This short article outlines some of the reasons why I love shooting with one of the worst-rated cameras on the market…the Nikon 1 V2.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
Using the Nikon 1 system is something that I stumbled into more than anything else. When I originally purchased my first Nikon 1 V2 with the 10-30 mm kit lens my thought was to use it as a small, lightweight video camera to supplement my Nikon D800 from time to time.
It seemed to be a perfect solution that I could use in very tight spots when shooting for my industrial clients. Plus, it had the added bonus of being able to utilize my existing FX glass by way of the FT-1 adapter. I also saw it as an inexpensive way to get more reach from my existing Nikkor FX lenses, specifically the Nikkor 70-200 mm f/4. I could also get more reach in lower light conditions when using my Nikkor 85 mm f/1.8G as it gave me an equivalent-field-of-view of 230 mm with no loss of light.
Then I started shooting a few stills with the Nikon 1 V2 – after a while that led to me buying the 30-110 mm and before long I was hooked on the Nikon 1 system. I now own three Nikon 1 V2 bodies and a collection of 10 Nikon 1 lenses, shooting with the Nikon 1 system exclusively. I sold my Nikon D800 and all of my full frame lenses back in July. Have I missed my FX gear? Nope, not at all.
Understandably one of the biggest knocks against the Nikon 1 system since its launch has been its 1″ CX sensor. One only has to look at testing done by DxOMark to see how challenged the Aptina sensors used in various Nikon 1 models have been. Make no mistake the switch to the new BSI sensor in the J5 is a significant improvement that I welcome with open arms!
Let’s have a quick look at DxO test data:
Overall score: 50 (ranked 260 out of 305)
Dynamic range: 10.8 EV (ranked 277 out of 305)
Colour depth: 20.2 bits (ranked 241 out of 305)
Low Light: 403 ISO (ranked 246 of out 305)
Obviously not great scores. Anyone looking at these DxO scores, or at most of the online reviews done on Nikon 1 models (especially some of the original reviews) likely wouldn’t give the system a second look. And, who could blame them! If we all bought cameras solely based on test scores and the opinions of reviewers we’d all likely be buying a couple of dozen different camera models and there would be a lot less choice in the market. So, other factors are at play.
What is it about the Nikon 1 system that causes me to love shooting with it?
A lot of it isn’t logical at all. I just seem to have a great connection with those little V2 bodies. I’m not sure that I would call it a ‘Zen’ experience, but I can say that unlike other cameras that I’ve used, my Nikon 1 V2’s never seem to ‘get in the way’ of my creativity or inspiration. If anything they do the opposite – they challenge me to try new things and experiment far more than other cameras I’ve owned.
I find myself continually seeing what I can do to squeak just a bit more out of my Nikon 1 images. Will they ever match the IQ of a full frame camera like my D800? Of course not – but I really couldn’t care less.
Sure, the controls are far more limited than when shooting with a DSLR, but that simplicity is one of the things that I love. I will trade the feeling of joy and creativity that I have when I hold my Nikon 1 gear in my hands over the complexity of my D800 any day of the week.
In terms of image quality my D800 was probably as close to idiot-proof as a camera could get. I could point it at anything and know I’d get a good quality image. I just couldn’t connect with it. It was an outstanding camera but it always felt cold and distant in my hands. Simply a ‘tool for work’ I suppose. My Nikon 1 V2’s by comparison are impish. Carefree. They remind me of the ‘little engine that could’.
Since I got my first V2 I’ve adjusted my shooting style. I used matrix metering most of the time at first. Now, I experiment a lot more with centre-weighted and spot metering. And, not just for shooting wildlife. I play around with metering with any kind of subject, even landscapes.
It didn’t take too long before I stopped using auto-area AF and now I typically only use single point auto-focus. The only exception being with moving objects when subject tracking makes more sense.
The auto focus performance of the Nikon 1 V2 and its sibling cameras is terrific in terms of being fast and accurate. I absolutely love being able to set a single auto-focus point virtually anywhere in the frame. Sure, I could focus and recompose like I did with DSLRs but I love not having to do that. As soon as I look at a scene or subject and I visualize the image I want to capture in my mind I can set my single AF point exactly where it needs to be in the frame, even before I bring the V2 up to my eye to compose my shot.
And, when looking through the viewfinder I can quickly adjust that single AF point to the exact position I want when photographing semi-static subjects… placing it in corner extremes of the frame if needed. This is incredibly useful when shooting macro-type images or when shooting stills of birds and wildlife using telephoto lenses.
I still shoot in aperture priority quite a bit but I am finding that I use manual more and more often, usually in concert with an auto-ISO setting. Since I’ve been using the PRIME noise reduction function in OpticsPro I really don’t think about ISO as much as I used to in the past when I’d limit my V2’s to ISO-800. PRIME gives me about 2 more stops of functionality and I shoot at ISO-3200 without hesitation.
The small size and light weight are two of the primary strengths that I have come to love about the Nikon 1 system. The diminutive size of my Nikon 1 gear makes it so much easier to shoot hand-held at slow shutter speeds. When using the Nikon 1 CX 70-300 mm I never worry about shooting a static subject at 1/60 or 1/30 of a second when the lens is fully extended. Some added concentration is needed at shutter speeds slower than that but good images are absolutely attainable at 1/15 and sometimes even lower.
I now go to client video shoots with about a third of the weight and bulk I used to lug around. What do my clients think about me shooting their safety and training videos exclusively with my Nikon 1 V2’s? More than anything they seem intrigued that such a small camera can do such a credible job for them. I see a shift happening in the market with clients caring less about ‘big and impressive’ gear to wanting to work with people who can be fast and flexible. My Nikon 1 gear helps me do that for my clients.
