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Nikon 1 V2 review: Nikon 1 V2

The Nikon 1 V2 is the camera its predecessor should have been. With a comfortable shooting design and plenty of features, the V2 is an appealing buy.

Lexy Savvides Principal Video Producer
Lexy is an on-air presenter and award-winning producer who covers consumer tech, including the latest smartphones, wearables and emerging trends like assistive robotics. She's won two Gold Telly Awards for her video series Beta Test. Prior to her career at CNET, she was a magazine editor, radio announcer and DJ. Lexy is based in San Francisco.
Expertise Wearables | Smartwatches | Mobile phones | Photography | Health tech | Assistive robotics Credentials
  • Webby Award honoree, 2x Gold Telly Award winner
Lexy Savvides
5 min read

The Nikon 1 V2 is the second-generation flagship interchangeable lens camera (ILC) from the company, and the spec sheet has improved considerably from the earlier device.


Nikon 1 V2

The Good

Control system simple, easy to use. Overall design is appealing. Pop-up flash. Super-fast continuous shooting performance.

The Bad

Proprietary hotshoe. Tendency to overexpose highlights in automatic modes. Best results with F-mount lenses rather than Nikon 1 lenses.

The Bottom Line

The Nikon 1 V2 is the camera its predecessor should have been. With a comfortable shooting design and plenty of features, the V2 is an appealing buy.

Design and features

While the Nikon 1 V1 looked like it could have stepped out of the pages of a 1960s designer home wares spread, the V2 looks like a leaner, meaner camera that sports a more traditional design.

The sensor is a 14.2-megapixel CX-sized CMOS model, rather than 10 megapixels found on both the V1 and J1 cameras — a small boost that may satisfy those photographers who found the previous resolution lacking for large prints. The electronic viewfinder has a resolution of 1.44-million dots and offers 100 per cent coverage.

A comparison of the different sensor sizes in compact and interchangeable lens cameras.
(Credit: CNET)

Nikon's V1 had a rather annoying design quirk in its confusing mode dial. In fact, it wasn't really a mode dial per se, but a mysterious set of icons assigned to a range of camera controls. Fortunately, the V2 resolves this and offers a more classically-designed dial at the top of the camera. It gives quick access to full PASM controls, as well as automatic mode, movie mode and motion snapshot. Also on the dial is a little square symbol with a plus inside. This gives access to a slow mode; when the shutter button is half-pressed, it slows down the action displayed on the screen. Smart Photo Selector is also available in this mode (by pressing the F button at the back), which takes 20 photos and then chooses the best five.

At the back, a 3-inch screen with 920,000 dots sits alongside simple, easy-to-understand buttons that give access to playback, menu, display and trash options. A small four-way directional pad and control wheel sit to the screen's right, with access to exposure lock, compensation, timer and flash options.

Overall, the camera is nice, compact and easy to hold in the hand. Thanks to the protruding, textured hand grip, the V2 won't be slipping out of your hand easily. A proprietary hotshoe, carried over from the V1, sits atop the viewfinder, and there is now (hurrah!) a pop-up flash available.

Do be aware that using an F-mount adapter with this camera will make certain controls inaccessible (for example, no automatic modes can be accessed).

Connectivity is provided through a mini-HDMI and USB port, as well as a 3.5mm external microphone jack. An optional wireless adapter lets users transfer photos and videos to other devices.

Compared to

Sony NEX F3 Nikon 1 V2 Canon EOS M Olympus E-PL5
16.1-megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor (APS-C) 14.2-megapixel CMOS sensor (CX size) 18-megapixel CMOS sensor (APS-C) 16-megapixel Live MOS sensor (Four Thirds)
3-inch, 921,600-dot flip-up LCD 3-inch, 920,000-dot LCD 3-inch, 1.04 million-dot touchscreen LCD 3-inch, 460,000-dot flip-up, touchscreen LCD
25-area AF 135-area hybrid AF 31-area AF 35-area AF
Full HD video (AVCHD/MP4, 1080i) Full HD video (MPEG-4, 1080p) Full HD video (MPEG-4, 1080p) Full HD video (MPEG-4, 1080i)


General shooting metrics (in seconds)

  • Start-up to first shot
  • JPEG shot-to-shot time
  • RAW shot-to-shot time
  • Shutter lag
    Olympus Pen Lite E-PL5
    Panasonic Lumix GF5
    Sony NEX-F3
    Canon EOS M
    Nikon 1 V2

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Continuous shooting speed (in frames per second)

  • 15
    Nikon 1 V2
  • 7
    Olympus Pen Lite E-PL5
  • 5.5
    Sony NEX-F3
  • 4.8
    Panasonic Lumix GF5
  • 4.3
    Canon EOS M

(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Continuous shooting on the Nikon 1 V1 can reach 15 frames per second when using the mechanical shutter, or 60fps with the electronic shutter. The V2 is efficient and accurate when shooting in these continuous modes and maintains focus pretty accurately throughout its burst.

Nikon rates the battery of the V2 at 310 shots. Like the V1, this camera can simultaneously capture images and full HD video.

Unlike many cameras from 2012, the V2 does not come with Wi-Fi connectivity built in. An optional wireless adapter lets users transfer photos and videos to other devices.

Image quality

Like the earlier V1 camera, the V2 delivers punchy, accurate colours when shooting on default settings. It copes reasonably well in terms of dynamic range, though has an ever-so-slight tendency to overexpose bright areas and high-contrast regions. Fortunately, detail can be recovered somewhat when shooting in RAW.

The CX-sized sensor, which is physically smaller than most other sensors in ILCs on the market, does have an effect on the sorts of shallow depth-of-field effects you can get. We found the best results were obtained when using an F-mount adapter and a 50mm f/1.8 lens for desirable-looking bokeh. The kit lenses (such as an 10-30mm, which was also used) have a narrower maximum aperture and does not produce the sort of effect that some photographers may desire.

A 100 per cent crop (inset) from an image taken with the 10-30mm kit lens. As you can see, there's little noise evident and the lens doesn't exhibit much fringing at all.
(Credit: CBSi)

Images taken at low ISO levels are relatively clean, though noise does start to become an issue from ISO 800 and above. Colour shifting only starts to occur at the camera's maximum native ISO rating of 6400.

There is little difference between the RAW and JPEG files that this camera produces, with the exception of some smoothing and noise reduction when the V2 processes JPEGs. Normally, this is where we would include a comparison between the two files, but as the codecs have not yet been made available for our third-party testing software, we will update this review at a later stage. You can, however, convert the NEF files using Nikon's own software, which is provided with the retail versions of the camera (our review model did not include the software).

Automatic white balance is mostly accurate, if a little on the cool and conservative side when shooting indoors and under artificial lighting.

Video quality is good, with sound from the built-in microphone being perfectly acceptable for most purposes. Users get a couple of options for frame rates, including 1080/60i, 1080/30p, 720/60p or 720/30p.

The V2 can also take videos in slow motion at 400fps or 1200fps, though it does drop the resolution. See the sample video taken at 400fps below.

Image samples

Exposure: 1/250, f/4.5, ISO 200

Exposure: 1/500, f/8, ISO 180

Exposure: 1/500, f/8, ISO 180

Exposure: 1/30, f/5, ISO 1400

(Credit: CBSi)


The Nikon 1 V2 is the camera its predecessor should have been. With a comfortable shooting design and plenty of features, the V2 is an appealing buy.

That said, the small image sensor may dissuade some buyers who are looking for the best low-light and high ISO performance. The increase in resolution from the V1 means that noise is more prominent than before.