More Nikon V1 Impressions

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

Sunday was such a beautiful day in the city. The weather was perfect, and as is typical in the winter time on days like this, the light seems to have a crisp, dramatic look all day long. A walk in the park was a must.

I keep forgetting how large Golden Gate Park is. We started at the south-east corner and trekked our way to Spreckels lake, which is a little less than 3/4 of the way to the west entrance that intersects Ocean Beach. The entire journey took us between three and four hours, covering around five miles. We loved every minute of it, and Suki,  who unlike her human companions could have easily walked the length of this park a dozen times over,  was especially happy.

Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor VR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 at 10mm | 1/160 sec, f/8, ISO 100

Spread out among the large, open recreational spaces are dense areas of trees and local plant life. Small gardens, large groves, tons of areas to explore. Places where light takes on even more drama, where your image data gets slammed into either end of the histogram. Places where you wrangle your camera’s EV dial and white balance settings. I love these places.

Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor VR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 at 30mm | 1/125 sec, f/5.6, ISO 180

Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor VR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6

Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor VR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 at 10mm | 1/200 sec, f/4.5, ISO 100

Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor VR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 at 18mm | 1/60 sec, f/4.5, ISO 400

Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor VR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 at 30mm | 1/60 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200

Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor VR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 at 24mm | 1/80 sec, f/5, ISO 200

Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor VR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 at 30mm | 1/60 sec, f/5.6, ISO 360

Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor VR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 at 10mm | 1/200 sec, f/4.5, ISO 100

Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor VR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 at 11mm | 1/250 sec, f/4.5, ISO 100

I love working with the RAW files from the V1 because the experience is so familiar to me as a Nikon shooter. Every manufacturer has its own look, its own way of handling colors, and the V1’s files are decidedly Nikon. Therefore, much of my work flow in handling the V1’s output is nearly identical to how I process my D700 files. Awesome!

The ability to easily carry an entire system on a trek this long is one of my favorite things about the V1. I had a camera body, flash unit, and three lenses covering a 27-297mm equivalent range in my bag with room to spare, and I could barely feel the weight on my shoulder the entire time. I couldn’t possibly carry that range with my DSLR system without destroying my back. When I do head out with the D700, I usually select only one lens to bring along in order to keep weight and bulk to a minimum. No compromise in that regard with the V1. Take it all!

Nikon V1 +  1 Nikkor VR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6

Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor VR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 at 10mm |  1/125 sec, f/3.5, ISO 100

Running into other Shibas is always a treat, more so for us than for Suki, who was only mildly interested in this five month old puppy.

Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor VR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 at 30mm | 1/160 sec, f/5.6, ISO 100

As the sun continued to fall, beams of light became more and more visible in areas with densely packed trees. Right after I took the shot above I thought, “there’s something missing in this frame….”

Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor VR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 at 30mm | 1/250 sec, f/5.6, ISO 100

Ah yes, a Shiba Inu. =)

Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 | 1/640 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100

With the lenses currently available for the 1 system,  you won’t be throwing backgrounds way out of focus, though getting in close with the 10mm pancake can deliver some pleasing results.  Nikon is said to be releasing some fast primes for the format soon. I want them yesterday!

Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor  10mm f/2.8 | 1/800 sec, f/4, ISO 100

Nikon V1 + 1 NIKKOR VR 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 at 110mm | 1/250 sec, f/5.6, ISO 140

Lens changing is pleasantly fast with the 1. Large, easy to see lens markings line up at a 12 o’clock position at the mount, and the rotation required to lock the lens into place is much shorter than I expected. Going from a wide shot of the lake with the 10mm and quickly changing to the 30-110mm for a close up of the duck felt just like switching things up with my F-mount system, only on a much smaller scale.

Nikon V1 + 1 NIKKOR VR 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 at 110mm | 1/400 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100

Small cameras have come a long way. Using the V1 system lately has made me realize that for a lot of what I shoot, a DSLR can often be too much camera than I actually need or am willing to carry. These smaller systems will only get better and better, and I personally am much more excited about the future of cameras like the V1 than I am about what’s next in the DSLR realm.