I just shot a meat cutting training video for one of my clients and used all three of my V2’s in concert, each from a different angle. I used a small table top tripod and two of my other tripods that have lateral capability. I was able to position these small, lightweight cameras at the full lateral extension of my tripods without fear of the assembly tipping over. That would have been impossible with my D800 or other DSLR’s I’ve used in the past.
As I noted in an earlier article about using smaller sensor cameras in lower light conditions, and other shooting considerations in terms of depth-of-field when facing tight exposure limitations, the real-life functionality of the Nikon 1 system is far beyond what most people assume.
The more I shoot with my Nikon 1 gear the deeper my love for the system grows. My client video work is becoming more streamlined and easier to do as I learn to better utilize the capability of these little gems. For my last two video assignments I didn’t even need to bring my studio lights in from the car because of the deeper depth-of-field I can attain at more open f/stops when compared to my previous D800 and FX gear.
My Nikon 1 journey has been one of learning and discovery – and continues to be so. To get the most out of my RAW files I’ve needed to experiment a lot with my post processing and I’m now settled into a nice groove, integrating the use of three different software programs. A lot of people probably think I’m nuts doing that, but I’d rather take the best functionality from each of those programs and apply them to my V2 files to make the best out of them. Realistically what other choice is there when a person consciously chooses to shoot with one of the worst cameras on the market in terms of sensor performance and wants to maximize their file output? You need to look for every advantage possible…no matter how small.
DxO OpticsPro 10 is my main RAW processor. I typically let the software do its auto corrections, then take highlights down to between -10 and -20 to help compensate for the limited dynamic range with my V2’s. I may take blacks down a bit and add some micro-contrast. I then use the Lens Softness function to add a bit of sharpness…no more than 1.20 with Global and up to 70 with details. Usually that’s all I do before I process the file using PRIME noise reduction. I use PRIME for every Nikon 1 file regardless of the ISO at which it was shot.
Then a DNG file is exported into CS6. As I’ve kept on pushing myself I find that I do more work than I used to in CS6, primarily utilizing highlight, shadow, black and white sliders. Sometimes I play around with hues, curves and levels. I’ve learned to be much more aggressive with my adjustments in CS6 with my Nikon 1 files when compared to those from my DSLR’s.
Then final tweaks are done in Nik Suite, usually using Viveza II and Color Efex Pro 4. I especially like the polarization and pro contrast functions in Color Efex when working with landscape images.
All this post processing probably sounds overly complicated. It’s actually pretty quick and simple as I only use what I consider to be the best adjustments from each piece of software and I don’t waste my time with the other ones. I can usually get a Nikon 1 image to look the way I want in a minute or two. I’ve learned that if it takes me more than that I must have somehow screwed up the original capture and its not worth my time mucking about any more with it.
Many folks have ridiculed Nikon for the selection of Nikon 1 lenses available. They go on and on and on about what they think is missing in the lens line-up. This strikes me as a terrible waste of time and energy. Nikon’s introduction of a new lens is never going to magically make someone a better photographer. The only thing each of us needs to do, with whatever gear that we choose, is strive to use what is available to its maximum potential.
My style of shooting is heavily skewed to zoom lenses. Unless I’m shooting video in low light I almost never pick up one of my three Nikon 1 primes (10 mm f/2.8, 18.5 mm f/1.8, 32 mm f/1.2). I always reach for a zoom lens when shooting stills. I’ve never felt ‘deprived’ because of the selection of Nikon 1 zoom lenses. Heck, I can shoot from 6.7 mm to 300 mm with only 3 lenses, that’s an equivalent field-of-view of 18 mm to 810 mm. All of the Nikon 1 zoom lenses I use are smaller and lighter than found with larger sensor format systems. Check out my ‘Holy Trinity’ article for more detail on the three lenses I use most often.
I’ve shot with DX and FX bodies with the Nikkor 105 Micro f/2.8 VR and I would much rather shoot macro type images with my Nikon 1 V2 using extension tubes and the 30-110 mm lens. This is simply a killer combination that provides an exceptionally easy-to-use rig for hand-held shooting.
I’m sure there are a lot of other photographers out there just like me. They shoot with gear that simply resonates with them and they don’t care about test data or reviews. There is an instant connection as soon as they pick it up. It feels comfortable and invigorating at the same time. It helps them be at their creative best. They know it and trust it. That’s what the Nikon 1 system does for me.
I hope each of your reading this article find gear that does the same for you.
If you enjoyed this article you may wish to consider our Nikon 1 eBook: The Little Camera That Could.
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Article and all images Copyright Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, duplication of any kind, or adaptation is allowed without written consent.
70 thoughts on “Why I love shooting with the Nikon 1 system”
I dumped my DX sensor Nikons ages ago now. I began using the J1 when it came out because I bought it for my wife, who wanted a nice little lightweight camera with different lenses, and was easier to use than the D60 she already had. I loved the J1 so much I bought myself a Nikon 1 V1 and 3 or 4 lenses for it, plus the little SB-N7 flashgun. I so loved using a smaller camera I added a Leica DLux 6 to my equipment and that became my goto compact after awhile and the V1 got sidelined – with me using my D300 for “better” shots. But, I’m disabled and carting a heavy DSLR with all it’s lenses soon got tiring for me and I opted to look for a reasonably priced Nikon 1 V3. Never looked back. Would never go back to using a cumbersome DSLR again.
