Nikon 1 V1 review: Nikon 1 V1

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent

Average User Rating

5 stars 1 user review
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Range of features like slow-motion video and motion snapshot that are fun to use. Excellent viewfinder and screen. Excellent image quality for its class. Excellent HD video quality.

The Bad Control system takes a while to become intuitive. Manual settings aren't easily accessible; options hidden in menus. No art/creative filters. Expensive.

The Bottom Line The Nikon 1 V1 is a lovely interchangeable lens camera, provided you have the time to spend learning its many shooting modes and the price doesn't scare you away.

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The Nikon 1 V1 is one of two interchangeable-lens cameras (ILCs) released by Nikon in 2011.

The V1 is the big, bold and brash brother of the J1. While they share most of the same internals, it's the external design that differentiates them, as well as the price and body construction.

Make no mistake, the Nikon 1 is totally different to the company's SLR range, using a different mount and image sensor. With an optional F-mount adapter, you can mount other, non-Nikon 1 lenses on the camera if you so desire.

Design and features

Controls are kept relatively simple on the top panel. Rather than a traditional mode dial, you find a simple arrangement of power button, shutter button and video-record button. There's also a hump on the top of the V1, which conceals the electronic viewfinder (1.4-million dot resolution). It's bright and very easy to see in sunlight and situations where there's a lot of glare. To the side, the hotshoe can take an optional GPS unit, external microphone or flash unit (sold separately).

The back panel looks quite different to other ILC models than you might be used to. The small lever at the top looks like it could be a zoom rocker — and it is for reviewing photos — but it primarily acts as a selection tool when you have particular functions that need to be changed. This includes setting aperture/shutter when in manual modes, as well as choosing between options on the screen.

There are a few new shooting modes that are unique to the Nikon 1 cameras, accessed by the dial to the side. Motion snapshot takes one second of footage, along with a still photo, accompanied by music that sets the scene. It's a bit like a Cinemagraph, if you want a point of comparison, and it works nicely. Press the shutter button and the camera captures the motion snapshot. The finished work can be viewed in-camera, via the included software or alternatively in the My Picturetown app for iOS.

Smart photo selector, the next option down, captures a burst of images and chooses the best from this range. When the shutter is half pressed, the camera begins to buffer and captures a selection of photos when it's fully pressed. The camera chooses the best five shots based on things such as focus and smiles, lets you review them and save the selected one.

Down once more on the mode dial is still-image mode, which has settings like automatic and full PASM control. This is also the mode where you can play around with image appearance, although there are no art filters, as such — just standard colour modes, like vivid, monochrome and landscape. Finally, movie mode lets you capture full HD video at 1080i or slow-motion video (400fps at 640x240px or 1200fps at 320x120px). Obviously, this isn't HD or even VGA resolution, but it's a lot of fun for web clips, as you can see below.

If your concern lies with the physical size of the sensor used in the Nikon 1, well, this camera probably isn't for you. The Nikon 1 uses a CX sensor, which is smaller than the DX-sized sensor used on its basic and midrange digital SLRs, but larger than the sensors used on its compact Coolpix range. From Nikon's perspective, this makes perfect sense — why eat into its own market share of an already-strong SLR range with a smaller camera that has the same sensor?

Given the size of the sensor, the Nikon 1's crop factor is 2.7x. This means that a Nikon 1 10mm lens gives the equivalent field of view as a 27mm lens. Like other Nikon SLR cameras, the Nikon 1 has vibration reduction (image stabilisation) built into lenses, rather than into the camera body.

Although the V1 uses the same battery as the Nikon D7000, it's rated for just 350 shots.

Compared to

E-P3

Olympus E-P3 Panasonic Lumix G3 Nikon 1 V1 Sony NEX-5N
12.3-megapixel Live MOS sensor (four thirds type) 16-megapixel Live MOS sensor (four thirds type) 10.1-megapixel CMOS sensor (CX size) 16.1-megapixel Exmor HD CMOS sensor (APS-C size)
3-inch, 610,000-dot touchscreen OLED 3-inch, 460,000-dot touchscreen LCD 3-inch, 920,000-dot LCD 3-inch, 921,600-dot touchscreen LCD
Full HD video (1080i, 24fps) Full HD video (1080i, 30fps) Full HD video (1080i, 60fps) Full HD video (1080p, 25ps)
35-point AF 23-point AF 73-point AF 25-point AF
3.2fps 4fps 60fps (electronic shutter) 10fps

Performance

General shooting metrics (in seconds)

  • Time to first shot
  • JPEG shot-to-shot time
  • RAW shot-to-shot time
  • Shutter lag
  • Nikon 1 V11.71.42.20.2
  • Sony NEX-5N1.40.710.5
  • Panasonic G30.80.70.70.2
  • Olympus E-P30.80.70.70.2
  • Samsung NX111.11.21.10.3

Continuous shooting speed (longer bars indicate better performance)

  • Nikon 1 V15.5
  • Sony NEX-5N10
  • Panasonic G33.5
  • Olympus E-P33.2
  • Samsung NX113

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Where to Buy

Nikon 1 V1

Part Number: CNETNikon 1 V1

Typical Price: $1,399.00

See manufacturer website for availability.