First Impressions: Using the Nikon V1
Using the 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 VR PD ZOOM
Alongside the J1, V1 and three 'conventional' lenses, Nikon also launched a video-optimized superzoom, the 1 Nikkor 10-100mm F/4.5 - 5.6 VR PD ZOOM. The 1 Nikkor 10-100mm is an impressive lump of glass. When mounted on the J1 or V1 the combination is too unbalanced to be used one-handed, but the lens is designed to be supported by the left hand, with your thumb or index finger resting on the power zoom control. Held like this, the camera and lens combination handles slightly oddly, but isn't uncomfortable.
Power zoom is very useful for videography, since it avoids the risk of shaking or twisting the camera when zooming its lens during video shooting. Controlling zoom using a small movement of your finger from a fixed hold position is much more stable, which is precisely why this method is common on dedicated video cameras.
The 10-100mm offers three zoom speeds, selected according to how far you push or pull on the zoom lever. A firm movement to the extent of the switch’s travel will zoom the lens quickly, and more gentle manipulation part of the way allows you to zoom more slowly and precisely. Variable-speed zooming is also available during movie shooting, although all movements are slower to ensure that the lens’s zoom motor isn’t audible on the soundtrack of video footage.
Once I'd got over to the 10-100mm’s considerable bulk, I found it to be a pleasure to use. The 27-270mm effective focal length range allows for lots of flexibility in both stills and video capture, and its built-in optical vibration reduction system is very effective. For still shooting, I found that I could get away with shutter speeds between 3-4 stops slower than I'd have expected with an unstablized optic, and video footage is impressively stable.
The only issue that I ran into with the vibration reduction system is a stubborn tendency to attempt to ‘correct’ lateral camera movement when initiating a panning movement. This is a particular problem when filming at long focal lengths. The VR system introduces a noticeable lateral ‘jolt’ in the footage when you initiate a panning movement or change panning speed. You can see the effect in the video clip below.
Watch this space...
A full review is underway, but my initial impressions of the V1 are mixed. Given its size, I'm impressed by the image quality produced by its CX format sensor, but puzzled that neither the V1 nor the J1 have ended up as particularly ‘small’ cameras. I get the feeling actually that Nikon hasn't quite worked out how to 'sell' the J1 and V1 to consumers yet, but it is clear that their phase-detection AF tracking modes have the potential to be hugely useful to the 'soccer moms' of this world and I am genuinely impressed by the technology and the effectiveness of its implementation.
Despite its lukewarm reception among enthusiasts, in part a result of its price, I have found a lot to like about the V1 in the short time I've been using it. I still have some niggling concerns about some of Nikon's design choices though, and plenty of other questions which I hope will be answered in our forthcoming full review. We’re working hard to put this intriging camera through our remaining studio and real world testing procedures as soon as possible, so watch this space.