Thanks for sharing your experiences using smaller sized camera gear! I started my ‘small camera’ journey with a V2 about 4 years ago or so. At the time I was shooting with a D7000, and D800 and a healthy collection of FX glass as well as a few DX lenses. I soon sold my D7000/DX lenses and about 2 years ago I sold my D800 and all of my FX glass. Like you I ‘never looked back’.
I sent this as email to your admin address, but it may not have reached you. N-photo published my letter in the April issue of N-photo and did mention you in an abbreviated version (see below):
I am always surprised that you never seem to mention Nikon 1 cameras or show the results of anyone using these cameras. I like them as I get older and more decrepit, since they are very easy to carry around in my pocket.
Despite their poor specs on paper, the photos from them look great, especially if you tweak them in programs like Photoshop. Due to the small sensor there is not a lotof room for cropping, so a photographer needs to concentrate on obtaining a strong composition, which is a good thing for me.
One advantage of the Nikon 1 system is the rapid frame rates of up to 60 frames per second, which some pros take advantage of with DX or full-frame telephoto lenses attached to get action shots of birds in ight or sports.
One pro, Thomas Stirr, has sold all of his ‘pro’ Nikon gear and now does all of his work on a Nikon J4, J5, V2 or V3.
Robert Cullers, Kansas, USA
Editor comment: it’s nice to hear from an enthusiastic Nikon 1 fan, robert. We were interested to discover in last month’s interview (issue 69) that the legendary nature pro Frans lanting also uses mirrorless cameras sometimes.
Thank you very much for helping to make people aware of my work – always appreciated!
so I’ve been doing some research on Nikon 1’s, mainly the V2 and V3….For the past 10 + years I have been using Nikon DSLR’s from the D70, D300, D700, and D800…I no longer have any of them anymore. I just recently had to sell the D800 for a parts only as is deal as it failed on me with about 14k on the shutter count….I still have all my lenses such as the Nikon’s 28mm f/2.8,…50mm f/1.8,…28-70mm f/2.8,…70-200mm f/2.8, and a Tonika 100mm f/2.8 macro. A majority of the stuff I was shooting was glamour portraits, motor sports, and some minor macro stuff like flowers and landscapes…..One of the things I have been researching about the Nikon 1’s is whether any of them are good for portraits as I see a lot of photos from people using the Nikon 1’s seem to display birds in flight, nature and hardly ever any portraits or fast action stills….Is the V2 and V3 not good for portrait photography with any of the Nikkor 1 lenses or even with any of the many Nikkor DX / FX lenses available???…..What kind of quality would I expect if I were to purchase a V2 or V3 and use any of the lenses I still own that I mentioned with the lens adapter?….Is there any loss in quality compared to using a Nikkor 1 type lens???…..Another thing I couldn’t seem to find an answer is whether the flash on either V2 or V3 will optically trigger an off camera flash or studio light with an optical sensor? Is there a setting similar to that found on a DSLR to use the flash to fire off an external flash?
I suppose the reason that you mainly see birds and nature photographs is that owners like to take advantage of the 2.7X crop factor of the Nikon 1’s small CX sensor. There are some pro photographers that also use the system for sports like tennis and motor sports where the fast AF-C frame rate of 15fps (V2) or 20 fps (V3) is very helpful to capture precise moments.
Often portrait photographers like to use cameras that have sensors with a broad colour depth range so they can capture very subtle differences in skin tone etc. Your D800 would have been an excellent camera in that regard with 25.3-bits which is outstanding. The V2 or V3 would not have anywhere near the amount of colour depth as the D800 you owned. The V2 has 20.2-bits and the V3 has 20.8-bits. Since 1-bit of colour depth difference will be noticeable for most people you would see a significant difference between using your D800 and a V2 or V3. Even the J5 which has a 20.8MP BSI sensor would not come close to the D800 as its sensor has 22.1-bits of colour depth.
In terms of the lenses you currently own, all of them would provide a very different field-of-view when mounted on a Nikon 1 camera with an FT-1 adapter compared to what you are used to seeing with them on your D800. For example your 28mm would give you an efov of 76mm on a Nikon 1 body, 50mm would be 135mm, 28-70mm would be efov 76-189mm, and your 70-200mm would be efov of 189-540mm. Your Tonika 100mm may not even work on a Nikon 1 as not all third party lenses are compatible. The Nikon 1 system does have some very good quality lenses. The three primes are quite good as is the 6.7-13mm in terms of sharpness. As you likely already know the CX 70-300 is an excellent lens.
I did not use my Nikkor F-Mount lenses for very long before I converted over to using native Nikon 1 CX lenses so I’m not the best person to ask about F-mount lens image quality on a Nikon 1 body. Since the FT-1 adapter does not have any glass elements it does not directly impact image quality.
In terms of using flash with Nikon 1 bodies like the V2 or V3 this is not my area of expertise. If I need additional lighting for any of my client video projects I use constant CF or LED light banks. I did recently buy a Nikon 1 flash and it seems to work fine for very simple flash needs. I do recall reading about some fashion photographers using Nikon 1 cameras for part of their work, but this is often shooting models moving while the scene is lit with constant lighting.
The Nikon 1 system isn’t a good fit for all photographers. It happens to suit my needs to a ‘T’ so I ended up selling my D800 and all of my F-mount glass, but this would not be the case for many other photographers.
Thanks for your reply and information….While using Nikon 1 CX lenses, does it also increase the actual focal length such as your CX 70-300 x 2.7 crop factor which then turns it into a 189-810mm lens ?
