which provides even more functionality, making it ideal for event photography/videography where the camera often needs to be raised up over the heads of an audience. This would also be useful for macro-type photography where the camera may be positioned at unusual angles or close to the ground.
The Nikon 1 V3 also has built in Wi-Fi capability for those who like to have some additional flexibility when using their Smartphones with their cameras.
When pressed the DISP button activates a horizon tool that photographers will find very handy when shooting landscape images.