31 thoughts on “More Nikon V1 Impressions

  1. I’m also excited about all these new smaller systems coming out. Their quality is really up there….DSLR can really be too much for casual strolls like these. You do enough of these reviews ! You should be sponsored!

  2. Do you plan on adapting your SLR lenses to the V1? 🙂
    Oh and that park looks incredible! You make me want to visit San Francisco 🙂
    And happy new year, Jonathan! 🙂

  3. Stunning shots! Love the variations of light play throughout the scenes. Hopefully Canon is planning to compete with this sometime soon; would be awesome to pair my 50mm with a small, versatile body like the V1. Happy New Year, Jon!

  4. seriously… i would have thought these were with your d700. the sun rays are incredible! gah! why can’t i ever get them to look that way?

    and happy new year! 🙂

  5. Wonderful shots of Golden Gate Park…makes me think I need to head into the city and take some shots there myself! In fact, I have to head to SF tomorrow to pick up my 40D from Calumet as it is back from repair. I think that I’ll just head over to GGP and see what I can come up with!

  6. beautiful photos, the camera does a great job of capturing images the way our actual eyes do.

  7. Jonathan – I’m curious where your Oly fits into all this now. I have an X100 and a GF1. I’ll admit when the Nikon 1 system was released I wasn’t too thrilled. Now that user reviews are showing it in a quite positive light I’m giving it a closer look.

    Do you see the N1 as a replacement for your m43 system? Or does the Oly still fill a niche that N1 can’t yet (ie. thin N1 lens line-up).

    1. That’s the thing. M4/3 cams have access to a vast array of lenses right now, so it’s hard to say which I’d absolutely prefer over the other. If and when Nikon releases some fast primes for the 1, m4/3 will probably be less interesting to me, but I sure would love to have the 12mm f/2, 25 f/1.4, and 45 1.8 as a nice small kit for the Olympus right now. Not the clearest answer to be sure, but hey, I love both!

      Right now I usually have the X100 in the bag as my wide angle with the 30-110 on the V1 for tele. Really enjoy the combo.

      1. Have you done a side-by-side with your Oly and V1?

        I’m heading down to the shop today to do a side-by-side between my GF1 and V1 … just for kicks.

    2. Just catching up here …

      Agree. Both the owner of the shop and I were surprised at how much better the V1 did. I am almost certainly putting my mFT kit on the block this week. Not that it’s a bad system, but I feel that the V1 is a better fit for me right now. Plus I wanted to get something in place for my trip to SF in May.

  8. I love the warm feel of this set. And those rays of light – a m a z i n g!

    I totally cracked up about “what’s missing in this frame”! Did you kick those people off the bench so Suki can sit there 🙂

  9. Your blog never fail to tempt me. Whatever tool you use, you produce excellent pictures! I must master the art of resistance. 😛

  10. Wow that park is so epic! I love all the shots! Specially the dramatic ones with light rays. Any camera with a good amount of manual control of exposure would get the job done there. =) As for the V1 i am pleasantly surprised of its performance and how it handles noise. And no surprise, the colors from the V1 (raw) are awesome! Though, i have grown to like Fuji’s X100 RAW files just little bit more (compared to my D7000 which makes great files as well).

    I was wondering if you will be getting or trying Olympus’s new OM-D E-M5 coming soon. It is very tempting… but for me I am done getting new cameras. I need to look into getting some pocket wizards, one or two more speed-lights, and maybe flash stands with good diffusers. Any way, i have rambled on enough. Keep the great photos coming! =D

    1. Thanks Harlowe. I will definitely give the OM-D a try, though I’m probably not going to buy one. I just committed to the 1 system and I want to see where that takes me, and I’m still head over heels for my X100. Not only that, but the D800 is out and THAT is my next camera 😉

  11. Hi Jonathan, just found your review of the V1on the web. Love some of the results you’ve been getting and what a gorgeous dog! Interestingly I recently sold my X100 for the Nikon V1, couldn’t afford to keep both. However as my passion is street photography, I found the X100’s AF just not reliable and too slow for that type pf work. It’s a shame because otherwise the camera is stunning. It was Steve Huff and his real review that convinced me to look and then buy the V1 system and I must admit it’s AF has been faultless. Like you though can’t wait for some faster primes, hurry up Nikon!