The focal length of a lens never changes, nor does its angle of view. What changes is the field of view which is how much of a scene you can actually see through a viewfinder or on the rear screen of your camera when the lens is attached to a camera body. Since different formats use different sized sensors only a portion of what would be visible on a full frame camera body would be visible when using a cropped sensor body or smaller like a Nikon 1.
Thanks for your perspective on Nikon 1 cameras. I always wondered why the statistics of these cameras appear to be poor compared to most cameras, yet the pictures are great. I presume there are other factors such as sharp lenses that may make up for some of the differences. The pictures seem to be as good as the ones I get on my Nikon DX bodies unless massive enlargements are compared. I hope Nikon has not given up on Nikon 1 cameras. I would think that a J5 type variety with a viewfinder could be a good seller as long as they can keep the price down.
Thanks for your comment and adding to the discussion! As is often said, there is no such thing as a perfect camera. Everything we choose has some kind of trade-off. I think the key is for each of us to pick whatever camera best meets our needs, and do our best to work around whatever trade-offs exist.
I have attached the note that I sent to N-photo magazine letters section below. I hope that you do not mind too much. If nothing else, a lot of N-photo readers might benefit from looking at your web site. Of course at this point I do not know if they will publish the note.
Sent to N-photo: I have always been surprised that you never seem to mention Nikon 1 cameras such as the j5 or v3 or show the results of anyone using these cameras. I like them as I get older and more decrepit since they are very easy to carry around in my pocket. Many have made fun of them because of their poor specs on paper, yet the photos look great, especially if some tweaks are made on them in programs like Photoshop. Due to the small sensor there is not a lot of room for cropping so a photographer needs to concentrate on obtaining a good composition which is a good thing for me.
One advantage of the Nikon 1 system is the rapid rate of taking pictures at up to 60 frames per second until the buffer is used up. Some pros use them with their aps-c or full frame telephotos since there is a 2.7 conversion factor and with the rapid frame rates, they can get action shots of birds and sports. Curiously there is one pro, Thomas Stirr (see https://smallsensorphotography.com/why-i-love-shooting-with-nikon-1), who has sold all his high dollar Nikon gear and does all of his photography on a Nikon J4, J5, v2, or v3. I would suspect you could convince him to write a column about the Nikon 1 system if you were so inclined. He is enthusiastic about this system and writes well about the subject. Hopefully Nikon will continue to support this system.
I appreciate all the years now that you have been writing about the Nikon system.
Thank you very much for your thoughtfulness in including a mention of my work and website in your letter to N-photo. I actually have a great working relationship with the folks at Nikon Canada and they have featured my Nikon 1 work numerous times on Twitter and Facebook.
In terms of the Nikon 1 gear that I currently use…I recently sold my J4 and WP-N3 waterproof housing so the J4 is no longer in the stable. Going forward all of my still images will be shot with either the J5 or V3 depending on subject matter. All of my client video work will continue to be done with my trio of V2s.
I really stumbled into the Nikon 1 system and discovered over time that it is ideal for my needs. I’d be the first person to say that it may not be a good fit for other folks.
Hi there — I just got a Nikon 1 AW1 with its 11-27.5 lens. I shot some pictures in the swimming pool to test its waterproof, fast-focusing and high frame rate capabilities. It was just amazing. One question. I wanted to know if it’s worth buying the 70-300 lens for shooting birds. The big downside is that this doesn’t have a view finder and no place to fit one. So one has to compose on the basis of the the screen at the back, which I have never done for bird photography. Has anyone tried, is it any good? The effective focal length of 810mm seems such an amazing thing to have.. Thoughts?
Thanks for sharing your initial experiences with the AW1 and the 11-27.5 lens! The CX 70-300 is an amazing lens and does a wonderful job with wildlife. It is difficult, though not impossible, to use when composing from the rear screen. For static bird subjects you likely won’t have too much trouble using it with the AW1. Birds-in-flight are much more difficult to compose from the rear screen. Many Nikon 1 users buy a loupe to affix to the rear screen and find that works well for them. I’ve also done that and found the set-up to be OK, although I much rather use a Nikon 1 camera, like a V2, with the CX 70-300 lens for birds-in-flight images.
I’ve been using the nikon 1 from v2 to v3 too j5 now, one Nikon 1’s feature that no reviewers never mentioned is the ability to take full resolution photo during video capturing with the exposure combination as you wish. I think nikon 1 is the only camera on the world that capable of doing that.
I need this feature for purely capture the kids in situation like their birthday party, stage performance, bothers play time and many others. I don’t have time for the post processing that may otherwise be able to grab a frame from the video as a photo.
However I desperately need a fast wide angle lens like 10 or 13mm at f1.8 which nikon fails to give me for years. So recently I switch to lumix g7 for this reason but I miss so much about the nikon 1’s simultaneous photo video ability I mentioned above. I am waiting for the fast wide angle that will come together with the v4 announcement. Nikon is capable of making a fast wide zoom in DL18-50 and DL24-85, hope that it’s not long they can apply the technology in nikon 1.
Thanks so much for your great review and photos. My passion in nikon 1 has never stop and its now fire even harder after your article.
It is always great for me to hear from folks who are enjoying their Nikon 1 gear…thanks for sharing your experiences! Your desire for more fast Nikon 1 glass is shared by many other folks who use the system. Nikon has filed a patent for a number of lenses, some of which are faster wide angle primes. It is anyone’s guess when, and if, those lenses will actually get produced. Like you, I am hopeful that a Nikon 1 V4/V5 will be launched.
