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Running Shiba, Gunning Nikon V1

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Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 15mm | 1/100 sec, f/4.8, ISO 100

Suki and I have been missing on the blog for a while, but we’re back to talk about the Nikon 1 V1!

I must admit, when Nikon first announced the Nikon 1, their first mirrorless camera system, I wasn’t terribly excited. The camera’s design is on the bland side (especially compared to my Fuji X100), and the sensor, while much larger than the ones you’d find in a typical compact, is smaller than one in my Olympus E-PL2 and other m4/3 cameras. Epic fail, right? Not at all.


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G | 1/125 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200

My initial impression of the V1’s image quality is very favorable. The files are detailed, sharp, and clean. All the lenses currently available for the 1 mount (10mm pancake, 10-30mm, 30-110mm, 10-100mm) seem to perform very well. But what intrigued me most about the V1 wasn’t so much the image quality as it was the system’s speed.


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 | 1/320 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 22mm | 1/250 sec, f/5, ISO 100

The V1 is heavily specified when it comes to speed, especially in auto-focus performance. It has a hybrid AF system that can use phase-detection and contrast detection to acquire and track focus, giving the V1 a significant edge in focus performance compared to other mirrorless cameras. The dog park was a perfect place test this capability out, and I was, to say the least, floored by how fast the AF is.

One thing’s for sure, I never expected to take a shot like this with a camera other than a DSLR:


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 22mm 1/250 sec, f/5, ISO 100

Not only is the AF blazing fast, but the camera is capable of some ridiculously high burst rates. Switching from the mechanical shutter to the electronic shutter, which incidentally has a maximum speed of 1/16,000, allows you to shoot as high as 60fps in full resolution, though at that speed you lose the ability to continuously focus. However, you can do single-point, continuous autofocus at 10fps, which is more than enough to keep up with Suki at the dog park:

In a scene like this, the V1 doesn’t stutter, hesitate, or second guess itself. You hit the shutter release and it just goes. Brilliant.


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 100mm | 1/250 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200

The dog park is relatively small, and I wanted to up the ante. Suki runs much faster in a bigger, more open area, so we headed to the beach for more Shiba Inu running action. To minimize lens changing in such sandy conditions, I used the 1 system’s super zoom, the 10-100mm VR, though I’m sure my telephoto 30-110mm Nikkor would have performed just as well here:


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 10mm | 1/160 sec, f/8, ISO 100


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 100mm  | 1/500 sec, f/8, ISO 400


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 40mm | 1/640 sec, f/5.3, ISO 100

Left: Suki at impulse speed. Right: Suki at warp speed.


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 100mm | 1/1,000 sec, f/5.6, ISO 320

Again, the camera confidently kept Suki in focus, even when she was running straight at me:


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 100mm | 1/1,000 sec, f/5.6, ISO 280


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 100mm | 1/1,000 sec, f/5.6, ISO 250


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 100mm | 1/1,000 sec, f/5.6, ISO 220


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 100mm | 1/1,000 sec, f/5.6, ISO 220

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I haven’t done too much video with the V1 yet, but it’s spec’d well in that area as well: 1920 x 1080 30p or 60i, 1280 x 720 30p with full manual exposure control, as well as some high-speed capability at lower resolutions: 400fps at 640 x 280 or 1200fps at 320 x 120. The high speed is played back at 30fps, giving you the ability to capture slow motion video. The one above was shot at 400fps. Pretty cool stuff!


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 10mm |  1/125 sec, f/4.5, ISO 180


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 100mm | 1/500 sec, f/5.6, ISO 320


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 100mm | 1/400 sec, f/5.6, ISO 560

My x100 has been sitting in my carry-everywhere camera bag all by itself lately. Not any more!  I can now supplement the Fuji’s excellent low light, high ISO ability with the V1’s  high performance video capabilities, fantastic focus and burst speed, and lens changing flexibility. Well, actually…. the Fuji is getting repaired right now (an entirely different story), so the 1 is all that’s in the carry-everywhere bag for now…

Which isn’t all that bad so far. The V1 is flat out fun to shoot with, the build is super solid, the metering is spot on, the image quality is surprisingly good, and boy is it fast. Will return with more impressions =)

Written by Jonathan

December 18, 2011 at 3:21 pm