  12. Hi Jonathan,
    I stumbled on to your site. I really like it. I love your dog.

    I live in Kyoto, so I enjoyed seeing your Kyoto shots and your descriptions. It is funny to me because I have lived here so long that all that was exotic to you is so common place for me. I guess San Francisco is exotic for me now. LOL!

    May I ask you a question. I am on the search for a good small camera.(I used to be a newspaper shooter back in Michigan back in the day — using F3HPs and trying to shoot available light maddness with Provia 100 and Tri-X Pan – so now you know my level).

    If you had the choice between your Fuji x100 or your Nikon V1 set up, which would you choose? (They cost about the same).

    I currently shoot with a pair of D7000s and have a Panasonic GH2 which is mainly for video. And I live my life on a bicycle — so weight is an issue.

    While I am asking, you seem to love your Oly EM5 — do you think it could replace a D7000. I love shooting with a D7000, but I hate carrying 15 kilos of gear on my back.

    Thanks for your input.

    Paul Crouse
    Kyoto, Japan

    (PS: I must say, I really miss the food in San Francisco).

    1. Hi Paul,

      Thanks for the comment! I miss Kyoto dearly, and really hope to visit again soon. What I wouldn’t do to have a combini around the corner where I live… Though yes, the food rocks in San Francisco =)

      Anyway, if I had to chuck everything else and keep just one camera, I’d probably hang on to the X100. It’s not a camera for everyone, but I have a strong connection with that quirky thing. The image quality is simply outstanding and I have so much fun shooting with it. It’s very compact, light, and virtually silent due to its leaf shutter. It’s my most loved camera for sure.

      As far as the OM-D replacing a D7000: not without compromise. You’re getting a much smaller and lighter set up, as well as access to some awesome prime lenses (I have the 12mm f/2, 25mm f1.4, 45mm f/1.8), but you give a little when it comes to absolute image quality and focus performance (if continuous AF is your thing). That being said, I’ve used the OM-D for a variety of photography already and it has yet to disappoint me. Since you already have the GH2, however, you might not need another m4/3 body.

      1. Hey Jonathan,

        Thanks a lot for your reply. I really appreciate the gear insights.

        Ah yes, the Japanese conbini … you can pretty much by almost anything there. It is all just normal life for me here — I tend to forget about the gas stations off of the Interstate with cashier behind bullet proof plexiglass.

        Take care and keep up the good work.



  13. Jonathan,

    I took the plunge and picked up the V1 w/ 10-30mm & 30-110mm kit and SB-N5. There’s some unreal deals on the V1 right now with the V2 announcement coming up. I bought it because my wife and I just gave birth to our daughter, and I think the V1’s AF speed and accuracy just fits perfectly trying to photograph (and video) her these next few years. From what I have found out there on the web, your posts on the V1 by far offers the best examples of what this system is capable of, and was a great influence on my decision.

    For everyday and especially travel use, I will be pairing the V1 (w/ 30-110mm) along with my X100 (the WCL-X100 conversion lens is practically bolted onto it, the 28mm equiv. focal length has quickly become my favorite). The D700s and FX lenses will now stay home and come out for paid work. Looking forward to getting the FT-1 as well.

    I will be mainly using the V1 for family and street shooting. What exposure mode have you mostly been using or have found that takes advantage of the V1’s speed? I always shoot in manual, but the handling feels a bit slower on the V1. I’ve read a lot of users have had better results using shutter priority. Also, what would you recommend using regarding the camera’s Auto ISO and AF settings?


    1. Congrats on the new camera system, and thanks for the kind words! I typically use Aperture priority with the V1 and control ISO manually, since the Auto ISO feature tends to select shutter speeds that are too slow in many cases. I find that the camera’s AF seems to perform best in single point (AF-S) mode, and I use single point continuous when I need to track a subject. Hope this helps!

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