I am often what they call a gear wh@#$ when it comes to camera equipment and I’m one of those who tends to pay more attention to cameras which nobody else would even bother. Idiosyncrasies make an equipment very endearing to me, especially when it has a unique strength. I discovered Nikon 1 with the V1, and I skipped the V2 to go to V3. I have almost every lens on the system because I really want to support the platform so that it has a chance in the market place. And in return, I was blown away with what I could do.
Street photography, handheld at belly-button-level is simply a joy to do with the V3. The touch to focus makes a short work of getting the best composition. Having a mighty sharp wide angle zoom in a tiny package is simply something that no other system can compete! I really enjoy surprising people with the results i get out of the little camera.
Today, the one thing I’d like improved on this system is its resolution for printing purposes. I tend to shoot black and white, so the lack of DR doesn’t faze me at all. I’ve also converted my V1 to a full-time Infrared camera – something that I’d recommend others to do. The creative application of IR is incredible.
Thanks for sharing your experiences with the Nikon 1 system! As you know the J5’s sensor is a 20.8MP BSI which would give you more printing latitude….and it has a tilt, touch screen you could use for street photography.
I’m a real fan of the Nikon 1 system too! I have four Nikon 1 bodies…three V2’s and a J4 that I use with the Nikon 1 WP-N3 waterproof housing…and like you…I have a wide selection of 1 Nikon lenses. I’m anticipating some good things with a future V4/V5.
I recently purchased the Nikon 1 V3 and the AW1 and I find both of these cameras to be brilliant. Thank you for all of your articles which I have found to be very helpful. I shoot mainly birds and landscapes but also found this little camera great for capturing the Christmas lights. I’m from Australia
It is great to hear that you are enjoying your Nikon 1 gear and I’m very pleased that you found my articles of benefit!
With the cx 70-300mm lens you might pick up some x-mas lights over here in Southern California? No…. Hawaii might get in the way. : )
Hmmmm…California and Hawaii…sounds like two great photo destinations!
Very nice to read your article. I own both the nikon v1 and V2 and some CX glass and I am really “in love” with them.
Although my Nikon D610 remains still my main camera (I am bokeh addict and still as portrait and landscape camera I like it more), the Nikon 1, specially the V2 is getting more and more usage. First, as trekking and mountain bike camera (incredible, such a good camera with 18mm to 300 mm focal equivalents in 600 grms…) and now, as photo equipment during work trips or in street photography.
I let my opinions and some of my work in the Spanish nikonians forum. Really great gear!
https://www.nikonistas.com/digital/foro/index.php?showtopic=383019 (If you do not want to show it, you can delete this last paragraph)
I’m glad you liked the article and thanks for sharing your experience with the Nikon 1 system!
I have enjoyed your Nikon 1 camera and lens reviews, your expertise and great photos. I mainly shoot wildlife and use a D700 with 70-200 f2.8 vr 11 and TC-20EIII . This has proven to give the 400mm I need for griz and birds and has produced good results including BIF shots.
The V1 with the FT1 has been a great addition and the extra reach incredible especially for birding. I have been following with interest reviews of the 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR and how compact that lens would be for travel.
When using the V1 in electronic HI shutter mode at 10 fps the camera automatically switches to Program exposure mode, unconstrained Auto ISO, a single AF point and with no exposure compensation. I have read on other reviews of the 70-300 that at 20fps on electronic shutter on the V3 you can set Shutter priority with auto ISO and exposure compensation.
What I would like to know, as I do BIF, is if that hindrance of no user control happens on the V2 or V3 or can you in fact set it to shutter priority. On the V1 at electronic 30 and 60fps focus is locked at the first frame. I have under bright conditions got good results with 10fps but it would be better if I could manually opt for AF Auto area mode and choose my shutter speed otherwise the best option is 5fps and manual shutter which isn’t bad except for the picture review in the EVF.
I’m glad you’ve been enjoying my site and various articles – thanks for the positive comment!
As far as shooting with the Nikon 1 V1 you have me at a disadvantage as I’ve never shot with that particular camera. I can comment on the V2 as that is what I now shoot with exclusively. You can set the camera using aperture or shutter priority and I believe that exposure compensation will work in those modes. I used to shoot my Nikon 1 V2’s primarily in aperture priority and select a specific ISO. While I still use aperture priority on occasion (usually for landscape work when I may need some exposure compensation) I now shoot my V2’s in Manual mode with Auto ISO (usually Auto ISO160-6400). I find I like this much better and I think I’m getting some improvement with my images.
For birds if flight I typically set aperture at f/5.6 and set shutter speed somewhere between 1/1000 and 1/3200 depending on the bird species. As noted earlier I use Auto-ISO. I use AF-C with subject tracking most of the time. Metering varies with conditions and I’ve used matrix, centre-weighted and spot, with centre-weighted probably the most common. I haven’t used AF Auto area mode very much for birds in flight, other than for small, fast moving birds against a clear sky. I’ve found that AF-C with subject tracking at 15fps works very well with the 1 Nikon 70-300 f/4.5-5.6.
Thanks for your encouragement on the N1 system.
I bought the V1 and an assortment of lenses when it first came out, and though I own and regularly use several other cameras with better sensors, the V1 is my favorite to shoot.
I especially like it as a walk around system when there’s great light, and just this week used it with my 300 f4 and 1.4 TC to get some great photos of Ospreys on utility poles. But I grab the D600 or Fuji X100S for landscapes or events or low light situations or people shots, where the larger sensors/more features cameras work better for me.
Along with everyone else, hoping the V4 will have a sensor at least as good as the Sony RX100.
It is always interesting to hear how a photographer has integrated the Nikon 1 system into what they do. Based on sensor testing done by DxOMark, as long as the V4 has the same sensor as is in the J5 there will not be any discernible performance difference between it and the Sony RX100.
I’m planning on renting a Nikon 1 (hopefully V4, right Nikon?!) with that CX 70-300 as soon as I need something that long. Your work with the 1 (and DxO and PRIME!) has inspired me to look into the Nikon 1 to scratch my long-lens itch. Nevermind that my native system is at present worthless for that, this system looks terrific.
It’s also migration season and I keep seeing the big beautiful birds of prey perched or flying around here and I wish I had a camera and lens that could let me get the shots I dream about.
I enjoy your work, thank you!
A question – anyone asking for 4K video yet? I still think 4K is ridiculous, but I’m curious if your clients are wanting the biggest they can get.
I’m glad you’ve been enjoying the articles and images! At this point I have not had any clients ask for 4K video. My work is focused on safety and training videos for industrial clients so it will likely take quite a bit of time before they request 4K.
I do hope Nikon will upgrade AW1 with a new sensor too. One can discuss pro and cons of N1 system but I still think that AW1 is a brilliant and bit neglected idea. I saw somewhere Nikon patents for AW wide-angle zoom which is the first thing an adventurer needs, fish-eye lens would be second on the list. There are still some ventures where V2 can`t go, like whitewater rafting and extreme wet and humid environment. And make bottom base plate Leica M style covering the battery and memory card compartments together with usb and hdmi sockets instead of those flimsy hinged flaps with ridiculous thin O-ring. Think Nikonos.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the Nikon 1 AW. I agree that this model needs to be updated and I think we will see that within the next year or so. I have heard of some issues with the waterproofing of the AW not doing a good job and the camera and/or lenses leaking. When the camera is updated if Nikon made it with a built in viewfinder it would further expand the functionality of the camera, especially if they added weather proofing to the CX 70-300 lens as it would be great for nature shooters. It is logical that any update to the AW1 would have the new BSI sensor which would be awesome. Nikon has filed a couple of AW lens patents for a 7.2-13.6mm f/3.5-4.5 as well as for a 10-45mm f/4.5-5.6.
Wow! I can hardly believe my eyes. If your V2 was a guitar, you’d be a rock legend along the lines of Stevie Ray Vaughan.
I’ll be following your blog very closely from now on.
I am humbled by your most generous comment.
I just finished reading your excellent comments on the V system and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I wish I would have known about using your affiliate link with BH since I just ordered a 6.7-13mm lens for my upcoming trip to Korea and Japan. I purchased the V3 when it came out due to my chronic back problems where a much needed weight reduction in photo gear was a must. I took the V3 with the 10-30 and 30-110 on a British Isle cruise with a touch of skepticism however, I was pleasantly with the results. I have a lot of DSLR gear that now stays at home unless my trip does not require much walking. I am now committed to the 1 system and I am looking forward to getting a deeper knowledge before my upcoming December trip to get the most out of it. You have really inspired me. Keep those articles coming.
I’m glad that you enjoyed the article – and also that you have been getting good results with your Nikon 1 gear! I can really relate to your comment about your DSLR staying at home. Mine ended up staying at home so much that I ended up selling my D800 and all of my FX lenses back in July.
I have enjoyed your websire for a while. I was thinking about switching to a m4/3 setup bit after looking at your results, I think I will just try harder.
Have you looked at the Sony RX10 as a compliment to the Nikon 1 series? I am looking for a weatherproof addition to my gear and I don’t feel the AW1 fits my needs.
I’m glad you’ve been enjoying the website – thanks for the positive comment! At this point I am shooting exclusively with Nikon 1 gear and, while Sony makes some excellent gear, I have no interest in looking at other makes and models as I’m fully invested in the Nikon 1 system. The odd time when I shoot in increment weather I use a rain sleeve.
Brilliant article as ever. Thank you for continuing to inspire us all to greater heights.
I have also ‘downgraded’ my mobile ‘laptop to a Suface 3 running Windows 10, with LR, DxO and Photoshop all loaded and running fine. I have purchased a 128 GB USB plug in the size of my thumbnail increasing its storage capacity to 250 GB and the ability to move my photos seamlessly between my machines. Oh . . .and it accepts the Micro SD card from my V3.
With my N1 gear and this lightweight little workhorse I can easily carry all of my camera gear and post processing along wherever I go.
Miniturisation is the future for me and probably most once they get beyond the ‘big is best’ mantra.
Thanks again Tom
I’m glad you enjoyed the article and thanks for the positive comment! How are you finding the processing time with your Surface 3? Would it accept something like a 1TB portable USB hard drive?
I am not too skilled in these areas Tom, but as a guide a RAW file from my V3 using Prime noise reduction et al in DxO takes about 3 to 5 minutes per file on average.
I’m sure it can take a 1TB drive. I limited it to .125 TB as the Sandisk Ultra USB only goes up to 128 GB at present and cost around £35 in the UK. It is literally less than the size of my thumbnail.
I am not a heavy user and anyway mainly use my Surface for ‘on the hoof’ processing. It’s beauty is that it has exactly the same operating system (W10) and desktop setup as my other PC’s at home. So removing the 128GB drive from one to the other talks just a few seconds. I keep my current Lightroom catalogue, and all associated set up files for DxO and PS on this little plug in so the whole workflow moves seamlessly from one machine to another.
And the Surface can be used as a Tablet or as a Laptop and weights next to nothing. Its size is limited by the screen (10 inches in my case) and the USB 3.0 plug port. It is, for me, the perfect accompanying machine for my N1 system – all minimalist yet full functionality!
Thanks for the additional information KSPGM…sounds like a really nice, small travel-friendly system! Something for folks to consider, especially if they have some special trips planned.
Thanks for the succinct support Bob!
Like you I love using the Nikon System 1 cameras. Have already own 7 CX lens but still using V1 and love using it every bit. Will buy the next upgrade camera soon.
Thanks for sharing your love of the Nikon 1 system! Let’s both hope that the new V4 is announced soon!
Thanks for sharing your photos and workflow using the N1 system. About 3 years ago, I came to receive my first V1 as a gift from a friend who had trouble using it. At that time I had a Fuji XPro1 and a Leica M8 having ditched my Nikon D200 and the venerable FX trinity lenses. I was about to sell the V1 but there were no takers. Fast forward, I have sold both the Fuji and Leica and am a proud owner of 2 V1s and several CX lenses. Size and weight of thr N1 system is perfect for my needs. Eyeing an AW1.
Again, thanks for sharing your workflow. Hope to try them soon. Bookmarked your blog. Lovely site.
It’s great to hear that the Nikon 1 system is meeting your needs – thanks for sharing your story with us! Also, I appreciate your supportive comment about my blog!
Like a lot of folks who reacted negatively to the Nikon 1 V1 when first introduced, I didn’t give it a second look. Then, after several months of what I assume were less than stellar sales, B&H offered the V1 w/10-30 lens for $299. I became curious and noticed the V1 used the same battery as my “real” cameras and that effectively reduced the price even further (extra charger too!). How could I resist.
Jump ahead 3+ years and I am loving all the Nikon 1 gear I now use. My work flow is similar to yours and the amount of time required in post to achieve beautiful results is minimal. Excellent lenses combined with “spoil me some more” portability is a dream come true for this 67 year old body. I anticipate that my DSLR gear will be confined to the studio when the Nikon 1 V4’s show up.
I loved reading your Nikon 1 story…thanks for sharing! After shooting with the Nikon 1 system for a while I also found that I was only using my DSLR gear for client work. Then, as I began to use my Nikon 1 gear for more and more video work I did some analysis on how much I was actually using my D800 and FX glass. The answer was not nearly enough to justify keeping thousands of dollars invested in it. So, in July I sold all of it and haven’t missed a beat since.
Thanks for taking the time to publish your thoughts Tom. I have had the V1 and then V3 since it was released. I too read the negative comments and think should I change.
But you know, I take raw images, generally stick to low ISO and use DXO Prime like you, and I am just never disapointed with the outcomes. I print 50cm pictures to hang on the wall and they are just great. Most of my other pictures are made with a Mamiya 6 so I have a pretty high benchmark to compare them against.
I just wish all the people slamming these cameras would use them before commenting.
Thanks for taking the time to share your experience with the Nikon 1 system! I think the more that people read positive comments from actual users, the more likely they are to consider Nikon 1. It is unfortunate that many folks just parrot what they’ve read on photography blogs. I guess some folks look at life as a glass half empty. My perspective has always been that there is no such thing as a perfect camera or lens. Everything comes with some kind of trade-off. A camera is just a tool to help us capture our respective creative visions. The key is to find what works for each of us and just go for it!
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a few readers over the past couple of years and I often ask them if they’d like to try one of V2’s. Most welcome the opportunity and the majority are very surprised with the results that they achieve. Many have ended up buying into the Nikon 1 system.
Really som great images Thom.
The Nikon 1 series is underestimated for some unknown reason, even though they are very capable and reliable cameras that don’t get in the way when shooting.
I agree that zooms are nice and especially the 70-300mm is very good, but the very best lens for Nikon 1 is the 32mm f/1.2 in my opinion.
This lens takes the image quality to another level and with the new J5 sensor the output can be hard to distinguish from a high end DSLR in good light.
Thanks for the kind words – much appreciated! I also have a copy of the Nikon 1 32mm f/1.2 and I agree that it is a great lens! I do use mine quite a bit when shooting video…but very seldom for stills. I guess I’m just a zoom guy!
A fabulous article that mirrors my experience with Nikon 1 cameras!
I Shoot with the V2 and J5 and love them.
All I’m waiting for his a native macro lens but until Nikon make one I use extensions tubes with great success.
Keep up the good work – your website is well bookmarked by me!
Glad you enjoyed the article Ian – and thanks for the positive comment! After I did my review of the J5 I was quite tempted to pull the trigger because of the new sensor. My wife reminded me that we had an S-series at one point and it ended up getting sold as neither one of us likes to shoot without an EVF. So…like many folks I am patiently waiting for the V4.
A question I don’t remember seeing the answer to (if it has been asked): Are you a Mac or PC user? The reason I ask is I know some software is made to only run on Macs (or PCs). DxO I know will run on both, and I believe the same with PS, but I don’t know about the other program(s) you mentioned.
Like you, I am also looking forward to a V4.
I am a PC user…a custom desk top that my youngest son built for me to handle my video work.
Great article, Tom! Just goes to show you that polls and ratings are for those who don’t want to think for themselves! I have never been one to believe everything I read, and not even half of it! I have liked a good number of things that were not highly rated by the “experts”, who after all are only giving one person’s opinion. I happen to agree completely with your opinion here. I have two V2’s and one V1, plus the great CX 70-300 VR lens, which seems permanently attached to one of the V2’s.
I also use and love Nikon full frame and DX DSLR’s, but the Nikon 1 equipment serves a purpose for me. So far, I think the V2 is the best of Nikon’s 1 Series cameras. And I found your article on the J5 interesting. Though I hate the Micro SD card and the small capacity batteries, I am hopeful that a new model with viewfinder, that is more similar to the V2 than V3, will be the next great Nikon 1 camera.
Once again, the reviewers got it all wrong. The V2 rocks!
Keep up the good work!
Glad you liked the article – thanks for your positive comment! I think the V2 rocks as well, and in my opinion is the best of the current line up of Nikon 1 cameras…although a V4 could change that with the new 20.8MP BSI sensor.
Great article whicj I really enjoyed using.
I started with a Nikon V1 and then bought the V2 about a year ago, and also have the expensive CX 70-300 lens. I, too love the system.
I have lots of other cameras but there is something very appealing about the V2. I think the only situation I wouldn’t want to use it is for astro photogarphy – I use a Sony A7s for that.
I haven’t tried the V1/2 for astro so who knows?
A camera very underated but those who use it, mostly love it.
Thanks for the positive comment about the article, and for sharing your experience with the Nikon 1 system! I agree…the Nikon 1 system is much aligned by many folks, most of who likely haven’t even held one. For those of us that use the Nikon 1 (especially the V2)…we do love these little gems!
Wow Tom – I simply could not agree more.
I started my journey after finding a few articles on N1 (not many exist). The thing that sealed the deal was seeing your actual photo results on PL. You simply have figured these little gems and I knew they could do well for me after seeing your great work.
I went on eBay and found a barely used v2 for a trip to Buenos Aires. I got that camera a few days before the trip but since I was a Nikon guy the menu structure and workings were familiar.
While many complained about the “looks” of the v2 body I didn’t mind and in fact found it was fantastically comfy to hold and use. Brilliant in fact. The size and weight had me shooting instead of dreading hauling that heavy pack full of DSLR gear and glass.
I shot more on that trip that I have in years. I fell in love almost instantly.
I LOVE the prime lenses with the N1. I shoot with the 18.5 and 10 much of the time. They are tiny and allow more light gathering helping the small sensor.
Then, again after your reviews, the addition of the phenomenal 70-300mm. That glass is a work of pure brilliance. Sharp, tiny and VR that is rivaled by no other lens I have used. Shooting with 810mm to 1/30 – just try it with anything else. Amazing lens worth every penny I spent.
I have since added the v3 and have enjoyed the configurability of that model. If you think the v2 isn’t appreciated the v3 has even less support. Again I don’t care as it works great for me. One of the best features is it can be made into near pocket size when needed. Brilliant.
You again have me expanding my skills with M shooting and auto ISO. I am now playing with single point more and more.
This is so true…
“I’m sure there are a lot of other photographers out there just like me. They shoot with gear that simply resonates with them and they don’t care about test data or reviews. There is an instant connection as soon as they pick it up.”
This describes me quite well. So many sit and “pick nits” but in all reality the N1 line has done something no other system could do for me. The N1 has brought back my love for photography and shooting.
I make no apologies I am N1 all the way and happy as I can be.
Thanks so much for sharing your personal journey with the Nikon 1 system! I think it is really important when readers share their experiences…either positive or negative. Sounds like we’re ‘brothers from different mothers’ in our love of the Nikon 1 system!
Indeed we are… Just really grateful your images steered me in the right direction!
Glad that they helped you! I’m grateful for all of the support that you’ve given me and this blog.
Thanks so much once more for another indepth post on using the Nikon 1 system. I just completed my second year’s covering the US Open Tennis Grand Slam with the Nikon 1, V3 and V2. Two years ago I took the plunge when the V3 had just reached into the sales and distribution channels that I obtained two V3’s and the 70-300 CX VR. My larger Canon kit stayed in the locker. My results were so good, even as my fellow chum’s laughed at my “Girly Man” cameras as they laughingly poked. However they ceased their mirth once seeing the results on my computer monitor. I was hooked.
This year, my Canon gear stayed home, and I added the V2 with it’s 60 second burst rate, and added an NPS borrowed 70-200 VR on my FT1 adapter onto the V3. The challenge this year was vastly degraded lighting with the addition during the winter of a canopy over the main Ashe center court. I don’t want to run on here too long but I made great use of the 30-110 for sideline action shots and the V2 even with it’s smaller resolution, but better battery life made some seriously beneficial differences.
You are perhaps one of the few photographers sharing my own enthusiasm for the “1” system.
I welcome your posts especially more indepth ones on your post process techniques.
Thanks, from New York, Rick Maiman
Thanks very much for your supportive comment and sharing your experience using the Nikon 1 system! Using it exclusively to capture images at a prestigious event like the US Open Tennis Grand Slam is a solid testament to the capability of the Nikon 1 system. When I tested the V3 I found that the battery life was actually pretty good as long as I kept the rear screen turned off and also turned off the camera between lags in shooting. I appreciate that turning off a camera during a sports event is something that you couldn’t do. I’m looking forward to the introduction of the Nikon 1 V4 which I expect to happen before the end of the first quarter of 2016. The new 20.8 BSI sensor is a significant improvement to the previous Aptina sensors used in the Nikon 1 line. If you would like to provide a link to some of your US Open Tennis images captured with the Nikon 1 system I’m sure readers would enjoy seeing them!